Tag Archives: dinner

Not Quite Happy Hour (or Making Time For My Friends)

I’ve been busy lately and I know I’ve been neglecting my friendships. While I’ve seen friends at various events a lot lately, those aren’t always conducive to catching up. And even at my birthday party I wasn’t able to catch up properly with most people because I was trying to talk with everyone there.

My friend Rayshell and I have been pretty good about doing happy hour hangouts, but lately we’ve both been bad at trying to schedule them. It had been a while since our last one and we tried several times to schedule one. But finally we both decided we needed to catch up and we figured out when it was a good time for both of us and put it on our calendars. I usually don’t go out after an afternoon workout, but I realized that I need to start doing that in order to make more time for my friends. So after my workout on Wednesday, I went home and showered and got into my car to drive to the valley to meet Rayshell for dinner.

It wasn’t during happy hour since we couldn’t figure out when we could both meet for happy hour, but that’s ok. We met up at MidiCi which is a pizza place that Rayshell had been wanting to try. She said that it was normally crowded when she thought of going, but since we were doing dinner a bit later she thought maybe it wouldn’t be too bad. She got there before I did and got us a table. It wasn’t too crowded, but because you have to go up and order at the counter we wanted to make sure we had a table before ordering.

I had checked out the menu before we met up and everything looked pretty good. And fortunately Rayshell and I like a lot of the same things so it was pretty easy to pick some food for us to share. We ended up ordering some burrata, meatballs, and a truffle pizza to split.

The food all arrived at about the same time which was tough because we had a small table, but we managed. And everything was delicious and I want to go back to try some more of the awesome things they had on their menu.

But obviously, getting good food isn’t the main reason I go out with my friends. It’s a great way to catch up one on one with someone and I know that Rayshell and I were both missing that. We see what each other posts on social media and we text, but it’s never the same as hanging out in person and having a real conversation.

And since it had been about 6 months since our last proper catch up, we both had a lot to share! Rayshell has been working on a lot of different acting projects lately. She’s got a web series that should be coming out in the near future that she’s been working really hard on. I can’t wait to see it because a couple of friends of mine are a part of it and I love having the chance to support their work.

And all of my random online dating adventures happened after the last time Rayshell and I had a hangout so she wanted to know all about that. I wish I had more positive stories to tell her, but at least she found my weird and negative stories funny. I still find it so funny that my friends are getting a kick out of all the craziness I’ve been encountering, but that does help me keep a positive mindset. If I didn’t have a reason to look forward to bad dates, I think I’d be too worried that I was going to have a bad date before even meeting a guy.

We also had general catch up stuff to talk about too. Both of us have been busy with work, acting, and life and it’s always good to talk about that stuff too. And since it had been forever since we had a happy hour hangout, we talked about how we both felt bad that it had been so long since we were able to talk! We know that we are both equally guilty for having busy schedules so we understand how we could have let so many months go by without figuring out when we could go to dinner.

Both of us had busy days the next day and I still had to drive home, so we didn’t stay at dinner too late. But just getting to hang out with Rayshell for an hour or two was awesome. She is such a great friend to me and I want to make my friendships more of a priority. It’s not easy to do that and I’m lucky that my friends understand that it’s not that I don’t want to hang out but I don’t have the time to hang out. But I want to stop using that as an excuse as often as I have and work on building up my friendships with my friends some more.

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An Epic End To The Pantages Season (or We Aren’t Going To Throw Away Our Shot)

This past Sunday was the final show for my group in our current season at the Pantages. While we are a bit sad our season is over, we already have bought our season tickets for next season and we are really excited for that. But what was even more exciting was that the final show for the season was Hamilton! Getting to see Hamilton was the reason many people got season tickets this season. But I think all of us in my group were just excited to see all of the shows. Hamilton was just going to be a super amazing addition to the season!

And as we have done with the past few shows, we went to dinner at Wood & Vine before the show. And Wood & Vine just introduced a new menu with their new chef so we were ready to try some amazing new food and to have some of our favorites! Everything on the menu looked incredible, but we had to try to limit ourselves to make sure we didn’t feel overstuffed while at the show.

We ordered some veggies because they sounded delicious and they were a lighter option. The squash had an amazing butter sauce with some cheese and they were perfectly cooked so they still had a bit of crunch to them. And the carrots reminded us all of eating Honey Nut Cheerios! It was so crazy how sweet they were without having the sweetness overpowering the flavor of the carrots.

And while we knew we’d be ordering the bone marrow again, everything else that we got was something that was new to the menu. We were also able to have the tuna tartare, pork belly tacos, and the branzino filet.

And as we expected, everything was just incredible. I only had a taste of the tuna as it had a chili sauce on it and I’m really sensitive to spicy food. But it was really good and everyone else loved it. The pork belly tacos were so tender and the sauce on it was really refreshing. And the branzino was flaky and so flavorful! And of course, the bone marrow was out of this world! We had 2 orders of it and between the 4 of us the bones looked like this within minutes of the plate being brought to us.

When the bones were empty, Dani and Michelle decided to order some shots to have with the bones. They were actually talking about doing this the night before at my party so it was pretty funny that they were getting to do this. Doing a bone luge is a thing, I just hadn’t heard of it before they were talking about it at my party. If I knew I could handle a drink, I think I would have joined in with them. But it was cool getting to watch them and they seemed to really like it (even if it was a bit messy).

We also got to try some of the new desserts! They have a buttermilk panna cotta now which had berries on top. But what was our favorite was the new Nutella bombshell (and yes, I loved that it had bombshell in the name)! It had chocolate cake that was light and fluffy topped with Nutella mousse that reminded us of the texture of ice cream but was room temperature. It was so good that I can’t even think of better ways to describe it! And we also were given the butterscotch that we’ve had in the past but now it comes with maple ice cream which was loved by all of us.

Then the chef, Jennifer O’Neill came out to the table. It was wonderful to meet her and we were so excited to tell her how much we loved the food! And we got to learn about some things that might be coming up at Wood & Vine that we can’t wait for. I can’t share that stuff yet, but trust me I will as soon as I can!

After dinner we headed across the street for the show. We couldn’t believe it was finally time to see Hamilton! We ordered our season tickets about a year and a half ago and it seemed like we would never get to this date. And we were all remembering how we realized at my birthday party last year that it marked one year until the show. And it was finally here!

The energy in the theater was electric. I think everyone was just so excited to see the show (it only opened 2 days before so it was still very new to LA). The 4 of us kept saying how we couldn’t wait for the show to start. Michelle and I both have listen to the music from the show (many, many times) and have seen videos as well. But Dani and Elisa both tried to avoid seeing stuff about the show ahead of time since that’s how they like to see shows. But we were all equally ready for the show to start.

And I’m happy to say that all the hype about the show is true and more! I don’t know how to explain how amazing this show was and how it really is an incredible piece of theater. I wish that more people could see it because it’s that great. I know that ticket prices are high and there aren’t enough seats for everyone to see it now who want to. But hopefully eventually with the tours more people can experience this show.

While it’s a pretty long show (almost 3 hours when you include the intermission), it doesn’t feel like that at all. It goes by so quickly even though it is a very full show. I could see how there could be so much more show that I’d want to see and now I’m even more motivated than ever to finish reading the book that the show is based on (I’m about 1/4 of the way through the book).

I think all of us agree that this was such a highlight of what ended up being a pretty amazing season at the Pantages. We are all hoping that we will win the Ham4Ham lottery so we can go see the show again. It’s in LA for a few months so there’s a chance that at least one of us will win. But no matter what, we are all so grateful that we were able to see it with our season tickets!

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Birthday Twin Tradition (or An Almost Free Meal)

One of my favorite birthday traditions is going to Truxton’s with my birthday twin Joanna for dinner. We’ve been doing this for pretty much as long as we’ve been friends and it’s always a fun night for us. We try to have more catch up hangouts throughout the year and we’ve been getting better at doing that. But our birthday dinner is something we always look forward to.

We were going to try to do our dinner on our actual birthday again this year, but our schedules didn’t quite work out that way. So we ended up going 2 days before our birthday which was a great way to kick off each of us celebrating our birthday week!

We did a later dinner than normal, but that was fine because parking meters in Santa Monica were free! We both found parking pretty easily and walked over to the restaurant together. Because it was a later dinner, the restaurant wasn’t that packed, but that was nice since it wasn’t horribly noisy either.

When we started going to Truxton’s the birthday deal was a free entrée and free dessert. That made things really simple for us but we also always felt like we didn’t need 2 desserts. Now, the deal is $20 toward the bill. They used to combine the coupons (so we could get $40 total) but now it has to be split onto 2 checks. We decided to try to see if we could make it so when it was split each half would be $20 and we would get our totally free meal again.

We originally wanted to get Monkey Bread as an appetizer (it’s so good there!), but unfortunately they were all out! It was crazy that they were out, but we figured it just wasn’t meant to be. And for our entrees, we both were kind of debating between the same two things: the brisket sandwich and the club sandwich. So we decided that we would order both and would each have half.

It was a bit messy when we tried to cut the sandwiches in half, but it was fine. And it ended up being the perfect thing since we both got to have some of each thing we were craving. We also did one sandwich with garlic fries and one with regular fries so we got to have both options.

And dessert is always the highlight of the meal for us. We decided to go for the giant cookie that has ice cream on top. It’s pretty decadent and seems like one of the more festive desserts they have there.

They brought plates out for us so we could try to split the cookie and ice cream up, but there was no way to really do that. And we are fine sharing a plate so we each grabbed a spoon and pretty much stuck to one half of the pan. And even though we were both full from the sandwiches and fries (it’s probably a good thing we couldn’t get Monkey Bread), somehow we were able to finish the entire dessert!

We really tried to do some planning on what we were going to order to see if there was a way that we could make sure that each half of the bill would be $20 or less. Technically there was a way to do it, but it would have been with the dinners we really weren’t wanting. As much as we want a totally free meal, it’s better to order what we want to eat. And even though we didn’t have our free birthday tradition, it was still a very cheap dinner out.

And even though the bill was super cheap, we like to leave a big tip because we know that servers make most of their income from the tips (we left about $20 on what would have been a $41 bill).

And while the food was awesome, getting to catch up with Joanna was even better! It had been a while since our last catch up meal and we both had so much to share! Joanna has gone on some fun trips and has had some changes in her day jobs. I’ve become a medical miracle and also have had some changes in my day jobs. But I’m lucky because even though it’s been a few months since we had seen each other, when we get together it seems like we can always pick up where we left off.

We ended up hanging out at dinner for about 2 hours before we both had to head back home. The next tradition we have is our cheesecake outing that we do around the new year, but I know that we both are going to keep trying to make an effort to see each other more often (even if it isn’t a free meal that we are meeting up for).

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A GNO Reunion (or Taco Tuesday Without The Tacos)

It’s been a while since my GNO has gotten together. The group kind of fell apart when other GNO groups were created and we stopped being as active in setting up events. I’m hoping that one day we can get the group up and running again, but since we are all so busy it’s tough to know who would be able to do it. But we’ve all been able to stay in touch through social media so we always know when each other has awesome news to share.

Recently, my friend Brandi shared that she won a writing fellowship with HBO! That’s such amazing news, but I’m not surprised as Brandi is an incredible writer. I love all the work that she’s done and I know that she has won awards for her writing in the past. But besides announcing that she won this fellowship, she told us that she would be coming to LA for a week to participate in the kickoff for the program!

I hadn’t seen Brandi in over a year, since she moved to Atlanta. So I was so excited to get to see her again and get to celebrate her success. I knew she’d be busy, but fortunately she organized a casual dinner in West Hollywood so we could see her while she was in town. And I had a feeling I’d get to see some of the women from my GNO group again so I was pretty happy to get to dinner!

The dinner was held at a Mexican restaurant that I like, but my stomach was not having the best day. I had taken some of my anti-nausea meds before going, but I couldn’t seem to want to eat anything other than the chips. I was excited to get some of the Taco Tuesday specials that they had, but I guess it wasn’t meant to be that day for me and I just had water and chips.

When I got there, my friend Danette was already there. Danette is also a big fan of musicals and has season tickets for the Pantages this season too. She goes on a different night than I do, but we had a lot to talk about with the shows this season. She and I are pretty much on the same page with which shows we have liked and not liked and we are both pretty excited to see “Hamilton” soon! Danette has actually seen it in NYC already but knowing how excited she is to see it again makes me even more hyped up to see it!

Brandi got there shortly after I arrived and it was so great to get to see her! She looked so happy and I know that this fellowship is exactly the right thing for her right now. She didn’t start out as a writer, but it’s pretty clear to me that she is thriving as a writer and she truly shines when she is able to write. It makes me so happy for her that she is doing something that she loves and is getting so much positive recognition for it.

She was telling us a bit about the fellowship and the work that she’s been doing since it started this week. She’s gotten to meet some amazing people in the industry and it’s really a program to prepare those in it to be in a writers room on a tv show soon. She mentioned how the people who were in the program the first time they did it are all on staff on a show and I hope that she is on staff soon too! Mainly so she has an awesome job, but also so she moves back to LA because being at dinner made me realize how much I missed getting to see her in LA!

There were other women who were a part of the GNO group at dinner too and it was nice to catch up with everyone who was there. Everyone was enjoying the food there and I felt a bit bad that I wasn’t joining in with eating. But I guess if I’m trying to save money it’s best that I didn’t eat. But it was tempting to just get something to try to see if my stomach could handle it. I’m glad I didn’t because it would have been horrible to get sick there.

I was able to stay about 2 hours and then had to head back home to get some more work done. I wish I could have stayed longer to hang out with Brandi and everyone else some more, but I know that Brandi had a lot of people she wanted to catch up with and I didn’t want to take up too much of her time. It was so great to get to see her even if it was only for a few hours. And I have a feeling that she’ll be back in LA pretty soon to interview for writing jobs and then hopefully moving back because she has a writing job!

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Book Of Mormon and Marrow (or Another Night Out At The Pantages)

This past week was another show for our season at the Pantages. This time, we were seeing “Book of Mormon”!. Usually our shows are on Sundays, but because of some scheduling issues we had to move our show. So we went this past Thursday and it ended up being such an awesome night out!

It was a bit weird having the show on a Thursday because once I was done with work it almost felt like a Sunday to me. I had to keep telling myself that it was Thursday and tried to keep doing my usual Thursday stuff I have to get done. We knew that there would be traffic getting out to Hollywood so we ended up meeting a bit earlier than we probably needed to at my house to carpool out there. But one advantage of Thursday night shows is that we were able to park at a parking meter! We normally can’t because of the timing of Sunday evening shows, but it was nice to only have to spend $4 in parking at a meter instead of $16 to park in a garage.

As always, the 4 of us went to dinner before the show. And because we had such an amazing time at Wood & Vine last time, we knew we’d have to go back there! The last time, it was raining so everyone was seated inside. But this time, it was a really nice evening and we were seated outside on their patio.

Sitting inside was fun, but I think I might have liked the patio a bit more. It’s always nice getting to sit outside and it didn’t feel like we were in the middle of Hollywood. It was quiet and peaceful back there. And we were told that sometimes they screen movies back there! We were all saying that we would have to find out when they do that and go back for sure!

Ever since our first time at Wood & Vine, we have been dreaming about what food we were going to get the next time we were there. We decided to start with some things we’ve had before and some new things so we can see if we have some new favorites.

But of course, what we have been dreaming about the most and what we knew we’d be ordering for sure was the bone marrow!

This time, the bone marrow was served a bit differently but it was still as delicious as we remembered it. We got 2 orders since there were 4 of us (last time 3 of us shared 1 order and it almost wasn’t enough) and it was the perfect thing to share. It was so creamy and flavorful and I’m already craving it again! There’s something so decadent about getting bone marrow and it feels like a real luxury. But it’s actually not that expensive (at least not at Wood & Vine) so it’s nice to have an affordable treat.

After eating all that, we were all pretty full. But then the manager came over and was chatting with us and asked us about what we wanted for dessert. We said how we were debating if we had room for dessert and he said that he had already placed an order for our usual. And to our surprise, they had treated us to all 3 desserts from the menu again!

We were not expecting to be treated to dessert again and we didn’t really plan our dinner to be having dessert. But even though we were all so full, there is always room for delicious desserts! We dug into all 3 of them and agreed that they were all amazing and so worth feeling super full.

This meal was just as good (or maybe even better) than our first time to Wood & Vine and we already know that we will be back before our next show this season. And we are talking about very possibly going there before every show next season as well. I just can’t believe it took us this long to discover this amazing restaurant!

We had taken our time with dinner so we were walking over to the show with only a few minutes before curtain. Fortunately, it only takes a minute or two to cross the street and we were at our seats right before the show started.

Since this wasn’t our normal night for our season tickets, we weren’t in our normal seats. But these seats might have been a bit better. They were similar to our normal seats (2 seats in 2 rows one behind the other) but a bit further back than we were seated for the other shows. But because we were farther back we had less of an obstructed side view. But even with the slightly obstructed view, I was so excited to see the show this time because the last time I saw “Book of Mormon” it was from the very back of a theater. So being up close was a nice change.

When I saw the show in NYC, Ben Platt was in the cast. He’s an incredible actor who is now a Tony winner. I had said to my friends that I felt a bit bad for this cast because Ben Platt is a tough act to follow. But this cast didn’t disappoint at all! They were amazing and they had some really fun and different takes with the characters. It almost didn’t feel like the same show because they had so many unique things that made their characters their own. Also, I felt like the choreography was very different from the Broadway show and that adding to making it feel unique and different.

We were all laughing so hard at the show and it was so much fun seeing it again now that I knew what to expect. It was totally a perfect evening out at the theater. We’ve only got one more show in our season (finally seeing “Hamilton”!) and then we’ve got 5 months after that before our first show in our next season. It’s so crazy to think that this season is almost over. It felt like it wasn’t that long ago that we were thinking that we still had a year before seeing “Hamilton”. Now it’s just over a month away!

Air Food (or French Food In Santa Monica)

Because of this blog, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to do some really cool stuff. And this past weekend, I got to do one of those cool things! Through a friend who I know through Orangetheory, I was able to attend the soft opening of a brand new restaurant in Santa Monica! And I’m so excited to share with you all about the amazing experience I had at Air Food!

Air Food was started by Marc and Thierry who both come from Paris. They started with doing pop-up restaurants there wanting to create gastronomic food with a variety of foods. They became very popular and decided to open a restaurant in LA, which is how Air Food was born!

I haven’t had many opportunities to try French food, so I was beyond excited to attend this dinner! I had a feeling that I was in for an amazing night of food, and fortunately one of the new dresses I bought recently was the perfect thing to wear since it wasn’t too body conscious and I would be able to enjoy all the food there.

When I arrived at Air Food, I was the first soft opening customer there. I was a bit nervous about that and was wondering if maybe I should have waited to arrive, but Marc immediately came over to greet me and I think being there first was a total blessing. Marc introduced me to Thierry who was busy cooking and then he introduced me to the space and the food that they have there.

I loved the space. It’s a pretty small restaurant, but that makes it great! It’s not too crowded and there is a mix of seating at tables and at the bar for people to choose from. And Marc let me know that being at the bar was best because then I would have a view of the kitchen and could watch all the cooking going on. And for the customers at the tables, they would be able to watch all the excitement of the cooking through a camera that is in the kitchen that will be played on a large tv.

Marc also showed me their full water menu. For me, going to a place that has different types of water is perfect. I don’t drink soda and I’m not really drinking alcohol right now, so knowing that I have a choice beyond plain tap water makes me so happy.

Marc showed me the water wall and told me about all the different bottles and where they came from. I’ve never gotten to experience meeting someone so knowledgeable about water, but it made me want to learn more about water options for my house beyond just drinking filtered tap water. I told Marc about how I like sparkling water, especially with orange flavor, and he suggested that with my food I try a new tangerine/lemongrass water from Voss. I agreed that it sounded perfect and took my seat at the bar to get ready to have some delicious food!

To start, Thierry prepared some foie gras for me. I’ve never had foie gras before and was intrigued to try it. I’m not too adventurous of an eater, but I’m glad I tried it and I have so many friends who are so excited to find out that there is a new restaurant in LA that serves their favorite treat!

I was then presented with the menu for the soft opening. Everything on the menu that night will be available when they open, but there are some things that will be on the regular menu that weren’t an option for me. But even with fewer options, there was plenty for me to choose from and I was torn on what I wanted to eat!

What pleased me the most seeing the menu was seeing how reasonable the prices were for the food. I know that when I think French food (and sometimes when I think of Santa Monica restaurants) I think of expensive prices that I usually can’t afford. But everything on the menu is affordable even for me! After going back and forth on a few things that sounded delicious (and with a little input from Marc), I decided on the artichoke gratin and the rib eye steak.

The gratin was so creamy and I loved that it had truffles in it! And artichokes are one of my favorites so I was so happy that there were giant pieces of artichokes in the gratin and the pieces weren’t hidden in there. And the steak was so perfectly cooked! It was tender and flavorful and I wasn’t able to stop eating it!

But I probably should have paced myself a bit because then there was also dessert to order.

I was so full, but after thinking about it I decided to order the apple tart for dessert. I love apple tart and recently had a great one at Wood & Vine. So I wanted to see how awesome this one would be since I knew it would be incredible. And when it arrived I wasn’t disappointed.

Not only was it beautiful (and it was so beautiful that I didn’t want to cut into it), but it was so good! It was light and the pastry wasn’t too much. It was a refreshing dessert that seemed like the perfect way to end the meal.

There is no question that I will be returning to Air Food. And even though the event I went to was a soft opening, you are all in luck! Because Air Food is having their grand opening today! So if you are in Santa Monica, you need to make sure you stop by for lunch or dinner. And make sure you say hi to Marc and Thierry! They have created such an amazing restaurant and I’m so excited for everyone else to get to experience the food to see how lucky we all are that we now have this food in Santa Monica!

The Bodyguard and Bone Marrow (or An Amazing Dinner At Wood & Vine)

This past Sunday was another Pantages night out for me and my season ticket group. Normally I write about the dinner first and show second (as that’s the order that we do things), but I’m changing it up a bit. The show that we went to see was “The Bodyguard” and I’ll be honest that we were a bit unsure how we felt about this show before seeing it.

But this was such a fun show! It was explained to us as almost like a Whitney Houston concert with a bit of plot between the songs. And that’s a great description for the show! Deborah Cox is the lead and she was incredible! The songs were so much fun, the dancing was awesome, and everyone seemed to be dancing in their seats. And if you go to see the show, don’t leave during the curtain call. There is some fun after everyone takes a bow and I’m glad we stayed for it. Even though this was a show we were all unsure of before seeing it, I highly recommend getting tickets for it if you are looking for a fun night out at the theater!

Now, back to our dinner. Our group is always trying to figure out where to get dinner before our shows. We have gone to the same few places multiple times and when I was at the LA Times Festival of Books I went to the Pantages booth and grabbed one of their restaurant guides. I sent a photo of it to the group and we decided to check out Wood & Vine. Wood & Vine is right across from the theater and I have no clue why we hadn’t been there before. But trust me, we will be making many return trips there now!

Only 3 of us from the group could go to dinner, and since it is all shared plates we got a bunch of things for us to all share. We started with some olives which were perfect and then ordered a few things that sounded good to most of us. Michelle and Dani wanted the Brussels sprouts and I figured I’d try it. I hate them but I try to try foods that I think I hate at least twice a year. These were good, but there is still something about Brussels sprouts that I don’t think I will like (sorry Wood & Vine). But I think Michelle and Dani were happy I didn’t like them because they wanted them all to themselves!

Dani and I also split the mac and cheese which was so perfect! It was nice and creamy and the cracker crust on it was a nice crunch. And we also got the scallops and pork belly (scallops were something that I didn’t like until recently and started to like after forcing myself to try them) and I think we were all in heaven eating them.

But for us, even just looking at the menu, we were most looking forward to the bone marrow. My grandpa loved bone marrow and I actually had some at a Tone It Up dinner the night that he died. But I hadn’t really had an opportunity to order it since then. So to get it at Wood & Vine was exactly what I wanted. And when the plate came to our table, we were not disappointed. It looked incredible!

There are no words to describe how delicious this was. It was heaven on a plate and even just writing about it is making me crave it again!

The entire time that we were at Wood & Vine, the staff was just so nice to us. We got to chat a bit with the manager (he was the one who described the show as a Whitney Houston concert to us) and it was just wonderful and friendly there. And while we were eating we were looking so happy and they were telling us to save room for dessert. We figured they were talking about the bone marrow since that was the last thing that was coming to the table. We thought that was the perfect “dessert” for us and when we were done eating our table was full of empty plates where the amazing food had been.

But then, the chocolate pot de creme was brought over to our table. We thought it was a mistake but the staff let us know that they actually ordered dessert for us on the house! We were thanking them and then the other two desserts from the menu, butterscotch with bourbon ice cream and an apple fry pie, appeared on our table too! We couldn’t believe that they got us all 3 desserts from the menu on the house!

We were full, but of course there is a separate part of your stomach for dessert so we all dug in. And the desserts did not disappoint! They were all decadent and delicious and at that time the last member of our group, Elisa, got there and we offered to share the desserts with her too. We were not planning on dessert (we might have ordered a bit less if we knew we were getting it), but it was a fabulous end to an incredible meal. And to have the restaurant give us the desserts on the house to make sure we could try them is above and beyond what I would ever expect from a restaurant!

We’ve already decided as a group that when we go to see “Hamilton” in about 3 months that we will be returning to Wood & Vine. It is really one of the best restaurants that I’ve gone to and there are so many other things on the menu that I want to try now. And of course, we’ve joked that we are going to order at least 2 plates of bone marrow to split between the 4 of us. And I have a feeling that we will be going there for a lot of our pre-show dinners for our shows next season as well.

Usually my nights out at the Pantages are more about the show than our pre-show dinner. But because of how amazing the food and staff at Wood & Vine were, this time the food was totally the highlight of the evening and has raised the bar on what we expect out of our pre-show dinners! Thank you Wood & Vine for your hospitality, awesome Broadway show discussion, and the desserts you gave us!

San Diego Day (or Some More Family Time)

When I thought I was having surgery, the plan was to recover in LA with my parents for about a week and then head to San Diego to recover for almost another week. We wanted to make sure that I had enough time with help from my parents before they left (and obviously if I needed help longer we would have figured something out). Once the surgery was cancelled, my parents’ trip stayed the same but I didn’t go with them to San Diego right away. I decided to work so I didn’t have to use up the hours I had banked from work and then just went to San Diego for the day.

I’m pretty used to going to San Diego just for the day. It’s a bit of a drive, but not too unbearable. Plus, this was going to be a great opportunity for me to take my new car on a longer drive for the first time. The drive down was pretty easy (although I’ve figured out some new things that I want to see about getting for my car) and I was at my parents’ rental house right when they wanted me to get there.

As soon as I arrived, my dad and I went to get my grandma from her place. It’s much easier for her to get into my car than my mom’s since mine is lower to the ground. Plus that gave me extra time with my grandma. When we got her in my car and started to drive to the rental house, she realized that she left her sunglasses in her walker which was in my trunk. Fortunately, I have some random sunglasses in my car for just this occasion. I handed a pair to my grandma and I think she looked pretty amazing in the red sunglasses I had!

Once we got back to the rental house, most of the time we spent as a family was watching old home movies. My mom has turned most of our home movies into DVDs and it’s pretty fun to watch them. A lot of them are from family vacations and I’m glad that we have the videos since I was a teenager and don’t remember the trips as well as I’d like to. But I do still remember some of the really random moments from the trips like when we were in the amazon 17 years ago and I caught a piranha.

I posted that photo online and some of my friends commented that I look the same, but I think I look much older now. Or maybe I just looked really old when I was 16/17!

And as usual when I go down to San Diego to be with my family, my mom cooked an amazing dinner for us. There was a nice little outdoor eating area at the rental house and it was perfect weather for all of us to sit outside and enjoy a relaxing and delicious dinner.

And I know that my grandma really appreciates me coming to visit, even if it is only for a few hours. She seemed so happy with us all being together and I know that she had a great time. I thought maybe seeing some of the home movies would make her sad because my grandpa is in them, but that didn’t bother her. She didn’t remember everything that we did for each trip, but when there was stuff she did remember she seemed to light up and have funny stories to share about that part of the trip.

I didn’t get to spent too much time in San Diego because I had to be back in LA at a reasonable hour. I ended up spending about 5 hours there (and the total drive time round trip was about 4 hours), but it was totally worth it. I don’t get to see my grandma that often and I know I need to see her more. If I hadn’t gone to San Diego this time, I don’t know when I would have seen her again. Maybe at Thanksgiving but the last time I saw her was Thanksgiving and I would hate for an entire year to pass without a visit.

I know I need to make more of an effort to go to San Diego to see my grandma. It’s not that bad of a trip and just going out to lunch or dinner with her seems to make a huge difference in her day. I just need to work out when I can get down there again before Thanksgiving!

Overdue Happy Hour (or Trying A Neighborhood Restaurant)

I remember when I was little and hearing how adults felt like time went by so fast. I never understood it then since it seemed like each day would take forever (especially when it was a standardized testing day at school). But now it totally makes sense to me. Sometimes it feels like something wasn’t that long ago when it really was a few months ago. That’s what happened with my hangouts with my friend Rayshell.

We have been making an effort for a while to try to get together for happy hour every month every other month. We both have busy lives that seem to be on opposite schedules, so if we don’t make an effort to hang out a lot of time can slip by. Rayshell was recently on a trip and I had told her than when she got back we had to do a happy hour. But I didn’t realize then that the last time I had seen Rayshell was back in November! So much has changed in both of our lives since then so we quickly got to scheduling a time to meet for dinner.

We try to alternate if we meet on her side of town or my side of town, and Rayshell decided that it was her turn to come to my neighborhood (plus, her job is kind of toward where I live). I was trying to figure out a good place for us to meet that had a fun happy hour menu and I thought of Public School 310. I’ve been to Public School before, but only to the location in the valley. It’s weird that I hadn’t been to the one near me before since it’s walking distance from my house. But somehow it just never happened. So this happy hour seemed like the perfect time to check it out!

Rayshell and I love a good happy hour menu, and this one seemed pretty amazing to us! The drinks were super cheap, but since I can’t drink right now I had to skip that. But Rayshell got a $5 beer that was huge! And we decided to each get one of the little plates and then split something too. I got the meatballs and we split the hummus.

The food was really good and it was all a great deal! Between the beer and the 3 plates, our dinner was under $25! That’s really cheap, even for happy hour! And with this being so close to my house I feel silly that I hadn’t been there before. It’s totally going on my list of great places in my neighborhood.

Besides having great food, it was great conversation. Like I said, it had been a while since I had seen Rayshell. We see each other’s posts on Facebook and text from time to time, so we were a bit caught up on each other’s lives. But it’s very different to catch up in person than it is online. And as we caught up, we both realized how much stuff had happened since we saw each other back in November!

Rayshell was telling me all about her trip, but she has also been working out at Orangetheory! She doesn’t work out at the same location as me since there is a location walking distance from her house (I’m jealous since I have to drive almost an hour home in rush hour traffic from the studio I go to). But she’s been going twice a week for a while so we wanted to talk workout stuff. I love that I have so many friends who work out so we can all talk about our workout wins and totally understand what the other person is talking about.

And even though Rayshell knows about my surgery next month, she wanted to hear about what was happening and what the plan is. I’m sure that hearing that I have a big tumor that will be taken out can be overwhelming for my friends. I don’t feel too worried about it because I’m not in pain and I feel very confident in my surgeon. But since nobody else knows that I’m not in pain and nobody else has met my surgeon, I can see why other people are worried about me. But I do want to make sure all of my friends know that I’m totally ok with everything that is happening so I’m more than happy to explain it all to them.

I also had to update Rayshell about getting a new car! It’s still a bit weird to me that I have a new car, but it is feeling more and more like mine and not like a rental or a temporary car. It helped a lot that I now have my personalized plates on it. I’ve had those plates on every car I’ve ever had and it makes it feel more like mine and not someone else’s. And it is really nice having a car that doesn’t have a bunch of things that I need to fix or that doesn’t want to play my podcasts from my phone. My old car was fine, but this one feels like such an upgrade. And while I wasn’t actively looking for a new car before, I know Rayshell knew all the issues I had with the old car so I think she’s pretty happy for me that I have something that works and doesn’t need thousands of dollars in repairs.

Our happy hour was pretty short because Rayshell had to deal with traffic to get home, but it was the perfect quick catchup for us. I know that she is hoping to come visit me when I’m in the hospital or when I’m recovering with my parents, so I’ll be seeing her again soon. And even though I might be in pain when we hang out then, I know that Rayshell is going to do what she can to make that still a fun hangout and feel like one of our regular happy hour adventures.

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!