Sunday, December 30, 2007

Where's My Flying Car?

2008?! Here are my resolutions for the year:

Go to the gym at least three times each week.
Lose that last 12 pounds and keep it off.
Get professional headshots made and update acting resume.
Go on at least three auditions a month in an effort to branch out to new acting employment opportunities. My current director-friends are very good to me, but I need to work more often than I do.
Finally leave the continent. I've been all over North America, but no where else as of yet. Chad and I are finally going to Italy together in June -- Amalfi Coast, Rome and Florence as part of a free-form tour group led by a native Italian who now calls Austin home.
Read at least one book each week.
Kick my nasty heroine habit.
Stay off the pole.

Okay, the last two are a joke to see if you're paying attention. My only drug habit is the legal use of Claritin D for breathing. I'm an enthusiastic, but terrible, dancer who keeps my clothes on when I'm in public places.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Mystery Callers

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that a woman called and chatted with me for an awkward moment after revealing that she meant to call her new friend also named Jennifer. I never caught the caller's name. Her voice sounded familiar, but I couldn't place the voice, let alone the mystery phone number. She seemed to know me from some theater work or show. I attempted a reverse look up based on her phone number, but all the sites I found expect payment for the information. Boooo... never mind.

Last week I got a mystery voice mail at 2:32 PM on December 18. It was a song from beginning to middle, a love song to be precise. The caller's phone number does not appear on my call log. I tried a Google search of the song's lyrics, since it was not a song or singer that I recognized, but failed to find the song. I'd like to think that the message was left by an old flame who still pines for me, but more likely it was a wrong number, or someone who didn't lock the buttons on their phone and accidentally/coincidentally called me while the song was playing on their car stereo.

I've been with Chad for almost fifteen years. I can say with great confidence that all (three) of my old boyfriends are either dead (long, sad story that has nothing to do with me) or were never that into me anyway. None of them would bother to find me at this late, very much attached, date.

Life is not exciting like the soap operas that I watch, and read the captions for, at the gym. Most days I'm very glad about this fact. Everybody seems to dress-up often on soap operas, and I'm a jeans and t-shirt girl. Plus I'd get bored staring off into the middle-distance dramatically after every conversation.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Santa was good to me. I got the Hitchcock box set of 15 DVDs and the supercute collector's series for the Gilmore Girls. The packaging alone for the Gilmore set is amazing! The DVDs come in a plastic, padded box with a handle like the old Barbie carrying cases. The DVDs are accompanied by two books too: a dictionary of Gilmore references and phrases; and an episode guide. I'll be firmly planted on the couch between trips to the gym and rehearsals* for the next few weeks.

I also got a pop-up Nancy Drew retrospective book full of clues from famous cases. Cute, cute, cute! Speaking of clues, I got the board game CLUE, so come over and play detective, but be forewarned, I'm really good at this game.

Hope Santa was good to you too!

*That audition I mentioned a few weeks ago resulted in a part for a Fronterafest long show. Rehearsals start January 3. Watch this space for show times and venue.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Feliz Nativity

My sister, who is six-and-a-half years younger than me, was the cutest little kid. She was kind of a mischievous monkey. At age two while in day care, she discovered and adopted a little green inchworm on the playground one day. She carried the inchworm around with her all day and gave it a name, probably Sammy-Jo, because that's what she named every bug or critter she kidnapped -- er, I mean, adopted.

Her daycare had fun activities. They went on little field trips around the huge southern church that sponsored/housed her daycare, like the church recreation center that had air hockey and ski-ball. They had art activities. Sometimes they would go to the pool. On this day, they mixed and baked cornbread as a group, learning about how the cornmeal was made. As the cornbread baked and the class waited for their yummy treat, the daycare teacher experienced a disturbance in the force, a sense that something was not quite right. It must have dawned on her as she went down her mental checklist:
count the students √
closed the garage door at home when I left today √
zipper zipped √
buttons buttoned √
set timer for cornbread √
inchworm... Wait, where is the inchworm that she found on the playground?
So the teacher asked my sister where her little inchworm went. I wasn't there to witness the event first hand, but the teacher told us that my sister gave her a sly smile and responded proudly, "In the cornbread."
Ewwwwww. They baked up a new batch and tossed out the one with the inchworm carcass.

Among the thousands of quirky-cute things that little kids can get away with because they're little kids, is the reshaping of family vocabulary. In my family, anytime the golden arches appeared on the horizon, my sister would pop her head up from her car seat and proclaim, "MeMac's! Ambooger, mmmmm, good!" Thus McDonald's became MeMac's in my family's lexicon. At this time of year, I am reminded of the funny names that my little sister and Chad's little brother had for nativity scenes when they were little kids. My sister called nativity scenes the "baby Jesus farm", while Chad's brother said "activity scene". Too precious.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

It's beginning to...

look a lot like Christmas around our 1952 house.

Who's that under our tree?

It's baby Sonic -- all fifteen pounds of him!

My favorite new ornament this year. A little longhorn, the mascot of the college where Chad and I met.

Got ornaments that don't match the others anymore? Throw them in a bowl to look fancy.

Merry Christmas. Safe travels to those of you visiting friends or family.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Blueprint for a Cookie Exchange

I volunteered to host a holiday reunion for my somewhat defunct networking group. Over three years ago my realtor at the time, the lovely & talented Dian Adair, invited me to come to a women's networking group that she and her friend, Lexi, started. The group was called SWANK (short for Smart Women's Association of Networking Knowledge). Never mind the fact that Swank was the name of an old pornographic magazine along the lines of Hustler, we were making the name our own. Dian's friend, Lexi, ended up being an old coworker from my college days who I've always liked and respected, so coincidence worked in my favor to join the group. SWANK went strong with Dian and Lexi at the helm for about two years of monthly meetings. But, members had babies, moved to different cities and were all busy with business of life, and SWANK kind of dissolved. The SWANK alumnae still run into each other from time-to-time at fun social events, but there weren't any SWANK-sanctioned events for over a year.

I really love all the ladies who were part of SWANK, and really wanted to see them together again. It seemed the only way to make this reunion happen was to plan it myself. I set up an Evite and had the invitees vote on whether they wanted to get together for a happy hour out at a restaurant, or have an ornament exchange at my house, or have a cookie exchange at my house. Honestly, I was hoping for the ornament exchange option to win out as I thought it would mean less prep work/baking on my part, but in the end, the cookie exchange won by a landslide. I love to bake. I love hosting parties. The thought of baking four dozen cookies and hosting the party was a bit daunting.

Somehow I got the house cleaned, baked the cookies, set out drinks and snacks and pulled off the 2007 SWANK Cookie Exchange. Guests were asked to bring four-dozen cookies each. I provided printed recipe sheets for the cookies I baked, but spaced-out and forgot to ask guests to do the same. File that under "next time I'll know". I bought big, 1 gallon buckets with a Christmas theme from Container Store for about $2 each for guests to tote home their cookies with wax paper separating each layer. I used red and white Marimekko paper plates and napkins from Crate & Barrel for a festive touch that wasn't overly holiday-themed.

Chad half-joked that since a bunch of girls were coming over, they would probably just look at the food and not really eat much. He was wrong. Here's what I served:
Platter of chopped, raw veggies with cucumber-dill dip
Bowls of mixed nuts/seasonal candies
Platter with a cranberry cheese roulade, hickory cheese roll & crackers

When the first four guests arrived, I asked if they would eat pizza rolls if I ordered some. Oh, yeah. Austin's Pizza to the rescue! Everybody loves the spinach & mushroom pizza rolls. I got a few pepperoni rolls for the meat-eaters. I think I should order two spinach & mushroom pizza rolls per guest for every event I host henceforth, no matter what the theme may be.

Here are photos:


The cookies I made.
Recipe for Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies
From Bon Appetit, December 2005

Makes about 18 sandwich cookies.
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg

For cookies: Whisk flour, cocoa, salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in a large bowl until well blended. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients; beat until blended. Refrigerate dough for one hour.
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Scoop out dough by the level tablespoon full, then roll into smooth balls. Place balls on prepared cookie sheets, spacing about 2 inches apart. Using bottom of a glass, flatten each ball to 2-inch round. (I found it helpful to dip the bottom of the glass in flour and cocoa to prevent sticking of dough.) Bake until cookies no longer look wet, about 11 minutes. Cool on sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 drops (or more) red food coloring

For filling: Using electric mixer, beat powdered sugar and butter in medium bowl until well blended. Add peppermint extract and 2 drops food coloring. Beat until light pink and well blended, adding more food coloring by the drop if desired. Spread 2 generous teaspoons of filling evenly over flat side of 1 cookie to edges; top with another cookie, flat side down, pressing gently to adhere.

Place 1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) of crushed candy canes on a plate. Roll edges of each cookie in the crushed candies to adhere to filling. (Candies can be crushed by placing in double-bagged zipper bags and whacking with a mallet or dropping from chest height onto a hard floor.)

Cookie sandwiches can be made ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.

I made (very popular) goodie bags for each of the guests that contained:
Mint Truffle Hershey Kisses - You must try these. Yum!
Candy Cane Hershey Kisses - These are good if you like white chocolate.
Hershey Chocolate Santas - festive
Lip Smackers in various soda flavors - This brand does not test on animals!
Ms. Manicure Blocks that make your nails so pretty and shiny that you don't need polish!
All of the above items were procured from my favorite chain store, Target.

Monday, December 17, 2007

What Would Laura Ingalls Think?

My massage therapist and I were talking about the need in modern society for exercise as part of a healthy lifestyle. She quipped that she wondered what Laura Ingalls (of Little House on the Prairie fame) would think if she saw me sweating away on the elliptical machine. How odd it would seem to someone from the 19th century that we modern people have such an abundance of food, and that most of us do little physical labor, that we have to work off calories and build muscles at a gym. I quipped in response that people back then died at much younger ages from malnutrition and from wearing out their bodies due to hard physical labor. I tend to agree with the ancient Roman dude, Andria Terence, with his most excellent quote, "moderation in all things."

Tonight, I wanted to take a long, hot bath with my fancy ginger fizz bath beads. The hot water heater was feeling cantankerous and refused to cooperate, supplying only about eight gallons of hot water before taking a long winter's nap. Hot water heater, your days are numbered. I'm replacing you with a tankless hot water on demand heater mounted outside of our house, just as soon as I can talk Chad into it. City of Austin codes dictate that if your hot water source is inside your house, it must have one devoted closet. So I'm moving the hot water source outside and gaining a coat closet (just as soon as I can talk Chad into it).

Back to my wish for a long, hot bath -- I asked Chad to please boil some large pots of water. I perched on the edge of the tub as he poured those steamy bowls of hot water into the lukewarm water of the bathtub. I tentatively checked the water temperature with my big toe, and as Goldilocks would say, this one was just right. As I soaked in my nice, hot bath, I caught myself thinking that Laura Ingalls would think about this scene of boiling hot water on our gas stove with its visible flames at each burner and lugging large pans of water through the house for a hot bath. She'd probably wonder why technology had not advanced further over the years.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Diaper Butt

Losing weight has been a necessary action with its own rewards. I look better. I feel better. I have more confidence. Boys (a few young ones!) notice me again*. For a while, my clothes fit me better. I've lost 22 pounds since March. I'm noticing a little muscle tone from many trips to the gym. I'm also noticing that my clothes are getting a bit baggy now. My favorite jeans, which are only a few months old, fit me only when fresh out of the dryer now. After about one hour of wearing, I get the dreaded diaper-butt, which occurs when one's pants are saggy-baggy in the booty and appear as if one is wearing a (full) diaper. I'm ordering a size smaller in those favorite jeans later tonight.

I have 12 pounds more to lose before I hit my goal weight/my average college weight. My immediate goal for the holiday season is not to regain any weight and to keep going to the gym despite the delightfully hectic holiday schedule. I'm in a holding pattern until January.

Do not report me to the body dysmorphic police, but I still think I look a little bit heavy. One of my pretty, thin friends grabbed my arm the other night and said, "you look so skinny. It's kinda weirding me out." Thanks, but I don't feel like I'm there just yet.

*Wednesday, I caught a stock-boy at the grocery store checking me out. He chuckled upon realizing he was busted, and told me to have a nice day. He looked about 19-years-old/young. Friday night, I got a free refill of pricey bubbly from a server. When I started to say "thank you", he said "shhhh..." and smiled at me in a semi-lecherous way. Chad witnessed this little exchange and teased me about it. Good thing Chad is not the jealous type.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Prep Style Pusher No More

I've heard my personal style of dressing described by others as: cute, funky, bohemian, retro/vintage and some other not as nice adjectives. I've never been preppy, even when it was stylish in the 80s. I believe I was stuck in my Madonna-wannabe when all the preppy stuff was chic. So why did I work at J.Crew for 2 years? Uhm, the generous employee discount on wardrobe basics? Or was it that Chad and I were poor then and J.Crew was the first place that offered me a job that Christmas season? Maybe the sneer I got from the hipster at Urban Outfitters when I turned in my application also had a little something to do with it.

At J.Crew, whenever we got a shipment of new items, my fellow prepsters and I would marvel at how the items looked the same from season to season and year to year. We had a saying, "SOS" which stood for "Same Old Sh!#". We'd also marvel at how anyone could afford the clothes, or would pay the silly-high prices, without the 50% employee discount. I miss my J.Crew cohorts, but I do not miss those clothes.

I followed a link from jensational's blog to Jezebel that riffed on Brooks Brothers, then found another link mocking the J.Crew holiday book, pretty funny. Check it out.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Cavity Creeps and Home Intruders

Thursday I went to my lovely spa-like dentist's office for a check-up. My warm neck wrap and hand/arm massage were a tiny bit marred by the discovery of two small cavities in neighboring teeth. From age eight up until age thirty-one, I didn't have any cavities. Now it seems as though I get two cavities every two years. Remember those Crest toothpaste commercials from the early 1980s with the Cavity Creeps invading Toothopolis? These nasty grey creatures that looked like rocks with humanoid features attacked teeth only to be rebuffed by Crest toothpaste. I brush at least twice a day with a fancy electric toothbrush and toothpaste, and I floss a few times a week, but the Cavity Creeps somehow prevail.

Earlier today I was home while my next-door neighbors' house was robbed. Someone, or some group of people, kicked in the front door, violently tearing out the door frame and landing the door with the locked dead bolt on the floor of my neighbors' living room. I heard the loud thud and thought it was the noise of a big construction truck barreling down the street, hitting a bump. I even looked out the window to try and spot the big truck, but didn't see one. I saw a man slowly getting into the passenger side of a jeep-type-vehicle in front of my neighbors' house. He didn't speed off. He wasn't carrying anything. I think he even saw me looking out and he didn't so much as flinch. I thought nothing more of it. My neighbor said that the thief/thieves took only a desktop computer. They left the TV, radio, VCR and all other valuables. I was shocked at this news. My neighbors have an alarm system with a sign in their yard alerting would-be intruders to the alarm. I never heard an alarm today, but the alarm company did alert my neighbors and the police to the break-in. I feel awful that I didn't understand what was happening when I heard the noise. Maybe by drawing back the curtain and looking out, I made the guy/guys leave before they were done hauling things out? It didn't happen to me or my house, and yet I feel scared. I feel unsafe in my home now. I want an eardrum-bursting-loud alarm system, a large canister of pepper spray in every room and a really big dog whose size and bark relay the message to stay-the-heck-away. (But I want my big dog to actually be happy, nice and well-adjusted, of course.)

You do everything you can to fend off the Cavity Creeps and home invaders, but have to face the sad fact that despite your best efforts, no defense system is completely impervious. If I can sleep tonight, I'll probably dream about Cavity Creeps breaking in to steal my computer.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


I performed in one of the Murder Mystery Player shows tonight. I had not done this script for several months, and was nervous about remembering my lines, cues and blocking. I studied my script and prepared as well as I could, but as showtime drew nearer today, I felt more and more like I was going to barf. My stomach hurt as if it was tied in knots.

I tried to distract myself by thinking about other things. I chatted with Chad about whether we want to accept the offer from our mortgage guy to talk about refinancing our mortgage now that interest rates are even lower. I visited the Blue Dog Rescue website and with teary-eyes read all about the sweet dogs and their trials and tribulations that brought them to the rescue group. Warning: these dogs have the sweetest doggy-smiles, so if you follow the link, prepare to have your heart strings plucked. I fielded a phone call from a mystery person who thought she was calling another Jenn, but still have no idea who she was after establishing that I was not the Jenn she intended to call. I watered all the plants inside and outside. I went to Bark-n-Purr to pick up more cat food and a cat toy. I stopped by the bakery to buy a cupcake that I haven't had the stomach to eat yet. I obsessed over the news that several friends with whom I had dinner Sunday night had debilitating tummy trouble over the past few days and wondered if maybe I had a stomach bug and not just pre-show-jitters. My thoughts were spinning around like a twister in my head.

I got to the show on time. Traffic was not a problem. Hair, makeup and costume all looked great. The show went fine. I remembered most, maybe all, of my lines and blocking. The audience paid attention, laughed often and clapped at the end. I got my check. I came home.

Now I have crashed, depleted of my earlier nervous energy. I still feel sick to my stomach. I still have an active tornado warning in my brain due to spinning thoughts.

I need to watch some silly TV. Maybe I should start writing Christmas cards. I should wrap and pack some of these Christmas gifts that are littering the dining room table. I should iron the clothes while I watch TV. I need to finish reading my library book that is due Saturday. What if we get our dog soon and it hates the cats, or the cats band together in mutiny against the dog? I need to buy more limeade before I host the cookie exchange next week, and oh yeah, bake the four dozen cookies to trade. I feel dizzy. Maybe I am going to barf...

Saturday, December 01, 2007

30 Posts in 30 Days = Done!

Thanks to everyone who read even a few of my November blog posts. I successfully posted each day in November. Special thanks to jensational for challenging me to take part in National Blog Posting Month/NaBloPoMo.