After quite the absence, lunch time is back! I used the first week of work to really get an idea of my schedule and when I would want to eat. I just finished my second week of the new job and have gotten into a pretty smooth routine. The key is always in the planning. I shopped specifically with lunches in mind, so I wouldn't be staring in the cabinets or fridge each morning wondering what the heck I would eat.
While Lunch Time is back, Menu Mondays likely won't be back. I had implemented those because I was briefly in charge of the meal planning in the evenings, because Trevor was working a lot of overtime. In the new year, though, Trevor decided to adopt a "whole food, plant based diet," so he took over dinner planning again. I'm perfectly fine with that, especially since my current schedule means I get home around 7pm. Maya and I aren't totally vegan now, but Trevor cooks such delicious things for dinner that it hasn't been a challenge to cut out a lot of meat and dairy from our diets.
So here are my lunches for the past week. I work 9AM-6PM, with a break at 11AM, an hour for lunch at 1PM, and a break at 4PM. I really have to be diligent about taking my lunch, because my new employer is within walking distance of a ton of great restaurants downtown, and an hour gives ample time to indulge. I do tend to need a snack at both breaks, though not always, depending on what I eat for breakfast and lunch. I think it's better to be prepared and bring more food than I need than to not bring enough.
First Break: Chocolate soy milk, Reese's cup, banana
Lunch: Chili with crackers, cheese and plain Greek yogurt, carrot sticks
Second Break: Dried kiwi and cranberries, almonds, orange
The chili was from a big batch I made and froze a couple of weeks ago. I freeze things in quart size bags so that they're serving sized, but not so full that I can't lay them flat when freezing.
First Break: Chocolate soy milk, Reese's cup, banana
Lunch: Salad with Orange Sesame dressing, honey Greek yogurt with fruit, flax seeds and granola
Second Break: Mixed nuts, orange
First Break: Chocolate soy milk, honey Greek yogurt with fruit
Lunch: Chickpea curry, baby carrots
Second Break: Almonds and craisins, orange
I heavily adapted this recipe for chickpea curry, with plans to take it for lunch one day and freeze the rest. It was very good, but I'm going to keep working with the recipe.
First Break: Chocolate soy milk, banana
Lunch: Spicy penne alfredo, salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette
Second Break: Dried kiwi, mixed nuts, apple
On Wednesday nights, Trevor doesn't get home from school until after 7, so Maya and I have decided that Wednesdays will be our cheese and meat nights. We still try to keep it healthy, but just indulge a bit. I made a spicy Alfredo sauce with fresh asparagus, zucchini and bell peppers for supper Wednesday night. I made a huge batch so that I could take some for lunch as well, then freeze the rest.
Friday was pay day, so I celebrated with a trip to a local soup and sandwich place, Pickerman's. Lunch out will probably be a biweekly occurrence.
I know, I know, it's been two months since Shit Girls Say sparked a slew of imitation videos, but I still can't get enough of this meme. And also, I had rehearsal! I had no time! So as soon as the show was open and really on its feet, I got the cast together (including an understudy) and put this together. Hope you enjoy, even if you aren't a theatre person.
This also fulfills an item on my sadly neglected 32 Before 33 list, make a music video or short film. I still plan on directing a music video this year, but since I'm not sure if I'll get to before my birthday, I'm glad I decided to jump in and do this. It was so much fun, and reinforced my rediscovered love for all things theatre. I'm so glad I've gotten back into it.
I also recently directed a staged reading of Bus Stop for the La Crosse Community Theatre's Patrons' Pick night. The event pits two plays against each other, with the audience voting to decide which show gets produced in the upcoming season. It also acts as a fundraiser, because ballots cost $5. The other play was The Matchmaker, and the cast gave an incredibly funny reading. But Bus Stop won, by one vote! The cast, including Maya as Elma, did such a beautiful job, and I'm glad our work paid off.
I'm getting into the swing of things at my new job, which started last Monday. It's a challenge to make my evenings and weekends as productive as possible, and not get sucked into the television or the internet in my down time. I'm planning on resurrecting the Lunch Time feature, as well as posts on my work wardrobe. I'm also trying to figure out ways to incorporate less fluffy subjects. We'll see how things develop.
Here's another one I wrote, about a year ago. Angie performed it when she played here in La Crosse, but I just have a video of rehearsal. I think she does it beautifully. It's one of my favorites of the songs I've written.
Start at around :45 for the song, if you want to skip the chit chat at the beginning.
This one was inspired by my own feelings and experiences when I was single, that combination of fear and hope at the beginning of relationships, especially the ones that progressed quickly. I also was inspired by some of Angie's experiences that we'd talked about. This is such a dorky songwriter thing, but I honestly cried when I wrote the last verse. Ah, memories and the emotions they conjure.
Hope you like it!
Angie and I have started booking shows on the East Coast for a small tour this summer. You can check out announced dates here. Let me know if you live in the Northeast and know of any bars or coffee shops that would be a good fit for Angie.
Yes, I'm just now getting to reviewing the January Birchbox.
I received the box mid January, but haven't been able to try all the products until recently due to a broken perfume sample. The only thing really ruined was the granola sample, so I was able to try the other three products right away. Birchbox sent out new samples as soon as they had inventory. Once again, their customer service was very friendly
The theme of January's box was clarity and a fresh start.
1. Zoya Feel Collection Nail Polish in Cary: I don't usually keep polish on my nails, but I try to do a pedicure at home at least twice a month. This shade is a bit young to wear on my fingernails, but looked lovely on my toenails. I got great coverage in two coats, and it was long lasting. Maya used it on her fingernails and had great results as well.
The best part about this collection, besides not being tested on animals, is that it's formulated without camphor, formaldehyde, tuolene, or dibutyl phthalate. I finished my pedicure without even the threat of a headache. The price is comparable to China Glaze, which is my usual brand.
2. Juicy Couture Perfume: I had a feeling something was up when I could smell this perfume before even opening the box. The good news is that while overpowering, it didn't give me a headache. So I wouldn't want to beat someone up that had doused themselves in it and sat next to me on the bus or in the next cubicle. And while it does smell good on me, the bad news is that Juicy tests its products on animals, so if I were in the market for perfume, I definitely wouldn't consider this one.
3. 'wichcraft Granola: I was excited about trying this granola, but didn't want to risk any of the perfume having soaked through the plastic bag, so I waited for a new sample. It was delicious, as I would expect from something developed by Tom Colicchio, however it's definitely not worth a dollar an ounce. I'd much rather spend my money creating this delicious looking and budget friendly granola.
4. Algenist Firming and Lifting Cream: Last month it was the makeup primer, and this month it's this firming cream that makes the Birchbox pay for itself. This little sample is about $30 worth of a really fantastic moisturizer. The thing is, I already have a really great winter moisturizer that is approximately one third the cost of this one. What I don't have is a great eye cream, and this cream worked wonders on my under eye circles and puffiness. I tried it on just one eye and saw results in just a few days. Algenist does not test on animals, either.
5. Archipelago Pomegranate Body Soap: Beautiful fragrance, but I don't use bar soap. This fragrance is also available in a shower gel, which I would consider purchasing as a splurge. Also, Archipelago doesn't test on animals.
As always, the Birchbox was beautifully packaged. Overall, though, it was a bit of a disappointing month, especially when I found out that other girls got Stila eye pencils and Origins face wash. It's a gamble, though, and I know I'll never be thrilled with absolutely everything they send. I just got my February box the other day, and it's got some really interesting samples, so that review will be going up soon.
I am an unabashed lover of pop music. Sure, I may listen to some artists that hardly anyone has heard of, but I also listen to quite a bit of mainstream music. I am ultimately a lover of melody, with an appreciation for good lyrics coming second. Getting the perfect combination of melody and lyrics is awesome, but there have been many songs I've loved for melody alone, when I can't stand to think too much about the words. Hoobastank's "The Reason" is one of those. Right around 2:50 is where it really starts to get me. Also, the harmony on the chorus slays me. The thing with this song, is that it came from a band that tried to pretend that it didn't just release pretty pop songs. I don't think anyone should ever be ashamed of the ability to create a great hook. It's what rock was built on.
And then there's pure pop music. The kind that doesn't pretend to be anything but designed to make you feel good for three minutes. This is the first thing I will reach for when the weather warms up enough to drive with the windows down. It's what I turn up and sing loudly to, without worrying about what the people in the next car think. So in no particular order, here are a few of my favorite pieces of joyful fluff. I suppose it's fitting for such a fluffy holiday.
I was not a Katy Perry fan until this song. I'm still not sure if I am. But I am a fan of this.
When I heard the news of Whitney's passing on Sunday, this is the first song that popped into my mind. I danced with joy to this song in my bedroom, singing to my Kirk Cameron poster. I've sung along in the car to it in three different decades. That voice. That face. Everything I want to say feels trite, so I'll just give this a listen or two.
This was the one that made me love them, though I didn't realize it until "I Want it That Way" came out. I mean, what girl doesn't want to hear these words? As my mom said "They don't know they're lying."
And then there's this. I think it may be the perfect pop song. I can't express how much I love the Wall of Sound. That's why I linked to the studio version instead of a performance video. The sound is awful on most of the television appearances I found, but they're worth a watch just to watch those girl group moves.
So there you have it. I love pop. And it may mean I don't have much indie cred, but indie cred is useless on the highway on a May afternoon.
Last week I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work wardrobe for a touring production of The Color Purple. Wardrobe is my favorite backstage job, other than stage managing, and I haven't had the chance to do it since college. So I was pretty excited. I was also nervous because it had been so long, and I would be working with strangers on a show I wasn't familiar with. I've seen the movie and read the book, but had no idea of the structure of the musical.
Load in was at 9AM, but the costumes were on the third truck, so the first hour was sit around and wait. You do this a lot in theatre. By the time the costume gondolas--big rolling cabinets that make moving easier--came in, it was already break time.
Why yes, I will have a bagel and cream cheese, and two cups of coffee.
After break, we were finally able to get to work, ironing or steaming every costume in the show. It was a company of about thirty, for a show that spans thirty years, so the costumes were extensive. I mostly worked on steaming, and advising some of the crew with little wardrobe experience about what garments could be safely ironed. Everything was wonderfully organized, and the wardrobe mistress, Terrah, was incredible. She was definitely in charge and proficient, but also friendly and approachable.
Details of one of "Shug's" costumes.
One of my favorite costumes. It looked stunning in one of the dance numbers
We took lunch, then came back briefly to set up for the show. This included setting all the hats on top of the gondolas, putting all the costumes in show order, and setting out discard baskets.
Each gondola is numbered on the side. Then labelled with the actors' names and numbers on the top. Each costume is also labelled with the actor number, and the scene in which it's used. For example, a label in this gondola might have a "15" with a circle around it, then 1.2. This would be worn by Roslyn in Act 1, Scene 2. There are dividers on the hanging rods as well, with the actors' names.
Discarded items are put in the baskets, to be hung by the dressers during down time.
Accessories are also labelled with actor, act and scene, and placed in hanging storage bins. Ditty bags contain smaller items like jewelry, scarves, and ties.
We broke for dinner, then came back at 6PM to receive our assignments and start prep.
My task list. I was assigned to dress "Mister."
Here's where my nerves kicked in again. It's easy to forget when you're doing all the busy work that you will be responsible for helping a live show run smoothly. "Mister" is one of the principals in the show. He had his own quick change area, and a task list that was three pages long. I will also admit that I was incredibly intimidated just because of the associations I had with this character, from watching the movie at such a young age. Luckily Ed, the actor who played "Mister" in this production, was as far removed from his character as you could get. He was calm, personable, and incredibly professional. He's been doing the show for a long time, and has everything down to a science. He took me through everything, and assured me he would remind me after each change what I had to do next. This kept me from having to rely so much on my list. Also, Terrah was there to coach me through the more complicated changes in the wings.
The cast at sound check
More hurry up and wait.
Just one wig cabinet. There were at least two more. So many wigs.
As curtain time neared, I put away the phone and concentrated on the job at hand. It went by super fast, and it was exhausting and a little stressful (there were a couple of ten second quick changes) but overall it was tons of fun. I just had to get past the nerves and focus on doing my best. The thing about theatre is that even if you're just a cog in the machine, every bit of collaborative effort is essential to making the performances run smoothly. The audience only gets one shot, there are no do-overs. At the end of the night, Ed hugged me and thanked me profusely for a "perfect night," which is the best of compliments. I would love to do this again, for this show or any other. I also would love the chance to actually get to watch The Color Purple. What I was able to hear and watch was phenomenal.
Up until this weekend, we had been enjoying spring-like temperatures. I got to work wardrobe on a touring production on Thursday (more on that later) and took advantage of the warmer temperatures by walking to and from campus for the afternoon call. The sun had lowered in the sky on the walk home, so it was getting quite a bit chillier, but I decided to snap a shot of the Holy Trinity church. I've walked by it often but never had my camera, and I couldn't resist how wonderful the red on the clock tower looked against the sky.
Then I happened to notice the way tree shadows were being thrown against the building.
And as I started walking, I noticed them everywhere. Something you don't see when it's warm and the trees are lush with light diffusing leaves. Something you only see this time of year, at a certain time of day. Also, when I walk when it's warmer out, I'm usually find myself paying more attention to flora and fauna, especially in the spring. I don't know how interesting these will be to others, but I was fascinated, and they made a cold walk more enjoyable.
February is when we usually start thinking of what to do for Maya's birthday. We usually keep it simple and small, with things like bowling or skating parties with a few friends. Sometimes it's just family. We did throw a major luau themed bash for her fifth birthday, and we decided to make things a little more special for her thirteenth.
Alice in Wonderlandwas released in March of that year and was a pretty big deal with the middle school set, so we decided to have a tea party.
I printed the invitations at home on a heavier stock cream colored paper, then rolled them up and tied them with ribbon for Maya to deliver to her friends.
The best thing about throwing an Alice themed tea party is that anything goes. You don't have to worry about anything matching, and everything can look a little ramshackle.
We went to Goodwill and Salvation Army to find mismatching tea cups and vintage dishes for the table.
The place cards and favor bags were from an Etsy seller who is no longer active, but a quick search will turn up many other sellers. The girls also got to keep their tea cup and saucer as a favor.
We pushed together a long folding table and a card table and covered both with a thrifted table cloth. The runner is another table cloth, folded in thirds.
Lilacs were at their peak, so we grabbed a bunch and threw them in water in serving bowls.
More thrifted odds and ends for the tea service.
The food table. All of the dishes were either thrifted or were already on hand.
I love Izze sodas, but they're so expensive that I need a good excuse to buy them. A party is always a good excuse.
Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies and strawberries made a simple but lovely display. Also, and most importantly, they were delicious.
Deviled eggs, tea sandwiches, pinwheel sandwiches and assorted candy.
Trevor made the cake. It was a three layer chocolate cake with ganache between the layers and topped with peanut butter chips.
After eating, Maya opened presents, then I took all the girls to see Alice in Wonderland. It was at our awesome second run theater, the Rivoli, so it wasn't a total wallet killer.
We're not sure yet what we're going to do this year, but we're thinking of incorporating foods from Italy, Greece and France, since Maya is going on a People to People Ambassador trip to those countries in June.
Last Saturday, Maya and I were wandering about downtown enjoying the spring-like weather, and decided it was time to try a new restaurant, Kate's Crunch. Crunch is the most recent restaurant in Kate Gerrard's growing empire in La Crosse. Kate's on State is the best fine dining in town, and Kate's Pizza Amoré serves up the most flavorful pizza, so my expectations for Kate's Crunch's fast casual dining were pretty high.
The restaurant is in a prime spot in downtown La Crosse, in a sun filled building on the corner of Main and 4th. There's plenty of on street parking, and it's convenient to a parking ramp.
The interior is brightly modern, with a few more rustic elements throughout. I especially liked the Mondrian style menu board. The menu itself mostly consists of soups, salads and sandwiches, with a few comfort foods as daily specials. I wanted the Lasagna Roll, but since we had come in after the lunch rush, they were out. My second choice was the Kate's Burger, a salmon burger on ciabatta.
The burger was thick, juicy and perfectly spiced, and the ciabatta bun was fresh and soft. Totally delicious. I do have a small quibble, however. I know it's the middle of winter, but I'd hope that an $11 sandwich wouldn't feature such a sad looking tomato. Also, while the chips were crispy, they didn't pack as much flavor as I would have hoped. I would definitely have this sandwich again, though.
Maya chose one of the specials, the tuna melt with a side of mushroom bisque. She said that both were delicious. She let me try her soup, and I agree. I've heard that the mark of a good chef is the ability to make a fine soup. This one was creamy without being too heavy, and delicately flavored. I can't wait to try more of Kate's soups.
We'll definitely stop in again. The food was great and the staff was friendly and efficient, but the pricing is a little prohibitive to make it more than an occasional treat. People's Food Co-op has similar quality sandwiches in the five dollar range. We spent about $25 for two sandwiches, chips, soup and two bottled sodas.
A few more interior shots. Maya said that it felt like San Francisco. I'd translate that as her way of saying that the store had a definite urban vibe, but with a more relaxed atmosphere than you'd find on the East Coast.
There is plenty of seating next to the windows. Perfect for people watching.
The main dining area, with piano.
I stayed at an awesome hotel in South Beach, the President, that had this same wallpaper as a mural in the room. It made me smile, because that was the cutest hotel room I've ever stayed in.