Exploring Another Love…

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I am an official art school drop out. And I can’t go back and get my degree because the school I went to went out of business, but not before I managed to complete one out of two required years. Oh but that year was grueling. So many sleepless nights and that was the year I gave up coffee. Really. THAT was the year. I think I still have the mark from when my forehead slammed on my keyboard when I fell asleep in class. My schedule was crazy back then. Full time school, part time work, rehearsing for a show, AND in a relationship. It’s no wonder that halfway through that year I got SO SICK that my voice disappeared. I remember laying on the couch feeling so miserable and tired that I thought to myself…if I died right now at least I’d get some sleep.

Anyway, I have always loved digital art. My dad had an old Amiga computer and I made my very first campaign posters in 5th grade on it when I ran for Chief of Safeties (I lost). I can’t even remember the name of the program, but it was so fun making those signs. That dream collapsed after that first year in college, but like drawing, I’m slowly finding my way back to all the things I used to love. And I finally decided to put that half year of art school to good use and try to get some of that investment back by creating some printable quotes on Etsy! I only have 6 pieces up, but I’ll continue to add more. Gotta put the random thoughts and colors swirling around in my head somewhere, right?

 

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Donut’s Dog Birthday Cake RECIPE

dog birthday cake recipe

Looking for a dog birthday cake recipe? I got one for you!

But better than a cake, make them into cupcakes! This way you can share with friends!

Today is my dog Donut’s 10th birthday. This little fella and I have been through so much together. Moving from Los Angeles to Memphis to New Jersey then New York, he was by my side. He graciously (well, as graciously as he could) welcomed my husband and his dog Twister into our lives. Donut grieved hard when Twister passed away and offered his comfort to us in the weeks afterwards. We were nervous that he wouldn’t adjust well to the baby, but Donut surprised us all, and assumed his role as her protector and friend from day one. On our first day home, he sat in front of the rocking chair while I nursed her and wouldn’t let Daddy near us (still working on that, haha!). Today, he is her best friend and foot massager. I couldn’t have asked for a better big brother for my baby girl.

We are celebrating his birthday this upcoming Thursday. I plan on cooking him a special dinner and I will bake him some dog food cupcakes which we will share with his friends in the neighborhood: Doc, Rufus, Vader, Bruce and Cash. (Wow, I didn’t realize there were no female dogs living on our street!)

Here are a couple pictures from his 7th and 9th birthdays. Twister didn’t want to wait until the song was over, and two years later, neither did my daughter. I knew they were kindred spirits! My husband and I sometimes wonder how Twister would have acted if she’d been around when D was born. Donut probably wouldn’t have let Twister near her. D is, after all, HIS baby, haha!

dog birthday cake recipe
Top, Donut’s 9th birthday
Bottom, Donut’s 7th birthday with his sister Twister
Donut's 9th Birthday
Donut’s 8th Birthday! I was in the throws of pregnancy memory loss so I forgot to bake him a cake this year. Instead I ordered him a present from Pet360 that made him mad, haha!!
dog birthday cake recipe
Donut’s 4th Birthday – It was freezing outside so his birthday walk in Manhattan was canceled but I don’t think he cared.

Donut’s Dog Birthday (Cup)cake Recipe
Makes 5-6 regular sized cupcakes OR a bunch of mini cakes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 package of Little Cesar’s dog food
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil

(Optional)

  • 1/2 cup grated carrots
  • Cream cheese (for icing)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Place flour in a large bowl.
  • In another bowl, whisk eggs and oil together.
  • Add dog food to egg and oil mixture and mix well, mash if necessary.
  • Mix in carrots or cheese (if desired) into egg mixture.
  • Add egg mixture into flour and stir to combine.
  • Place paper cupcake liners in 6 cups of a regular sized cupcake pan and fill halfway OR fill to top in a mini cupcake pan. Place in oven and bake for 12-15 minutes or until the internal temperature of the cakes reach 160.

NOTE – if making mini cupcakes, reduce cooking time to 10 minutes.
Ice with cream cheese if desired!

I hope your pups enjoy these!

NOTE – A previous version of this recipe called for baking powder which I have just realized is not safe for dogs. Though the amount that was in the original recipe was small, I no longer feel comfortable including it, so it has been omitted.

Mommy-Daughter Day at Dia:Beacon

Dia:Beacon
The little one making mischief at Dia:Beacon!

My daughter and I took advantage of this weekend’s FREE event at Dia:Beacon. This weekend was part of Dia’s Community Free Days which includes free admission for Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster, and Westchester County residents on quarterly basis. The last time I went there was before I got married, so I was hoping to see some new stuff.

Yeesh, I forget how BIG this place is. It doesn’t look like it from the outside, but believe me, it’s huge!

Kiddo loved it!

There was a lot of room for her to run around. I made sure she only ran free in areas where the artwork was out of her reach. She had her eye on one particular sculpture (made of discarded metal) and she was DETERMINED to climb it. Luckily, I got to her before she could touch it.

I will have to say, that I maintain my stance on blank canvases as “art.” Not sorry. Not art. Piles of glass? Not art. Garbage. Holy crap, I was cursing under my breath because I just cannot reconcile that as art. There are two or three rooms of blank canvases up next to galleries of giant metal sculptures and down the hall is a whole room of geometric pencil drawings drawn right on the wall!! Blank canvases (canvases painted white, whatever) are not the same. Watch me take a dump on the floor and call it art. Same amount of effort. I blame Duchamp and his love for toilet humor.

However, I did enjoy most of the work displayed!

There were some pieces I loved, like The Hanged Man by Bruce Nauman (NSFW). I thought it was hilarious! Maybe the not the message the artist was trying to put forth, but humor is what I got.

Dan Flavin’s untitled (to you, Heiner, with admiration and affection), 1973 was also one of my favorites. My daughter actually enjoyed his the best because they were all lit up!

Sol LeWitt remains my favorite artist displayed at Dia:Beacon because you know some WORK went into his pieces. My daughter pointed at one particular installation which was red, yellow and blue and started shouting, “Color! Color!” Even she appreciated it, and she’s only 18.5 months old!

Later, we finished up with lunch in the museum cafe, which is an extension of Homespun Foods, one of Beacon’s most popular cafes – SUPER delicious, and not your standard museum cafeteria food.

Anyway, even with my loathing towards conceptual art, Dia:Beacon is still a wonderful place to visit and get your culture on. The Dia Art Foundation has several locations and affiliates in the US and internationally. Check them out!

An Unplanned Hiatus and Announcement!

So the end of November threw me into an unplanned hiatus from blogging and personal social media. My online activities were restricted to the social media responsibilities for my job, as well as extra holiday hours at the store. Not that it wasn’t a welcome time to be busy, because as you can tell from the photo below…

Pregnancy Announcement

…the hubs and I are expecting our first child in July! We are very excited, terrified and so so happy! We aren’t particularly sentimental/cheesy/corny people, but we do love to laugh. So we included Donut in our announcement! Poor kid, haha! He’s been demoted to reindeer next Christmas. The first thing I bought for the baby was a Santa suit. Girl or boy, who cares.

Donut and his soon-to-be-baby

Other than that, I’ve been really busy working because of the holidays. Since it is the start of the slow season, I’m working on increasing my social media client base and adding more inventory to my shop. I want to work from home so that I can stay with the baby. My parents both worked full time so growing up I had nannies and babysitters around me the majority of the time. I lived for Thursdays because that was the day my mom would be off from work! Because of how both parents working out of the house affected me growing up, I would rather be the one at home taking care of the kids and return to the workforce once they are old enough to go to school.

I don’t plan on putting too many pictures of the kids online. I want them to be able to control their own level of privacy. That cute picture of them on the toilet when they’re  five could come back to haunt them when they’re fifteen.

Pregnancy has been fairly easy so far (knock on wood), aside from mild food aversions (still can’t eat chicken), and dairy has become my worst enemy (gas gas gas……..), but chocolate is still my friend and french fries have saved me from starving on more than one occasion.

I have a couple things planned for this blog. I will continue to feature my talented friends in my monthly round-ups (performances, industry, etc.), but I’ll be adding more DIY, recipes and some music. Stay tuned!

Keys To The Animal Room

My next project is a staged reading of Peta Murray’s Keys to the Animal Room at The Beacon Theatre. Directed by Christine Vittorini, it takes a hard look at domestic violence and how the signs of abuse so often go ignored. I play the role of the battered wife, Julie. After our first read thru last night, we talked about how interesting it was that there are so few scripted works by American writers that tackle this delicate subject. As an actor, it is my job to delve wholly into the character and the circumstances surrounding her. It was so hard to let myself go there because the subject matter is so dark, so scary…having no personal experience in physical abuse, I feel like I have a responsibility to those who have suffered and are still suffering.

Performances are scheduled for one weekend only. For more information, go HERE.

Presently…

Can you believe it’s almost the end of September? Where did all the glorious warm weather go? It’s been such a busy past few months. I’ve been working a lot, and next week I start rehearsals for a new project I’m working on. On the go as always, and even though I just returned from a week long vacation in Mississippi visiting family, I’m already in dire need for another one!

Watching: Married With Children. I never get tired of this show. Ever. I’ve been watching it since I was a kid, even though I shouldn’t have been, haha! The jokes went over my head back then, thankfully.

Preparing: I’m getting ready to do two giveaways! One with a sponsor and one with a friend of mine. Details to come!

Writing: Another article on the real lives of actors. This one is going to be focused on actors who have moved to the United States for their career.

Reminiscing: Miss Saigon celebrated her 25th Anniversary, and watching the trailer for the new production in London brings back so many memories. Like the time I threw up in the middle of a dance number, or the time I was dropped on my head, or the time I had to leave my pants onstage because they got caught on an immoveable set piece and I needed to exit…oh yes, all true! LOL, oh the stories I have to tell!!

Organizing: My office has been in a state of madness for a few months. I took everything out to sort, and I’m in the process of FINALLY setting up my sewing machine. Pajamas for all!

That’s it! What are YOU doing?

The Pawffice

I’m so excited! The web series I shot with Pet360 is finally going live next week and I can’t wait to see how it turns out! This project was one of the most fun gigs I’ve ever done. We shot 6 episodes and I am in 3 of them. The salad I was eating was pretty tasty, too. We shot that scene a little bit after lunch so I was already full so it was kind of difficult to eat but you know me, I always room for more food, LOL!

My little leading man Noodle stole the show, and my heart! (don’t tell Donut!)

 

On the set of "The Pawffice" with Noodle!

Watch the trailer and head over to Pet360 for more pet parenting advice and information!

Throwback Thursday : The Secret Garden


A few days ago, an old friend and colleague of mine Gregory Cooke posted this video! I found it about a month or so ago while writing reflections on past blog entries. Being in rehearsals for The Secret Garden concert (a one-night performance this coming Saturday!) have brought back so many happy memories! These voices, this music…ahhh!! Glorious.

With The Secret Garden director Michael Osburn
With The Secret Garden director Michael Osburn. This was before I learned how to put on stage makeup, yikes!!

Coming down the home stretch with this show! I’m looking forward to a little bit of normalcy for awhile afterwards. My husband goes to bed before I get home and he’s gone to work before I wake up. It’s definitely hard, but he understands and supports me in my career.

In non-theatrical news, I’m writing a couple of articles, working on a giveaway with a friend of mine which should go up in a few weeks, new jewelry will be added to my shop, and this blog will get a facelift. My professional site got a revamp yesterday, so now it’s the blog’s turn!

One day, I will sleep again.

How To Be A True Professional Actor

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How To Be a True Professional Actor

I’m always on the lookout for articles that offer helpful advice. While this article by Alan Norton mainly talks about careers in the technological field, ALL of these points can be applied to a career in the performing arts. I’ve adapted his advice accordingly.

 

1. Norton’s article says “Put customer satisfaction first.”

For actors, this means “Put audience satisfaction first.” This doesn’t always mean play TO the audience. Dear God, we’ve all shared the stage with an actor who mugs the audience for a reaction rather than forward the story. Sometimes the audience reacts, sometimes it doesn’t. Deal with it. Your job is to tell the story. If you do that with all of your artistic ability, then “audience satisfaction” will come naturally.

 

2. “Make Expertise Your Specialty”

Make it your mission to be an expert in your field. You are never done training or evolving as a performer. I used to tell my former students “All of the really good actors are either old or dead.” I mean no disrespect to the young and gifted, of course! But older actors have had more time to get better in their craft. Remember, you are only as good as your last performance.

 

3. “Do More Than Expected”

Rehearsal is like school. You are there to learn your show. The real work happens at home. Sure, you can spend your time just memorizing your lines, get to rehearsal and let the director do all of your work for you (that’s a great way to never to get cast again), OR you can use your time outside of rehearsal to develop a character and relationships within the parameters of the script with the other characters in the story. Spend some time outside of rehearsal going over lines with your fellow cast members and get off book ahead of schedule. Schedule time with the music director to go over your music so that it’s solid. Try different ways to approach your character. The more you bring to the table at rehearsal, the more your director has to work with.

 

4. Do what you say and say what you can do.

Don’t lie on your resume. Don’t say you can do accents when you can’t. Don’t claim to be a dancer when you are at best a mover. Be realistic with yourself and list only what you do well because when they ask for it, they are going to want you to deliver.

 

5. Communicate effectively.

Go through the proper communications channels. Never give another actor a note. NEVER. That is the NUMBER ONE sin among actors. If you have a problem with another actor, go to your stage manager or company manager and let them handle it. Years ago, I had a problem with a company member saying offensive things to me offstage. Instead of going through the proper channels to solve the problem, I took matters into my own hands. This person received no reprimand for their behavior, and I looked like a huge b*tch. It took a long time for me to repair the damage to my image caused by this incident.

 

6. Follow exceptional guiding principles.

Treat your cast well. Respect your director. Respect the crew. Respect yourself. You are on the same team. Be kind to your fans and those who admire your work. Practice humility, have strong integrity, keep your dignity, and most importantly, treat others the way you would like to be treated.

 

7. Praise your peers, not yourself.

Being an extremely competitive person, this is probably the most difficult one for me to do. I will directly quote Alan Norton here. He says it best: “Respect and acknowledge the talents of your peers. There is nothing more unprofessional and self-serving than telling others how wonderful you are. Professionals are humble and generous in their praise of others.”

Give compliments honestly while being generous. This doesn’t mean just hand out compliments like candy at Halloween. Don’t give a compliment if you don’t mean it, but when you do, give with your whole heart.

 

8. Share your knowledge.

This one is hard to do because we actors are prideful, vain and insecure creatures deep down. We are competitive. We think if we share what we know, it might give our competition a leg up. If someone else books a job because of your help, then that speaks volumes for the kind of person you are. It might suck if you were up for the same job and didn’t get it, but you have to remember that there are no guarantees in this business regardless of how much or who you know. Hopefully your good deed will not be forgotten. Just keep learning, training, preparing, and listening.

 

9. Say thank you.

Be grateful for every opportunity given to you. Give and say thanks to those who help you on your journey, whether it’s your dresser, your agent, your parents, your teachers…the cab driver who drives just a few miles over the speed limit to make sure you get to your audition in time…everyone deserves genuine and meaningful gratitude.

 

10. Keep a smile on your face and the right attitude in your heart.

Sometimes you have a bad day and all you want to do is complain, sulk and lash out. If you’re feeling like crap, someone else has to suffer along with you, right? After all, misery loves company.

However, true professionals don’t take others down with them when they are having a hard time. Yes, it is difficult to be keep a good attitude when it seems the whole world is against you, but don’t feel like you are being “fake” by pretending to be happy when you are not. Instead, be mindful that your attitude directly affects those around you. Try not to allow your bad day to ruin that of someone else.

 

Lastly…

Never let anyone tell you that you are only a professional when you attain your Equity card. There are plenty of Equity actors who act a fool on and off the stage. There are professional actors who have chosen not to take their card for many reasons. Remember, professionalism in any setting is not only defined by your skill set, but also your reputation and attitude. All professional actors, Equity or not, practice humility, integrity and accountability onstage and off. They treat their fellow company members with respect, regardless of role, position, or Union status.

 

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I Got A Rocking Chair

As you get older, it's important to have good seating.
As you get older, it’s important to have good seating.

I bought myself a rocking chair a few days ago. For my porch.

Here’s to completing one more trip around the sun! Considering how close I was to not completing the first one, I am thankful for every year. It’s funny how the trip just gets faster and faster and faster and it seems like I’ll wake up one day surrounded by all of my children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren! Oh yes, I plan on sticking around for that long. I want to be that crazy old lady that just says what she wants whenever she wants. I do that already but I keep my filter in check. It seems the older you are the crazier you’re allowed to be.

According to Facebook, I share my birthday with 5 other people and a cat! Coincidentally, my friend Jesica and I have the exact same birthday, and her brother and my brother share the same birthday. I never thought I’d meet anyone sharing my birthday, but to know someone with a sibling that shares the same birthday as mine does? Looney tunes, man.

A few nights ago, I started what is already proving to be a daunting task! I am consolidating all of my blogs from across cyberspace into this one. I have blogs that trace all the way back to 2003! Reading through some of those entries brought back so many memories! I’m going to try to keep them as true to the original as I can, but if you think my potty mouth is bad now, back then it was far far worse.

I considered leaving the entries as they are, and for the most part they will be. The curse words will be edited out (mostly), photos and links will be updated (for the sake of making them enjoyable and relevant), and I will be posting a commentary underneath each post. I’ll also be including the e-mail newsletters I sent out while on tour back in 2004-2005. This project is going to be an interesting way to relive the past 10+ years, and it’s a little scary! There was one attempt to bring these back a few years ago, but I scrapped the idea because I was embarrassed at how immature I was back then. Then I look around at some of the goons walking around the earth today and think “Screw it, I wasn’t THAT bad.”

Here’s to many many more trips around the sun!