This Christmas, I just want my family back

When I was little I used to watch Home Alone and dream about how wonderful it would be to accidentally go to New York -- hopefully missing some school along the way and generally getting to plan my own vacation. Well, I had my own vacation when I went to London, and I did love that, but now that I'm experiencing what not being away from my family this close to Christmas is like, I'm understanding the end-of-Home-Alone message a lot more clearly. It SUCKS not being close to your family this time of year, especially when shootings are happening in elementary schools and people are warning you about the end of the world. All you want to do is hug the people who share your genes, and feel prepared to die having done so.

Okay, I'm being a little dramatic. But honestly, as I see photos on Facebook of my brothers at Christmas parties and am told our dog looks thin and hear about present wrapping and forbid myself from seeing The Hobbit with friends here and make to-do list after to-do list in a fruitless effort to make time pass more quickly, I realize this: there really is no place like home...for the holidays.

And I have the best family in the whole wide world.


Dec Update #2

Merry (almost) Christmas! This little guy keeps me in line while I work...
I am happy to report that I have completed my second knitting project! I won't announce what it is or post pictures *just yet,* since it might spoil certain followers' Christmas presents! I will say that it involves cables. And that I'm awfully proud of myself, and delighted to have learned a new skill this season. Up next for me is figuring out how to pattern and combine colors correctly. (See my "W" fail above.)

There is a reason you haven't heard much from me in this area -- it's because I'm not doing it. I'm not proud of myself, but J has graciously defended my failure, saying I was a bit far-reaching in my hopes to become a regular runner in the month of December. He's right: not only has my busy schedule made it practically impossible to find time to run in the daylight hours, when I finally do find the time it's either freezing cold or rainy. Or, in the case of this morning, sleeting. I suppose exercise is something like the creative process: you've gotta pump past the less desirable parts if you want to see any results. Sadly, I have a yuppie and/or dancer preference to do my exercising indoors. Nevertheless, I intend to keep with my practice as much as I deem possible. Especially if I'm going to buy anymore Dryer's slow-churned Peppermint Ice Cream....
I haven't had a chance to practice much make-upping. I did manage to pull off a Minnie Mouse face for my last party gig:

I also made a trip to the mall last weekend and asked one of the Clinique ladies to help me find a red that would suit my skin tone. I told her I didn't want anything berry-y, but couldn't really pull off anything too orange. She gave me "Red Red Red," which she said looked nice with my fair skin. I felt silly wearing the stuff around the mall with my maroon sweater, but with a little mascara and a black dress, this is probably just the tone!

Excuse the selfie shot. Just evaluate at the colors, k?
Funny thing is, I told my dressing room buddy I was searching for a red lipstick better than the ones I already had, and when I put on my Revlon shade -- "Temptation" -- she said it looked smashing. Under the warm dressing room lights, it did look rather nice. So my perfect red might already be right under my nose (literally, in this case!)
Other than that, I'm wearing theater makeup 5 days a week for my performances, so all I want to do on my days off is be my makeup-free self!

I have a Secret Santa who's making rehearsal so much fun! Giggles galore. She gave me this creepy-cute doll:

In regards to Christmas, I can't wait to get home. Seattle's miserable and yucky, as it always is this time of year (and too much of the rest of it), and ever since the tragic news Friday, I've been wanting to hug my whole family. In true Christmas tradition, I'm going to watch White Christmas with my mom and have coffee with my Dad and wake up my brothers by bursting into their room yelling -- like they did to me so many years in our youth. I wonder sometimes how many more years we have before we're spending the holidays in different locations. I don't like to think about things like that. I guess there's no reason we can't be the kind of family that all gets together for Christmas Eve or something, even though that's never how we did it ourselves.
Other things to do:
-Bake Triple Ginger Chocolate Chunk Cookies (I'll be sure to post the recipe!)
-Visit Auntie's and my favorite shopkeeper
-See the lights downtown*
-Watch Downton Abbey Christmas Special
-Take a ride in one of those carriages, maybe? I've always wanted to do that.
-Knit. More.
-Hang out with our dog-that-isn't-really-our-dog-anymore -- we have him "on loan" for Christmas -- what a laugh!!
-See Les Miserables and The Hobbit
-Post-Christmas sale shop for clothes I need to replace (in preparation for minimalism month! Get ready!!)
Okay, enough boring you with my personal agenda. Hopefully the world doesn't end before I'm able to get home and have a gol' dern hot toddy.

*Whenever I write "downtown" anymore, my finger seems to skip over the second "w" in favor of "Downton." Hence, the following to-do.


Christmas Movies I Love

The following is a running list of holiday movies I've watched this year, my favorite parts from each of them, and for what occasion I recommend them:

1) Planes Trains and Automobiles

Why I love it: Three people -- Steve Martin, John Candy, and John Hughes. Before Judd Apatow and his cronies, there was this holy trinity of comedy. The storyline's fraught with sap, but it's worth sitting through the 80s syth soundtrack just to watch the hilarity that ensues throughout.

Best Part(s): It's a toss up. Steve Martin's f*ck-fraught monologue, which could even put Clark Griswold to shame, AND John Candy playing the piano on the car dashboard. Oh, AND the taxi cab chase-down between Martin and Kevin Bacon. You could almost believe he's playing the same character as She's Having a Baby, and he just happens to be on business in New York. Again: love John Hughes.

Occasion: Just before Thanksgiving, with your roommates, while you all dream of eating turkey and other food you can't afford.

2) Elf

Why I love it: Besides the genius that is Will Ferrel and the secondary genius that is John Favreau, who came up with the story, it serves to contrast the commercial American life in tandem with the true delights of Christmas. When seen through Buddy's eyes, even a crappy cup of coffee becomes holy.

Best Part: Every part where Will Ferrel is arguing with people about his being an elf. Again, this man is a comic genius.

Occasion: Early in the season with group of good friends, homemade cookies, and hot scnapplettes.

3) Home Alone

Why I love it: John Hughes is the Aristotle of family comedy. If you know me at all, it goes without saying why this movie is in the top three of my Christmas favorites. When this movie gets rolling (somewhere around "I made my family disappear!"), the Culkin heartwarming is infectious, and you find yourself looking for the second installment just 5 minutes after "KEVIN! WHAT DID YOU DO TO MY ROOM?!"

Best Part: When Kate McCallister is fighting her way through the airport, snapping at all the Frenchies. I love Catherine O'Hara! Also, JOE PESCI!! Seriously, how did they get him to do this movie?!

Occasion: With your siblings. 

4) National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Why I love it: Every time I think I've seen this movie too many times to appreciate it anymore, I find some dear soul who hasn't ever seen it, and I don myself John Hughes Wise Man, and bless them with 90-some minutes of Chevy Chase slapstick hilarity. Seriously, did it ever get better than 80s family comedy? "Merry Christmas... Kiss my ass. Kiss your ass, kiss his ass... Happy Hanukkah." Splendid.

Best Part: Two parts of physical comedy that I can never stifle laughter during -- When Clark's decorating the house and he gets stuck on the back of the ladder, then puts his hand over, under, over-under, unable to figure out how to get around. It's perfect. Also the chewing of the too-dry turkey.   Oh, wait! And the bit on the sled. And Eddie and the eggnog. And OF COURSE the "Where's the Tylenol" monologue.  Okay, I've gotta go watch it again.

Occasion: With anyone who's a National Lampoon Vacation series virgin.

5) Home Alone 2: Lost In New York

Why I love it: It's all the delights of the first movie, but this time it's in NEW YORK. What kid wouldn't love to get left in that city with their yuppie parent's credit card and an endless supply of fool-proof one-liners? You can tell how much John Hughes loves about this place just by how he tells the story -- for years I'd felt like I'd been to New York just because I'd done the cinematic journey with Kevin so many times.

Best Part: As usual, there are many, but my favorite moments of this flick have to be the Darlene Love "All Alone at Christmas" montage and all the Plaza hotel scenes. Tim Curry is splendid. My brothers' favorite line tonight was Joe Pesci's "You open your mouth and you'll be spittin' gum out through your forehead."

Occasion: With your siblings again. Or better yet, with the whole family.

6) Little Women

A Preface: Because I shared this movie with two dear girlfriends of mine so many years in a row, it feels almost sacrilege to watch it without them... But I think the first time we watched it together it felt just as bad to watch it without my mama. Mom used to rent this right around the time it started to snow -- or when I got sick, I seem to remember. She's the greatest Marmee.... Anyway, it's never too late to share the movie with new little women, even if they'll never quite be the Hannah-Jo and Katie-Beth and Sharmee you remember!

Why I love it: Christian Bale and Winona Ryder make this movie for me. I always have to resist the urge to stop the movie when he moves to France because it breaks my heart every time. I'm still trying to understand, even though now I can appreciate Professor Baer's attributes now better than when I was a little girl. Also, a young Kirsten Dunst delivers every Amy sting flawlessly.

Best Part: There are too many to choose, so I will proffer favorite lines instead:

"If I weren't going to be a writer, I'd go to New York and pursue the stage! Are you shocked?"

"I'm so degraditated -- I owe at least a dozen limes!"

"Evangelina and I will make you some tea..."

"Don't be such a beetle!"

"Oh Jo, how could you? Your one beauty!!"

"A letter. That'll show him."

"Jo, you have so many extraordinary gifts; how can you expect to lead an ordinary life?"

Occasion: All piled up on the couch with Trader Joe's Jo-joes and Pound Plus Chocolate and two best friends.

Stay tuned!


December Update

Good news on the knitting front! I finally finished my socks!



As you might be able to tell from the pictures, the first one (on the top and on the right) ended up being a little short. The second was, of course, the better of the two. It's at least an inch and a half longer than the first.

Irregardless, I'm proud of my miniature triumph, and feeling very toasty!


On Knitting...
   *With other knitting nerds: it's inspiring and it feels something like having tea with a bunch of wonderful old women.
   *A (far more experienced) knitting friend of mine pointed out: "When I realize I have two extra hours to knit, I get so excited." That's exactly how I'm starting to feel!
   *Always write down your # of stitches. You will never remember the amount.
   *It invites a tremendous opportunity to brood on just about any subject. Between stitches your thoughts are racing toward impending doom and present concerns: "Knit one, purl one -- What is my life?? -- over, under, over, under -- Will I ever succeed at anything? -- Purl one, knit one, purl one -- If only this could be my job..."

On Running...
   *In the dark: it's more fun, less intimidating, easier on the breath.
   *Beneath Christmas lights: it's beautiful and also more fun.
   *To a place you get to shop or look at books: it's a goal that's so much more satisfying than "I almost suffocated myself with my own strength! YUHS!"
   *I still hate the idea of it before I get out there. I'm afraid I always will.

I've started editing some film footage for a media company; getting a head start on January's project! Honestly, I worried that video editing would feel like work if it wasn't my own project, but I really had a lot of fun with my first assignment. There's something strangely absorbing and satisfying about working out a precise audio match or fade-in.

In other news, our Christmas show opened in Seattle Center this past Friday! We had an excellent opening night audience and a beautiful reception afterward. I get really excited whenever I step outside after the shows, because the fairy lights are all over the trees and The PNB Nutcracker is just about letting out... It's the only time I'd ever call living in Seattle "magical."

Annnnnnnnd, even though I'm without my original Jo and Meg this year (not to mention Laurie), it's just about time to pop this favorite into the DVD player:

Seriously, just hearing that Orchard House theme gives
bittersweet nostalgia goosepimples.


Giving Thanks for Yams

This is a post I recently shared on Chic Galleria, but I wanted to make sure I shared it here too!

This is a family favorite around Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's torture waiting for it to come out of the oven, and then when it does it goes fast! Since there's so much other food to go around, though, there's usually enough for breakfast leftovers... like really good french toast. But better.

Swahili Sweet Yams                                              

Yield: About 10 servings

  • 3 medium yams
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 small loaf of French bread ("tea loaf" size)
  • 1/2 c. cream, half and half, or eggnog
  • 1/4 c. orange juice
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. pecans
  • 3 tbs. butter (1/4 stick)
  • 1/3 c. water
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter the tops and sides of a baking dish. (This can be any size, but should be large enough hold the chopped yams and potatoes snugly, but without spill-over.)
  2. Rinse and dry yams and potatoes. Slice all into 1-inch wide disks, then slice the disks into sixths or fourths. You should have a pile of rough cubes when finished. 
  3. Slice the small bread loaf into similarly-sized pieces (cubes about 1 inch.) Set aside.
  4. Put all yam, sweet potato, and bread cubes into a large mixing bowl.
  5. In a smaller bowl, combine cream, orange juice, and spices. Mix well.
  6. Pour cream mixture over ingredients in large bowl. Add brown sugar and pecans. Turn with a large wooden spoon to coat evenly.
  7. Transfer contents of bowl into prepared baking dish. Add thin slices or "dots" of butter over the top of the baking dish contents.
  8. Gently pour 1/4 c. water over the ingredients, to add moisture.
  9. Cover dish with foil. Place in middle rack of oven and cook for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until yams and sweet potatoes are tender. 
  10. Serve hot with vanilla yogurt, whipped cream, or ice cream!

Inspirsession in Action

It was sometime during our New York travels that my bf (in both acronymical senses) came up with the idea to make a to-do list for the year ahead. I'm not sure what he termed the project exactly, but it reminded me of the self-coined phrase which lead to the creation of this blog: "inspirsessions." In admiration, I copied his project, creating a schedule for it (as I'm wont to do...) so I'd know what to focus on month to month.

I decided I'd choose a range of topics to explore over the course of the year -- subjects I've always been interested in and wanted an excuse to obsess over (as I'm also wont to do.) I heard once that the fastest way to learn something is to check out 10 library books on the subject and read as much of them as you can. I'm sure you're aware by now just how much I like reading. And independent study. And engaging myself in activities which most people find old fashioned or useless. Hence...

My Year List:

  Sept: Makeup & Face-paint
  Oct: Dance (Ballet and/or Swing)
  Nov: Sewing and/or Knitting
  Dec: Running
  Jan: Film Acting & Editing
  Feb: Business, Money Management & Finances
  Mar: Weight Training and/or Yoga
  Apr: Cooking
  May: Thrift Shopping
  June: French Language
  July: Photography
  Aug: Minimalism

I chose to start in September not only because I didn't want to wait 4 months to begin my project, but also because it always feels more like the true start of a new year for me. Additionally, I've always taken pleasure in doing things a little differently than other people -- especially if it means I'm getting a head start! ;) This way, I'd already be a quarter of the way into my resolutions by January.

Unfortunately, as is common with many of my brilliant plans, my list went by the wayside on my return to work and rehearsal. BUT: I am proud to say I have been exploring a range of these topics little by little -- like a sampler season. So I intend to explore the first four topics over the course of December in more detail, along with running, as initially planned. I found a 30-day training schedule online and took my first run today! Today the weather was unexpectedly beautiful, but I'm sure it's going to be hard to keep up when it gets back to the standard Seattle slop.

Anyway, here's what I've done so far:

Makeup & Face-Paint:

Above is my take on "Ariel" from The Little Mermaid.  Job purposes.

I wish I could say this was me getting really good at abuse makeup, but sadly this is from my nose tragedy. Thank goodness it healed, but I did learn the ins and outs of foundation during the 2 weeks I had a black eye. Sunblock was (and is) my best friend.

Face-paint practice for a children's party in which I was Dora the Explorer. Knowing little about the show beforehand, I was cram-studying on Netflix for picture ideas. I'm pretty happy with how the map turned out, but Dora looks like a creepy girl-Ernie from Sesame Street.

One afternoon I tried to determine if all the lipstick in my possession actually enhanced my skin and hair tones. I narrowed it down to these six. The others I threw out. I still haven't found the perfect red, but the one below ("Temptation" by Revlon) is my best bet for now. Teal is NOT the right color to pair with it, but I do like how these darker shades liven up my hair and make my eyes pop.


Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays because it's an excuse to wear some really wild makeup (which is the only kind worth wearing, as far as I'm concerned.) "Doll" and "Cat" are my typical costume go-tos when I lack inspiration, and this year I was especially pleased with the results. I managed to make cat-ears out of my own hair and finally discovered the secret to making your eyes look huge!!

Charming, sad doll...

...demonic Halloween-y doll!

I made said bf and bro-ha into a "Grumpkin" and a bunny, respectively.

So the makeup month was a great success!


I have no pictures to show for it, but last month I worked on a production called Costly Desires, in which I got to revive my dance skills full-force. It was fabulous getting moving again, and I even got to do some pretty serious partnering work! With the group/partner piece and my solo piece directly afterward, the dance portion of the show ran about 14 minutes -- I didn't know I could dance nonstop for that long!

A couple people have recommended the open classes at PNB. I'm a little nervous to go, but maybe I can find a friend to take along? I'd love an excuse to hang around the dance school at Nutcracker time...

Sewing & Knitting:

My progress in this field can really only be chalked up to knitting skills -- I haven't done much sewing lately. I keep meaning to retrieve my machine from my parent's house, but I always decide I don't have room for it. This month especially, however, I've been working on improving my knitting skills beyond the range of scarves. I started by learning how knit in the round with double pointed needles, something I've always been curious about. Unfortunately curiosity doesn't necessitate talent, and what I emerged with was an oddball collection of rather useless, lumpy... somethings:

My first attempt at in-the-round:

I have no idea.

An accidental fingerless glove:

Not too shabby for a sampler!

A hat for someone with a fist-sized head:

(This one actually went quite well minus the shrinkage and running out of yarn.)

If only I were friends with more babies.

Attempt at using two colors:

GO Husk--urshurdlefloopinshteiiiiiii....

And my pride and joy: the oversized sock.

What I must impress about this piece is that it didn't start out as a sock, so I had to increase and decrease stiches all over the place until I gradually worked my way back to the original pattern. As such, its cuff starts out huge, then decreases to the proper size; the heel is properly gorgeous (pat on the back); and the top is is where everything went downright wonky. This area evidences my panicking in the wake of too-few stitches: I doubled them and came up with a sock better suited for Andre the Giant.

I'm not finishing this one, which is why there's no toe. Now that I know the ins and outs I'm eager to start a new sock that will actually fit me!!


So, those are my triumphs so far. I shall try to keep you updated at the season progresses. Day 1 of running was yesterday. Today it's back to crappy weather, but I with a night off rehearsal I have no excuse to miss Day 2!

Best Wishes,




Just woke up from an awful nightmare:

I was forced to be in an Anna Wintour fashion shoot, but they didn't like how I looked, so they drugged me in order to dye my hair. I woke up a platinum blonde with over-plucked eyebrows and those awful long nails. When I went to sob about it to my parents I found they had extracted all my journals from storage, read them, and ripped out the pages they didn't like. They told me they were worried about who I was turning into -- who I'd "become" in the past few months, and warned me if I didn't change I was sure to lose J. The rest of the dream I sat around feeling betrayed and trying to work out what in me had changed -- how to get back to whoever they thought I was.

Everything about it was awful. A combination of Costly Desire violence, scenes from The September Issue and Downton episode 3.7 (Thomas confesses his love for Jimmy), and a visit from my parents yesterday. Collective Unconscious working overtime. Whew.


Too Cool for School

Honestly, school is never something I've considered myself too cool for. In fact, it breaks my heart that I may never again feel that rush at organizing new school supplies, guessing my future friends on the first day of class, and choosing my perfect first day outfit (of course!)

In any case, I'm still dreaming. Here's the latest from Chic Galleria:

Showcasing the currently popular Pencil Stretch Skirt.

And I couldn't go by without showcasing my high school favorites!


Jack the Pumpkin King


Fall graced us since I last wrote. This is *stellar* news to me, since autumn is my favorite time of year. I definitely fall into the category of people who prefer hot chai to iced tea, baked bread to watermelon, and fireside snuggles to fun-in-the-sun. Two days ago I was sweating in jeans, but yesterday was our first rain here in quite some time (hard to believe!) I commemorated the occasion by piling about 4 extra blankets on my bed, buying canned pumpkin in bulk at Costco, and unearthing my favorite sweaters from piles of half-finished summer projects.

For those who've listened to me complain endlessly about the facets of Seattle I despise (namely the weather), you may be wondering what's impelled me to welcome the onslaught of rainclouds. The thing is, last weekend, while reviving the childhood tradition of Flashlight Tag with some friends, I barreled into a set of unforeseen monkey bars and split open some skin at the bridge of my nose. Thankfully it didn't break, but I did have to get 5 stitches -- the first in my life. Now they're out, and I'm to wear sunscreen every day until next September. So I won't miss Mr. Sun so much this year.

An ultra-dramatic "healing shot," for your viewing pleasure.

Today I fully embraced being able to put my nose in the shower again, caught up on some letter-writing, and baked this:

Nummers!! Nothing beats pumpkin bread in the fall. This recipe, garnered from the blog Slow Like Honey, calls for melted chocolate to be poured over the top before baking (an idea I embraced fully), so that's why it looks burnt. The extra chocolate was heated with milk and poured into an espresso cup. Drinking chocolate and answering letters isn't a bad way to spend a Saturday morning. Again, so thrilled fall is happening.

Since I "don't have any money" and am likely to have none (at least none I can spend on clothes) until 2013 at least, I'm going to have to post my fashion favorites this season for dreaming purposes only. But expect to see some favorites on CG or here soon -- another great thing about fall: the clothes are always to die for! And speaking of clothes... Halloween's the next upcoming holiday! I've got to start thinking of a costume to top Creep Sheep. Maybe I'll go as Jack or Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas -- or Scarface...? ;)

More soon,


Let Your Honesty Shine

New York was phenomenal.

It's bright and beautiful in Seattle today, hardly a day to be called "hot" and peaceful in this neck of the woods, but all I can think about is the smell of roasting hotdogs, and the ribbon of space between people on crowded stretches of asphault and concrete, and golden squares of light against a black blanket of a sky, rippling its electric power across the ocean waves -- to me.

I understand now why there are so many movies take place in New York. Why so many books are set there, why so many songs are written about it, why so many artists flock and flounder there. It's truly a magnetic city, and once it draws you in, it's hard to shake the buzz. And I wasn't even there during its most beautiful moments! I hear fall in this city is gorgeous, and I can't imagine a better place to spend Christmas... (except home.)

Unfortunately some of the more beautiful moments -- the glittering city lights of New Jersey from Battery Park, the highbrow fashionistas (and -o's) passing through Washington Square, the multilingual soundtrack on the F train toward Queens -- were too fleeting to capture on camera. Here were some of the high points that I did manage to memorialize, however:

No idea who these people are... I'm a creep with my camera when I see something interesting.

Guests of the new celebrity Ding-Dang-Dong...

At FAO Schwartz. This made me so happy!

My friend, Mark: a Muppet of a Mark!

Too late for breakfast, not quite Audrey, but here I am!

Try and figure that out.

"If somebody, some girl in an awful-looking hat, for instance, comes all the way to New York--from Seattle, Washington, for God's sake--and ends up getting up early in the morning to see the goddam first show at Radio City Music Hall, it makes me so depressed I can't stand it." -Holden

More creepin'. I just liked this girl's silhouette. And the ever-classy Starbucks accessory cup.

Oh hey, Phantom chandelier.

Everywhere was zigs and zags...
I found those film-famous apartments!!

Closer shot.

Dizzy with all the visual stimulation.

Aquarius constellation on ceiling of Grand Central.

Rachel Green's haven... and this Rachel's mere fantasy.

Some MET favorites...

Writing desk!

Have mercy: the biggest hot dog ever.

I watched this guy attack this post in Washington Square for a good 15 minutes. I'm still not clear who the victor was.

Toniiiiight, toniiiiiight...

I've been to college, and I know this to be true.

Chinatown. Go to Joe's Shanghai for the BEST DUMPLINGS IN THE WORLD.

J, explaining what they do on Law and Order.

Night shot, so bad quality, but Hello, James Lipton!!

Homeward Bound.