Randomly Sick

So, today makes the second day that I’ve stayed home with a fevery toddler (I, too, have come down with the same virus; Dave was home with him Wednesday, too). It was running high there forever and after our scare last fall, we’re particularly cognizant when this happens. No more seizures, thank you very much! (We’ve been lucky to have no repeats, by the way. Super lucky.)

So, while I try to learn some more lines and Hadley giggles along with Daniel Tiger, I thought I’d share a quick list of “I can’t wait”s.
I think it seems to be a general consensus that everyone is over winter. I’m not necessarily upset by it or frustrated or anything…but I can’t WAIT to enjoy this stage in Hadman’s life…in warmer weather!!
This means I can’t wait…
– to walk! This is twofold: 1) just getting outside with the family, and 2) since I just started physical therapy, I’m hoping these will be pain-free walks (we think that it came from how I walked while pregnant, which didn’t adjust back to normal post-baby)
– for Easter!! I know it’s awhile off, but as a kid, it was the first sign of spring. The Easter Bunny brought simple things (a little candy, an outfit or PJs or socks, cheap canvas sneakers, and (most importantly) outdoor toys like a jump rope or bubbles), and he does that still. This year we’ll color eggs and hope that our bunny buddy hides them. I also know for a fact that Mr. EB has gone organic and will bring us some Annie’s gummy bunnies. I’m also hoping he’ll bring a small herb growing kit (like the one Mommy found recently at Target…ahem), and you just can’t have too much fun with bubbles.
– to do some planting. I have no idea if it’ll be easier or harder now that Hadley is mobile. Last year, it was tough to get anything done outside (plus, he hated to touch the grass). He has changed so much and is a lot more adventurous, so I’m hoping that good ol’ bunny brings a child-friendly garden trowel to have a digging buddy. Oh, and to get him into watering; that’s a must.
– to cook and eat out. I don’t mean in a restaurant; I mean on our back deck. I don’t expect to do this every day (for some reason, it’s a hard switch to make in our routine), but the occasional meal outdoor sounds lovely right about now.
– for summer. Our vacation last year wasn’t really a family vacation. Because Dave was switching from his former job to a new one, he wasn’t allowed to take any of the time he had long since requested, so there were things we didn’t do that we wanted to and a camping excursion that he hardly took part in – but we’re just so lucky that he has the new gig that it was worth it. This summer, he gets to work different hours to have a shortened workweek (which will also make any 3-day trip we may want to take even easier). Just the thought of where we can take the little guy gets me excited, even if we haven’t decided yet where to go.
Okay, back to the line-learning! What are some things that you guys are looking forward to? Anyone else waiting for the big melt?

Wordless Wednesday Doodle

I started physical therapy this week since my knees have been giving me some trouble ever since I was pregnant with Hadley (way to get on that, Meg…that was two years ago). My physical therapist is awesome, and I noticed that her instructions for my home exercises looked strangely similar to the doodles that Roo at Neon Fresh (one of my favorite irreverent blogs) uses to enhance her posts/crack up her audience…


Seriously, sorry it’s so small. I took it from Instagram and that’s the best I can do with it. You can’t see it well, but she at least put smiley faces on the lil’ dudes…which makes it just slightly less awkward when actually performing them.

Here’s to loosenin’ those hamstrings, realigning those thigh muscles (the names of which escape me), and getting those meniscuses (menisci?) back to normal! Happy Wednesday, folks!

Organic For Less

Happy Monday from a very snowy CNY! I’m back from a “mid-winter break” and ready to get back to normalcy. Now, if I could only find the energy to match my enthusiasm. Eh, on with the show…

Every couple of weeks or so, I find myself hitting up our local Aldi (a unique grocery store with mostly generic-ish brands where you rent your grocery cart, bring your own bags, and may only use cash, or debit or EBT cards) before making my usual Hannaford haul. It helps to lower my regular food bill, and I’m ecstatic to see their choices in organic products is generally increasing. Woo hoo!

Now, before I share my budget-trimming selections, I’d like to briefly state our current eating philosophy. I wish I could say that we eat only fruits and vegetables; minimal quantities of organic, grass fed, humanely treated meat and poultry (and eggs); whole grains; and raw, grass fed milk and cheese. Period. But, we don’t. A great majority of what we eat is organic OR grass fed OR GMO free OR 5-ingredients-or-less, but we still consume processed foods – frozen pizzas, part-skim cheese sticks, breads, snack crackers, granola bars, etc.  We try to eat minimal meat, but it’s still a part of most of our meals (most dinners, at least).

It is what it is. Our consciences are relatively at ease on the subject. About 90-95% of the food in our house is organic or at least GMO-free. That’s a heck of a lot further than we were a few short years ago. We don’t stress out over the occasional ordered-in pizza or diner breakfast or meal shared at a friend or family member’s house; they’re quite rare and we know the rest of the time we’re doing our best to put good things in our bodies. {And we’re still profoundly against fast food (I’m going to attempt to pack some appealing meals for our next vacation so we don’t fall victim).}

It’s an evolution that I’m not rushing. To force a thing means that it will be a stress rather than a pleasure to enforce in our own lives. So, for now, I let someone else make my bread. (Either an organic brand or a few-ingredient, locally made one.) And I sleep just fine. 😉

For some tips on grocery shopping for “whole foods”, check out this old post. I’ll have to do a farmers’ market one when things warm up. Yay!

So, anyhoo! I ended up spending a lot for an Aldi trip (less than $60), but couldn’t help myself. For once, I found so many new organic products, I felt like I was robbing the place. “Ohhhh, yessss!!” I shouted each time I spotted another. I’m sure folks thought I was crazy, but I know for a fact that crazier things DO happen…especially at this joint.

I’m showing my haul in categories – fruit ‘n veg (one organic pile – left, one non-organic – right) and processed stuff (bottom).

I still subscribe to a small extent to the “clean 15” list to cut back on cost (although it’s also a matter of supply/demand; if they supply an organic version, I’ll often buy it). So, at Aldi I purchased a pineapple ($2.49), mushrooms ($.99!), a trio of onions ($2.69; I’m a tad wary here; the last time I did this, I cut into them THE NEXT DAY to find they had soft/browning middles…happened recently at Hannaford, too, though), garlic ($.79!), green onions ($.79!), asparagus ($2.99…and already gone…I should’ve bought two), and a bag o’ potatoes ($2.99 for 5 lbs! But…on the dirty list, but it’s tough to find organic here :-P).

As for the organic produce, I FINALLY caught their fresh bananas (I think $.79/lb.), bag o’ apples ($4.49), spinach and spring mix ($1.99 each; if we don’t use the spinach by the time it starts to go, I can boil it quickly and flash freeze) and baby carrots ($.99; this is the price if you’re LUCKY for non-organic at Hannaford). Lots of “booyah!” and heel kicking in the aisles, I tell ya. Oh, and I grabbed two bags of frozen organic strawberries ($2.69 each) and one of blueberries ($2.99). If you want to count apple juice, I hunted down an organic container for $2.49 ($.50 – $1.00 less than usual).

Then we get into the more processed (yet organic) stuff. Diced tomatoes for $1.49, two boxes of $1.99 chicken soup, a box of $1.79 chicken broth, a box of $1.19 linguine, a $1.99 peppercorn ranch dressing, hormone- and antibiotic-free bacon (just like the kind we get at Hannaford, only $3.89…similar price, just want to check it out), $1.99 “toasted oats” (organic Cheerios, folks!), and TWO organic pizzas for $3.99 each (TWO DINNERS for $4.00 each! Yes, we’ll probably have salad, too, but c’mon…can’t buy a pizza from a local pizza place for that little, and they’re made with ORGANIC ingredients!!!).

Whew. So, yeah, minus a $2 bag that I purchased because I ended up finding way more than I had expected, it came to around $57.63. For comparison, I usually spend around $30 there. If only they’d start carrying WHOLE organic milk instead of 2% (don’t get me wrong — I was ECSTATIC to see that they even had milk).

On a final note, this is just an example of a random grocery trip. I’ve had some interest from folks to know what one of these trips looks like, how much we spend on stuff, and what selections we make. This is by no means a bragfest (although I was dancing in the aisles to see what deals I could find); it’s just putting myself out there to see if what I do might help any of you. 🙂

So, how about you? What are some ways that you find to eat healthier (no judgment zone: healthier doesn’t always mean organic; it’s just our personal philosophy) for cheaper?

Toddler Clothes Burst

I recently shared my first “burst” of energy — ie using 15 minutes to accomplish one cleaning task. Today, I’m back to tell you about the burst of 15 minutes I spent in Hadley’s room.

Since I technically spent about 20-25 minutes on the first project and about 5 minutes on the second, I’d say I reached the goal of 15 minutes each.

Cheating? Naw. My house, my rules. 😉

With a growing little (or, NOT so little) guy, we regularly need to switch out Hadman’s clothes. Of course, this regularly DOESN’T happen. So, his dresser starts to look like this —

That’s a nearly-full bin of size 18-month clothes next to the dresser. He’s comfortably in 24-month right now, so I went through his two drawers (the bottom is for sheets and blankies) to pull out too-small items and switch in some 24-month stuff we still had sitting around.

Ta-da!

By the way, I’ve totally gotta use one of my 15-minute bursts to take that changing pad off. He hasn’t used it in, like, a year. Der. (And the cat toy is with its rightful owner…)

So, that burst took about 20+ minutes, which will sometimes happen. If I hadn’t given myself the 15 minute goal, I would’ve spent 30+ minutes, and there would’ve been some crying over how big our baby has gotten. But, not the case. No tears this time. Just a speed-cleaning. Bam.

This also had one of those overlapping effects; our office went from clothes mountain to “whoa, there was a desk chair under there!” (So maybe I did 3 bursts in 30 minutes. Sweet!)

While I was at it, I organized the two under-crib bins that we use for the clothes that don’t fit the munchkin quite yet. I always keep his next size (sigh…2T) in the one on the left and anything higher in the one on the right. That way, at a quick glance, I can see that he’ll need undershirts or more pants for his next growth spurt. (BTW, isn’t “burst” better than “spurt”? Yeah, I almost considered using that word instead. You’re welcome, hee hee.) This system works SO well for us.


Another side note: Dave has been stock-piling some Woot shirts in the smallest size for AWHILE. Needless to say, we don’t really need any shirts when he’s in a 4T. This one’s my favorite (others are eyebrow-raising…like the passed out Cookie Monster who’s been on a milk and cookie binge…I laugh, but others may not) —
 


So, after about 30 minutes, Had’s clothes are under control again. Ahhhh. Nice.

And maybe…just maybe Winston helped.

Maybe.

Wardrobe

So, the show is going quite well (I’ve still got nerves about the start date, but I’m trying not to let it bog me down too much). Everything’s been blocked, so now we’re just to the “let’s learn some lines and get used to our characters more” stage.

The only thing that’s tripping me up right now? My costume.

It may not sound like it, but for an actor, your costume is a big deal. I’ve been a ton of different characters, so I’ve worn a kazillion different costumes. Young ingenue? Sure. Historical costume? Yep. Young up-and-coming 1940s singer? Yes, ugh (the costume, not the part). Nightgowns? Swimsuit? Blonde Roman courtesan outfit? Check, check, check. The dowdy maid? Twice (one British, one traditional American).

If your hair doesn’t keep a curl (and you know full well that it’s drooping by the end of the first act), it hits you emotionally that you’re not “the character” enough. If your belt can’t be adjusted and you can’t get enough breath support for your songs, well, that’s just painful…but also affects the character. If you’re not historically accurate enough? Again…affects the character. It’s those details that help you pull the person you are and the person you’re trying to be/create together; it gives you a relationship, which then can (hopefully) translate to the audience.

At our theater (as with most community theaters, I assume), actors are generally in charge of their own costumes. In a few shows, we’ve had a seamstress or two either make our costumes or adjust — like the black number I wore in “Murder in Bogart’s Shadow” which was sewn to fit my body then adjusted further the week of opening (I couldn’t have committed the murder; where on earth would I have hid the gun? Logical explanation. I prayed for zero water weight.) — but, for the most part, we’re on our own.

ILT’s attic (second floor; it used to be the stables of a very rich fellow) is part scenery and props, part messy wardrobe. People have donated tons of outfits over the years, and the ones we’ve purchased (oftentimes at Goodwill or Salvation Army) also end up up there. The racks are overflowing and the odds of finding the perfect outfit that a) fits and b) works for your character is maybe 1 in 10…depending on your character. (I find myself looking at plays and thinking, “Oh! We already have the 1940s gowns for this!” We have furs and gorgeous old dresses that will most likely never see the light of day again; plays aren’t written for such elaborate scenes anymore.)

Usually, I find costuming the “fun part” of a show. The easy part. Even for the three-person show I did years back in which I had something like six costume changes, all in ’60s costumes, I had a blast looking through antique stores and thrift shops up and down the east coast with my mom (and stepdad, who tagged along). Sometimes I’ll find something upstairs; sometimes at Salvation Army; lately, I’ve found the right thing in my own closet. For this show, though, I couldn’t even wrap my head around what my character would wear.

See, she’s got a few character traits (and actions onstage) that imply what she should wear, but I’m over-thinking things thanks to my own personal experiences. Silly lady. Here’s who she is:

1) She’s a naive kindergarten teacher from Buffalo.
2) First time in NYC (she’s there with her playwright fiance as his show gets prepared for Broadway) and is meeting her all-time favorite star (who’s doing the show).
3) She likes to cross-stitch. (Yep.)
4) It takes place in modern day. MODERN DAY, folks.
5) I don’t want to give too much away, but in our show, she passes out cold and gets splayed across a table…so…yeah. 

6) She mentions shopping at JC Penney.

I asked for opinions on Facebook and got some great responses that have at least got my brain juices a-bubblin’. Ew, that sounds gross.

The thing that keeps tripping me up…well, THINGS…are that a) I know lots of kindergarten teachers (and you might as well switch it to “librarian” — which I am) and we don’t dress like a church marm these days, and b) we live in upstate and we don’t dress too darn outdated. (I’m still surprised at how unstylish so many New Yorkers sometimes are when we visit.)

And the only pictures I see of Arlene online are quite outdated (well, she LOOKS outdated; it’s a relatively new show, so it’s just how other folks have costumed her) — and most of the time she’s wearing a skirt. I just have this ultimate fear of “fainting” and giving an extra show. But, then, it’s not the first time such a thing has been worried about, be it me or another thousand actresses.

So, here are a few boards I worked up for Arlene. All is clearly negotiable. I’d like her to look, ultimately, sweet + a little ymodern…since that’s what she is.

***Oh, and if I knew I’d be meeting my HERO (*ahem* Peter Tork *ahem*), I would definitely wear a trendier outfit. Just sayin’.***


(Read in schmultzy 1950s male voice…since men had a major interest in fashion in the 50s…?)

First, we have the “demure” (read: kinda boring) black jumper-over-white-tee look. It’s accompanied by adorable black flats (since our actress tends to tower over the gentlemen onstage if not for flats) that scream, “I don’t want to be noticed.” Optional (unseen) cardigan available for pop of color…if that’s your sort of thing.


Option #2 screams “I want to be a soccer mom someday!” With just the right amount of drab-and-pastel color, it reads “blends just enough in with the scenery” while being present when need-be. Metallic flats (and accompanying cross-stitch tote) let the viewer know that she’s got a wild, artistic side just screaming to get out.

(Totally kidding. I’d wear this to school. *sigh*)


Option #3 is flirty yet innocent in that “kindergarten teacher” sort of way…with just enough “I might get to see up her skirt” excitement for any creepy audience members. (Plus, there might just be a dress that could be similar to this in the attic. Um, score?)


Say “hello!” to the 21st century, Arlene! This is just a thought for taking her into a more modern costume — I already have similar shoes and skinny jeans, but a cute tunic would cover things up a bit. (The one on the right is particularly innocent-looking.)

This is all, of course, just for fun. I don’t really mind any of these options (except maybe that first one. It’s so harsh and nun-like); I just need some help deciding which direction to go. And, heck, I’m sure we could mix elements of all of these together and get fine costumes (I need two).

So, if you have an opinion, feel free to share it! I’m all ears…er…yeah.

Bursts

Happy Presidents’ Day, guys!! Home with the munchkin today.

For whatever reason – winter doldrums, lack of exercise, the “the less you do, the less you can do” syndrome (I just made up) – I’ve got wicked low energy lately. And, of course you know what that means, right? One thing has to fall to the wayside. The same thing, all the time.


Cleaning.

At least, that’s what gets neglected around here. Don’t tell my mom (sorry, Mom!!); she’s got very high cleanliness standards. She called my sis and I “Cinderella” (and maybe our brothers from time to time).

At least I suppose the standards are there to some extent. I know and cringe when something’s filthy or dusty or precariously piled. But finding the energy to get it checked off the to-do list is another story.

I’ve seen something interesting about cleaning on no less than 20 other blogs (and probably 20 magazines before I was a blog reader), which tells us to use a 15 minute period throughout the day (as we find them) to accomplish something.

It could be spending 15 minutes doing the prep work for some freezer meals. It could be 15 minutes working on a small project you’ve had on your list for years. But, more likely than not, since cleaning is dreaded by so many people, it’ll be performing a chore around the house. And I’m calling them “bursts” (get it? A “burst” of energy?)…’cuz I’ve gotta categorize everything. Weirdo.

I decided to use my kitchen dry erase board to make a continual list of chores that can be accomplished in about 15 minutes. Y’know — while on the phone or just to achieve that “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today” philosophy before heading to bed or for that moment that I sigh after putting the baby down for a nap when my brain goes blank.

While I was at it, I decided to start in the kitchen with one (yes, one) cabinet shelf. But, it’s the dreaded baby shelf, which I’ve been planning on organizing for awhile since Hadman only uses a particular type of sip-cup. So, in under 15 minutes, it went from this…

to this…

with this left to lug into the basement (which I did…but it all needs to be re-organized, of course)…


It’s funny how kids only use ONE particular “style” of beverage receptacle, huh? And it’s sad to be packing away the last of the bottles, but it’s all good.

Oh, and by the way, the cabinet is completely clean (I scrubbed it), but it’s in dire need of painting — along with the rest of the kitchen cabinets. Needless to say, that’ll be a burst of more than 15 minutes worth of energy. 😉

I’ll be sharing a handful more “bursts” I’ve already used to get myself off my hibernating hiney. Otherwise, it’s so darn easy to wile away a snow day! 

A Valentine’s Day Look Back

Hey, folks! Happy Valentines Day! We’re setting aside our tradition of eating at Beardslee Castle (our go-to romantic locavore meal place, since it was where we had our wedding reception and it’s just so freaking awesome) in favor of a homemade, “adult” meal. Read: Mom’s watching the Hadman so that I can cook food that he doesn’t really eat (or, at least I don’t have to worry about whether he eats it or not); scallops provencal and a nice steak (surf ‘n turf, anyone?), probably with a bit of wine.

So. What’re YOU doing for the day? Nothing? Having a romantic dinner or watching a sappy movie? Watching your annoying daughter’s kid so that she can spend a couple of hours with her husband?

I really have no idea where this post is going to go today. From time to time, I have folks mention that they have a hard time finding their way around MAO (erm, the blog), although the “Archives” tab should help a bit with that. But, I thought it’d be interesting to “walk around” the ol’ joint and share some of my favorite moments. And, according to page views, a few reader favorites, as well.

Come along, won’t you?

Since it’s V-Day, and this is, of course, one of my all-time favorite posts, I thought I’d share my “it’s been 6 months and I finally got around to showing wedding pics” post. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll find reality is a harsh broad when you realize how many of our friend-couples aren’t together anymore. Ahhh, life. And I can’t believe that was 2011…seems like yesterday. 

http://megactsout.blogspot.com/2011/04/six-months.html

While we’re at it, I would be remiss if I didn’t include a post about the Hadman. Because, of course, he’s everything.

Okay, more than one post (such a scary weekend!). Maybe three (such a fun weekend!). And the original post where I talked about breastfeeding issues…and announcing his birth.

And our other boys are also still tops with us, even with a kid in tow. I’ve shared about how we got each of them, but I think a brief kitty post like this fits the bill just fine. Just a blurb about their personalities and what we appreciate about each of their idiosyncrasies.

And, now for some of YOUR favorites (based on what my stats tell me).

BY FAR, my most-viewed post is about Overcoming Facebook Addiction. This is still an uphill battle for an addict like me, but I try to keep it at a minimum. And, not to make excuses, but this becomes a bigger challenge in the winter months when my mind and body go into hibernation mode. (Can’t wait to get outside with the monkey!)

In a case of “ya never know what people will like” lies my mantle-without-a-fireplace post…which should really just be called “hanging a shelf.”

http://megactsout.blogspot.com/2011/08/mantle-with-no-fireplace.html

Similarly random (and voyeuristic) is the showing of how horrific our bathroom started out. I recently found better “before” pictures that I’d like to show when all is said and done, but I really don’t want to call our bathroom “done” until I can get the shower surround completed. It’s about 90% done, in that case. 🙂 (This is what I would call the “in-between” phase where we’d at least switched up the sink and mirror, etc.

http://megactsout.blogspot.com/2011/04/bad-bad-bathroom.html

Sadly, this next post has a ton of views, which makes me proud yet numb to think about. It’s about a few days that changed the way of life in our humble little towns. No pictures, just words. Very true, very broken words.

Aaaaand a trip down memory lane wouldn’t be complete without a breastfeeding post, right? But, this isn’t just ANY breastfeeding post. This is the ever-controversial (in my mind; nobody had anything negative to say — thank goodness) “I lost my baby weight thanks to breastfeeding” post in response to countless comments from folks (women) regarding how much weight I’d lost.

http://megactsout.blogspot.com/2013/10/im-sorry-i-didnt-do-it-on-purpose.html

Last but not least, since our own Dorky Daddy’s birthday just happens to be two days after Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d share my favorite gushingly corny post about him. Just for embarrassment’s sake.

http://megactsout.blogspot.com/2013/10/im-sorry-i-didnt-do-it-on-purpose.html

Mind you, some of these old posts are from before I realized that small pictures kinda suck, so please be kind. The heart’s still there, and that’s what matters most.

What about you? Do you have a favorite old post? Are you surprised at how things have changed around here, or do you think they’re pretty much the same (just with three more cats and a kid)? Anything you want to read more (or less) about? I’m always open to suggestions. 🙂

Scripted Wordless Wednesday

I can see that the ever-popular “Wordless Wednesday” blog posts so rampant in the blogosphere will be a best friend over the next few weeks. It isn’t that I don’t want to write; I simply haven’t much time or energy with rehearsals and toddler-parenting and life. So, to use a photo to give some insight onto my goings-on is a quick, thousand-word way of letting you know what’s up.



And, of COURSE, it’s of a script.

That’s what happens when you do a show; it’s with you everywhere you go. For superstitious me (Irish actor? Double threat…), I can’t go any place without my script. If there is ANY chance to look over half a page of lines, I’ll take it. But even when I know full well that I won’t have a spare moment to glance at it (this picture was taken after a full day of work where, needless to say, I didn’t look it over), I can’t be without it until the show is over.

Even when we’ve done a couple of performances and we know we’ve got things handled, it’ll drive me insane to know that my script is lying backstage there. Lonely. Not being used. (It’s happened.) My superstitious side also says that I’ve jinxed myself if I seem so aware of my lines that (gasp) I don’t even need to take my script home. I will inevitably go blank onstage. Again, it’s happened.

But, as crazy as this all sounds, I’ve mellowed. I used to sleep with the book under my pillow (particularly for one of my favorite shows, a 3-person one with lots of lines to memorize). 

I know this is Wordless Wednesday, but do you really expect me to play by the rules? AND shut up? Good luck with that. 😉

Any wordless things going on with you?

Don’t Talk to Meg, Acting Out

Once again finding my brain unable to formulate the words to do Grandpa justice, but trying to get back to living life with him in my head and heart. So…now for something completely different.


For the first time since having Hadley, I’m taking on an honest-to-goodness local acting role. That means it has been since around…hmm…the November before he was born…carry the one…a frickin’ while. A frickin’ while since I’ve tread the boards or learned a butt load of lines or tried to be anyone but “Mama.” Over two years.

Since I’m looking at this experience with new, dare I say baby-like eyes (as much as someone who’s been in a good number of shows can), I thought I’d give a teensy bit of vague insight into the goings-on behind-the-scenes. Nothing enough to piss off the fellow actors, but maybe something of interest.

We had our first read-through (well, the only read-through, but whatever) last Friday night. I always go into these things calmly; it’s never as bad or as great as your mind makes them out to be. There’s generally a varied mix of “yay! So-and-so is in this show!! Fun!!” and “Crrrrrap, we only have 5 weeks.” Um, yeah, that’ll be the worst part. Not sure I’ve been in a show that took less than 6 weeks to prepare. Should be interesting.

That said, I’ve also never laughed so hard at a read-through in. My. Life. The show, “Don’t Talk to the Actors”, is quite new for our theater (written in 2009), so the comedy is incredibly fresh and easy to follow…and borderline trashy. Okay, okay, it’s not one to take the kiddies to. But, GOD, it’s good.

The story follows a brand new, naive playwright and his fiancée (me, an also-naive, cross-stitching kindergarten teacher) as he sees his play rehearsed for the first time for an eventual Broadway audience. The two aging actors are well-known in different capacities and both cantankerous in their own hysterical ways. Let’s just say my character is smitten with the older male actor due to his earlier stint on TV (I can relate, having obsessively crushed on several very random older TV guys as a kid). 

Before opinions start to arise, the director urges my fiancé not to listen to the actors (who will attempt to change his work and, as predicted, do). Some hilarious scenes and surprises pop up, and overall should be a great night of entertainment for our audiences (and hopefully for the cast, as well).

I was on the fence about going for a part. I read up a bit about the show, but once Grandpa died I thought, “Well, I’ll just wait for next season.” Auditions overlapped with his wake and preparations, so I wasn’t optimistic.

Then, as often happens in community theater, the awesome director (one reason I decided to pursue it — I’ve never worked with him and he’s just a wonderful guy and performer) posted on the theater’s Facebook page that they were still looking for the younger female role. On a whim, I offered my services and the rest is, as they say, history.

Acting out once again.

I’m grateful to have a week off next week and hope to learn a crap load of my lines (if my aging brain can take it).

Now, to find some ironic cross-stitch that I can work on onstage but actually use later to remember the show by – you know the kind I mean, right?

And what the heck does one wear to show a modern-day naive kindergarten teacher from Buffalo? …Asks the school librarian from Upstate NY.

Quick Chicken Chunks

I’ve been working a little at a time for DAYS on a post about my grandfather. There are times that writing is as natural and easy as can be. This is not one of those times. Instead of keeping folks waiting for a possibly schmultzy (okay, definitely schmultzy) post, I thought I’d just keep on keepin’ on. With chicken chunks. (Forgive me, Grandpa.)

Envision this: Rushing through a grocery store, second- and triple-checking the list to ensure that you haven’t forgotten the ever-vital organic cheese sticks or your husband’s raw honey. Feel a wave of guilt as you grab a (albeit non-corn syrupy) chocolate bar from the checkout counter to avoid passing out before getting home with your reusable bagfuls.

Your husband stalling with the little guy at his parents’ to give just a few extra minutes for you to squeeze in your nightly shower while texting to encourage you to leave the grocery bags in the car — that he’ll take care of them when he arrives home. Bless him.

Hopping out of the shower, still unsure as to what you should make. You bought some boneless, skinless chicken breasts, but were hoping to use most of them for company later in the week. You also grabbed your favorite organic whole wheat macaroni and cheese (which also happens to be a favorite of not only your child, but said wonderful hubby). As always, frozen veggies are rampant in the freezer.

Bingo. In less than thirty minutes, you’ll have a family-friendly meal on the table.

I call these “chunks” because they’re not quite chicken fingers, but not quite chicken nuggets — so, chunks they be, gross visualization and all. And, I finally discovered the secret to making super easy, delicious “finger food” chicken. Previously, I always threw in some panko breadcrumbs, but they either fell off while cooking or burnt a bit. No need to put up with that anymore, folks.

Yummy Chicken Chunks

2 chicken cutlets, pounded flat between plastic wrap and cut into 1/2″ slices, then halves (unless already a small piece)
1 egg
splash of milk
about 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese, grated
about 1/4 c. (or less) flour
sprinkling (about 1/4 – 1/2 tsp each) garlic powder, onion powder, paprika & Italian seasoning (or whatever green herb you like)
salt ‘n pepper

Whisk egg and milk in bowl, set aside. Mix together cheese, flour, and seasonings, and set aside. Dredge chicken pieces in wet mixture (a handful at a time is fine) then in the dry seasoned ingredients until coated. Continue until all are coated sufficiently.

Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Once hot, cook chicken pieces in pan in batches (don’t overcrowd) and flip after 2-3 minutes (keep a close eye since they can be ready sooner than this, depending on your stove type) and finish cooking for the same amount of time. Transfer to a paper towel and they’re ready to eat. Serve with ketchup, barbecue sauce — or, as Hadley enjoyed them, just as their chunky little selves.