Rainy Days

I can’t decide what is more painful, having to wake up on a rainy, cold day or having to be stuck inside on a warm, sunny day. Regardless, we don’t always have the chance, so I rolled myself out of end this morning and got my day started in the rain.

A strength workout was in the cards this morning. I performed ten moves in five sets of nine reps. My muscles were feeling the exertion by the end of it. For a hit of cardio, I did a few rounds of box jumps and jumping jacks and finished everything up on the bike for a few minutes.

I joined my mom for a rainy day walk after work. It was quite chilly, but I don’t think I’d have minded so much if we hadn’t just had a week in the nineties. It’s confusing!

Breakfast was quite delicious. I had an egg sandwich on an English muffin with a piece of pepperjack cheese and a chicken sausage patty that had a lot of flavor. A big bowl of berries sweetened the meal nicely.

  
It was quite a busy day and I needed a little jolt of happiness in the for, of this soup. I ate a homemade salad and quite frankly, I make the best salads. I also enjoyed an apricot for a little dessert and I had no signs of an allergic reaction! It was a plum the day before that and I was fine too! Maybe I should try apples and cherries to see if it affects me.

 
As I type this, I realize I forgot to snap a picture of my dinner. It had a little surf and turf flair with salmon and steak. A spinach salad with poppyseed dressing, walnuts, and raisins joined a stir fry of zucchini, peppers, carrots, and broccoli. Very tasty!

I should end with a hearty congratulations to my fave, Kristin Chenoweth, on hery Drama Desk Award win last night. Next, that second Tony. Boy, does she deserve it!

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Sister Time In The City

This weekend was another one spent in New York. Traveling is busy and tiring, but well worth it. This time, I went with my sister and we had a blast wandering around the city. We started out downtown and meandered our way until our stomachs were rumbling and we stopped in for a bite of fresh Mediterranean food. The best falafel ever.

After, we made our way through Tribeca, Chelsea, and Greenwich Village- don’t judge me if my order is wrong, I don’t remember exactly! We even accidentally stumbled upon what is possibly the greatest shop of all time- Peanut Butter and Co- whose peanut butter I am obsessed with. I declined to go in just yet because we had just eaten and I want to go in on an empty stomach.

Finding the High Line was a bit of a triumph because I wasn’t exactly certain where I was going, but I still got us there. It’s such a beautiful, fun way to see the city. Even though it’s still crowded with people, it seems quieter and more peaceful up there. You can see the water on one side, the city streets on the other, and all the gorgeous apartments with luxurious decks. It was still quite chilly, especially with the wind, so after one full lap, we headed back down and decided to stop into Chelsea Market.

The stop that caught our eye the most was a wine tasting that was about to start just as we walked in. Impromptu day drinking is the best kind of day drinking and we enjoyed our sips of wine. Divine! We were astounded they wouldn’t give us chocolates to finish off, so we left craving something a little sweet and decided upon splitting an ice cream- coconut with chocolate covered almonds and double cookies n cream with Oreos and some sort of spiced cookie. So good!

Our next stop was actually dinner to meet my friend Bobby. We went to Locanda Verde, which had we gone later, we might have run into the Hunger Games cast. Our reservation had to be earlier though because Lauren and I had a show to get to. Okay, so my planning was kind of unfortunate because I ended up seeing the same show two weeks in a row. It was still fabulous, maybe even more so the second time. We had really good seats-third row, baby- and it’s interesting because you can see the actors spitting from their pronunciation. Just like in that episode of Friends. Still gross, though.

After the show, my sister was a good sport and headed to the stage door with me. She even tried to get her cup signed by Kristin Chenoweth for me, but Kristin was on vocal rest and not speaking, so in solidarity, Lauren thought she couldn’t speak and kind of just kept waving the cup in Kristin’s face. We had a great laugh after that.

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My friends Bobby and Ruben were so nice once again to let us stay the night. Sleep came easily, despite losing that hour, as we had been up dark and early at 4:45 to catch our bus Saturday morning.

Sunday morning, we didn’t have much time to explore, but we were able to stop for brunch before leaving. We went to a small, cute place called Supper. I chose the eggs parmigiana, which was baked eggs in marinara sauce, topped with cheese. Bread went nicely for dipping. Before hopping on the bus, we stopped for a cup of tea and a homemade cookie.

Though the bus ride took a little longer than it should have due to the traffic heading out of the city, Lauren and I watched the new Backstreet Boys documentary, which took up a good two hours. It was hilarious, but also a little sentimental to see how it all went down. I’m not certain how time has flown so fast from when we were younger and going to those concerts. Oh wait, our last Backstreet Boys concert was this past June…

Monday morning came a bit early, but I was able to roll out of bed and get going at the gym once I warmed up. I went for a dumbbell strength routine before heading to the treadmill. For my run, I alternated between running at a medium pace, walking on an incline, and running fast. By the end, I was running at a 6.5 mph pace, which is fast for me. It felt good to get in such a great workout, but I was so tired throughout the day. The sunshine so much later in the afternoon was worth it in the end.

Overnight oats with extra milk and blueberries for breakfast.

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A salad and a corn English muffin with peanut butter was an excellent noontime meal.

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Salmon, rice, broccoli, cauliflower, and a bite of ground beef. Delicious!photo 3

New York, New York

Whenever I pull into New York City, a warmth spreads through the center of my chest. It feels like my soul is home. It’s hard to describe and somewhat weird to claim that a place can feel such a part of you, but I also can’t deny it. New York is my favorite place in the world, besides my actual home “home” and that’s mostly because of my family.

I was feeling in my element in New York.

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I pulled into the city on Friday night at 10:00 PM exactly. The ride up was interesting because the bus was a half hour late arriving and the waiting area filled up quickly. I don’t handle my travel plans being changed very well, so the wait to even get on the bus was excruciating and there were too many people in a small space. I ended up stepping outside in the freezing cold. Even though it was chilly, the tension in my chest lessened and I felt a lot better. Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait long for it to finally arrive. Once it did, I thought I selected a seat next to a friendly face, but either that person or the one in front of me had an uneasy stomach and the ride was filled with disgusting smells almost the entire way.

Once I did get there, I made my way on the subway to my friends’ Bobby and Ruben’s apartment and we all enjoyed a late dinner. It was restaurant week in the city, so we were able to splurge at nicer restaurants. The whole pre fixe menu includes a choice of appetizer, entree, and dessert, which sounds amazing, but leaves you amazingly full. At Lure FishBar, I started with tasty shrimp tempura, enjoyed a miso-glazed piece of perfectly cooked salmon on a bed of spinach, mushrooms, and snap peas, and finished with one of the best apple crumbles I have ever had. It was almost spoiled on me because by that point, I was so full and the serving generous. I really did enjoy myself.

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Saturday morning was full of excitement because a lot was happening in the day. The starting point of which were crepes at a nearby creperie for breakfast. I selected a buckwheat crepe stuffed with some sort of fancy cheese and topped with two poached eggs and ham. It came with a salad on the side. It was an eggs Benedict crepe, but I chose not to have Hollandaise sauce because the egg yolk makes everything creamy and buttery enough and I wanted to cut extra calories out when I could.

After breakfast, Bobby, Ruben, and I headed to the theatre to watch Kristin Chenoweth in her latest Broadway Show, On the Twentieth Century. My one complaint would be that Kristin was simply not on stage for long enough. Every moment that she was, she was brilliant, per usual. The fact that Kristin Chenoweth is back on Broadway is just right. Her delivery reminded me a lot of Madeline Kahn, famous in roles from Young Frankenstein and Clue among many others, which is fitting because Madeline originated the role. The show is still in previews and already the actors have a strong grasp of their roles and deliveries, which only makes me more excited to go later on in the production when things become more solidified. The songs were operatic and beautifully arranged, the dance numbers spectacular, and even though there was a brief technological delay midway through the second act, the scenery and technology were delightful. It’s an old-school type of musical, which makes for a fun experience. I’m also now a big fan of Andy Karl’s biceps. Broadway always leaves me feeling so happy and fulfilled whenever I leave a show. There is no truer expression of talent than a live show, musical or otherwise, and it’s so exciting to know that each performance changes time-to-time. I laughed throughout the show and couldn’t wipe the smile off my face, even when stepping outside into the frigid cold.

A fun little side note was after the show, I came face-to-face with Sarah Michelle Gellar. I was a huge Buffy fan when I was younger and it was a little surreal to see someone so close unexpectedly. Most of my celebrity encounters have been purposeful at the stage door, so it was just funny to have a surprise. She was with her daughter though, so I just let her be. See, I can be a mature celebrity-obsessed human!

After the show, Bobby and I walked around for a little while taking in the sights. We ended up stopping for a quick snack. I shot this picture when we were inside the food court. Yes, that is the Statue of Liberty looming in the background. Such a spectacular view!

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Saturday night, my friend Brad arrived from LA. It was so great to see him and spend time with him on my coast! We all went out for a Mexican dinner, once again stuffing our faces. Along with some chips and salsa, I selected the chicken tacos with peppers and cheese. So good!

We were feeling ambitious on Saturday and decided to fit in a workout before heading out for a day of exploration. Bobby, Brad, and I went to a class at Barry’s Bootcamp. I thought I was in good shape, but I suffered throughout the class. While I often focus on reps and sets, this class featured time lengths, such as starting with two minutes straight of bicep curls. I was already feeling the burn during the first strength section when we jumped on the treadmill for an intense run. I can run long distance at a medium (okay, to slow speed), but I cannot sprint quickly. Though I ended up getting a great workout, it was definitely a struggle and I left feeling exhausted, but full of energy.

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After getting ready, we headed out for another filling meal. I went with a burger that was very tasty, but very filling. Much to our surprise, and my intense displeasure, by the time we finally got going on our adventures of the city, it started to snow! I didn’t even bring my snow boots. I think it’s haunting me, you guys. Brad enjoyed the snow for about 2.5 seconds until it got cold and wet and unpleasant. We walked for a few minutes before stopping into a tea shop for a quick break. A little while later, Brad and I ended up heading out to Barnes and Noble to do a little writing. My view from the Union Square Barnes and Noble inspired quite a few words onto the page.

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We ended the night with a dinner at Scarpetta, once again going the restaurant week menu. I started with a Brussel sprout, sausage, and chickpea soup, moved onto a homemade spaghetti dish, and ending with a mini chocolate cake with salted caramel ice cream. It was delicious, but so heavy and I’m looking forward to getting back to my regular eating habits. I don’t ever like feeling so full that it’s uncomfortable, but when you have that price, you don’t want to pass it by, and you certainly don’t want to waste the food. Such a deal happens so rarely.

New York is always so much fun, but it also is so hard for me to leave each time. It helps to have a great family at home, but I just love this city with my whole heart. Thanks to Bobby, Ruben, and Brad for making this trip so special!

Back to the real world!

What I’ve Been Listening To This Week- Kristin Chenoweth

I missed my Rave Review Tuesday last week because I haven’t been a good reader lately and I haven’t watched anything new. This remains the case once again this week (I’ve been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls, alright), but I do have something different to review this week.

The trend in Broadway from my observations (not that I’m an expert) has been for performers to release live albums. So far I’ve gotten Norbert Leo Butz’s first, Aaron Tveit’s, and Laura Benanti’s. They have all been really fun and incredible to listen to and have made me appreciate them as performers even more.

I’m a huge fan of the live thing because it mimics the feel of a live performance. Obviously, there is a huge difference in not seeing it live, but there is an intimacy and a better understanding of a performer through hearing them sing and provide little anecdotes as they go. I suppose it has to do a lot with the comfort level and esteem of being on stage in front of an audience rather than locked up in a recording studio- and lack of auto tune!

Brief interlude- why can’t we accept things as they are? Why can’t we allow performers the little mistakes they make or people the imperfections they have? Isn’t there beauty in the fact that these are humans doing extraordinary things in their human way? The more “reality” we want, the less real things become and it takes away from the integrity of performing.

Thankfully, Kristin Chenoweth’s album, Coming Home, which dropped yesterday, is raw entertainment in its purest form. However, any “mistakes” that she may have made in her singing are not apparent to my ears, which is partly because I have an untrained ear, but also because she is a seamless performer who is in absolute control of her talent.

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It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Kristin’s and even though I love seeing her on Broadway, my absolute favorite medium is to see her perform live as herself. I’ve been to a ton of really enjoyable concerts over the years by various singers, which has included a lot of dancing and dramatic background thematics, but it takes someone very special to be able to stand up in front of an audience with a handful of musicians and just sing, and for that to be interesting. Very few artists can get away with this type of concert these days- Adele comes to mind- and Kristin is the absolute best at this (of course I’m biased.)

Live performances best reveal the nature of a performer and Kristin’s album was recorded in her home town, which adds to the emotions emanating from all of her song choices and the descriptions she offers as a preface. Every so often, you can hear there are moments where she gets choked up and overwhelmed, but if anything, it only lends to the performances. When Kristin sings, you can tell that she connects to the song, to music, and to performing in general, which again, is unlike many current performers. I don’t mean to mock or put down other singers, but I just want to magnify this exceptional talent.

I’ve been listening to the album while doing various things around the kitchen and typing up this blog post and it’s funny to hear my mom throw in her opinions. For one thing, she keeps saying “wow,” then she compared her to Madeline Kahn, which is funny because Kristin will be starring in a role Madeline Kahn originated on Broadway in On The Twentieth Century. Even my dad chimed in and offered, “Menowitz can really sing” (he changes the name for everything). I think that’s the best way I can show how astounding this album is.

Many of these songs I’ve heard from previous concerts or albums and I’m so happy to have them in my collection. I dare you to listen to “Coloring Book” and “Hard Times” and not getting something stuck in your eye. Listen, listen, listen, and then demand more live albums.

As a young professional attempting to find my way in this world, I do wish it were obvious to see what I am supposed to do in this world. With Kristin Chenoweth, at least in one facet, it is overwhelmingly evident that she was meant to perform and we are very fortunate to experience it.

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It’s Time To Accept Kristin Chenoweth As Your Queen

Warning: I’m going to fangirl, but I’m not sorry about it.

 Here’s the thing. I said this on Twitter, but I’ll say it again for dramatic affect. People talk about Judy at Carnegie Hall all those years ago. People will talk about Kristin Chenoweth at Carnegie Hall years from now.

 I’ve been a fan of Kristin’s for almost a decade now. I was fifteen and now I’m almost twenty-five and I have changed and grown in a multitude of ways. One thing that remains the same, while still being able to astound me, is that Kristin Chenoweth is a hell of a performer.

 It would be nearly embarrassing to admit how many times I’ve seen her in concert or on the stage, in movies (Hello, Space Chimps– I mean, you’re welcome) or TV, and how much money I’ve spent or forced other people to spend (thanks Godmother!) Every single time, it has been worth it.

 The Apple Tree remains my all-time favorite Broadway performance I have ever seen. Promises Promises also was excellent. Pushing Daises (RIP) was one of those shows I always was amazed by the cleverness and creativity, especially as an aspiring writer, and wish there was more. Sometimes the movies were questionable, but Kristin’s abilities to be funny and talented still shine. But on stage, in concert, Kristin is talent.

 There is a difference, at least in my mind between talented and talent. There are a lot of people in this world who can carry a tune and perform among the greatest. Or are great, amazing at what they do. But last night’s show was the definition of a performance. For all of me, as I am going through this point in my life struggling to find what I want to do for a career, I wish it was clearly defined for me. There’s no doubt that Kristin belongs on stage.

 Not that she hasn’t worked hard, because as a fan for so many years, I have come to understand just how much hard work and dedication she puts into everything that she does. It’s one of those factors I admire most. Lately, with the semester finishing up and grad school nearing close, I’ve been busy and overwhelmed.

 So many ideas are popping up in my head, but I don’t have the time to write them down. It’s getting to me. But seeing a performance like last night. One where you see someone doing what she loves and being exceptional. Well, that is inspiration. I’m not a singer, and as my brother tells me, I can’t hit the high notes. But I am a writer and if I want to have any success or even be allowed to call myself that, I have to work at it, no excuses. Foster the passion that drives the soul, if not for anyone else, but for yourself.

 Last night, the entire concert was beautiful. The performance that stands out to me, among all others (and again, I have seen a LOT), was the encore. Kristin stood at center stage, without a mike, with every single person in that audience leaning forward in stunned silence, singing “Bring Him Home” from Les Miserables. After another standing ovation, I looked at my friend Stephanie and all we could do is say, “Wow.”

 Captivating and remarkable, and everyone in that audience was lucky to be there. That is what the power of music and talent can do. It was cleansing and inspiring and I just want to say thank you, once again, Kristin Chenoweth.

 Now can someone please give her her own variety show a la the likes of the Carol Burnett Show?!

Lazy No More!

I know what you’re thinking…here she goes again with another weight loss post. But I promise, this one’s more fun! It’s not so much about losing weight as it is learning how to cook for health and for joy!

This post was inspired by my friend Lauren C. SHOUT OUT! I have to designate her “C” because I know many Lauren’s, one of whom is my sister so she wins “just Lauren” by sheer genetics. Anyways, we were at dinner last night and I was talking about how I’ve taken a liking to “healthy” cooking and baking and she thought I should write a blog post on it. She also wants me to do a post honoring Britney Spears. Two birds. One stone.

Britney:

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Girl is fierce!

Anyways, my first endeavor was to make a chocolate chip muffin recipe I found on pinterest. Steel cut whole wheat oatmeal, non-fat greek yogurt, egg whites, unsweetened applesauce, splenda, unsweetened cocoa, and chocolate chips. They are only 58 calories and delicious. I may or may not have forgotten to crush the oatmeal so the muffins have a crunchy texture, but honestly I think it just has spunk, like me! And I keep seeing my brother and father poking into them so they’re approval shows they’re good!

I am all for baking with greek yogurt and applesauce. And whole wheat anything is just plain good!

Muffins:

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They don’t have to be perfect or look spiffy to taste good and offer good nutrition at the same time.

I don’t *YET* have recipes of my own to share, but as I get going they will pour out and I think it will be fun. One of the things I need to keep telling myself every single day is that losing weight and getting healthy is not about not eating or cutting things out…it’s about eating for health and enjoying food. Laziness be gone! I’ve taken much greater interest in the food itself, the process of taking the time to make something delicious and nutritional, and then sitting down to enjoy it is a very rewarding experience. I’ve learned you don’t have to be ashamed to eat. Not to be awkward, but it is a pleasurable experience (sickos be gone!) and I think fast food (though good at times) can offer you instant gratification because it tastes good, but don’t you always feel sick and gross after? I do! But now that I’m making my own food and finding all of these different variations and things you can create in the kitchen, it’s been amazing!

Today I made a sandwich with a whole wheat bagel thin, two wedges of laughing cow cheese, spinach, tomato, and a few slices of pepperoni. Not overly complicated and it could suck, but I looked in my fridge, found some healthy ingredients, and put it together. I’ll let you know how it goes!

I know that it can be extremely difficult to find the time to cook and make food. Trust me, I just started a new job and you wake up early, work, go to the gym, and go to bed and it can be hard to fit eating in there. But trust me, make time because it’s worth it. You can make it ahead of time or there are recipes out there that doesn’t take much time. No more excuses! And of course, it’s ok to splurge from time to time because that’s what makes it that much better.

Especially now that it’s summer, get to grilling! Not just hot dogs and burgers and chicken, but fish, veggies, and fruits are all delicious. I’m dying to try grilled flatbread pizzas and I’ve heard a lot about grilled salad, which would be cool to try. Experiment, have fun, enjoy, and be healthy!

Added incentive: if you put effort into something, doesn’t it make that something better? Why not do it with food?

Speaking of summer…the weather is finally nice. My friend Erin and I actually took a cute picture!!!

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This is new for us.

And here’s Katie at her graduation party looking funny/funky. Sorry Katie, I know I’m an asshole.

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This is getting chaotic, but I forgot to mention that I saw Kristin Chenoweth in concert and she was amazing. I’ve seen her now in a lot of things, Broadway, concerts, tv, movies. The Apple Tree was the single greatest performance I have ever seen by anyone ever and I still don’t understand why she didn’t win the Tony that year let alone get nominated, but whatever we are letting it go. And damn that woman knows how to put on a concert. She’s quirky but it works and her stage presence is phenomenal. In a world filled with reality “stars” and people who are famous for things that have nothing to do with talent, Kristin is a breath of fresh air to that industry. I feel like I am seeing the likes of Ethel Merman and Barbra Streisand when she performs and sometimes you just know that there are things out there people were meant to do. So Kristin, if you happen to read this, thank you for showing your talent to the world.

Also, my Godmother could be a paparazzo if she wanted.

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