Tag Archives: friends

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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Working On My Crafty Side (or Starting Off Halloween Season!)

I love Halloween. I don’t know if it started because of working at Halloween Horror Nights or the amazing Halloween parties that my friends have thrown, but I love Halloween time. I remember when I was growing up that my parents would get the Halloween box out of the garage and we would spend an afternoon decorating the outside of the house. Now that I’m in my house, I really don’t decorate the outside but I’ve tried to be better about decorating the inside. I’m not the most crafty person, but I’m good at shopping and have found some cute decorations that work in my house.

But my friend Anne is probably one of the most crafty people I know and is amazing at decorating! She decorates her house based on the season and changes out things seasonally so that everything reflects what she is decorating for! I met Anne when I went to the blogger event a few years ago about the Hard Rock Cafe 5K and we’ve stayed in touch ever since then. We don’t get to see each other that often, so when she invited me to a crafting party at her house, I immediately RSVPed yes!

The plan was to decorate styrofoam pumpkins and she would have all the crafting supplies for us. I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t know what to do with the pumpkin but I knew there would be so many creative people there that I could learn from and hopefully I would be inspired and could make something cute.

When I got to the party, Anne had all the crafting supplies out by the tables she set up. I was so impressed by everything that she had for us and even more impressed that this was all stuff that she already had in her house!

There were so many things on the table to use to decorate the pumpkins! I honestly didn’t know where to start. The only thing I knew I didn’t want to use was glitter because it gets everywhere and I try to not have glitter things in my house (I guess that proves I’m not into crafts since I don’t like glitter). But there were so many paint options, ribbons, gems, door knobs to use as stems, and other things to choose from so not using glitter wasn’t going to limit me.

Other people started to grab paint, glitter, and other things to decorate and I took a moment to observe and see what everyone else was doing. A lot of people were painting their pumpkins another color and then were going to work on decorating on top of that, but I knew that it wouldn’t be what I would do. So I took a look carefully at the supplies table and got inspired by some gem-type ribbon. Anne got a glue gun out for me so I could glue it down, I grabbed some gems to go with the ribbon, and I started working.

I covered the stem of the fake pumpkin with the ribbon and then wrapped it around and glued it down. Then I took some of the gems and put them randomly around the pumpkin. I was liking how it looked and decided that because I’m such a big Disney nerd that I needed to add a few hidden Mickeys to my pumpkin. And I was so happy with the end result!

It’s the perfect mix of Halloween and Disney and it will look so cute on my dining room table! And it’s simple enough that as I get more decorations that it should still work with everything. And because Anne had so many extra pumpkins, I took another one and took colored gems to create a pumpkin that was just Mickeys.

As expected, everyone else was so creative! The pumpkins looked like things you would buy in a store and we joked that we should create a shop to sell what we made. I wish I could be as creative and crafty as everyone else, but that’s just not a skill I have right now. I probably could be better if I worked on it, but I don’t have a lot of opportunity to do that.

And when everyone was all done, we had to get all the pumpkins together for a photo. That’s what happens when you are in a room of bloggers, social media specialists, and marketers.

I do feel like mine are the least fancy of the bunch, but I am still proud of what I made and that they did turn out cute. I was not competing with others to make the best pumpkin, I just wanted to do something that I could be proud of and that didn’t look ugly. I accomplished both of those goals.

I’m so glad that I went to the pumpkin party because I got to meet so many amazing people and I got to spend an afternoon being creative. Even though my creativity isn’t usually in crafting, any time I get to be creative is a good thing for me. And it helped me kick off Halloween season early so now I can take the rest of my Halloween decorations out and start getting my house into the Halloween spirit!

Let’s Go Dodgers (or A Night Out At The Game)

I didn’t really grow up in a sports family. I did play sports as a kid (I did soccer, softball, gymnastics, and swim team at various times in my childhood), but we really didn’t watch sports. Part of that was because my dad hates watching tv, but we rarely went to live sports. I think for a couple of years we maybe did one baseball game a year. I went to maybe one or two hockey games. The first professional basketball game I went to was not that long ago. And I’ve never been to a professional football game.

Since moving to LA I’ve gone to a couple of baseball games. I went to a Dodgers game once for my birthday and once for a friend’s birthday. And maybe 10 years ago my roommate at the time won VIP tickets for an Angels game and I took my brother. But I rarely go to a game just because I don’t usually think about going. So when a friend of mine asked me if I want to go with her to a Dodgers game this past weekend, I jumped at the chance to go!

It was actually her company picnic, so they had a reserved section before the game where there was food. We got there pretty close to the start time for the picnic and we got some Dodger dogs, chips, and water. It was pretty awesome to not have to spend money on food at the game even if the food isn’t too horribly expensive. Free food is always the best and it was fun getting to meet some of my friend’s co-workers before going over to our seats.

I was worried that we were going to be sitting in the sun, but when we got to our seats we were under an overhang and not facing the sun so we had lots of shade.

Being at a game is really so exciting and it’s fun to be in a crowd like that. It’s a bit overwhelming too, but fortunately our seats were the last row in that section so I didn’t feel like I was in the middle of everyone. It felt a bit more secluded and I was able to relax.

The game was fun. Unfortunately, the Dodgers weren’t playing that great but we did get to see some great plays. And to me, being at the game is more than just watching the game. It’s being around friends and just enjoying being outside. And it was much cooler that night than it had been lately so I was having fun enjoying some outside time. Plus, we had some pretty sunset clouds a little after the game started.

The game was moving pretty quickly, but my friend and I had decided to leave before the game was over. It’s so much easier to leave before everyone else tries to leave and we didn’t want to be stuck in the parking lot for a long time just trying to get out onto the road. Plus, neither of us were super invested in the game. I think if we had paid for our tickets, we would have stayed longer. But when you have free tickets, you don’t feel like you have to get the most for your money. But we did stay until the sun went down because it does look pretty cool being in the dark with the stadium all lit up.

We left after the 5th inning and when we were in the car we had the game on the radio so we could pay attention to what was happening. Nothing ended up happening in the game until I was home and put the game on my tv. There were a few more runs, but I think the most exciting moments were during the beginning of the game when we were there. And the Dodgers continued their losing streak and ended up losing this game as well.

Even though I didn’t stay for the entire game, I really did have a great time at the game. This is something that I was telling myself I needed to do again since it had been years since I was at a game. And this was the perfect chance to get to go and not have to worry about if I should be spending money on it. And it made me realize that I do want to try to get to more baseball games. I don’t know if I’ll go every summer, but maybe every other or every few summers would be fun. It’s a nice treat to do and it’s a great way to hang out with friends.

Hopefully the Dodgers will start winning again and if I get a chance to go to another game soon it will be one where they do win! I have a lot of friends who are big baseball fans and diehard Dodgers followers and I know they really want the team to do better than they are doing now.

Representing For My Union On Labor Day (or A Beach Day Fail)

This past Labor Day I didn’t really have any plans. Mondays are my days off anyway so I knew I’d be going to workout in the morning and needing to do errands at some point that day. But since I knew most of my friends had the day off as well I figured I should try to make some plans. But of course, I procrastinated until the last minute and the night before I was trying to figure out what to do.

I texted a few friends to see if anyone was free, and only my friend Dani got back to me. We decided that even though the beach would be really crowded, we should try to go to the beach for a few hours. I hadn’t been to the beach this entire summer and figured it was a perfect thing to do for the day. Plus, it had been so hot and I knew the beach would be a bit cooler than where I live.

We decided to meet up around 1pm at her place because she lives closer to the beach. I was going to pick her up and then we were going to try to find somewhere to park near the beach that wasn’t too expensive. I packed up some magazines, sunscreen, and a towel and got into the car to drive over. And when I got to Dani’s house, she opened the door and had a better suggestion than going to the beach.

Dani recently moved to a new place and she suggested that we just hang out at the pool at her apartment complex. There wasn’t anyone there, we wouldn’t have to deal with the sand, and if one of us had to run to the bathroom there was a clean place to go (and not have to deal with gross dirty beach bathrooms). It sounded like a perfect plan and I happened to find a parking spot right in front of her place.

Once I parked and we got inside, we grabbed some lounge chairs and got ready to have a nice afternoon of relaxing. There were a few other people at the pool once we got there, but it was still pretty peaceful and felt like a nice mini-vacation in a way.

It was a bit overcast and significantly cooler than it had been all weekend, so we just spent time reading on the lounge chairs and didn’t go into the pool. Plus, I didn’t want to have to drive home in a wet bathing suit. But I wasn’t going to go into the ocean either, so relaxing on a towel was exactly how I had been planning on being on the beach too.

Since it was Labor Day and that day is about unions, I decided that I was going to wear my Union Working hat. It seemed perfect to be supportive of my union and other unions that day, plus it is a really great hat too!

We briefly talked about maybe getting some food (all I had packed for the beach was water), but we ended up not really caring too much about getting anything. It was just nice having several hours laying by the pool and not having a care in the world. My only regret was that I didn’t have my Kindle with me. I didn’t pack it because I didn’t want it to get sand it in, but that wasn’t a worry at the pool. Fortunately, I can use the Kindle app on my phone so after I was done reading magazines I started working on some books.

I ended up being at the pool for about 4 hours. Because of it being overcast (and maybe a bit because I was super careful about putting on a ton of sunscreen), I didn’t get sunburnt at all. I was actually a bit surprised by that and was worried that the next morning I would look like a lobster. But I guess that I lucked out and even though I don’t ever tan, I am always worried about burning. It was like it was a sign that us hanging out by the pool instead of going to the beach was the right choice.

I still haven’t made it out to the beach this summer and I really don’t know if I will go. I don’t always go each summer, but I feel like since I live so close it’s silly for me not to take advantage of that. But honestly, hanging out at a pool where I didn’t feel sandy and gross when I left was so much better for me and made my Labor Day a pretty awesome day!

Last Minute Bowl Adventure (or A Very Hot And Humid Night Out)

With summer almost over, I realized that there was a good chance I wasn’t going to make it to the Hollywood Bowl this season. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go this season, it’s just that I never got around to planning for it. When the season was announced, I had other things on my mind. And then as the summer went on, I just kind of forgot about it. I was a bit sad to think that I wasn’t going to get out there this summer when my friend Dani texted me.

One of Dani’s friends had extra tickets for the John Williams concert. Dani was taking one and she wanted to see if I wanted one too. This was just a few days before the concert, but somehow my schedule was free the night of the show (which wasn’t the case for so many nights this summer) and I said I wanted the ticket. It worked out so well that I probably couldn’t have planned it better myself!

Dani, her friend, and I met up to take the Bowl bus together. It was such a hot and muggy afternoon that we were happy to get inside the air-conditioned bus. I don’t know what happened, but in that very long drive (it was about an hour and a half) it got hot and humid inside the bus too. We were all starting to feel drowsy and ready to get off the bus. But it seemed to take forever for us to get there.

And once we arrived, it wasn’t much better outside. We were hoping that it would cool down once the sun was down, but it was still over 90 degrees out at almost 8pm. We aren’t used to the humidity either so that made things much worse. But we were just happy to be at the Bowl and get to our seats.

Once we were seated (and drank a ton of water and had some food) we were starting to feel better. I think we were probably all dehydrated from sweating so much and we needed to get something into our bodies to get into a better space to watch the show. It was still close to being unbearably hot, but it was better once I didn’t feel sick anymore.

And as always, the concert was amazing! We had some pretty great seats and the people with the seats next to us didn’t show up so we were able to spread out a bit more. That was nice since we didn’t have to be squished in our seats which would have probably made us feel even worse in that weather.

The first half of the concert was with another conductor, but he was great and the music was wonderful. But I think everyone was waiting for after intermission when John Williams was coming out. And he didn’t disappoint! He conducted the philharmonic in all the scores that we wanted to hear like Harry Potter, Superman, and of course Star Wars when everyone got their light sabers out.

But what we weren’t expecting was to have Kobe Bryant come out to read his poem “Dear Basketball” while John Williams conducted the score he created for it. It was very moving and as someone who isn’t a sports person I was surprised by how it ended up being a highlight of the evening. It was something that was special to get to witness and I love that there are always fun surprises whenever I go see this show.

Of the group I was with, I was the only person who had seen John Williams before. So when the evening was coming to a close, I told everyone else to stay seated because there are almost always 2 encores. And the finale song is always the score from ET. And it was exactly what I thought it would be (although the rainbow lighting that they normally put on the Bowl didn’t happen this year).

After the concert was over, it took some time for us to get back to the bus to head back home. It was still so hot and humid outside but fortunately this time the air conditioning in the bus was working. We were able to relax on the bus right home except when we saw the huge fire that was happening in the hills nearby from the freeway. We all knew the fire was happening, but to see it from the freeway and how bright it glowed at night was a little scary. Fortunately, it wasn’t that close to us and now the fire is getting closer to being totally out.

I’m so glad that I was able to make it to the Bowl this summer. I really didn’t think I’d make it and it really helped to make my summer feel more complete by getting to go. There are still a few more shows this summer, but I don’t know if I’ll make it out to another one. But I know I need to prioritize getting tickets next summer when they go on sale.

Another NextGen Mixer (or A Fun Post-Election Hangout)

Even though the SAG-AFTRA election season is over, there are still so many awesome actor events for me to participate in! I’ve been getting registered for the upcoming convention and submitting interest in various committees. I’m getting so excited about both the convention and the committee opportunities. I know how much I loved the convention last time and I have a feeling that it will be just as amazing this year!

But I’m not just getting ready for future events, I’m going to some. And this past week was the big mixer event for the NextGen Performers Committee. I’ve gone to some of their smaller events, but this one is their biggest. It’s not just a NextGen Performers event, it’s also co-sponsored by New Filmmakers LA. I haven’t been to any of the combined mixers before so I was pretty excited to see what this one would be like.

It was held at the Federal Bar in North Hollywood, so it was a bit of a drive for me. But I was able to get there pretty close to the start time. But I had no idea how big this mixer was since I had only gone to the smaller ones. And when I arrived it was already pretty packed inside! There was a fun step and repeat to take photos at, but I decided to focus on trying to find some of my friends first.

Fortunately, within a few minutes of arriving I found a bunch of friends who were also a part of the slate that I ran on for the recent election. We were all so glad that the election season is over and we can focus on more union work now. And I also ran into some friends from the other slate and it’s nice to know that we are all past the campaigning and political stuff for now and can go back to working hard together.

With the bar being so crowded, I got a bit overwhelmed and when that happens I get a bit shy. So I ended up sticking with my friends for most of the night. I know that we were supposed to be networking, but that’s so difficult to do in a loud bar. It was so much easier to just catch up with people who I already know so I didn’t have to worry about offending them by saying that I can’t hear anything that they are saying. But it was a good mix of people I know through so many different things (even some girls from my Girls Night Out group!). So I wasn’t too isolated in the groups that I was talking to.

Since this was such a bit mixer for the NextGen Performers group, SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris was there to speak. I’ve been so fortunate to get to know Gabrielle over the past few years and she is truly incredible. She took over as SAG-AFTRA president after Ken Howard died and that was not an easy thing to do. But she’s done such a wonderful job with the union and I’m so happy that she was reelected. But one of the most amazing things about her is how much she cares about everyone. She is so happy to see people and always asked about how we are doing. When she found out my friend was working on his first union contract, she had the biggest smile and was so proud of him. Having a leader that cares that much is a rare treat.

After the speeches, the official time for the event was coming to an end. We had a reserved section of the bar plus there was some free food and drink tickets. I think we could have stayed there after the official time ended (it just wouldn’t be reserved for our group or have the free stuff), but once it was 9pm I was feeling ready to go. I had a pretty long day that day with working my day job and a doctor appointment, plus the drive to the valley is a bit long. I knew that I was already overwhelmed and adding being tired to that wasn’t going to let me make any good impressions on people. So I started to make my round of goodbyes, which always seems to take forever, and headed back to my car to head home.

I love all the NextGen Performers events. Usually they are much smaller than this one which is nice because I can spend the time getting to know new people and it isn’t as crazy. But having a big event is so fun and festival especially when it comes at the end of what was a bit of a stressful election season.

A Quick Disney Day (or Getting Back To The Parks And Onto The Train)

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Disneyland. The summer blackout for my annual pass is only about 2 months, but when you are used to going to the parks once a month or so it feels so much longer! So when my friends and I looked at the blackout date calendar and saw that we were finally going to be able to go back to the parks, we put it on our calendars so we could make sure we got our Disney day in!

For a while, the train has been closed because of the work going on for the new Star Wars land. I love the train and it’s been sad that it’s been down for so long and I couldn’t wait to be able to get back on it. Plus, Dani had never been on the train at Disneyland! So knowing that the train was open again now made me even more excited to be going to the parks.

We knew it wasn’t going to be a normal Disney day when we arrived. Normally when we get there around lunchtime, there may be some cars lined up for the parking structure but we get parked pretty quickly. But this time, the lines were pretty far back for parking. It didn’t take too long, but we realized that it was going to be much more crowded than we expected. Maybe everyone else was just like us and was excited to finally be able to get back to the parks after the summer blackout?

No matter way, we were ready to have some fun as soon as we arrived. And the first stop was the train. There’s normally not a line for the trains, but everyone was so happy that it was back and they wanted to see the new stuff they added. So we were in line for a little while before we could get on the train. But that was ok because I was just so happy to see that the trains were running and was enjoying people watching everyone there. And when we got on a few trains later, I couldn’t wait to see all the new changes.

I didn’t take a ton of photos because I wanted to focus on enjoying the train, but I love the new views of the river that you get from the train. It’s so pretty and the landscaping looks so good!

They also did some fun work in the diorama section of the train. There are now more moving elements, especially on the background of the mural. I think it added some nice touches while still maintaining the classic look of the diorama that I love so much. I know my mom loves that part of the train too and I can’t wait until she can come with me to Disneyland again so she can see it herself!

After doing the full trip around the park on the train, we headed over to California Adventure to ride the Guardians of the Galaxy ride. We were hoping to get a new song (there are 7 songs and we’ve heard 2 of them already), but we ended up getting one of the same ones we had the last time we rode. But it was still such a fun ride and I don’t miss the old Tower of Terror ride. We were trying to think of a fun photo to do this time and we decide to try to do some sort of ninja/karate pose. You can’t really see it well, but because of where I was sitting I was able to kick my leg up and I got it up pretty high!

After the ride, we were feeling a bit overwhelmed from the heat and the crowds so we decided to take a break to get something to eat. We decided to go to the Trattoria and I didn’t realize that neither Michelle nor Dani had been there before! It’s one of the places I really like so I was excited to share it with them.

I decided to get the Osso Bucco and it was delicious. Maybe a bit too rich considering how the heat was affecting me, but it was so good!

After eating, we went back to Guardians of the Galaxy where there was a little show happening in front of the ride. It’s a dance off thing and it was cute to watch for a minute.

We decided to go back on the ride after that, but Dani wasn’t feeling up for it so she waited in the shade while Michelle and I went on it. Again, we were hoping for a new song but we ended up getting the other one we heard the first time we rode. I guess it wasn’t meant to be to hear the other songs and know what the other versions of the ride were like. We didn’t really have a fun photo and that’s probably for the best since the person in front of us kind of blocked us in the photo.

We were thinking about doing another ride after that, but I think all of us were feeling a bit done. I wanted to have a full day at Disneyland, but the heat was getting to me and I hadn’t slept too well over the weekend so I think that was catching up to me. We tried to take a bit of a break in the shade to relax, but we realized that we were all ready to go home.

Since we all have annual passes, it’s ok that we had a short day at Disneyland. We can go back soon to ride other things that we didn’t get a chance to ride this time. And hopefully when we go back it will be less crowded and we won’t feel as off as we did from the heat. But no matter how long we were in the parks, being at Disneyland makes me so happy and I’m so glad I was able to go back this week!

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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 Party Adventure! (or Another Traditional Celebration)

I’ve celebrated my birthday at Bodega Wine Bar a couple of times now. It’s such a great place to have a casual birthday hangout so when I was trying to plan what to do for my birthday this year I had going back to Bodega at the top of my list. I looked at having a party at other locations, but I kept coming back to thinking Bodega would be perfect. So I gave them a call and they were able to get me the same section I’ve had in the past for a birthday party this past Saturday! So it was another Bodega birthday adventure!

Before my party, I actually decided to go to DryBar to get a blowout. There is now a DryBar right by my house, so that’s so much easier than having to drive 10-15 minutes to another location. I could walk there, but that day was so hot and humid and I didn’t want to ruin my hairstyle on the walk back. Fortunately there was a meter right in front of the salon for me!

The blowout only took about 30 minutes so that gave me plenty of time to go back home so I could relax a bit before getting ready to go out. I didn’t take a photo of my outfit, but I decided to try to be dressy and casual at the same time so I wore a basic black sundress with some cute heels. And then it was time to head over to Bodega!

And I lucked out with a parking meter again! I found one that was right around the corner and it was free since it was after 6pm! It was perfect and I walked right over to see who was an early bird for the party.

I’m glad I wasn’t the first person to arrive because I always hate waiting for people. And right after I got there more people started to arrive. I’m glad I got a reserved section again because it made things much easier for us. The bar was a bit crowded with some other parties and this way we didn’t have to worry about finding space for everyone. Although at one point there were maybe 15 of us there and it was getting a bit crowded. But I don’t think that anyone really minded that.

I hadn’t had a drink since my birthday party last year, but I knew I’d be ordering one at my party this time. My liver surgeon has told me that I can drink, but I haven’t been drinking since I don’t want to put more stress on my liver than I need to. But this was a special occasion so I figured it was a good time to have my first drink in a year!

I knew my tolerance for alcohol would be down, but I was actually surprised how low it was. I’ve had time without drinking before and it never seemed like I lost too much of my tolerance. This time, I was able to drink maybe about half of it before I felt like it was hitting me. I ordered food to help me feel a bit better, but I ended up not drinking any more of my drink. It was delicious, but I guess I need to realize that I can’t drink the way I could before (at least not for a while).

But I didn’t have my party to be able to drink. I had it so I could hang out with my friends and have fun. And that’s exactly what happened! I love when different groups of friends come together and meet. And this had people from so many different parts of my life there. It was so fun watching my neighbor talk to someone who is part of the leadership of the Unite for Strength slate. Or to see one of my Disney friends talk to someone from my WIF mentoring group. It was just awesome sitting back and watching people get to know each other and have my worlds combine!

I didn’t want any presents (although I did tell people if they wanted to do something they could donate to Unite for Strength) because I wanted this to feel more like a regular fun hangout and not a birthday party. I didn’t want anyone to sing Happy Birthday to me or make anything a big deal. Some of my friends did pay for my food and drink, so that was special and I wasn’t expecting it. All I wanted from my friends was to have them there and get to have fun with them.

We ended up being at Bodega for a pretty long time. It was getting a bit noisy and I think most of us aren’t usually late night people so by 11:30 we were all ready to go. People had been coming and going all night so it was a rotating group of people there, but pretty much everyone who was still there decided to leave when at the same time at the end.

I couldn’t have asked for a better birthday adventure. It was fun and no-stress. Everyone there seemed to have a great time and that’s what I wanted. I always want everyone else to have fun and that’s what makes me happy!

While this was the main birthday adventure for me, what I have to write about in tomorrow’s post was almost the grand finale of the birthday fun!

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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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