All Hallow’s Eva! Halloween 2012 in pictures!

13 Nov

We had so many activities this Halloween! I love this holiday; it used to be one of my favorites as a kid. Obviously there’s candy, and dressing up, which is awesome, but I also loved the feeling in the neighborhood. All the families were out walking with their little monsters and princesses, there was excitement, anticipation and pay-off at every doorstep. And the weather was usually cold at night (this is Southern California a few decades ago…here in Houston, it was in the 80s and swampy…i.e. “everyday in Houston”).

Let’s see, my favorite costume might have been when I went as a Princess Jasmine-esque princess with a very authentic light blue harem pant and velvet top. The material had flecks of gold and was swishy. Swishy is an important factor for fashion when you’re a little girl. Well, to be honest, it’s an important factor now too.

This year, after making my Halloween wreath craft, we hosted a little pumpkin decorating party: Pinspiration Pumpkin Party! Some folks came over and decorated pumpkins (in a style inspired by Pinterest), drank cider and generally had an autumnal time. Jito even came out to enjoy the party in his Halloween harness.

Jito is moderately impressed

Minnie Mouse!

So, the weekend before Halloween, we went to a coworker’s fun party. I knew I had several Halloween events coming up, so we prepared early. I had two costumes I knew I wanted to try. First, Flo! You know, the progressive insurance lady!

Dressed as Flo!

Zach had a great idea about his costume. He wanted to go as a samurai, and created his costume from scratch using paper boxes! It was free, and awesome. Each panel of the samurai costume is threaded together using waxed twine. Pretty darn crafty!

Crafty, custom samurai!

On the “real” All Hallow’s Eve, we went trick ‘r treating with a great nephew we know! I opted for a new costume this time, and made a pinata shirt and hat out of lots of felt and hot glue! Here’s what pinatas do when they get sick on Halloween…

We had a blast going around the neighborhood with the four year old. It took a little rehearsal, but he got the knack of knocking and then saying Trick or Treat. The little robot was a big hit!

Zach and his sister and a ROBOT!

What was your favorite Halloween costume when you were young?

Around the World with Musiqa – one of my favorite weeks ever

6 Nov

I was so thrilled to be invited back to perform with Musiqa this year in their educational performance Around the World with Musiqa. I teach with soprano Karol Bennett, and she and her husband Tony are a couple of the most genius and interesting people I know. Besides being a bundle of energy and talent, Karol is a fantastic educator, and has, it goes without saying, a gorgeous voice.

The focus of the Around the World show is to create a musical experience for school children at a professional venue to deepen their connection to musical concepts. Karol goes into way too many schools to count over three weeks, teaches them folk songs and what to expect when they walk into Zilka Hall downtown, and the fourth week is an eight-show week for a packed house of singing kiddos.

And get this…it’s FREE for the schools to participate. Yes, the in-classroom workshops that professional soprano Karol teaches, the transportation for the students and teachers to come downtown to Zilka Hall at the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, and the performance! It’s an award-winning program that I hope continues for years to come.

The students may be coming to a professional theatre venue for the first time; walking in the doors, the beautiful red curtain and plush velvet seats, the muffled sound of your footsteps as you walk to find your seat. New sights, sounds, an adventure! But then, a hush falls the crowd, and attention turns to the stage! The lights dim, the musicians enter…oh it’s magic!

Musiqa brings professional musicians, some have been with the show eight or nine years now, and these people are world-class (as my backstage partner in crime “CW” says).

This is CW and our awesome stage manager. These folks get it done.

Backstage crew at the Hobby totally rock!

Leone Buyse, on flute and piccolo,  Michael Webster on clarinet (he has a fabulous clarinet tie that the kids all adore), Janice Fehlauer on piano, Blake Wilkins plays percussion (or as I always say backstage: “everything”), Cece Belcher on violin and Barrett Sills on cello (oh, he played a snippet of the Bach cello suite…I die).

I get to clown around, literally, with these wonderful musicians; I’m the “comic-relief”, a sort of good-natured, mistake-making gal who is trying her darn’dest to learn about how to make a folk song! Karol, the musicians and the students all teach me about the music! Truthfully, they teach me a lot more. This year, I was sitting backstage listening to a chorus over 500 strong singing the old folk tune “Down by the Riverside”… do you know it? The lyrics are so beautiful, and I truly believe that they enter the soul of each of those children, and will last long after they forget about the performance. We can hope, right?

Gonna lay down my burden,

Down by the riverside,

  1. Down by the riverside,
    Down by the riverside.
    Gonna lay down my burden,
    Down by the riverside,
    Down by the riverside.

I ain’t go’ study war no more,
study war no more,
ain’t go’ study war no more.
I ain’t go’ study war no more,
study war no more,
ain’t go’ study oh war no more.

  1. Gonna lay down my sword and shield
    Down by the riverside…

Beautiful. The whole week is such a positive experience for me. Interacting with 4,000 students, with the great staff at the Hobby Center, and mostly with Karol and the musicians. I’ve looked forward to it all year, and it was more than I had hoped.

The musicians and I pose for a quick photo

Do you remember the first experience you had with the arts as a student? What was it? What made it special?

Oh, and how fun is this? My lucky number is 14…and it’s on my dressing room!

for “pretty good” behavior?

14 Oct

reward for the week?

So, I’ve got to get your advice: last week I set a goal to work out and sweat every single day this week – 7 for 7. And, I really want these lined Toms – cute right?! So I figured I would set my goal and use this as a reward…

And I did really well. I have done almost 8 miles on the elliptical, did strength training and core work. For every day except one. Yeah, Thursday I was feeling really under the weather, and so on Friday I was at the doctor most of the afternoon. That left very little time to work out that day (excuses…), but I did do stretching work out some kinks. So, 6 days out of 7 days (where one was spent feeling ill…), that’s still really great, right?! Hooray!

But now I have an ethical challenge…do I not get the shoes because I didn’t do 7 for 7? Or do I give myself some credit, get the shoes and move on to the next week’s goals? They could be come a happy circle item, which is a fun and good thing.

What do you think? What do you do to get and keep yourself motivated to reach your goals?

Dark Temptations…a Halloween craft! or which is scarier: Halloween or the Debate?

5 Oct

Pinspirationin the form of this cute patoot halloween wreath encouraged me to gather the materials and craft a little last night. I found this on Heidi’s blog Vacuuming in heels & pearls.

Isn’t this the cutest?

We were watching the first of the presidential debates (and had made a pact not to stop the dvr every five seconds to argue with the tv), and I settled in to do this (slightly tedious, but totally simple) bit of crafting. Turns out, it was a very helpful thing to have some little task to occupy my hands while I was listening and trying to avoid anxiety over the future…yikes! I think it’ll all be ok (right??) but at least I have this sweet Halloween wreath in the mean time. I think there’s something healthy feeling about making something with your hands, and it’s why I love cooking or crafting so much. It feels solid and real in a world filled with confusing, exciting, buzzing technology and ideas. Don’t get me wrong, I love those things too, and love living in this age, but really the iPhone is pretty much just magic to most of us, right?

technology is magic.

Most of us could not make an iPhone. Everyone can cut bats out of construction paper. It’s a happy moment from some simple, recycled materials.

I did a simple search for my own bat template, and found one I like here. For my book pages, I was looking around (not wanting to buy a book to cut up…), and realized I had a leftover white elephant gift from one of Stages’ Christmas parties from a few years ago. Here’s the kicker, I brought the dollar store romance novel to the party, and then I walked away with it at the end of the game! I still don’t know how that worked out, I wanted the eggies.

But, how perfect for the Halloween wreath is Dark Temptation, and let’s be honest…I upcycled here.

Materials for some light reading and crafting

(it’s available on kindle, in case you just want to read and don’t want to punch craft circles from the pages). A little book report, because I know you’re dying to know – and since I didn’t read it, by “book report” I mean “back-cover-synopsis”:

On desolate Blackheath Moor, made treacherous by swirling mist ghostly cries, a young woman finds refuge in a mystical churchyard – and in the arms of a handsome stranger. 

Oh I bet she finds more than refuge there… ooh! Anyway, I punched out pages with my 2.5″ scallop circle punch, and was ready to hot glue them and go! Here’s the frightening result, what do you think?!

Shadowy bats fly across a grey wreath-scape

And while we were crafting and debating, the dutch oven was up to its goodness cooking dinner: California Chicken and cous cous, with tomatoes, green pepper, avacado and onion, chive, olives and BACON (just bits, but still!) So I end this post with a pic of the bacon-infused goodness. Do you decorate for Halloween? What do you like to decorate for this time of year?

Like an open California club!

A post, post haste! A look back at September

2 Oct

SEPTEMBER: My month of reflection and recuperation

I have some very dear and very funny friends. I’ve been sort of absent in September, trying to coop up and recuperate and be well. But, I checked back in at ye olde Facebook, and had a very fun post awaiting me. Seems as if one of my friends noticed I’d been away, and decided to call me to task.

Dear Eva,

Where are all of your cheeky, fun posts? I have become an addict to your regularly entertaining snippets of life’s wonderfulness.

I suppose everyone’s entitled to a break…but don’t you think you’re being a bit selfish?? To deny your friends the brilliance that is your comedic perspective? Shame. shame. shame.


 I hope this is the last time I have to post this. In the words of Rapunzel’s mother, “Oh great, now I’M the bad guy.”

….okaybutseriously, I hope you’re okay. 😉
Ha! That certainly brought a smile to my face, and I don’t know if I can deliver any brilliant comedic perspective, but I’m back with a new challenge for a new month. Welcome to October – oh look, I have some Shiner Oktoberfest cooling in the fridge! It’s the start of an autumnal-type-time in Houston, where it’s “Cool!” (85 degrees and rainy…)
Try to remember the kind of September
When life was slow and oh so mellow…
-The Fantasticks
Can you remember a September like that? September to me will always be back to school month, you know? I read once that the agricultural legacy of our American heritage dictated our schooling schedule – a time of work in the fields, followed by harvest, rest and celebration, followed by a time of work. It sets us apart from some places in the world where crops can be grown continuously, like rice, and in any case something about September to me says “new year”. Maybe it’s Rosh Hashanah, maybe it’s reinforced by the theatrical season starting in the fall, but for me it’s a time to sharpen pencils, gather books to read, and nest a little.
I did some good nourishing this September: read a lot about nutrition, exercise, dedicated as much time as I needed to recuperate. Every time I had a fever, I rested and honored some time to meditate on healing. The boyfriend’s birthday is the last day of September, so I had some fun planning how to celebrate a great birthday weekend with him.

Jito is in fancy dress for Zach’s birthday

And, in the back of my mind this whole year, the first anniversary of a young friend’s death on October 1st. So, this year seemed to be leading up to that day, the first of October. The year brought other losses as well, so it’s been a very contemplative time. It’s made me reflect on each layer of my life, and has inspired me to be present in each moment.

We started a scholarship program where I work, in memory of Sofia and her legacy, and we met last night on this one year anniversary. It was decided we would gather at our home, make some good pizza, drink some good drinks and have some laughs in celebration of our friend. We were able to select a recipient too, so a fortunate young artist is going to get a gift connecting them to Sofia’s wonderful spirit. She was an exceptional performer and a very generous friend. I had directed her twice, and was so looking forward to doing it again. I’ll be traveling to Chicago soon to see the premiere of a play called FAILURE: A Love Story by Philip Dawkins at Victory Gardens. Sofia was in the development workshop of the play here in Houston, and I wonder what it will feel like to hear the words of the play in a whole new concept and production.
So, now on to OCTOBER! I’ve decided, and these things are very official, you know, that my theme for this month will be the words deeper and embrace. I’m going to embrace all the things that lead to the way I want to feel, and try to make each experience deeper. I’m going to carve out time to fully embrace whatever project I’m working on at home or work. I’ll embrace friendships, family and my relationship. I’m going to embrace a deeper practice of yoga and exercise. I’m going to think about nutrition and meditation on a deeper level with meal.
To start, I’ve lined up pesky little tasks that have stacked up: car registration, vet appointment, consolidating accounts, changing passwords, blah bleh blerg. I’m just going to knock them out bam bam bam! (What’s with all the onomatopoeia? It’s Onomatopoeia October, apparently…alliteratively…nevermind.)
I’m going to unsubscribe to marketing emails (even at places I shop) because honestly it’s a time suck and just tempts me to spend money. One way I don’t want to go deeper is in debt!
I have a few projects in queue too: I’ve replanted my herbs (pictured below) and plan to post a pic of their new look and some of the tasty ways I’m using them.

Herbs in the window (and a bamboo shoot found in the trash!)

For instance, here’s a recipe we tried from Glorious One Pot Meals

Yummy one pot meal in the dutch oven

All this came out of the oven: Perfect rosemary salmon, potatoes and lots of veggies

And as a parting gift to you all at the end of this post, you may now embrace this picture of Jito in his Halloween gear that he has been forced to preview…he looks…happy?

Jack O’Lantern harness and a pumpkin hat, of course

8 by Dustin Lance Black at the Alley Theatre

11 Sep

This was a good week for play readings! This past Wednesday evening, I headed over to the University of Houston to read a new play by Robert Wuhl. It was a very funny, noir-esque comedy, and Robert seemed like quite a funny dude in person. One of my former high school conservatory students was in the audience! So that was fun looking out and seeing her in the university crowd. Oh they grow up so fast 🙂

Last night, both Zach and I were reading plays at different theatres. He was reading a new play called Samaritans by Paul Mattingly with Wordsmyth at Main Street Theater. And I was honored to read Dustin Lance Black‘s play 8 at the Alley Theatre (where another former high school conservatory student was in attendance – boy he was tall!) chronicles the testimony of the federal trial on California’s proposition 8 with the narrative of one of the families affected. While a California-native, I was not living in California during the whole voting debacle, but I remember it clearly. My parents and friends were talking a lot at the time about what a mess that was, and it’s so important there is a piece of theatre now to address it again on a national level.

Here’s Dustin, winning his Academy Award for writing MILK

What happened with prop 8 is nothing short of a scandal, and if you want to learn more there are numerous sites claiming information. I would just encourage everyone to look at the sources, and at who is funding the website…you’d think by now people would know just ’cause it’s in the internetz don’t make it true. But, not everyone knows that unfortunately. Here’s a site I’m looking at now:

On a personal note, even though I just read a broadcast journalist, I was very touched reading the play to a very packed house in the Neuhaus stage at the Alley. Hearing the play was a great privilege, and it received a standing ovation! Hopefully this national reading scheme (that’s where a play is read in many cities across the country) will bring new attention to this issue in this election year.  Because when we stop trying to deny rights to certain citizens, we will all win; to quote one of the witnesses in the case:

“In that sense insofar as we are a nation founded on this principle, we would be more, emphasize more, American on the day we permitted same-sex marriage than we were on the day before.”

with Philip Lehl (he was my Uncle Vanya earlier this year with Classical Theatre Company)

Some food, some TS Eliot…overcoming doc disappointment…

9 Sep

There is a quote on my kitchen table that suddenly struck me as poignant and relevant today.

We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started 

And know the place for the first time.

From “Little Gidding” by TS Eliot

I have this quote saved to look at when I am preparing for performance and trying to explore as much as possible while still living each moment “for the first time.” Also, I seem to notice things happening in my life in cyclical patterns, things come around again and I’m able to try to succeed in different ways. Anyone else relate? But, yesterday I found myself feeling very dejected and in low spirits about how much I’ll really be able to feel better.

Yesterday was the doctor appointment with the endocrinologist, and…it was not what I had been hoping for. I’ve been researching and reading, feeling some real hope that I wouldn’t just be coping but would soon be really feeling good, feeling normal, feeling…capable, I don’t know. I have made such changes in just one month with things I can control: food, exercise, meditation. And, I was really looking forward to sharing my experiences with my doctor and seeing if she is willing to treat me optimally (perhaps aggressively).

I came in with my notes and the books I’d been reading, prepared to really have a conversation about what my life is feeling like. She was not really interested, asked a few questions, and when I tried to engage more, she almost snapped back that all of these symptoms are not, in her opinion, related. Although from everything I’ve been reading, I believe they are. Mostly what I found unsatisfactory is that she left it at that. There was no “perhaps it is this, this or this.” Or, and maybe most importantly, “Let’s figure out what this is so you can start feeling better and get on with your life”. It’s one thing to state that a patient’s symptoms are not in your specialty, but she left the conversation at that point instead of engaging further. Obviously it’s time to look for a new doctor. I may be a little “ageist” too, she is quite older, may retire soon, and the hunger for the puzzle of a patient’s unique symptomatology may just have no hold for her anymore. Perhaps an older model of treating patients is ok for her, as long as she can get to a normal range of test scores, her job is done. Except that it isn’t. Because I’m not able to work at my job to my standards. I’m not able to act, to direct or even see a lot of plays in the evenings. I’m barely able to do my necessary exercising. I’m scared to commit to a future of perusing my career. This is not acceptable.

I don’t feel like I’m a whiner; I went in with a list of what I experience on a daily basis. A chart of when symptoms improve or get worse. A list of what I’ve done to change my lifestyle (which is extensive: moving across the street from my work, ground floor; diet; exercise; removing negative people from my daily life; investing in positive friendships and my partner; meditation).

I guess I was a little upset after the brief 5 minute conversation with her, and I got a little teary in the lobby, embarrassed and disappointed. I headed off to my blood draw, and promptly fainted. I hate fainting. I guess no one likes it. But, has anyone else experienced this, there is nothing more refreshing than waking up from a faint. It’s like the best sleep ever. I feel like I’ve had dreams and have been a deep sleep even though it’s just seconds. I guess it’s shock and a huge rush of endorphins and adrenaline, but I wish I could wake up in the morning that refreshed! That’s both horrible and funny to say.

So, I was going to go shopping for shoes or something fun as a reward for meeting my goals, but my feet are still swollen and almost a full size bigger than normal, and I didn’t want to buy expensive shoes that wouldn’t fit in a few months. I couldn’t find any to fit, so I got a very cute reusable lunch bag.

Cute lunch tote! Acorns iz sorta my thing 🙂

I was very disappointed all day, but today, grocery shopping day, I tried to rally and get all the healthy things prepared that I’ll need for energy for the week.

I’ve got grilled chicken for salads, all my veggies and fruits washed and chopped, sauteed mushrooms and onions for pizza and side dishes, oatmeal yogurt cookies with pecans baked for dessert, and eggs boiled for snacks. I’ve got my pantry stocked, and am going to clean up so that hopefully the outside preparation will help get the insides working well too. It’s funny, though, that for each goal met it’s so easy to slip into low spirits at the daunting tasks ahead. Bit by bit, I will keep exploring, keep working, and arrive at a place of better health. And know the place for the first time.

Now you’re just some 10lbs that I used to know

8 Sep

Goals! They’re sometimes scary to set, but boy are they really, really satisfying to meet. 30 days ago, I set out to remove soda and all processed foods from my diet, to exercise fo’ rizzle…and to lose 10 pounds in four weeks. Could I do it???

And…on day 30 (tomorrow’s the actual deadline day), I can report…Winning! Duh!

Soda was easier than I thought; I haven’t even looked back. Although, I did have two nightmares about soda, this is true, I couldn’t make this up. In one dream, week one, I think, I was suddenly mid-soda and had this horrible pang of guilt and disappointment in myself for having chosen to drink it. In the second, just last week, I was in my office with a diet Dr. Pepper (not even my soda of choice) and was feeling such anxiety! How strange that in my waking moments this has been an easy choice! By-product, soda-dreams aside, is that I have not been hungry between meals like I normally am. Which leads me to numero duo (I know, I’m mixing vague multi-lingual references, don’t hate): eating real foods.

As I mentioned, I got mad enough to finally say no to processed foods or as I call them Anti-nutrition. Foods marketed to me as low-fat, reduced sodium, glossy bags and boxes of “convenience” food. Nature actually produces a lot of convenient foods, actually, it’s called…food: you know, fruits, vegetables, meats, and cultured milk (yum, butter), and lacto-fermented beverages (settle down, it’s just yogurt stuffs). Nature conveniently packs foods with vitamins, minerals, proteins and amino acids and each food in its natural state usually has a unique package of nutrients that helps the body digest and use said yummy vitals optimally. That’s what I call convenient! I was determined to quit cold turkey, not even a “health bar”.

And, I love cooking, so this was an easy transition. I decided to toss my nonstick skillet, and invest in a good stainless steel one, and to get a enameled cast iron dutch oven as well.  Isn’t she pretty!

My pretty new dutch oven! Happy Circle Thing #5

I got to work pinning interesting and healthful recipes on my Pinterest boards, and also got a wonderful recipe book, Glorious One Pot Meals by Elizabeth Yarnell, who also has a blog,, about eating for your health. So, how we’re working it: Sunday is shopping day, and we prep food that evening by washing all fruits and veggies in a mixture of vinegar and water. This week, for instance, we’ve had some breakfasts of smoothies, fresh squeezed orange juice and bowls of overnight oatmeal (a new favorite of mine! I was inspired via Pinterest by the blog with chia seeds. Talk about a nutrient-packed super “convenient” food! I’ve snacked on fruit and on celery and homemade hummus (super easy, in my magic bullet since that’s the only food processor I have – or can fit in my small kitchen). Dinners include steaks on the grill and a variation on red potato au gratin, chicken roasted with lemon and thyme, blueberry stuffed pork loin roast and zucchini, and fire roasted tomatoes and shrimp with feta, kale and arugula over pearl couscous. Oh, we’ve been eating like kings!

We haven’t noticed a large price difference buying organic since we have been replacing expensive prepared meals and processed food with a bounty of fresh fruits, vegetables and small amounts of meat, fish and seafood.

I invested in a session with a friend who is a certified trainer (shout out to Body by Beth!) so I could learn how best to use the small (but free) apartment gym. We had a fun, sweaty hour, and I got some great tips. Every day, I alternate between the Tabata cardio warm-up and weight circuit Beth showed me and doing a mile or a bit more on the elliptical. I’m still doing just about 20 minutes on the machine until I can work longer without my feet going numb (hopefully my disc and hip injuries are on the mend).

It’s still very painful after exercise, with that slow-moving metabolism not flushing out the lactic acid in a timely fashion. I don’t care for that! But, I’ve been dedicated to it, and I’m happy, more than I can say, to say that I have met my goal of losing 10 pounds in one month.Yay!!! So, I’ve spent 30 days making radical changes to better my health, and we’ll see how good I feel in the next 30! I’m setting an aggressive, but reachable, goal of 8 lbs in 4 weeks. Stay tuned, I think I can do it! I think I can. I think I can.

Haircuts and Comic books!

30 Aug

Now that the handsome boy doesn’t have rehearsals during the week, we can spend fun time relaxing after work. And that’s my happy circle thing #3

I couldn’t take the heat any longer and did a big trim at the salon yesterday evening. I feel refreshed and sort of stylish heading into Autumn (it’s going to be Autumn soon right? Even though it’s Houston in August???).

Longer layer = warm, warm, warm

Short and sassy!

Tonight we brainstormed an awesome, crafty idea for handsome’s nephew who just turned 1,2,3,4!!! 4 years old this week!

For his birthday gift, we are taking the concept of a coloring/activity book and making him his very own custom comic: Spider Man & Hero X (the hero yet to be named…). We will show Peter Parker and Xaviar at school being chums. Turn page: Peter gets bit! Peter becomes Spidey! Turn page to reveal a whole activity drawing section about how Xaviar is also a superhero: Hero X! What’s his name? What are his powers? And for heaven’s sake, what’s his costume look like! (most important, of course). The heroes will battle some foe (pow! bam!), win the day, and end up at Hero X’s birthday party with some other cool kids like Superman and Ironman.

I’ll post more of our project, which we hope will be the first of many years of gifts for our Hero X! So, happy circle thing #4=crafty gift making (and spending time in our craft room with a small chihuahua, our muse)!

My Happiness Project

28 Aug

Happy Circle Thing #1: My Jito. He’s awesome. He makes me feel loved and important.

Have you read Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project? If you have, have you started a project of your own? (and if you haven’t read, may I highly recommend!). Gretchen also writes a blog that I’m excited to follow. I really identified with her search to really value the life she’s leading and experience her happiness more, and found her book very authentic to boot. Also, reading it on my kindle fire gave me a little satisfaction of completion (an important factor for my own happiness, I think), and seeing 100% made me feel that I had invested something in my own search for happiness.

I think my project will revolve around finding the most genuine, authentic sources of happy feelings and about sharing those with others. I loved that she addressed the concept of “sounding selfish” for spending a year dedicated to her own happiness. I agree with her conclusion, though, that by feeling happier we can contribute to others’ feeling happy too, and then vice versa in a big Happy Circle.

So I’m going to keep investigating what belongs in my Happy Circle, and what does not. I have some small resolutions and some big ones. What makes you happy? I’d love to hear!