Thursday, October 31, 2013

Picture Corner - Paradise in the Palisades

Yesterday I decided to treat myself to a day of relaxation and me time in the Pacific Palisades.  I'm getting closer to having a newborn around so I am taking advantage of the remaining days before I devote my life to my new little baby.

I started the day at Chez Mimi...

Just to add perspective, that soup bowl was sitting on an entree size plate.  I ate so much I wanted to stay for the entire afternoon and the staff was so nice they would have let me. 

But I wanted to get across the street to my favorite spot in the city...

Lake Shrine Temple

This has been my go to spot for years for everything form a cure for passing depression, to a walk to ease my nerves, to sanctuary and solitude when I just want to meditate and be a part of nature. 

Yesterday I found a great little meditation spot and this was my view...

The swans were there but this time they were posing for a photo shoot with a different group of photographers.  This photo I captured last February...

They love hamming it up for the camera.  They will pose for you for the simple price of allowing them to show you their beauty.
Buddha's garden is a nice place to go for peace...

I always love stopping to see Krishna at his waterfall and read his message...

And on my way I love to stop and see Jesus over a waterfall... 

He is a little hard to see, but trust me, he's there, in the light, where he generally hangs. 

Lake Shrine in the Pacific Palisades is one of my favorite spots in the Los Angeles area.  All religions are accepted and celebrated there and it falls into my belief system of the many paths to get to God.  I can't wait to take my little girl there and teach her about acceptance, hope and love. 


Almost Time for the Big Change

Almost Time for the Big Change

The countdown to motherhood begins

86 days until my due date.  I have decided to take the next few months to blog about some of my findings in LA and my life before I become a mother.  

One of the great things about living in Los Angeles is the ability as an actor to find and study with some of the most amazing teachers in show business.  A few years ago I had the privilege of studying with a man named Sam.

Sam Christensen hosts a class about finding your essence and marketing your true type.  Admittedly, I didn't know that this was going to be focused on archetype and or that we would be referencing Carl Jung or Joseph Campbell.  The last thing I thought when taking his class is that it would lead me to a place of acceptance for everything I have done right or wrong.  He taught me how to accept my clumsy, silly, unattractive dark side and showed me that this can be as much of a treasure as all the beautiful surface qualities we all choose to show the world.  

Here is what he teaches as explained in an interview with Backstage West.  You may see yours truly sitting in the class as this was taped during one of our monologue classes. 

Tomorrow I start a blog challenge hosted by BlogHer.  I am going to participate in November and December as a challenge to myself to write more and to record these months of my life before everything changes when baby comes.

I will be using the one liners Sam gave me in the process.  I really thought, when walking into this process he would say things like, you're a housewife, the boss, a divorcee, or any other typecast quality that some hack classes give you out here.  That's what I went in for, I got so much more.  I learned to cultivate depth of my own character and read people a little deeper than I had before.  

So it is with great excitement that I take the knowledge I learned from Sam as a woman stuck in a the bowels of Hollywood and how it transformed me to a newlywed, a mommy to be and a woman who now believes in herself and is excited for life instead of stuck on a couch waiting a casting director not to call or for the boyfriend I had at the time to come home and fight with me.  

I wish his method could be taught in schools.  It's about public acceptance of yourself.  It may make the bullying issue a little easier to deal with.  We would realize we are all human and flawed, it is how we deal with the flaws and learn to grow from them that we can move forward with strength and grace.

NaBloPoMo November 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Natural Beauty

Natural Beauty

Volume 1:  What exactly are you putting on your face


I felt inclined to begin this series due to the overwhelming lies we are told by marketing companies on what's good for us and why we should want to look younger, more beautiful or more desirable than what we already are.  I am not immune, so please do not assume I am sitting high on my horse looking down on you for falling into this brainwashing bullshit.  This has been building up for quite some time.  

A bit of history... A few years ago I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store allowing myself to read the covers of vapid magazines.  I noticed every cover of every magazine seemed to hate on women.  Not hate in the traditional sense.  It wasn't out and out obvious.  I could only see it because I had been living in the Hollywood machine for a bit and I knew how much of it was a lie.  I admittedly have done an anti-aging campaign many years ago...when I was 28, I helped hawk products for women over 40.  I didn't have any wrinkles.  Of course this was attributed to miracle cream, not the fact that I just didn't have them yet.  I have also suffered through the pain of botox on my forehead and juvederm under my eyes.  And for what, a temporary fix to a problem that will never go away.  I am not immune to aging.
The hate I saw on the magazines was blazingly obvious to me, be thinner, be younger, be better than what you are.  Well, these upcoming reviews are a giant middle finger to the corporate machine telling you that you aren't good enough.  You have to believe you are.  You have to understand that these products are quite possibly responsible for all of the harmful cancers we have in our bodies, both emotional cancer and possibly physical cancer.  I will post this disclaimer on every one of my Natural Beauty Volumes.  I will take each recommended product from a fashion machine who gets advertising dollars from said product and I will break it down so you know exactly what you are putting on your face.  As I expand my knowledge on natural skincare, I will share with you any anti-aging tips I come across, but the cold hard truth is this... you will age, you will die, it's natural.  Stop fighting and begin to love the life you have been given.  We will not all look like Victoria Secret models.  Some of us will, but we won't forever.  Men will not have raging erections for the rest of their lives.  Guess what, that's ok.  It means it's time for them to look for the next evolution in this life.  It's time for us to stop capturing youth and to begin taking care of ourselves and our planet with grace and dignity.

Olay Total Effects

What it promises:  gets rid of those disgusting age spots, fine lines (how could we allow those) and pesky wrinkles.

What is inside:   this next part is extremely disturbing.  Cancer?  Euthanized animals?   What the heck are we putting on our faces?

glycerin -  Behind water, this is the 2nd ingredient,  found in animal, vegetable or synthetically manufactured.  Generally for soaps it is derived from animal fat.  It's many uses include; cosmetics, foods, mouthwashes, chewing gum, toothpastes, soaps, ointments, medicines, lubricants, transmission and brake fluid, and plastics.

niacin amide - Vitamin B3

isohexadecane - a component of petroleum.  There is some proof of organ system toxicity.

dimethicone - a silicon based polymer used as lubricant or conditioning agent.  Toxic to our organs and the ecosystem.

isopropyl isotereate -  lipid synthesized via a reaction between isopropyl alcohol and isostearic acid, a type of fatty acid.

polyacrylamide -  Polyacrylamide is a synthetic polymer of acrylamide.  This lovely ingredient is also bad for your organs and horrible for the environment.

sodium ascorbyl phosphate - Salt of Vitamin C.

panthenol - form of vitamin B5.  Can be derived of animal or vegetable.

tocopheryl acetate - this compound of acetic acid and vitamin E does cause tumors in small animals.  This is also an environmental toxin and has been known to cause an allergic reaction.

camellia sinensis -  green tea

zinc oxide - inorganic oxide used as a sunscreen agent.  Harmful to organs and environment.  Sweden and Finland are banning this ingredient in boat paint.  And we put this on our faces.

titanium dioxide - inorganic compound, when airborne it is a known carcinogen that has cancer causing agents.

sucrose polycottonseedate - cottonseed acid and sucrose, used for conditioning.

sorbitan stearate - composed of sweetener sorbitol and stearic acid, used for fragrance and emulsifying.  Also bad for the environment.

cetyl alcohol - organic alcohol derived from animal or plant or in wax found from sperm whale or dolphin.  Not good for the planet. 

C13-14 Isoparaffin - petroleum derivative.

stearyl alcohol - compound produced from stearic acid.  Harmful to eyes and lungs.

dimenthiconol - silicon based polymer

laureth - 7 - polyethylene glycol-based surfactant.

peg -100 stearate - polyethylene glycol ester of stearic acid

stearic acid - can be found in vegetable and animal fat.  Primarily derived from domestic and farm animals.  This means... fats from cows and sheep farms and also dogs and cats euthanized in animal shelters.  You did not read that wrong.

citric acid - naturally found in citrus foods

propylparaben - paraben family of preservatives.  Mimics estrogen and can cause reproductive problems.

disodium edta - used to sequester and decrease the reactivity of metal ions that may be present in a product.

methylparaben - another paraben that mimics estrogen.  Strong evidence of endocrine disruption.

bht - 3 little letters, big consequence.  toluene based ingredient used as a preservative.   strong evidence that this is an allergen, cancer causing, and not safe for women trying to conceive.

benzyl alcohol - natural and synthetic, toxic and harmful around the mouth, allergenic effects, classified as toxic or harmful.

ethylparaben - another estrogen mimicking paraben.

ammonium polyacrylate - ammonium salt of polyacrylic acid.  not so hot for the environment.

triethoxycaprylysilane - silicon based ingredient used as a binder.

fragrance - vague term but known as an allergen, toxic to environment, fragrance source is rarely named and after all the research, I'm assuming the worst.

yellow 5 - synthetic dye derived from petroleum.

red 40 - synthetic dye  also derived from petroleum or animals and plants.

vitamin B3 - one of the last ingredients on the list so not much of it, panthothenic organic acid.

vitamin C - naturally occuring antioxidant.

pro-vitamin B5 - panthenol, derived from animals or plants.

vitamin E - last ingredient on the list.  antioxidant, not much in terms of overall ingredients here.

Please do your own research.  Skin Deep Cosmetic Database has more facts to back up what I have already cited. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

10 Things No One Told Me Before I Got Pregnant

10 Things No One Told Me Before I Got Pregnant
I live in Los Angeles.  Not exactly known as the baby making capital of the US.  These are my experiences, in no particular order that surprised the heck out of me and hopefully will amuse you.
  1.  Back Fat - This little nugget of info was left out of sex education in high school and I have found no mention of it in any of the pregnancy books I have read.  So I went from looking like this...

To looking like this...

2.  My boobs strangle me when I sleep - Admittedly, I was never flat chested.  In fact, i started out this pregnancy as a natural 32DD.  That in itself is mind boggling, and often times I jogged with 2 sports bras on.  But I never imagined they would blow up during pregnancy.  I hope my husband doesn't wake up next to me and find me dead of asphyxiation by the breasts.  Not to mention, where am I supposed to find nursing bras to fit.  Is there a spot on Hollywood Blvd for that?

I will check this catalog and keep you posted.

3.  My bed has become a pillow fort.  

I'm not sure where my husband expects to sleep.  

4.  I'm pretty sure that baby photo with the foot is fake.  I look more like I have an alien or tapeworm swimming around in my gut.

5.  I am clumsy.

6.  I forget things.  I mean, I drive past places I know and have to turn around and find them again.  I lose things.  It's ridiculous.  Please don't ask a pregnant woman to remember your name when first meeting her.  Just make the effort to tell her 15 times and then 40 more. 

7.  Due to sinus buildup, my ears are stopped up and I am hard of hearing in one ear.  In some ways this is good.  I have always lived in my own little world, now I am comfortable tuning you out while I enjoy it.  

8.  Placenta Previa - This one is serious.  This means the placenta is lying unusually low in my uterus and could be covering my cervix.  This means I may have to have a c-section so the baby and I don't bleed out.  Scary, yes.  But with modern medicine it isn't too bad.  It just means no sex, jumping, running, or anything I have been known to do in the past.

So none of this...

I made this video before I changed my name with the Screen Actors Guild.

9.  All of the sudden, every man I meet is an expert on baby delivery.  I am now only to have it naturally.  If I don't, I have given into American capitalism and I am a horrible person.  To those fellas I have this to offer...

Until I see you in a photo like this...I'm turning my deaf ear to you!

10.  No one told me there would be anything so magical as to have a life growing inside of me.  In all the sex ed classes, media I grew up with telling me to choose career first or single in the city friends I have had.  No one has said, this is the most amazing feeling in the world.  I wish everyone could experience this.  I see the world different now.  I look at people who are acting nasty and I find a soft spot for them because I realize, they grew from where my baby girl is growing now.  I want badly to be the best mom I can be and to love her so much she feels like she can conquer the world.  I love being pregnant!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Picture Corner - Ventura, CA

We started our day on the Ventura Pier.  Parking for a couple of hours is only $2 and you can get your ticket validated at one of the local restaurants on the pier.  We skipped dining on the pier as we were saving our appetites for grub downtown.  When we got out of our car it was hot, but by the time we got to the end of the pier we both had chill bumps, so if you are visiting in the fall like we did, bring a hoodie or sweater so you can fully enjoy your walk.  

The pier has many colorful characters.  Brian noticed many of the fishermen spoke like pirates.  They may have been homeless, but the lesson of teach a man to fish came to my mind as these guys did look well fed and happy and so did their dogs.  Still, we couldn't help but giggle as we eavesdropped on their varied crass conversations. 

Ventura Pier
Once we made it out to the middle of the pier we came upon a wonderful view.  Off in the distance we could see about 4 or 5 dolphins playing in the water.  I apologize for the shaky camera work and the fact you have to hunt for the dolphins but they are in the middle of your screen.  I promise!
View from the Pier
After walking the length of the pier we headed over to Ventura's Main St.  We found great parking on Chestnut & Santa Clara.  You know you are in the right place if you see this quote under a very large paddle board...
 Parking Garage

Once parked we walked to Main Street and window shopped for a bit before our tummies got the best of us.  We were both getting so hungry and fussy that neither of us could agree on anything until we stumbled upon a restaurant called White Sand Thai Barbeque.  We had spring rolls and spicy seafood basil.  We split everything and headed across the street for a gourmet cupcake.  There are so many wonderful dining spots on main street there is something for every taste.  In the evening the historic Watermark is amazing but make sure you bring proper attire as it is upscale only. 
Next we trekked back to our cars but on the way we came upon a very large tree.  Brian and I both took photos in front of it.

Notice how small the car is next to the tree

 My husband, the great discoverer!

At 26 weeks pregnant my belly is 36".  I feel as large as the tree.
 A little history never hurt anyone.

Next we headed to my favorite part of the trip.  We traveled up to the top of Ventura to Grant Park Lookout.   It felt like we were sitting on top of the world.  The scene was serene and peaceful and the view was breathtaking.  Brian took some photos.  The only sour spot happened to be a couple taking shots of whiskey and displaying gross public affection.  They left shortly after we arrived but I felt bad for all the others who came for a view of the cross.  As a former bartender I have seen all kinds so I can easily overlook bad behavior.  The woman actually fell when stepping down from the platform of the cross.  I found some sort of irony in that and found myself whispering a prayer for her instead of disdain. 

Serra Cross Park

Top of Ventura
Happily resting on the grass

Our final trek of the Ventura tour took us back to Main St. to see Brian's cousin perform all the way from Tulsa, OK.  It's always great to see Okies out this way!  

David Castro Band music

We finished up the evening by taking the PCH home to Woodland Hills.  The moon was full and in certain spots it reflects off the water throwing magical designs in glimmers on the waves. 

I loved the day we spent in Ventura.  Every so often on my California adventures, I have taken a trip on a whim and ended up with the most peaceful and serene feeling.  I think that's why I love it out here.  Yes, I love my woods in Oklahoma, but out here, I am constantly stumbling into what feels like magic to me and leaves me with a serene hope as I step into the new week.  I love that I have found an adventure buddy in my husband.  Life can be wonderful when experienced alone, if you are willing, but after you have finished your solo journey, it is so fulfilling to have someone just as willing as I am to explore with.  

Thanks for reading my blog.  I will have more randomness coming soon. 


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Homemade Vegetable Broth

Vegetable Broth

There is nothing like the smell of simmering veggie broth on your stove on a cool fall day.  The smell just makes the home feel a little more cozy.  Also, knowing that you are making a nourishing broth is so calming.   I'm going to teach you how to make it practically for free!  Because you are using your own junk!  That's right, you can use all of your discarded veggie parts to make a delicious and beautiful broth.

Believe it or not, veggie broth is extremely easy to make!  And the exciting part is, you can make it how you want it.  I will show you the basics but the seasoning is up to you.   

You will save your veggies for stock as you cook nightly.  Save in an airtight ziplock freezer bag or any bag that will keep the air and frost bite out.  Depending on how many veggies you eat, this can happen pretty quick!
This is how I store mine 

Veggie stock or broth is easy to make with your old veggie scraps.  Instead of tossing the top of your onion, tomato, celery stalk top, or carrot tops, peppers, a garlic clove, also the pieces of your onion you don't plan on using, the skin, a dry outer layer...etc.  I prefer only using these things but I also use squash tops when in season but I leave out the broccoli stalks and cauliflower because those will overpower your broth.  I love beets and hate to see the beautiful greens go to waste as I haven't mastered a beet green recipe so I usually use beet greens in my broth because it gives it a beautiful color. 

Once you have all of your ingredients you put them all in a soup pot and fill to the top with water. You can add your favorite spices as well.  I generally use white pepper because I am pregnant and everything grosses me out.  But if you have a taste for basil, oregano, thyme, bay leaves, whatever your taste is, now is the time to season your broth to your liking.  Also, if you like it plain, then don't add anything and just let the veggies flavor your stock.  Turn the stove up to medium or medium low and let simmer, covered for up to an hour.  Begin checking at half an hour.  If you cook too long the taste will become bitter.    


 Veggie Broth Ingredients

After your broth is complete, strain into a glass container to cool, then freeze what you won't use in the next few days.  You want to cool in glass because of the whole BPA issue.

 Vegetable Broth

 Who knew all your junk could make such a beautiful and flavorful stock?  I love using broth in rice, soups, and risotto.  I will share my risotto recipe with you soon! 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Putting My Life Back Together

I left LA 18 months ago to head back to Oklahoma to spend time on my parents farm.  I had grown stagnant in the city and I was in a relationship that was going absolutely nowhere.  My Dad came to my apartment in Valley Village, CA and loaded me up in a U-haul and brought me back to my roots in Broken Arrow, OK.  I didn't want to go.  It was horrifying to admit that at 35, I was basically failing at life, no kids, no savings, dead relationship, not much I could call an acting career, and broken.  I was completely broken and I knew it.  I went back to Oklahoma during the hottest part of the summer.

I traveled back with my dog who was 14 at the time.  She was all I had in the world.  Little did I know my time with her was dwindling away.  I took for granted I would have her forever.

Upon arriving that hot summer day, I found myself completely out of sorts.  I remember the feeling of weightlessness.  I felt like I couldn't feel the ground underneath me and I wasn't as sure footed as I had been growing up as a gymnast.  Those first few steps at my parents place as a failed adult were extremely painful.  I hadn't fully given up the bad relationship in LA and I wasn't sure what my next move was but I knew if I stayed stuck my life would be useless. 

Little by little my parents and I opened up to each other.  They began to embrace my environmentally friendly ways, and I began to see where I got a lot of my hippy love from.  My mom had an amazing garden that had squash, tomatoes and fresh herbs ripe for the picking.  Her cultivated garden was inspiring to me as I had reached a point in my life where I wasn't sure anything was possible anymore.

I spent many nights outside in the summer heat.  One particular night I was out with my dog.  The moon was full and shining a silver light on the next pasture over.  I saw the neighbor's horses run by and could hear their thundering hooves.  Their bodies were highlighted in a glow of silver moonlight and at that moment, the lion from the sanctuary down the street began to carol.  It was then that I began to heal.  As I sat there basking in the beauty of the moment I felt life rising back up inside of me.  How could I be dead with this in the world?
 the lion down the street.

A few nights later I was sitting by the house gazing at the stars.  In that moment I had a thought,
"I wish I had someone to share this with, and by someone, I wish I had a little person sitting next to me, a child, my child.  I'm ready to be a mom."  I didn't even have a boyfriend at the time, I wasn't dating anyone.  In fact, I was stuck in Broken Arrow, OK and pretty sure I wasn't going to find what I was looking for there.  Most of the men I came across viewed me as some sort of weird creature who was too LA for their liking.  I mean, I considered jeans and sandals on a date dressed up.  I had forgotten Tulsa ways.  When I did dress up, what was ok on Hollywood Blvd looked like high class hooker to anyone who came across me.  My days of wearing fedoras and enjoying my accessories were going to have to be put on hold.  Apparently only high school kids and recent college grads are allowed to have style.  Ah, but I digress.  I don't want to alienate my Oklahoma audience, because it was there that my life slowly pieced itself back together.

I met my husband in the early fall.  After the painful summer I had been through, I just really wanted to get out and meet someone.  Still thinking there was no way I would settle on an Okie, I went online and looked anyway.  I found Brian.  I wasn't entirely sure about him at first.  He was calm and cool, never seemed in a rush, he didn't run any kind of game on me, had no weird hang ups and treated me like a queen.  I was skeptical though and very cautious.  Then one day I gave in, now a year later, I'm married to him and our baby is due in January.
 Married in Malibu

There is quite a bit more to the story, but I will expound on that as my blog unfolds.  For now, I'm back in Los Angeles and I work where I can find it.  Bartending is impossible right now and I spend most of my time working on random television shows as a pregnant woman.  Wherever a preggo is needed, I'm there.  It's been great to meet other pregnant ladies on sets!  My life is taking me in directions I never even knew existed.  Now, instead of holding crazy yoga poses, I'm rolling around on the floor in prenatal poses.  Instead of having a hot body, I'm showcasing my big belly.  Instead of prancing around in a bikini, I'm covered up and protecting my little belly from the harsh sun.

The aim of this blog though is to help.  I have been through a lot in my life.  I have learned so much.  I hate to think any time has been wasted.  So instead of harboring resentment of that failed relationship, I want to share what I learned.  He was a frugal chef and he taught me how to be an excellent frugal chef as well.  I learned to budget what little I had, at this current time, I look around at what's going on in our country and realize I could really give some lessons on surviving on a minimum budget.  I have also spent many years studying yoga and meditation.  I have been raised in fitness so I have a lot of knowledge on that as well.  I want to invite you on my journey as a newlywed, a new mom, an actress with a new baby coming, a yogi and a foodie.

One final note, I mentioned my dog in the beginning.  She made it all the way back to LA with me but she died 4 days after my wedding.  She was 3 months shy of 16 and losing her has been the hardest thing I think I have ever dealt with.  Many of my friends think she waited until I finally found a man who would carry me through the rest of this journey called life.  She carried me through my young adulthood.  I just wish so much she were here with me now as I travel into mommyhood.  
My best friend and I on the way back to OK.