That X Factor - Debbie Reynolds and everyone like her...

by Wednesday, May 28, 2014
In the late 80's, I was in a youth summer stock touring company. As we were traveling around Arizona and southern California with our show, we would get to attend lots of theater along the way. Debbie Reynolds was playing in a touring revival of The Unsinkable Molly Brown down in LA (at the Shubert? The Kodak?). This was a reprisal of her role 25 years after she was an Oscar nominee for her movie role, but I had no idea. Thanks to this experience, I always think of Molly as an older woman, not the young woman she would have been in her 1964 movie role...and that is only one of the remarkable memories I carry away from it...

During one scene aboard the Titanic, Molly is talking about her gigantic wedding ring. She strode out on the stage, and mid-sentence she stayed in character yet broke the 4th wall when she said, "...and I left my ring backstage..." She strode back off stage to get the prop and returned to the scene, the audience applauding and howling at this "raw moment".

I remember we would debrief our theater experiences, and in discussing our night out at this show, our director told we young, impressionable child actors that while that scene was funny and memorable, "she could get away with it because she is DEBBIE REYNOLDS."

I never forgot that lesson. There are some people who by virtue of talent or fame or a combination of  both (because lord knows these days they are not tied together in any way) somehow manage to win us over no matter what they do. They have that "X-Factor" which makes them magnetic to us mere mortals, and we forgive them everything and enjoy those brief moments of familiarity when they make mistakes. "HEY! They're human!" and that realization doesn't knock them down, but instead raises them up somehow.

I aspire to that in my life. Yet I know talent can't buy that entirely. Experience breeds grace in some cases, but that isn't always the way. For most, it is something within you--your soul, your spirit, your je ne sais quoi-- which wins over all. Debbie had it. And I see many performers in my world, both big time and "small time" who have this quality. It's easy to be jealous of them. But even easier to just be in awe of them and enjoy what they have to offer.

Spicy Ginger-Cumin Chicken and Chickpeas

by Wednesday, May 14, 2014
I was at a loss as to what yo cook last night and hubby was grumbling about being hungry but was stuck servicing my computer for a bit. So as usual, I dug around to see what I had for ingredients. When warm weather comes, I almost always crave garbanzo beans. And I had some chicken breasts. Okay, I can work with that. Maybe something with a little spice...cumin, I thought. So I looked up some recipes using these ingredients, and then kluged together the following, which turned out DEEEElicious!

1lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed
Olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/2 cup chicken stock (home made!)
1 15oz can crushed tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
2 Tbsp tomato paste

1 15oz can garbanzo beans/chickpeas, drained not rinsed
2 cups spinach or Swiss chard (optional)
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
3/4 cup plain yogurt

4 Tbsp cilantro, chopped (optional) 
2 servings rice of choice (optional)

In Dutch oven (or large saucepan), heat some olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook 2-3 minutes or until brown (do in two batches if necessary). Remove from pan and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium. Add more oil to pan, add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly for 4-5 minutes until softened. Do not brown.

Stir in ginger, cayenne, coriander, and cumin. Saute for 1 minutes or until fragrant.

Stir in stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, sugar and salt and add chickpeas and browned chicken (and optional spinach or Swiss chard) to the pan. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes until chicken is cooked through and chickpeas have softened a bit.

Stir in yogurt and simmer over very low heat for 1-2 minutes. Don't do this too long or too hot, or the yogurt will separate. Keep it creamy!

Split into two bowls and enjoy!

Notes:
One of the recipes that inspired mine called for a smattering of cilantro on top, for color I guess. If I had cilantro to use (which I didn't last night), I would use more because I loooove the taste of cilantro. So I upped that number in the recipe, though I did not get to enjoy it that way last night.

You could also enjoy this with a scoop of rice, but I like the heartiness of chickpeas just fine without any additional starch involved.

If dairy ain't yo' thing, I bet some coconut milk in this recipe would be delicious and add a little "creaminess" in place of the yogurt.

Blast From The Past - 29 Was A Good Year

by Saturday, May 03, 2014
A post from my 30th birthday over on LiveJournal

"Hell, the entire latter half of my 20's in general were really good.

I started my own business when I was 26. I left my office job in the tech sector soon after, to focus on what I really wanted to do. My husband was willing and able to support me in this. I trained with my mentor and started teaching classes not too long after that.

My classes grew. My business grew. My troupe grew. My marriage grew. My friendships grew. My family (puppies!) grew. My joy grew. (the word "grew" just stopped making sense ;)

And that has been the sum of my latter half of my 20's. Everything growing and flourishing. Boundaries being tested and expanded. Bits and pieces settling in, others being uprooted and examined, nurtured in new directions. It has taken a lot of work, but work that was well worth the effort and despite stumbles here and there, were really such a natural process and such a blessing to have the opportunity to be "my life".

So now I am facing 30. 10:36 tonight I am officially reborn into a new decade. Supposedly a really incredible decade for most. But those who go on and on about how great their 30's are, are the same people who said they didn't like their 20's that much. And really, I loved my 20's. All the struggles and heartache, all the mistakes and COMPLETE AND UTTER MISTAKES...I love them all. I truly do. Of course I have regrets here and there, but not such that I would take it back if I could--they shaped me. And I always seem to land on my feet (JINX!), no matter how bad things get. I have always had friends who are true blue--love in my life that has seen me through times when I felt I didn't deserve love. Pursuits that filled up the lonliest days and enhanced the most social of days.

To say it's been an easy life dismisses too much of the truly difficult times I have gone through. But looking back, I had it damn good. It wasn't easy, but it was just as it should be, you know what I mean? How do you beat that?

So here I stand at 30. Three-Oh. Oh. Dear. I guess when most people are looking forward to the good changes ahead, to the ride up the hill to greater things, I stand at the top of a huge hill built with love and joy and think, "Is there any way to go but down from here?!" And I fear my 30's a little. I fear the loss of things I probably don't even know I have now, but boy will I know them when they're gone! And while I vow not to turn into a worrier over things that haven't even happened yet, I can't help but feel a little trepidation about my 30's. I feel like my running headlong into today with excitement was just brought up short by the realization that things are so damn good now, where can I go from here?

If, God willing, that direction is up, I can't even imagine what that will mean. And if for a time it is down, I have a pretty strong foundation to stand on while I weather the storm.

So why worry...
right?"

A LJ Flashback - Wedding DJ Suckitude

by Thursday, May 01, 2014
I was searching for an old post in my LiveJournal today and fell down a rabbit hole of reminiscing. Here is a post I wrote about reminiscing...wedding day reminiscing, from October of 2005.
"I am realizing that I still harbor resentment for our wedding DJ 5 years ago.

I was a great wedding planner. I am guessing most Virgos are. I was planning a wedding in another city, and it was all my mail and phone. I had every detail hammered out, and the DJ was no exception. I had a list of songs I wanted played throughout the night--first dance songs for all our married bridal party members, and a song for my Mom and Dad. And of course, the first dance song--At Last by Etta James. A quite popular song, and an increasingly popular wedding song in the years since (I had never heard it used, then three of our friends used it in some aspect of their wedding, two of them were first dance songs and one was a passage in their program). It was all laid out in the very handy fax the DJ sent me to fill in, including songs I didn't want played, etc. I confirmed with him, and all was good.

So we have our fabulous wedding, and had some photos shot while our friends waited in the reception room down the hall from the chapel. Then we arrive, and it is time for our big entrance, at which time the DJ suggested we have our first dance right away upon entering. Great, all eyes on us, we had practiced with dance coaches for a few weeks, learning a few flourishes to go with our song, and we were ready! So the DJ meets us at the reception room door as we are about to commence our grand entrance, and he leans over to me and says "So, I don't have At Last. Is there another song you want me to play for your first dance?"

WHAT THE FUCKING HELL?!

I being the cool cucumber I am under pressure, and being the Virgo I was born to be, I look directly at him and say "I brought my own CD, IN CASE." So we send someone back in to grab my wedding folder with all my contracts and whatnot, retrieve the CD, and the day is saved.

That was close to being just about the perfect way to ruin someone's romantic memory of dancing with her new husband in front of all your friends and family. It is a miracle that Chris even agreed to doing such a thing, being as shy as he is, and I couldn't be sure that he wouldn't have wanted to back out entirely if we had a different song we hadn't practiced to.

So as I sit and listen to one of my favorite songs in the world, thinking about one of the happiest days of my life, I say until DJ Guy:
fuck off and die. :)"

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On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:
http://www.deeprootsdance.com

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