Wednesday, December 31

2015 Resolution

Woke up to the sounds of swaying palm trees and the trickling of the pool in a villa on Phuket Island, Thailand for my first day of 2015.  I felt the sun beaming in from the sliding doors, stretched my arms straight overhead and let out a loud exaggerated sigh.  Ahhh, another new year....

In some ways the idea of beginning a new year tugs at my anxiety.  Am I really in my late 20s?  And what the hell am I doing with my life?  On the flip side, the notion of a clean slate energizes me and helps me refocus on who I am and what I really want out of this upside down crazy life I'm living.

So I washed my face, stumbled into the kitchen for some coffee and fruit.  I took a few peculiar euphoria longana fruits and peeled them to their lychee-like soft fruit and enjoyed them by the pool.   I really wanted to indulge in my favorite guilty pleasure: spooning the skippy peanut butter straight of the jar... but I restrained myself.  It's 2015 and I'm going to be in a bathing suit all day for Buddha's sake.  Not to mention I've already gained 6 pounds this trip on ramen, pad thai, curries, and every other heavenly food I've inhaled on my three week southeast asia adventure.  I gathered my self constraint and took my towel to the grass for some quick yoga flow.   2015 I'm so going to own you.

Minutes later I was back in the kitchen to refill my coffee cup ...or at least pretend to.  My coffee wasn't even finished, and I really didn't want any more.  I was there for one thing, and one thing only.  The peanut butter.  My kryptonite.

Thursday, November 20

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for...

With the dropping of temperatures to a frigid 67 degrees, we have entered the polar vortex of autumn in Los Angeles.  Tis the season of tree lightings that start November 1st, getting in verbal arguments over the last pillar candle at Home Goods, and obsessing over all things pumpkin flavor.

And with my crockpot out, my faux fur vest on and the DVR filled with Hallmark and Lifetime Xmas movies...  I have no doubt that this will be another holiday season of epic proportions.   Yet, it is those moments of a pounding eggnog hangover, the euphoria of eating a dozen sugar cookies in one sitting, and maxing out not one, but three, credit cards (and that was just on stocking stuffers) - that bring me to reflection.   Just a momentary pause from the gluttony and indulgence to remember the lessons of Christmas' poorly overshadowed cousin: Thanksgiving.  


Asking myself to dial back on the eggnog is simply a set up for failure - so I won't even bore you with a claim so pretentious.  This season, I just want to be more thankful. For family, friends, a wonderful boyfriend, a dog who only behaves when she's asleep... health, opportunity, travel, a higher IQ than the majority of the population... you know, the simple things.   So here it is.  My thanksgiving thank-ful list.  Hopefully I remember to glance back to this throughout the season so I can stay emotionally grounded while I abandon all guilt and inhale stuffing. 



This Thanksgiving I am thankful for:

  
 1. The end of the crop top trend.  I can feel it coming.  

2. George Clooney.  And each and every single one of your silver fox grey hairs. 

Tuesday, November 18

Turning Twenty Seven

I have to admit that my previous post was a bit more dramatic then it probably needed to be.  I might not truthfully even know what depression is... but I sure as hell was frustrated with life and couldn't muster enough energy to write.   Maybe depression manifests itself differently for everyone - but there still has never been a day in my life where I haven't truly smiled over something.  And for that I am grateful.

I wanted to write about despair for a number of reasons - but mostly because it's real.  It is something that all struggling actors grapple with at one point or another in their careers.  Maybe something that everyone experiences once or twice as they settle into their late twenties - and thus is important to shed light on.  But I also wanted to dial back for a moment and take a breath.  My blog is one giant neatly packaged story of adventure, travel and triumph -- but, as I pointed out yesterday -- I am just human too... and with that comes a less glamorous side of my me that I felt compelled to share.

That, and I just wanted to write again.   I wanted to finally digest the idea of turning another year older.  So here it goes.  Here's me at Twenty Seven.  

--

Birthdays afford me the ability to reflect on the past year - and what a hell of a year it has been.  Maybe the best year of my entire life.  Actually I'll scratch that - definitely the best year of my life. Lets hit on the highlights shall we?

TWENTY SIX

October - I move into a new little house with Matt and Shelly - My FIRST home! to decorate however I fancy!  And my own orange tree.. and soon my own garden with fresh strawberries and herbs and tomatoes.  And a perfect little yard for Shelly.  

November - I spend the fall auditioning like crazy and feeling so energized by it. Mom and I take an online screenwriting class...  and I churn out my very first screenplay!   I also spend every Wednesday night performing in my first ever play at some dark and jenky Hollywood theater that I absolutely fall in love with.  Shelly and I spend Thanksgiving on the beach in Newport.

Monday, November 17

The Acting Saga: Depressed.

It was during my second intensive acting session at Margie Haber Studio.  I had just watched a playback of my audition tape and I was shocked by how disgustingly unattractive I looked.  Physically yes... but it was even more than that.  My eyes were completely void of emotion... they were just... blank.   The instructor dismissed the tape as 'lifeless' and moved on to the next student.

Lifeless.  That night on my walk home from class I cried.  Hard.  I called my mom and said I wanted to get a nose job, called my dad and said I was ready to hang up this dream. By the time I got to the front door, I was too exhausted to think of anything besides drowning the day in food and wine.

I am no stranger to an occasional meltdown... especially since I started on this acting journey.  But normally the morning sun shining through the bedroom curtains and my dog snuggling her soft cold nose against my cheek usually refreshes me enough to shed the prior night's despair.

The next morning was different though.  The misery had sunk in and my body felt too heavy to pull

Sunday, November 16

Healthy Apple Crunch!

Healthy Apple Crunch Recipe! 
An alternative to Apple Crisp - great as a dessert or as a granola!

This healthy recipe will keep you more than satisfied without de-railing your diet.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cup old fashioned oats 
4 red apples, cut in small pieces 
1 green apple, cut 
1 banana (frozen or fresh) cut finely 
1 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp Grade B maple syrup 
1 tbsp peanut butter (any kind)
1/4 cup nuts or trail mix 
1/4 cup cranberries
3 tsp cinnamon
sprinkle of nutmeg
1 squeeze of clementine and/or lemon
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Basically combine everything and put it in the oven at 375 for 20 minutes. Remove and stir. Return to oven for 25-30 minutes. Let cool before enjoying!

great paired with greek yogurt for breakfast, or frozen kefir or frozen yogurt for dessert! Also good as an on the go snack.

Friday, November 14

GET SKINNY! Cleansing Crockpot Soup Recipe!




I am not a dietician - just a girl who continually strives to maintain optimal health and a slim waistline. Before starting any diet or cleanse, you should discuss it with your doctor.  That being said, this soup could easily be named "Get Healthy" as well.  The ingredients are superfood powerhouses with some incredible healing and slimming qualities!

Get Skinny & HEALTHY Cleansing Crockpot Recipe 

-fennel (1/4 bulb)
          *Great for alleviating indigestion, flatulence, menstrual discomfort and anemia
-apple cider vinegar (1/4 cup)
          *High in fiber, increased iron absorption, mood enhancement
-cayenne pepper (3/4 tsp)
           *Anti cold/flue/allergen, reduces joint pain, revs metabolism
-lemon (1-2 squeezed)
           *Alkalize the body, high in vitamin C, relieves indigestion
-ginger (1 tbsp)
            *Anti-inflamatory, reduces nausea and indigestion, enhances fat absorption
-garlic (2 cloves, minced)
            *Boosts immune system, reduces inflammation,
-low sodium chicken or vegetable broth (1 1/2 cups)
           *Boosts immunity, great source of minerals (calcium, magnesium), aid digestion
-white wine (1/3 cup)
          *Delivers antioxidants
-sweet potatoes (2 cubed)
          *High in vitamin B6 and B12, contain iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C
-celery (3 stocks, chopped)
          *Aids digestion
-carrots (3 chopped)
          *Anti aging benefits, great for skin
-spinach (1 cup)
          *Loaded with vitamins: A, K, D and E, good source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
-water to top (2-3 cups depending on slow cooker size)

ALL of these ingredients are optional!  Add or replace any spice or vegetable at will!  Zucchini, squash, peas, broccoli, asparagus, mushrooms, leeks, beets, potatoes, basil oregeno, basil -- you name it, it can go in!

Let all ingredients simmer on low for 6+ hours.

Eat this and drink only water and tea for three days and let me know how good you feel!  For me, I feel completely rejuvenated and my body lets go of all of my stubborn puffiness. That AND I drop unnecessary fat around my middle.   This is a great cleanse to help jumpstart a whole new healthy you!

Skinny Sweet Potato Mash -- Healthy Thanksgiving side dish!



This Thanksgiving, I'm saving my calories for the stuffing and a slice of Mom's pie -- I refuse to let my waist expand for the same ol' pile of butter and cream mashed potatoes or worse the sugar bomb sweet potato casserole that my aunt attempts to pass off as a vegetable dish!

No no, not this year.  This year on Thanksgiving I'm wearing my skinny jeans and I refuse to unbutton them after dinner God damn it!


And here's how --- healthy thanksgiving hacks from my skinny kitchen!

Today's dish: Skinny Sweet Potato Mash
Sweet Potatoes (1 large/person)
Plain Greek Yogurt (1 ounce/person)
Cinnamon Pecans (1/2 cup)
Garlic (1 clove, minced)
Cinnamon (1 tsp)
Nutmeg (pinch)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Olive Oil (1 tbsp)

1. Cook the sweet potatoes in the oven (400 degrees) until soft to the touch (about 50 minutes for medium sized).

2. While still hot, remove the skin and mash the sweet potatoes with all of the other ingredients in a mixing bowl.

3. Top with crumbled cinnamon pecans and serve warm! 


Saturday, October 25

The Monster Mash Menu - Festive Halloween food!



From spiked hot apple cider to fake fingers in the candy bowl - Halloween parties are an open canvas for creative hosts.  

I've got my second annual Ghoulish Gathering planned for this week, but while I review my favorites from last year, I thought I would share some of my best party food hits.


1.  Pumpkin  Dorito Cheese Ball:   cream cheese based dip of your choice, rolled into a ball then covered in crushed red doritos.  Top with the stem of a green pepper and serve with crackers.


2. Deviled Spider Eggs:  prepare deviled eggs per usual, make spider topping by cutting black pitted olives (I just purchased two cans) in half lengthwise for the body.  Use the other half to cut 6 legs!  Serve 'blood' dipping sauce (Tabasco) with a finger sticking out!

Sunday, September 7

O'ahu Hawaii - Your full Itinerary!

Close your eyes and envision the landscape of heaven for a moment.  Got it?  Good.  Welcome to Hawaii.

As I have yet to visit the other Hawaiian islands I can't comment on O'ahu being the best - But I can say that my trip to Honolulu surpassed any trip to the Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Aruba.. or any other tropical paradise.  We chose O'ahu because, while still offering the remote lazy beach life, the island is vibrant with nightlife and restaurants in Waikiki and Honolulu. Okay, well and it was the least expensive flight from LA.  



Where to stay:
Turtle Bay on the North Shore.  Newly renovated, Turtle Bay resort offers unbelievable beach views from every room, championship

Friday, September 5

Eggplant and Zuchhini Rollatinis - Healthy!


                                    
There's nothing better than returning home to Halifax, MA in August - when the garden is over plentiful and everyone has exasperated their imagination with how to eat the baskets and baskets of fresh vegetables.  This recipe I am especially proud of - a healthy and flavorful twist on an old favorite - stuffed shells. 

Eggplant and Zucchini Rollatinis 

Ingredients: 
2 zucchini
1 eggplant

Wednesday, September 3

Pageant of the Masters



You know that feeling of pure admiration and awe that awashes you when you are truly moved by a piece of art?

Maybe it's stepping into the Sistene Chapel and being enveloped by Michelangelo... or perhaps you stumble across a dreamy Monet painting in Museo de Madrid and you find yourself rendered speechless.  But it could be more simple.  Like taking a wrong turn in Los Angeles and being humbled by graffiti of angel wings... or pausing to take another look at a photograph of rolling hills at the farmer's market.

If I could, I would enter every art gallery or museum twice.  One completely ignorant to the art inside,

Monday, August 11

Forget Therapy. I'll take a Greenday CD.



The antenna boombox is scratching because you have blown out the sub, but you don't care.  You're sprawled out on your stomach, feverishly writing down lyrics into your diary.  The year is 1999, and blogs don't exist.  At least not in this world.

So what are you writing for?  Perhaps you'll carefully copy over the best of the lyrics into a love note, that you'll fold into an intricate design and press tightly into your boyfriend's hand the following morning, right before the bell rings.

Or maybe those lyrics will stay locked in your diary, meant for your eyes only.  Perhaps they'll mend your heart through your first breakup, making you feel a little less alone as you drown in utter, heart wrenching misery.  Or who knows, it could be the opposite.  They might give you the courage to finally say hi to the most beautiful human being you have ever laid eyes on... even though he sits in the two-seater on the bus, a spot so coveted that only the most endowed junior high girls will ever experience the sheer euphoria of riding there.

But no matter if you were a regular in the two-seater or if you spent the majority of your adolescence desperately trying to be invisible, you relied on music, on the lyrics, to get you through.

I wish it were still that easy.  That I could mend a broken heart by crying along with the Counting Crows Music Video on TRL.  Or that my disposition could take a 180 when "Gangsta Paradise" came on and my parents were too preoccupied to tell me to 'turn that shit off'.   Oh, and the inspirational ones.  The songs that awakened in my preteen soul a deep yearning to travel, to see the world, to experience life outside of junior high drama. Oasis, Sublime, Dispatch, Third Eye Blind, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Matchbox Twenty, Alanis Morrisette...

They aren't the greatest musicians to ever grace the radio, but they did it for me.  And every once in awhile when I feel so fed up that my only conceivable option is to return to my parents' house, curl up on the couch with funny bones and gushers and watch reruns of Wonder Years for eternity... 'Good Riddance' comes on and I'm reminded that everything is going to be just fine.

Friday, August 1

Cronuts in LA

I planned on scouring LA for the best cronuts and making a top 10 list of the most coveted places to indulge in this pastry hybrid.  

But here I was in Abbot Kinney, and I happened to stumble into Rockenwagner's German delicatessen.  I had no intent of trying their cronut, which was definitely not on my radar.  I mean,  Germans don't make good cronuts.  Cronuts lineage can be traced back to NYC as early as the 2013s, and that's that.  Let us have one food origin besides hot dogs, will you people??! 

Anyways, the waitress kept nagging ...and my pretzel disappointed me ...and I drank 4 mimosas.   So I ordered the God Damn Cronut, a hazelnut one to be exact.

And dear sweet German baby jesus was it delicious.  Since then, I've still been cronut-hunting through LA, but I just haven't found anything comparable.   So here's my "best cronuts in LA list"

1. Rockenwagners

Wednesday, July 30

Healthy is the New Skinny

The beat drops and I pound my legs forward, hovering over the seat, making perfect circles in sync with the song.  My heart is thumping aggressively against my heaving chest, but I take a deep breath and muster up my last ounce of strength to power forward to the finish line.  I am cognitive of the other bikers, the sweat dripping in my eyes, the instructor's encouraging words, and the rhythmic motion of my hips, swaying slightly back and forth as I trudge on.  And in this moment, I feel thankful.

Like most women, I have a love/hate relationship with my body.  Erring much more regularly towards hate.  Just today, I cleaned out a jar of peanut butter.. then sat in self loathing while I polished off garlic dip.  Okay, I get it.. I'm crazy.  I don't eat bread, haven't had a chip or french fry in over a year, wouldn't dream of letting fast food or soda touch my lips... and the list goes on.  But I've got vices.  A sweet tooth for one.  And a real problem with severely overeating foods I deem 'healthy'.  Nuts, seeds, fruit and vegetables... oils and 'good fats', dark chocolate, coffee, wine... you name it.  I

Thursday, July 24

Watermelon Juice



Not my most impressive recipe.  But definitely one of my favorites.  This juice is so refreshing and perfect on a summer day.

Ingredients: 
2 cups watermelon chunks, refrigerated 
1/2 a Lemon OR lime, squeezed 
A heap of Fresh Mint

Instructions: 
Blend. And enjoy :)

If you're in an August heatwave and the idea of even using the blender seems too strenuous... freeze the watermelon chunks first.   If you have mango or strawberries or any other delicious fruit - you can always throw those in, but this really is delightful by itself.


Tuesday, July 15

Chia Seed Pudding

Let's talk chia seeds. These mysterious little delights are packed with antioxidants, high in fiber and deliver a good source of magnesium, calcium and omega 3 fatty acids.  Not to mention, one serving has 4 grams of protein.  I am not a nutritionalist, but I can say with confidence that chia seeds are your diet friend if you're looking to slim down.   Throw some onto your salad, in your smoothie... OR make:

CHIA SEED PUDDING: 

1 cup almond milk 
3 tsp chia seeds 
1 tsp cinnamon 

Add ingredients to a sealed Tupperware container and shake vigorously. Refrigerate overnight (preferably for 2 nights). The chia seeds will expand in the mixture. 

**Optional add in for thickness, protein and nutrients: 1/2 scoop vega chocolate plant based protein powder. 

To get the chocolate flavor without vega protein, add unsweetened cocoa powder or use chocolate flavored almond milk. 

Sub almond milk for kefir to increase probiotic intake and make the pudding a bit thicker. 

Kielbasa Pineapple Appetizer Bites

                                            
 
Healthy they are not.  Crowd pleaser though - they are golden.  And so very cheap and easy to make.

Ingredients:
1 package of Kielbasa, cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 large can of pineapple chunks, in juice
1/4 cup brown sugar

Monday, July 7

Watermelon Feta and Mint Appetizer Bites


For being so quick, healthy, easy, delicious and inexpensive to make.. guests are always impressed with these light and refreshing bites.


Ingredients:
-1/2 large seedless watermelon cut into 1/2 by 1/2 inch cubes  
-1 block of feta, cut in 1/2 by 1/2 inch cubes
-fresh mint leaves (30)
-balsamic reduction

Directions
Using a toothpick pierce the watermelon and feta then put 1 mint lead (folded in half depending on size) on top. Drizzle with balsamic once all of the bites are arranged on the serving platter. 

If you don't have balsamic reduction you can heat 1 cup balsamic vinegar in a saucepan on high with 1/4 cup sugar (preferably brown) over high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves. Reduce heat and continue to stir until about half of the miXture is reduced. Remove from heat and let cool completely before using. 

Tuesday, June 17

New Orleans: The Eat-cation


This past week I earned a very coveted foodie badge:  
Eating (and drinking) my way through New Orleans! 

I know you are jealous.. and you should be.  My long weekend of indulging in beignets and po'boys was one for the books.  But since I'm trying to build my karma tank, I have decided to share my eating itinerary with you.... so you too can have the best eat-cation of your life.


Places you MUST visit, and what you MUST order:

COMMANDERS PALACE 
  Perfect.  There is no other word to describe it.  The atmosphere, the live music, the food, the service, the location. I could never imagine visiting New Orleans without making a trip to Commander's Palace.  I would go so far to say that I would make a special trip to Louisiana JUST to visit

Monday, June 16

20 Signs you are Closer to THIRTY than to TWENTY

20 Signs You are Closer to THIRTY than TWENTY:


1. You have a nearly obsessive nostalgia for everything ‘nineties’. 

2. You average 6 weddings a year.

3. After partying sounds fun… but your pillow sounds SO much better.  Actually your pillow sounds so much better than the regular party too.  I mean, getting ready is just such a process, and you’ve got a lot of Netflix to catch up on.

4. You’ve taken a bubble bath in the past 6 months.

5. You’re smiling just thinking about a bath with a glass of wine, candles, a good book and chocolate.  Oh, the chocolate.  Didn’t you used to hate dark chocolate?  What happened?

6. You’re becoming more Republican.  Still liberal thinking, but the government is really much too involved in cutting your paychecks in half.

STAGECOACH: What to expect



Coming off an epic weekend at Coachella, I had sworn myself to couch potatoism for at least the next month in hopes of partial mental and physical recuperation. 

A mere 2 weeks later and I felt ready to emerge, agreeing to attend an engagement party in Newport.  It would be a mellow adult night of wine and fake laughter that I was genuinely looking forward to.  As I carefully applied lipstick in the bathroom mirror, I overheard two distinct words that stopped me in my glossing: “Stagecoach” & “tickets.”

I arose from my closet with such a clatter (too early for Christmas references? Bummer.) and stormed into the bedroom to confront my boyfriend, Matt.  I caught enough of the conversation to know I was included and seconds later I had traded my skirt for cut offs and my heels for boots.  Yee-Haw!

And so a weekend equal to Coachella only in epic-ness and location began.  And this is what I learned:

Friday, May 30

New Orleans, Where to Stay









Where to stay:
In my opinion there is only one hotel option in New Orleans, and that is the Windsor Court The beautiful French elegance oozes from the walls, but not in a theatrical way.  The hotel is classy and comfortable with high tea and harpists at 3pm sharp followed by live jazz for evening drinks.  The suites are enormous and feel akin to a spacious one bedroom apartment in Paris.  An enormous opulent vanity, a separate sitting room and an expansive view of the city make this hotel one of my favorites ever, not just for New Orleans.  
        The food was impeccable, the brunch offering the only healthy options I found throughout the city, and the service on point.  I felt transcended to a French countryside chateau as I enjoyed a complimentary glass of champagne with the tart cherries, mixed nuts and truffled popcorn.      Regrettably, I did not review the restaurant for lunch or dinner, but I was pleased with the Boudin balls and chefs garden butter lettuce from the Polo Club Lounge.  I was pleasantly surprised to find

A long weekend in New Orleans

The air is thick and sticky, making it difficult to breath deeply.  The smell of vomit and sewerage is so pungent that you gag with each step.  Drunken tourists slur and stumble past you, their heavily beaded necklaces clanking together.  Some pudgy guy haggles you to enter the strip club he’s promoting by offering 2 for 1 drinks.  The music from the bars are all competing for your attention, aggravating your already pounding head. You have blisters from your flip flops and you have completely sweated through your shirt.  The sugar rush from your frozen drink has gone to your head and you are dizzy with intoxication. But you are on Bourbon Street.  And you are blissfully happy.

New Orleans is a beast.  It’s loud and boisterous, drunken and crass.  The streets are filthy and sinful and the food will put you at risk for a heart attack.  But the city is alive and vibrant.  The music, the culture, the history… it’s unparalleled by any other place I have visited in my life.   I encourage everyone to put Nah ‘Leans at the top of their travel bucketlist.  And immediately.  New Orleans will be a culture shock, but if you survive, you’ll emerge all the better.

I've got quite a lot to say about this city.  Here is my quick list itinerary of the perfect long weekend.  Below please click on the links for full reviews of hotels, restaurants and activities.

DAY 1:
Check into Windsor Court Hotel
Lunch at Mother's
Walk to Bourbon Street, get a frozen daquiri and/or hand grenade and soak in the action, stroll through surrounding streets
Go to Mardi Gras World
Dinner at G.W. Fins
Hurricanes at Pat OBriens dueling piano room

DAY 2:
Ride the street car to Commanders Palace for Brunch
See uptown, walk through the cemeteries, check out Audubon Park/Zoo

Friday, May 16

20 Life Lessons I learned from my Dog


 20 Life Lessons I Learned from my Dog

1. Be grateful for your kibbles.
2.     If you truly want something, bark until you get it.
3.     Hide a few bones for a rainy day.
4. But don't be afraid to enjoy your best bones when you get 'em.  You deserve it. 
5.     You shouldn’t prejudge anyone you meet until you’ve sniffed their butts.
6. Play with abandon.
7.   Chase the ball as fast as you can.  And don't stop running until you get it.
8.    Jump into the ocean without feeling the temperature first
9.     Be loyal to the ones you love. And protect them.
10.   Keep your fur from getting matted, but don’t obsess about it.
11. Live in the present.
12.  Trust your senses.
13. Start each morning with a good stretch.
14.  Never turn down a belly rub.
15.  Enjoy the ride.
16.     Water is the only beverage that you need.  You don't need coffee.  Or wine. 
17. Don't rush out of bed.
18.  Stop and smell the roses.
19.  If you truly love someone, show them.  With a big kiss and a good cuddle.
20. And above all, love unconditionally, with all of your heart.

Tuesday, May 6

Banana & Egg White Pancake Recipe

On my relentless quest to maintain the thigh gap, my diet generally consists of egg whites, fruit, vegetables, chicken, fish, nuts and seeds.

I had been curious to try banana and egg white pancakes for some time -- but I knew what would happen.  I would make them, then cover them in syrup.  At 28 grams of sugar per serving, even the grade A Vermont maple syrup won't be worth the guilt I'll feel.  And really, who has one serving of syrup? And is it even legal to have pancakes without butter?

Last week, these pressing questions were answered when I discovered sugar free syrup in the cabinet. It exists?!  Later, after reading the ingredients, I decided to make my own sugar free syrup that I could trust wasn't made of genetically modified poison, which I will share with you at the bottom of this post.  But for now - the Smuckers sugar free syrup is delicious!! And tastes just like the real thing!


BANANA & EGG WHITE PANCAKES!

Ingredients:

Weekend getaway to Palm Springs, CA

UPDATE: I originally posted this article on May of 2012, and while my love obsession with Palm Springs hasn't wavered, I have discovered a few new favorites for Hotel & Restaurants.  These additions are highlighted in pink. 


if you don't golf, you aren't retired and you are not an active member of the gay community, then Palm Springs might not immediately top your weekend vaca list.

However, unbeknown to 20 something year old hollywood hipsters, it really doesn't get much better than a weekend trip to the desert. Especially for a young couple. 



Viceroy Main Pool

Viceroy
HOTELS

*Best Boutique Hotel - The Viceroy.  Old hollywood glamour with modern accents make this gorgeous hotel my Palm Springs favorite.  I also love the slightly more affordable, but equally fabulous, Colony Palm Hotel.

Friday, May 2

A trip to Mariposa

Before I dive into my trip to Mariposa, let me spend a split second hitting upon one of my favorite lunch places in Los Angeles, which, coincidentally is also located in a Beverly Hills Department Store.

Greengrass Beanery on top of Barneys (what! you didn't know it existed! Meer Peasants!) has long stood as a staple on my 'top picks for a lovely lunch in Beverly Hills' list.  Boasting a gorgeous view and a simple yet elegant menu, I have never been disappointed.  Plus, their lunch is probably the only thing I can afford in the department store - so a visit helps momentarily elevate my social status.


I was expecting the same vibe at Mariposa, but was quite disappointed.  The decor is miserably boring and sterile - akin to a continental breakfast nook in a Holiday Inn hotel.  Harsh, but I absolutely hate the ambiance.  As if someone shopping at lunchtime wants to eat in a windowless dungeon when there's a staggering possibility that it is 75 degrees and sunny outside.   (Now, Nordstroms at the Grove - that's

Cartagena, Colombia

Three days in Palomino, and I was reenergized and sporting a lovely sun kissed glow.  The caribbean beaches might be the end all be all for some backpackers, but for me, too much resting makes me stir crazy.  So off to Cartagena we went.

How can I describe Cartagena in a way that exemplifies the magic of this walled city?  It has the charm of a historic town in Spain, the vibe of a caribbean island and the nightlife of ibiza all nestled within these grand walls enclosing the city.

The stone fortress walls stood proud against the crashing waves of the mediterranean, as we entered through them. I was overwhelmed with how pristine and gorgeous the city squares

Saturday, April 26

Bottega Louie, a FIVE STAR review



So you've decided to finally venture to Oz, or downtown LA (both an obscurity in your mind), to cross Bottega Louie off your foodie bucket list have you?  I can nearly guarantee you WILL be disappointed.  Wait, what?!  But Chelsea you gave it five stars!

Hear me out.

Maybe you make the journey to get a box of the coveted macarons.  Oh Em Gee! Are these the best things you have ever eaten!  The salted caramel! You can't believe it!!  But, hell are you disappointed... imagine how good ALL OF THE OTHER desserts must be!  And there are too many to try!!   Disappointed.

Oh no, that's not you.  You came with a plan.  You're here for brunch, and you are taking $100 dollars

Wednesday, April 16

A weekend in Nashville

I will revisit this post later with a more comprehensive review --- but for now here's a brief itinerary of what to do and where to stay on your weekend zip trip to NASHVILLE, TN!

Where to stay:
Opryland Gaylord Hotel -  This is the Disneyworld of Nashville, complete with gondola rides through the inside riverways, 17+ restaurants, and a quaint little village where you can do everything from get a mani to buy overpriced souvenirs.  Situated next to the Grand Ole Opry, an enormous mall and across from the Willie Nelson Museum one would assume that the location is superb, but this is the one downfall with the hotel.  It is quite a drive to the action of Broadway Street and the main heart of Nashville.  That being said, there are shuttles and ample parking.  And you really can't beat the price.  (normally under $200/night, but they are always running special promotions.

If you're keen on staying in the action, opt for the OmniNashville or Hyatt Place.  Try to get as close to Broadway as possible and avoid staying near the Vanderbilt (unless of course that is the purpose of your visit).

What to do: 
1.  You have to see a show at the Grand Ole Opry.  It is imperative.  If you're not a country fan then I'm concerned you chose the wrong weekend vacation destination.  BUT even if you don't love the

Saturday, April 5

Apple Cider Vinegar MIRACLE fixes waxy, greasy hair!

Hi!  WOW, I'm so taken aback by how well this worked, I actually made a video! Watch my first ever video blog to find out how amazing this concoction really is!   Basically, after shampooing, rinse hair with apple cider vinegar & water (optional baking soda to get rid of dry flakey scalpes.. yes dandruff), and massage the mixture into your scalp and let sit for 10 min in the shower.  Rinse it out, don't condition, and style as normal.  You will be amazed by how much body your hair has from the roots and how the ends still feel silky smooth!


Sunday, March 30

Nespresso Boutique in Beverly Hills

As a self proclaimed Beverly Hills dining aficionado, I pride myself in staying well acquainted with any new restaurant that pops up in 90210.    ...So one can only imagine my giddiness when the new Nespresso Boutique Bar opened shop on Beverly Drive.

The idea is novel to me.  The Nespresso Boutique is, in my opinion, foremost a store and second a cafe. Inside, you are greeted by a hostess standing in front of a long, pristine coffee bar displaying a few specialty croissants and pastries.  To the right, futuristic table seatings are carefully situated, leading out to a typical al fresco dinning section.  The walls are lined with large soulful photos exemplifying the wrinkle creases of the coffee drinkers they portray.  The spacious 20 foot ceilings are lined with every flavor Nespresso cup you could dream of, with tasting counters and product displays laid out along the back section of the space.

Simply put, Nespresso is an Apple store, but for espresso machines.  It feels rather revolutionary as you

Wednesday, March 26

Palomino, Colombia, Where to Stay & What to Do

If postcard worthy caribbean backdrops and frozen daiquiris is what you crave, then Palomino is an essential stop for your Colombia adventure.





We transferred our stay from The Dreamer Hostel in Santa Marta to The Dreamer Hostel in Palomino, and while Santa Marta was lovely... the hostel in Palomino offers an unparalleled paradise.


 Little 'towns' drifted by during the two hour van ride with intermittent ocean views peeking through

Monday, March 24

Honey Goat Cheese Stuffed Bacon Wrapped Dates

Simple, yet elegant.  Savory, yet sweet.  There really is no reason not to include honey and goat cheese stuffed bacon wrapped dates at your next holiday party is there?

Ingredients:
Package of bacon
Large container of pitted dates
Container of crumbled goat cheese
Honey
toothpicks

Directions: 
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Cut date in half lengthwise and remove pit.
3. Stuff dates with 2-3 crumbles of goat cheese and drizzle with honey and press the date closed.
4. Cut bacon slice in half.  Wrap the bacon tightly around the date and secure with a toothpick.
5. Bake 10-12 minutes on aluminum foil lined pan.

Santa Marta: Where to stay and What to do

SANTA MARTA

WHERE TO STAY
My research on where to stay in Santa Marta pretty much started and ended by reading that the Dreamer Hostel was rated best hostel in Colombia for 2014.

Dreamer Hostel was the perfect change of pace from the nonstop party at Casa Kiwi in Medellin.  Tucked away on a quiet road, the tranquility envelops you the moment you step through the front door and up to the thatched roof check in desk.  Hammocks are strung from every palm tree surrounding the large pool.  Backpackers lounging around, some with brightly colored frozen cocktails, reading and sunbathing.  The hostels bar, pool table and full service (delicious!) restaurant are located on the ground level, with rooms surrounding the perimeter.  Upstairs, there is a full kitchen for backpackers personal use, a tv lounge and computer station.  


Each room was a different theme around the world, with vivid wall paintings and a cheery disposition.  We bunked up in a four person shared room with an in suite bathroom for $10 USD a night, but

Wednesday, March 19

Medellin to Santa Marta, Getting There

Medellin is one of those infectious places that if you miss your flight, whether on purpose or not, you run the risk of staying forever.

And it was tempting.  Another 'hot havana night' in the salsa club and I might have fallen pray to the Medellin drug.  No, not cocaine, but something much more irresistable - the passion of the city and the people who inhabit it.  

But in the grand scheme of my travel itinerary, Medellin was just the jumping off point for a much more elaborate adventure.

So off to Santa Marta we went.  We opted for the $40 USD plane ride (over the 9 hour similarly priced bus ride) to the Caribbean Coast.  

The air was excruciatingly heavy with humidity as we waited by the luggage belt.  Backpacks in tow, we stepped into the blazing heat and flagged down taxis.  We hugged the crystal blue coastline during the majority of our hour drive before veering inland through some rather impoverished neighborhoods and arriving at the Dreamers Hostel. The locals seemed to be moving in slow motion, the heat so thick that one couldn't be bothered by hurrying. 

Correction.  No one was hurrying besides the crazed drivers in cars and mopeds zooming in out of traffic at erratic speeds.  And our taxi driver was no exception; accelerating around corners, nearly clipping motorists, I felt like I was on a ride at Disney.   I noticed the crew and cast snoozing behind me, letting the dead weight of their bodies drift with the sharp turns... and I smiled.  I never could sleep on car rides if we were venturing to some place I had never visited.  The journey, more times than not, provides a real life observation into the lives of locals and the true landscape of a country; something you just don't experience from the globalized destination cities catering to tourists.  Often I find that the rides are my favorite points of reflection.  To recount the joys of the first destination, marveling over the sense of familiarity and assimilation that occurs, and to anticipate the second destination while an unfamiliar landscape drifts by your window.

Tuesday, March 11

Medellin, Colombia - What to do

Of course go to Medellin for the nightlife, but don't drink so many Colombia Reds that you waste your days sleeping.  This city has a lot to offer and it would be a true shame to spend your day locked in your room at Casa Kiwi (no matter how great of a review I gave the hostel!). 

Great, we're in agreement.  But before you get all anxious about exploring the city, I need you to book your tour with Pablo for "The Real City Tours of Medellin".  I don't care if you 'hate tours' or how much 'cooler' you think the Pablo Escobar Tour will be ...sign up for the FREE walking tour with Pablo as soon as you possibly can.  Just do it, then leave me a comment immediately after thanking me. Actually, I'll leave you my address so you can send me a thank you edible arrangement.   I like dark chocolate.   

Again.  This is FREE, you tip at the end if you enjoyed the tour.  The tour guide, Pablo, will walk you through the city he was born and raised in, recounting the history in a lively narrative along the

Monday, March 10

Casa Kiwi - The best hostel in Medellin, Colombia

Casa Kiwi is by no means a hidden gem.  Actually, I'd go as far to say that it is unanimously considered the best hostel in Medellin, Colombia.

Of course I met plenty of other backpackers who had pleasant stays at Pit Stop or Buddah Hostel, but these hostels were their second choices.  Not because Casa Kiwi was cleaner, or cheaper, or even in a better location ...no, it's something else.  There's something about the community at Casa Kiwi that is unlike any other hostel I've visited. 

 Let me back up and explain. 

LOCATION:
Casa Kiwi is located in the El Poblado district of Medellin.  Arguably the only place fit to stay on your visit if you want to be in a safe, beautiful area that is home to the best nightlife and restaurants of the city.  The clean streets are lined with every type of restaurant you could imagine - from traditional

Thursday, March 6

Medellin, Colombia - first expectations

Medellin, Colombia as a tourist hotspot doesn't initially resonate well with the general public.  It is all too easy to associate the city with violence, drugs and fear.  And, well, those assumptions aren't necessarily unfounded. Pablo Escobar did terrorize the region, transforming a once booming cultural hub to a frightened and bloodied battlefield.  And while travel advisories have lifted, the heavy past feels unshakeable to an outside eye. 

For my first time visiting South America, I mentally promised myself to let go of preconceived notions and embark on this journey uninhibited.  Albeit my mother's warning "your kidneys will be harvested after your sold to the sex trade" was quite difficult to forget... no matter how absurd the notion was. 

I was relieved by the cleanliness and order of the airport. Yet a bit surprised to find no one spoke

Tuesday, March 4

My compatibility Test

Lets skip the lying on an online dating profile and take a foolproof compatibility test, shall we?


I don't like you if... 

You think NPR is a music group you haven't heard of.

You have ordered a fried fish sandwich from Mcdonalds or Burger King.

You've asked Siri to have sex with you.

You can't name the vice president.

...but you can rattle off 10 pornstar names with ease.

You buy video games.  Play them.  Then return them, pretending your 14 year old brother (which you don't actually have) didn't like them.

You identify as a stoner.

Backpacking South America- what to pack

Hooray!  I am about to embark on a South America vacation with only what I pack in my backpack to weigh me down.

Wait.  What. 

Prissy or not, I like 'packing security' and bring full size zebra print suitcases for three day weekends in Vegas.  This is the same girl that brought 10 bathing suits for a 7 day yacht trip through Greece.  Just in case I wanted some mid day wardrobe changes I suppose.  The same girl who brought two oversized suitcases (yes, more-than-50-pounds-pay-extra-oversized) to study abroad in Spain.. but came home with three to house the 9 pairs of shoes I couldn't-live-without and had-to-buy when there. 

So I challenged myself, to really cut corners, bring only the essentials and pack as lightly as possible to leave room for a pair or two of those can't-live-without purchases.  And I did it. 

THE BACKPACK:
Lets take a moment to chat about pack size.  I bought mine off ebay for $45.  The brand is 'Creeper'

Sunday, March 2

The Bucket List, revised.

When I first wrote out my bucket list senior year of college, my goals and dreams seemed unattainable.  Some, like pursuing acting and hosting, I knew were so far out of the realm of possibility that I was too ashamed to even write them down.  The list had things like, win a pageant, write a memoir, learn to change a tire, drive cross country, see the grand canyon.  As I stretched into myself and began crossing off some of the travel and adventure goals, I added more elaborate ones, like yacht week and running a half marathon.  And somewhere around my 25th birthday, I swallowed my fear of failure and judgement and made a profound leap of confidence, writing down 'land an acting role in tv or film' and, the very far-fetched 'host a show for Travel Channel'.   Over this past year, this goal has manifested itself, and I felt overwhelmed with disbelief when I got to cross off both goals and shoot further into the stars.  My travel channel show is still on reruns, and I realized that perhaps, what I really wanted was not to just have a show on Travel Channel, but to host a travel show - where I get to

Thursday, January 30

Acting Epiphany

I used to leave Aaron Speiser's acting class with these great epiphanies.  Maybe the classes would take me to a dark place in my mind and bring up an onslaught of suppressed emotions.  Those night, I left feeling emotionally and physically drained... but always with a better understanding of who I am and where I come from.  Other classes would leave me over analyzing everything I encountered, from interactions at the supermarket to the peculiar rhythm of brushing my teeth.  On these nights, I left so wide eyed and curious, with an insatiable thirst for experiencing every single facet of life to it's fullest capacity.  Of course, Aaron and his team covered the intention and objective of the scene, figuring out what your character needs and how they are trying to obtain it.  But for me, the classes went so much deeper.  It was as if I was receiving a therapy session while listening to a lecture on sociology and psychology all wrapped up in the fulfillment of an enlightened understanding of the craft of acting.

Acting is such a peculiar profession.  To embody an entirely different persona and live out a entirely scripted scenario based upon this fictional character's back story, habits and circumstances.  All to bring enjoyment to an anonymous audience.  Hmm

Now it has been over a year since I studied at Aaron's studio, and I was ready to try something new.  I chose Doug Warhit's classes for two reasons: proximity to my home and decent reviews.   If Aaron

Friday, January 24

Goat Cheese Stuffed Chicken wrapped in Prosciutto - Low Carb!

This recipe is quite simple, but seems rather fancy -- and, more importantly tastes delicious.  Everyone loves chicken, and there are so many possibilities for substitutions (scroll down to the bottom for some ideas!).  This is the perfect meal if you're cooking for one or a dinner party of 10!


































What you'll Need:
-4 lean boneless, skinless chicken breast
-4 thick slices of prosciutto
-One white onion, finely chopped
-olive oil
-5-6 pitted dates, chopped
-10 oz herbed goat cheese
-3 fresh garlic cloves, minced
-fresh herbs (all I had was Basil, so that's all I used)
-balsamic reduction

Step one: Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a skillet, cook onions and garlic in olive oil on medium heat until browned...

Thursday, January 23

20 Signs You Are Addicted to Pinterest


20 signs that you are addicted to Pinterest

"Life isn't measured measured by how many breaths you take, it's measured by how many Pinterest followers you have"


1. Before pinterest, crafting was for elderly women.  Who has time to sit around and crochet a scarf when you could go buy one?  But you just took up knitting. And baking.  And crafting.  And now Pier One Imports has stopped sending you their loyalty emails since it's been so long since you've stepped foot in their store. I mean, why would you when you can make it yourself?

2. You don't even have a boyfriend but you have your entire bridal shower and wedding planned out on your boards. And of course a board with your top 10 favorite engagement rings.  And another with your dresses.  And another just for the wedding flowers. Well and that other one of proposal ideas.  What? Your future boyfriends going to need help, you're just being proactive.

3. You know what your favorite fashion bloggers had for breakfast lunch and dinner, what color their nails are and can recount their full OOTD from shoe to scarf .... but you're not sure if your best friend gave birth yet or not.  Or if your sister is still hanging out at med school. What?  if they really want you to know something, they'll pin it.


4. You have an entire separate closet filled with mason jars, wine corks, buttons, newspaper, yarn, etc.

Tuesday, January 21

Sweet Potato Crunch - Healthy Casserole Idea!


It's winter, and while I do live in sunny California, I still like to indulge in comfort food as if I was snowed in somewhere on the East Coast.

The downside to the winter heat is that I can't hide my extra 'comfort food pounds' under a bulky sweater quite the way I used to in Boston.  Hell, just last week I was sipping fruity cocktails in a

Short Scene for a Workshop or Class - Romantic Drama

Here's another short scene I just wrote to perform for my acting class and perhaps a few casting director workshops.  I often find it difficult choosing a scene from the list - simply for the fact that I know at least 2 actors ahead of me and 2 after will do the same exact scene.  When I used to hold workshops as an agent, there was nothing that made me tune out more than listening to the same exact delivery 3 times in a row.  So, I wrote this quick and easy scene in my own words to give me a leg up against the monotony of overused scenes.  Again, not the best writing and definitely room for improvement, but I love how well a scenario like this resonates with 90% of us.

Feel free to use or adapt this if you too are struggling to find a unique scene that hasn't been overplayed.


HOW'S THE DOG
Ext. GROCERY STORE PARKING LOT - DAY

Paul, 27, is walking out of the supermarket, carrying a bag of groceries when he bumps into Claire, 26.

CLAIR
Wow! Hi! I can't believe.. it's good to see you!

PAUL
Wow, Claire.. hi

CLAIR
So, how are you?  What's new? How’s your mom? and brother?  And Rex, oh my God, how is Rex?

Monday, January 20

My Bio for Backpacker Nation!

Less than one month until I'm traveling through Latin America and I figured I'd publish the bio I wrote about myself for the show.. sure it's a little aggrandizing, but who doesn't build themself up once and awhile?!   ...This ones for you Uncle Charlie.  Sam said you were disappointed by my lack of blog activity lately :)

   Chelsea Gilson is synonymous with wanderlust - and lives for adventure and travel.  This acute travel bug started at a young age.  Growing up an only child in the small town of Halifax, Massachusetts she would pour through pictures of exotic places, and of course never miss an episode of "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego".  As a kid, she got the best of both worlds; a father who taught her to farm and properly hammer a nail, and a mother who groomed her for pageants and  a love of the arts.  Her parents spoiled her with trips to

Acting class mock scene - Sitcom


A scene I had to write for my new acting class.  Not my best work, but I figured I'd post it for anyone else looking for a quick, fast paced scene.

I'm taking classes with Doug Warhit and he had a valid point when it came to mastering a sitcom character: they are immature and one dimensional.  And that couldn't be more true.  There's almost always a father/daughter or mother/son dependence when it comes to spousal relationships, the characters are almost always neurotic and easily confused, and everyone consistently whines.  I find myself more of a film author with some twists and turns.  But, if sitcom is what is asked of me, sitcom is what I'll deliver. 

EXT. CENTURY CITY.  Erin and Sarah, both 28, stroll casually through the outdoor mall sipping Starbucks lattes.  They are dressed in Lulu Lemon workout gear and fit in perfectly with the quintessential Los Angeles single woman profile. 

ERIN:
...and then, after bearing through nearly two hours of these god awful stories, get this.. he actually took my credit card! And let me pay!!

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