Friday, June 29, 2012

Fringe Festival OVERDRIVE!!!

Sooooo...we're in the intensive two week "staging" period for our Fringe Festival Show "A Cappella Love".  "Intensive" is a REALLY good way to put it.  We've memorized the music (mostly), and are focusing on the choreography.  It's AMAZING how, when you try to add choreography, the lyrics COMPLETELY leave your mind!

We're averaging TWO songs per rehearsal, and, since we're "off book", aren't writing any of the moves down in our scripts.  Our choreographer started out by handing out copies of the music with her staging written in the margins, but we haven't received one of those since the first song...UGH!

I wish I could say I'm a "natural" at movement, but, just like the experience of learning/memorizing the music, I'M NOT!!!!  I can honestly say that, of the SIX songs we've staged, I'm confident/comfortable with exactly ONE of them at this point...UGH AGAIN!!!!

In addition to all of the above (plus body percussion, which is IN ADDITION to the choreography), I SOMEHOW have to manage a British accent with my lines, and in my solo pieces...UGH for a THIRD time!!!!

That said, it's really going to be an AMAZING show, and I really like the people with whom I'm working (despite the fact that the majority of them are under 22!!!).  As the OLD PERSON in the cast, who now has sore feet, a sore back, and a possibly permanent hunchback (ha!), I'm SOOOOO in over my head.  THAT said, however, I'm LOVING the challenge, and am going to try REALLY, REALLY, REALLY hard to:

1. Survive the experience,
2. Try NOT look like Willard from "Footloose" (the original) when I move through the songs,
3. Enjoy the ride!!!

Here's the publicity postcard from the upcoming show.  If you're in the area, come and check us out!!!  You can also check out/LIKE our Facebook page at:



Here's hoping YOU have found something to challenge you recently too!!!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

ANOTHER Good Weight Watchers Recipe!!!

Okay...a little obsessed with Weight Watchers right now (but I've LOST five pounds, so it's all good...!)...

Found an AWESOME pasta salad recipe (I really LOVE pasta!)...bacon, chicken, ranch dressing...YUM!!

Ranch Chicken & Bacon Pasta Salad

1 cup light mayo
1 cup fat-free Ranch dressing
2 cups peas, frozen, thawed
1 Roma tomato, diced
2 T. garlic chives, diced
1 1/2 cups boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked, cubed
4 slices bacon, diced
16 oz. Barilla whole wheat rotini
1 cup 2% shredded cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Cook rotini as per package directions.  Drain.  Chill completely.

Cook bacon crisp.  Drain.  Coarsely crumble, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the mayo and ranch dressing.  Add the tomatoes, peas, garlic chives, chicken and bacon.  Stir to combine.

Add the chilled pasta and toss to coat.  Stir in the shredded cheese.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Servings:  8.  13 points per serving (about 1 1/2 cups).

Here's hoping YOU are experimenting with AWESOME recipes too!!!!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

A "Go To" Recipe, and a New Favorite!!!

So...I'm back on the Weight Watchers "bandwagon"!  I want to lose 15 pounds by the time the Fringe Festival show opens in early August.  I HATE dieting, but I LOVE Weight's "do-able", and you can still eat what you want...just in moderation.

So...I found the following recipe YEARS ago at I LOVE Egg McMuffins, and would have them EVERY day if I could.  This version is WAY more "diet-friendly", and tastes REALLY good...

MOCK Egg McMuffin

1 Thomas Brand English Muffin
3 egg whites
1 slice 2% American Cheese
3 slices deli select thin sliced ham (I used Carl Buddig ham...whole package...90 calories...)

Spray small skillet with non-stick spray.  Fry the ham in the skillet until hot throughout.  Remove ham, and cook the egg whites in the same skillet.  While the eggs are cooking, toast the english muffin.  Place cheese slice on bottom bun of english muffin.  Add  ham, and top with egg whites, then top with english muffin. 

To mix it up, I sometimes add chile peppers, green or red sweet peppers, or diced tomatoes to the eggs.

WWP:  8.

Tonight I tried a recipe from the Weight Watchers BOARDS, and it's TOTALLY going into my "favorite recipes" file...

Middle Eastern Burgers

1/3 c. bulgur
1/2 cup, plus 2 T. warm water, divided
1 tsp. canola oil
1/2 c. chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 c. pitted prunes, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 lb. lean ground beef (93 - 95% lean)
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/4 tsp. salt, or to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper
4 small whole-wheat pita bread halves

Preheat grill.

Combine bulgur with 1/2 c. warm water in a small bowl.  Let soak until the bulgur is tender and most of the water has been absorbed, 20 to 30 minutes.  Drain any excess liquid.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add onion.  Cook, stirring often, until the onion softens, about 4 minutes.  Add garlic and prunes; cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Don't let the garlic burn.  Stir in cumin, coriander and allspice.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute.  Add remaining 2 T. water; cook until it is absorbed, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat. 

Combine beef, egg, salt, pepper, the onion-prune mixture and the bulgur in a mixing bowl; mix thoroughly.  Shape into four 3/4 inch patties.

Lightly oil the grill rack (hold a piece of oil-soaked paper towel with tongs and rub it over the grate).  Grill the burgers over medium heat, turning once, until browned and cooked through, about 4 minutes per side  (IF USING A GEORGE FOREMAN GRILL, JUST PLACE ON GRILL, CLOSE AND COOK FOR 4-6 MINUTES).  Warm pitas on the grill, if desired.

Serve the burgers with the pita, lettuce, and, for additional points, sour cream or salad dressing of your choice.

WWP (without sour cream or salad dressing): 9.

Here's hoping YOU have a GREAT low fat/low calorie recipe that YOU enjoy too!!!!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Home Made Pizza

Lately this blog has turned into more of a restaurant review/recipe blog than anything else.  TODAY is no exception!

Duane and I made the BEST pizza last night!!!  It started with a home made pizza crust (discovered while watching "Ciao Italia" on PBS, the recipe for which can be found in this previous post:

We found a package of precooked pulled BBQ chicken at Traders Joes, and used it as the meat/sauce base for the pizza...

I sliced a Roma tomato and a mild pepper from my deck garden...

Then put it all on the crust (tomatoes and peppers on my half only!)...

I then piled on the cheddar cheese...

and stuck it in the oven!

Yum!  Yum!  Yum!  Yum!  Yum!!!!!

Here's hoping YOU have a "go to" recipe that makes your mouth water too!!!!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Lunch with Liz

Continuing the DELIGHTFUL "get reacquainted with your friends" frenzy, I was able to meet my friend Liz for lunch today.  Liz and I bonded during "Children of Eden" (which garnered me A TON of new, amazing friends).

We met at Colossal Cafe (one of my FAVORITE local diners, and featured a year or so ago on "Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives", hosted by Guy Fieri:, and had a GREAT time catching up!

Liz contemplating the FABULOUS menu!!!

Although it went WAAAAY too quickly, we're planning to get together again SOON...and add a "shopping spree" to the mix!

Here's hoping YOU have been making time for friends recently too!!!

Friday, June 15, 2012

ANOTHER Fun Day (but BAD for the Diet!)!!

Yesterday was another fun, and BUSY day!

I started off with my hour long walk (today makes FIVE in a row!), spent a little time memorizing more music for the show, putzed around the townhouse, then headed out into the monsoon (it rained ALL day, off and on...usually only when I had to go out and do something!).

I met my friend Emily for lunch at India House on Grand Avenue (diet DISASTER #1 for the day...I had the Indian buffet...yikes!). 

We haven't had a chance to catch up for AGES, so it was great to spend a little time together!  She heads to NYU on Sunday to spend the summer working on her master's degree in theater education.

After lunch (and a brief break in the rain!), I headed home to work on more memorizing, then headed BACK to Grand Avenue (half a block from where I was before, actually!), to meet my friend Kris for dinner at the Wild Onion (diet DISASTER #2 for the day...I had the BBQ chopped salad!  It's TECHNICALLY a salad, but all the "chopped" really packs on the calories, and, in Weight Watchers terms...POINTS!!!).

We also haven't had a chance to "catch up" for awhile, so decided to go see our friend Rachel in "Mlle. Modiste" at Concordia University (put on by Skylark Opera).

Kris and Martin Luther on the way to the theater

It was GREAT to see Rachel on stage again!  She has a very commanding presence on stage!

I'm not a big fan of opera, but MANY of the actors did a great job with their roles (Rachel, OF COURSE, being the best!)! 

After the show, we met some of the cast at The Happy Gnome for a quick drink, then I headed back to Eagan.  It's kind of fun to stay up until 1:00 a.m. on a week night, but I was GLAD to get home and finally go to bed!

Here's hoping YOU had the chance to reconnect with friends (and wreck your diet!) recently too!!! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

I LOVE Summer Break!!!

One of the DELIGHTFUL perks of being a teacher is working your BUTT off for 9 1/2 months, and then getting 2 1/2 months to "regroup".  OF COURSE, I end up spending A GREAT DEAL of the summer "volunteering" back at school (which basically means working without getting paid) trying to wrap things up, and then attempting to get things cleaned up/reorganized/prepared for the fall,'s on MY schedule, and I can go in if I want, or NOT go in, as I please.

Today was one of those LOVELY, CAREFREE, "LET'S DO SOMETHING FUN" days that make the summer worth the stress and aggrivation of the rest of the year...

It started with waking up WITHOUT the alarm clock, taking an hour long walk (while listening to the score for the show I'm doing in August), then spending time memorizing a couple of the songs for that show.

I then took a shower, and went to West St. Paul to pick up Pat and Joel.  We then proceeded to St. Paul to meet Duane for lunch at one of the FABULOUS offerings at the food trucks on Wabasha.  Even though it was "sprinkly" and cold, we had a GREAT time...

After lunch, I dropped P&J at Pat's house, then headed to Edina to meet my friend Chad, who's up visiting from Austin, Texas.  He came over for dinner last Friday night (also with Pat and Joel), and it was GREAT to catch up, and spend time together!!!

We saw "Men in Black III" (which I LOVED...especially the "twist" at the end...!)...

...then did a little shopping at Southdale Center...

...then he went to meet a friend for dinner at Hell's Kitchen, and I went home.

After Duane got home from work, we headed to the opening of the Eagan Marketfest (our local farmer's market).  Even though I didn't buy anything, it was AWESOME to look around...

After Marketfest, we putzed around the house for awhile, then finished the evening with a delightful "sit" in the glider on the deck...the PERFECT ENDING to a WONDERFUL day...

Here's hoping YOU are able to enjoy the pleasures of a "lazy" summer day too!!!!!