Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last days of Christmas - more caroling moments

Christmas Eve at Knott's Berry Farm!

Here we have it - the last bit of favorite moments from our season of Caroling together:

*Three rockin' nights of Summit House and 5 Crowns back to back, people's generosity was astounding!

*Rhonda as "Bessie the ____________ Cow".

*Singing for a table of men who sing barbershop and their wives who play handbells. They were so much fun!

*The big group at the end of the night at 5 Crowns - young people who just thought we were AMAZING. They were a BLAST to sing for!

*Amy's rescue of a very sick Rhonda, and finishing the night singing for Michael, a very special man whose family brings him to 5 Crowns every year just to hear the carolers.

*My family having dinner at the 5 Crowns, and getting to sing for them.

*Anytime that Reggie and Nate ate together - you have never seen anything like their mutual appreciation for food. TOO CUTE.

Reggie as a "Snowman". He's so cool!

*Christmas Eve at Knott's Berry Farm again this year. :) We were the last quartet to go through Knott's, and were able to be a special part of many folks Christmas celebrations.

*Steph and her sister Jenny coming out to hear us at Knott's and having a BLAST!

*Singing requests for Myrna and Cassie during our last set at Knott's.

Intently jingling our bells at Knotts.

*Dec 26th at Disney. We were also the last quartet to go through Disney this Season. I felt like a celebrity! Nik, Solange and Caity; Jenny; and Debbie and Kevin all came out to see us. :) Here's a video that Jenny shot of us singing Kids Medley C!

*More hysterical laughter than you can imagine. Usually inappropriate, always funny!

*Rhonda - my beautiful, talented, hilarious soprano. She is going through some tough stuff this year, but you would never know it on set. She is the epitome of professionalism. Rhonda, it has been such a joy getting to know you this season. Rhonda = Thank you for making me laugh (and sometimes cringe) time and time again. Thank you for your professionalism and willingness to fight through tough times in your life when most others would just crumble beneath it all. I wish so many good things for you, and hope that 2011 kicks 2010's ass!

Rhonda in her special outfit.

*Nate - my tall, hungry, super-busy bass. This man is SO busy, doing his student teaching and credentialing program. You would never know it when he was with us - he was so focused and prepared. Such a solid musician and patient singer, Nate also has a mischievous spirit to him and I loved the moments when I would see a smirk on his face and think - "Gosh, what is going on in that brain of his?" Nate, you will never know how much you helped and supported me this season. You have such a kind, genuine heart and good spirit. THANK YOU for your patience and encouragement!

This is Nate from a Child's perspective.

*Reggie - my jolly, fortunate, soon to be married tenor. Reggie had an AWESOME 2010 - not only is he engaged to the woman of his dreams (you should hear and see the love in his voice and face when he speaks of her), but he landed small roles on HOUSE and Modern Family. Such a talented guy - so generous with his time, energies and laugh. Watching Reggie eat is an experience - the man ENJOYS his food - we should ALL learn to enjoy our food as much! Reggie - I could not be more excited for you and Katie. Thank you for your kind, precious spirit and jolly laugh. You are a JOY to sing with!

Reggie just as he is.

So, I wrap up Caroling 2010 with mixed feelings - relieved for the vocal rest that January will bring, sad to be separated from these new friends who became such an important part of my life in 2010!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

R.I.P. Stanley Sourdough

Poor Stanley... If you remember, my Sourdough Starter from last week was named Stanley. It's been a busy caroling season. I'm exhausted and concerned about my vocal health, my husband was sick all day yesterday, my god-daughter had her second birthday, Christmas is in less than a week. All excuses. I killed Stanley this week. I forgot to feed him for 3 days, which wouldn't be a problem if I was keeping him in the fridge. Instead, I starved him to death, and then he grew a layer of the strangest mold I've ever seen, floating right above his hooch. Poor Stanley.

Now I know something new about sourdough. Don't starve it. The results are no bueno. And don't start your sourdough during Caroling Season.

After the holidays, when life is slower and less Christmas driven, I will start again with Stanley 2. And when I get busy, I'll stick him in the fridge so he doesn't starve. :(

I'm a bad sourdough mama!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

More favorite Caroling Moments

*The happy family of Christmas-o-holics who stayed for our entire set at Disney and sang along to every song. We each thought they were friends of one of our quartet members - but they were not. They were just in the spirit of the season, and it was a joy to sing for them.

*More delirious, cannot be stopped laughter in the break room at Disney.

*Rogers the Red Nosed Reindeer - singing this on video for Rogers who is very, very sick, and praying that our voices will bring him joy as he fights for his health.

*The Rubiks Cube champion of the world sitting at one of our 5 Crowns tables.

*Gluten Free Cookies in the break room (Thank you, Dennys!)

*My husband's heroic drive to rescue me from a flat tire in the pouring rain - I made it to Summit House with 10 minutes to spare!

*The teenage boy with braces who took his date to dinner at the Summit House - too cute.

*The other teenage couple at the Summit House, who didn't know where to look and seemed embarassed that we were singing for them. As we walked away, Ben and I heard the girl say, "Wow. I really wish I could sing like that."

*Nate half dressed in his Knott's costume - tux shirt, cravat and vest with maroon boxers and wearing Charlie Brown's oversized shoes from the Christmas Tree-Lighting Show. I promised not to repost a picture here. TOO FUNNY.

I'll have one more batch of these favorite moments in a few days.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Here we come a caroling

At Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel, singing in the lobby. This was taken on someone's cell phone. Sorry for the bad quality!
L to R: Nate, Rhonda, me, Reggie

Caroling season is in full swing and I'm loving it. I have another wonderful quartet this season, full of great people whose company I truly enjoy. We are SO busy singing this season, and are currently on the freight train to Christmas. Since I had a lunchtime gig instead of an evening one today, I'm happily at home procrastinating on cleaning, waiting to have dinner with Jason and my wonderful mother-in-law, Catherine. In the meantime, while I continue to procrastinate, here are some of the highlights of this year's caroling season so far!

*Singing "I'll Be Home for Christmas" for a table at the 5 Crowns and hearing this comment afterward: "The man who wrote that was a good friend of mine. He's no longer with us, but his song lives on."

*Singing during dinner at the Wellington Center for some active and not-so-active seniors - seeing the joy and memories in their eyes, and listening to their stories.

*Moo-ing with my soprano Rhonda in the breakroom at 5 Crowns. You had to be there.

*Simple Green luncheon - we each walked away with a big bucket of free cleaning supplies from Simple Green. Woo-hoo!

With Ben (who was subbing for Reggie) with one of our buckets of Simple Green products.
The picture does not do the amount of free products justice!

*Delirious, can't-be-stopped laughter with my quartet while on break at Disney.

*The kid at Knott's who I have decided will end up in prison someday - he grabbed Nate's bell and looked under my skirt. Good parenting.

*Fifteen little kids in their jammies, having a dance party while we sang "Jingle Bell Rock", "Rudolph" and "I Want a Hippo... for Christmas" in the lobby of the Paradise Pier Hotel.

*Being told that I look just like Jane Seymour, and the woman's surprise that I'd never heard that before.

*The little blonde girl and her sweet mother, dancing around in the lobby of the Disneyland Hotel like we were the best thing she's ever heard.

I'm sure there are so many more. I may add to this list as I think of them. These are the reasons I love to sing at Christmas time. 9 more days of singing until Christmas time!

As the Knott's Calico Carolers. L to R: Reggie, me, Rhonda, Nate

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


I assume if you read this blog that you already know that I am gluten free. And although this is not a blog ABOUT cooking gluten free, it does sneak in every few posts simply because it is how I live.

I follow many gluten free blogs, though, and through one of them recently found this post describing how to make gluten free sourdough, from starter to bread. Needless to say, I was very excited and immediately went out to find all of the flours I did not have and a big glass jar.

I could not find all of the flours, even at Sprouts and Whole Foods, and so had to wait for them to ship directly from Bob's Red Mill. But they sent them!

Day one with my sourdough starter. Not very exciting.

Once the flours arrived, I began my experiment with my starter in its glass jar. After one week, I became impatient and decided my starter was ready. It was not. The bread, although it tasted like sourdough, did not rise and was a failure. Instead of giving up, I went back to feeding my starter.

Another week passed. At a gig on Friday, I freaked out and realized that I had forgotten to feed the sourdough starter for two days. Frantically, I texted my husband. Reggie, my tenor in my quartet, joked that if you have to feed something everyday that it should have a name. So he named it Stanley Sourdough. Finally, my starter was behaving exactly like it should every day. I would feed it and stir it. It would bubble up and consume the flour/water mixture and within 24 hours settle into two parts: wild yeasts and starter on the bottom, hooch on the top. Stanley was finally ready.

The finished sourdough boule. I was so excited to bake it, I forgot to cut slices in the top! Oh well!

So yesterday, I made another loaf. I let it rise. It didn't rise as quickly as I wanted it to, but rise it did. This morning, I baked it in my Le Creuset dutch oven. It is perfect. Delicious, and sliced warm with butter melting on top of it, it is the sourdough of my dreams.

And Stanley? He was moved out of his jar so I could clean it, and he is happily re-fed, making hooch in his jar. :)

Stanley in his jar this morning, pre-feeding. See the two layers? Yeast and starter below, hooch above.

Thank you to the gluten free doctor for steering me in the right direction and for helping a bread lover turned gluten free girl gorge herself on hot homemade sourdough. Want the recipe? Check out the link at the top - I cannot take any credit for it at all.

The best part? Before I went GF, I would have never considered growing a sourdough starter in my kitchen. Perhaps Stanley will become a family heirloom!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

O Christmas Tree (and Cookies!)

We finally decorated it!

The Speer household had a special Thursday night this week. Thursday is our usual dinner night with Jason's mom, Catherine, who lives in Orlando, Florida and works in LA from Monday through Thursday every week. Since her work is keeping her in California half of the time, it's been a very special opportunity for me to get to know my mother-in-law who I would otherwise rarely see!

This Thursday, we had a Christmas tree and cookie decorating night, complete with assistance from Catherine, my sister Kelli, and my dear friend Steph.

Kelli cutting cookies (yes, they're gluten free, and I made the dough from scratch).

Indy thought having all of these women in the house was AMAZING. Lots of attention for the puppy.

Here's what happened when I suggested a family photo in front of our first Christmas tree:

I latch onto Jason's leg and try to keep him from escaping. (Excuse the mess in the background)

Jason gets tired of me hanging on his leg and scoops me up. He's a strong one. :)

Our final family photo - unconventional and perfectly us.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why I am Gluten Free

I've heard of many people lately who call living gluten-free a "fad". While it does seem that there are an enormous number of people discovering the gluten-free lifestyle every day, I don't believe that they're doing it to lose weight or jump on the bandwagon. I truly believe that most people go through their lives feeling terrible - they have chronic headaches, indigestion, acne, depression, fatigue and any number of auto-immune disorders. Once you realize that feeling terrible shouldn't be your norm, you start to look for ways to change the way you feel.

I was one of those people - I was the healthiest sick person you had ever met. I got TONS of exercise every week, I slept 8 to 9 hours every night, drank a ton of water, and ate all the things that were good for me - including whole wheat products. I was a wheat and carbohydrate JUNKIE. And still, over the course of eleven years I had progressively violent physical problems: migraines, lactose intolerance, cystic acne, chronic fatigue, severe depression and then finally, a circulatory auto-immune disorder called Raynaud's Syndrome. My mom had read some research pointing to Gluten-Intolerance and Celiac as the reason for all of my health problems. For a year and a half I ignored her - who wants to give up Pastries and Pizza? One day I was finally sick enough that I read as much research on gluten intolerance as I could get my hands on. Everything I read came right back to Celiac Disease and my symptoms. I decided to give it a try, starting immediately - there would be no "final piece of pizza" or "last croissant". If the research was correct, then those were the very things that had gotten me to that point.

I went off of gluten cold-turkey that very day. Those first days were HARD. Really hard. I was re-learning how to eat. 48 hours later, I woke up before my alarm feeling refreshed - the exhaustion was gone, my brain felt clear and the depression that I struggled so hard to mask was nowhere to be found. I hadn't felt that good in longer than I could remember. I felt like I could take on the world! Since that day in August, 2009, I am proud to say that I have not willingly consumed gluten. There have been a few accidents along the way, and as time has progressed my reactions have become more and more violent. Now, if I get even a little bit of gluten my digestive system goes into meltdown for two days (I am glued to the toilet during that time), I get a migraine for 24 hours that medications can't touch, and scariest of all - I lose the eyesight in my left eye for a few hours. I call it getting "glutened", and it is my own personal version of hell!

To think that I used to regularly consume foods that my body hated THAT much - and I had become immune to any reaction. My body was screaming for my attention - and I ignored it for more than ten years!

I have a lot of healing still to do. Here's how my body has changed in the last sixteen months:
*I no longer struggle with cystic acne - it's gone.
*My lactose intolerance is gone. I can have dairy again!
*I wake up in the morning with energy for the day. No more chronic fatigue.
*I rarely get migraines - the only exceptions are the times I get accidentally "glutened"
*The depression is gone. I still have high highs and low lows, but I am not in a constant depressive state, always pretending to be "okay".
*My circulation is improving. It's a slow battle - I still have Raynaud's Syndrome, and while I have hopes that I will one day be Raynaud's free, I have come to accept that this damage may be permanent - a sort of cross that I will carry for the rest of my life.
*Then, as a bonus, those 15 pounds that I could never get rid of have totally melted off. I went from a size 8 to a size 4 and 6, and I didn't have to diet. I probably eat MORE calories now than I ever did before!

I have been blessed to be surrounded by loving friends and family who are supportive and understanding of my Gluten-Free (GF) Lifestyle. Their support enables me to get through the challenges of eating at others homes' and in restaurants. One expert says that when you shake a Celiac's family tree, other Celiacs start to fall out. That has certainly happened - my mother and my sister are both gluten free. We think my Aunt is definitely Celiac. Plus, in keeping a GF kitchen and home, we've discovered that my husband also has a gluten sensitivity (although he still chooses to eat gluten with friends or on vacation).

So... is Gluten Free a fad? Not for me. I can happily live without Gluten for the rest of my life. And when I see a particularly delectable pastry? I don't even feel tempted. I remember how good it used to taste, and I know exactly what a nibble of that pastry would do to my body today. It's okay to say "no".

And you know what? I'm okay. In fact, I'm better than before.

The next time someone tells you that they are gluten free, don't roll your eyes and shove a cookie in your face in front of them. Be supportive, ask how you can help, and know that this person is making a change in their life for the better.

End of November Wrap Up!

PHEW! I can't believe how long it has been since I've written on here! My apologies to those of you who actually read this!

Here are some highlights of the second half of November:

*Thanksgiving this year was so special - my favorite Thanksgiving (at least that I remember). Spending the day cooking with Jason, Mom, Kelli, Dad, Jeff, Indy, Sierra and Maddie (the last three are dogs). Visit from Nik, Solange and the Caity Monkey. Auntie Ann, Uncle Joe, Kevin, Jill, Cousin Kelli (not my sister) and the surprise arrival of Grandma Joan and Papa Phil! (My grandmother is on hospice and hasn't left her house for anything but a doctor's appointment since June) Then, a smoked turkey (courtesy of my grill master husband - it was beautiful and delicious) and an entire gluten free Thanksgiving dinner, and no one seemed to know the difference. It was a beautiful day, and another reminder of all the things i have to be thankful for!

My sister Kelli with Grandma Joan!

*The advent of Caroling Season! YES - this is my favorite time of year. I love Christmas Caroling - being able to sing and bring so much joy to so many people, and then for it to be my JOB! I wish I could Carol all year long! I'm blessed with another wonderful quartet this season, wonderful people whose company I truly enjoy. We've just begun, and have MANY days of singing to go still!!!!!!

Our first day at Knott's this season. Thanks Jen, for the photos!

*Adventures with Jason. We've committed to getting out of town once a month - even if it's just for a day and we can only afford one tank of gas. Fortunately this month we were able to afford a night's stay in a dog friendly motel and several tanks of gas. We left early on Saturday morning and headed up to Bishop and Mammoth so Jason could shoot some photos and try out his new snow shoes. We drove straight into a blizzard in Mammoth, and had a great time in the snow. We were able to get back to Bishop for the night to stay at our little motel (cheap, basic, clean and allows dogs), and woke up on Sunday to cold temperatures, bright sun and the Sierra Nevada Mountains covered in fresh snow. Perfect for a landscape photographer with snow shoes. The best part, though, was spending quality time with my husband before craziness of caroling season.

The Sierra Nevadas after the snow.

Jason and Indy go snow shoe-ing before the snow really starts to come down.

*Picking out our first Christmas tree together. We had to do it early because of my holiday schedule, and hope we're able to keep it from drying out too much before Christmas. We'll decorate it later in the week, but for now at least we HAVE it!

Our un-decorated Christmas tree with a cheesy tree skirt and a PRESENT underneath it!

I hope you had a wonderful November full of things to be thankful for! Hello, December!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Month Number One

We're finally ready to start sharing our wedding photos. Here's one of my absolute favorites!

Last Tuesday marked one month of marriage. Neither Jason or I realized it until the next day - we're both terrible at anniversaries I think. I worked ALL DAY - literally - I left the house at 7:30am and returned at 10pm to find Jason asleep in bed. So did we celebrate? No. Did we find some time for us this past weekend? Yes.

A quick recap on our first month of marriage:

-Finances suck. Money is tight right now, and my car broke down two weeks ago. So... with the benefits of a lower interest rate and dealers trying to unload new cars, we are now the owners of our first big joint purchase - a 2010 Jeep Patriot. Charcoal Gray. The payments are manageable, but still.... It's amazing to drive something that I'm not concerned will break down on me on the freeway (which I drive ALL THE TIME), and that has heating and air conditioning that actually WORK. But what couple really hopes to buy a new car in the first month of their marriage?

-Having opposing schedules is hard. It's almost caroling season, but we're in full-blown rehearsals right now. Caroling Season means three things: Happy Erin because she gets to do what she loves and make good money at it, happy bank accounts in December and January, and less time together because I work a lot of nights and weekends (with rehearsals now and with gigs starting at Thanksgiving). I find myself becoming more selfish with my Jason time.

-Our first hiking day. We've committed to getting out of town to hike and so Jason can shoot some photos at least one day each month. So, one rainy Sunday in October found us up in Sequoia, bundled up with Indy in the car. The weather was so stinky we weren't able to really hike, but it was beautiful and SOOOO relaxing to just drop everything for the day and get out of Dodge. We have another day planned in two weeks - where will we go? I don't know!

-Starting to talk about our serious plans for the future. What do we really want to DO - Or really... what do I really want to do that will make me happy. Because the truth is, I HATE my day job. I don't want to teach anymore. So what DO I want do? And how can we make that happen financially?

-Thank you notes. I'll be honest. I've avoided starting them. I was really good about sending out all my thank you's for the pre-wedding festivities before the wedding. But the gift list is daunting, and I'm being selfish with my time. I really need to get going on those. How does Jason fit into this? He may not know it yet, but he's helping. :)

-Food. We've really made an effort to cook more on the weekends. This is my FAVORITE part of our downtime. It really is a joint effort, and together we've been cooking up a storm. This weekend we made gluten free pasta with homemade pesto - delicious -, beef stew a la Julia Child (modified to be GF), and I tried out a crustless, gluten-free pumpkin pie recipe from Gluten Free Goddess that was DELICIOUS. Seriously. Some of the best pumpkin pie I have EVER had. Jason loved it too - and he will not eat bad gluten free baked goods. :) Want the recipe? (and seriously, you should try it) I've reposted it below.

So that's our first month! Phew!

Crustless, Gluten-Free, Dairy Free Pumpkin Pie
(Adapted from Gluten-Free Goddess)

I made this pie in a food processor. It helps to thoroughly process the ingredients. If you don't have a food processor, a macho stand mixer will work.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch glass pie plate.

In a food processor bowl add:

1 14.5-oz can pumpkin

1 1/2 cups plain coconut milk

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 tablespoons light olive oil

3 Eggs

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup Gluten Free Pancake Mix

2 tablespoons tapioca starch/flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon or pie spice

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

Cover and process until smooth and creamy. Stop and scrape the sides of the bowl, if necessary to incorporate all of the dry ingredients. Pour into the prepared pie plate and smooth evenly. Bake in the center of a preheated oven for about an hour until done. The pie should be firm- but still give a little when lightly touched. The center should not be wet. It will fall a bit as it cools.

Cool the pie on a wire rack completely. Cover and chill in the refrigerator until serving.

Makes 8 slices.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Luna de Miel (Honeymoon)

Diving in Cabo Pulmo.

Jason and I honeymooned in beautiful Los Cabos, Mexico. "Los Cabos" references Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo (hence, two Cabos) and all of the beach areas in between. For those of you non-Spanish speakers, "cabo" means "Cape" in Spanish, which is fitting since Cabo is the Cape of Baja California. :) Also, continuing with our Spanish lesson, I learned that there's no perfect translation for honeymoon, so they say "luna de miel" (literally honey and moon - honey as in the sticky bee product!).

We chose Cabo because of the beautiful venue, the short flight from LA (two hours!) and the fact that we could have a tropical style honeymoon without the threat of a tropical storm! Plus, it was a great excuse for me to practice my Spanish.

Hanging out at Tabasco's beach club in Cabo San Lucas.

We stayed at the Hilton Los Cabos, located on the Coast in between the two cities. The hotel was stunning, the service was impeccable, and our room was perfect! Then, there's all of the activity that Baja has to offer. We figured out what days the Cruise Ships came into Cabo and dumped their passengers, and avoided town on those days (prices go up considerably). Rented a car, headed up to Todos Santos on the Pacific Coast - an artist community that houses the Hotel California (YES that one). We shopped, had lunch at the Hotel California, visited the local surf sites (so much empty beach as far as the eye could see) and headed back to Cabo. An awesome day!

On the beach in Todos Santos.

The following two days, we kept our rental car and drove up the coast on the Sea of Cortez to Cabo Pulmo for our PADI Scuba Diver Certifications. Cabo Pulmo is the location of Mexico's only living Reef, and is a protected area and Dive Park. Our visit to Cabo Pulmo was certainly the highlight of our trip, and we're already making plans to return to Cabo Pulmo and dive someday.

Other than our adventures, we spent an enormous amount of time relaxing, eating and just enjoying our honeymoon. It was marvelous, and we could not have asked for a better way to celebrate and begin our new marriage!

The harbor in Cabo San Lucas.

The infinity edge pool at the Hilton Los Cabos.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Wedding Wrap Up

Hi friends - it's been two weeks, but I'm back!

In the wrap up of our wedding and honeymoon, I've also celebrated by 28th birthday - and a birthday is certainly anti-climactic following two weeks on the heels of your wedding!

Our wedding was perfect (and perfect in its imperfections - as they all are!). I woke up to rain on the morning of our big day, and decided not to freak out about it - that I would believe the superstition that it's good luck to have rain on your day! The rain cleared to blue skies and heat, and by the time of our outdoor ceremony - 5pm - Marina del Rey was covered with a Marine layer (or kind of fog for those of you who do not live near the beach in LA). So my decision to abdicate stress about the weather was a good one given all of the changes.

I was a remarkably low stress bride on the day of - whatever happened would happen, and I was just blessed to be marrying Jason - I knew they couldn't start the wedding until I was ready, and everything other than the ceremony was icing on the cake, because our ceremony was what is was really about.

It got a little chilly, we started the ceremony late, my almost 2-year-old god-daughter/flower girl threw her basket and ran down the aisle, delighting all of our guests and embarassing her mother Solange. My sister/maid of honor tripped on her way down the aisle and laughed it off all the way up to the front. The groom, groomsmen, father of the bride and father of the groom all wore flourescent pink socks to match their boutennieres, and the expected number of people (7) were no-shows.

It was all okay. It was all exactly the way it should have been.

Gary performed a beautiful ceremony. My Aunt Patty (professional flutist) and cousin Elizabeth (soon to be professional harpist) provided the music for our ceremony. Stunning. Everything was so heartfelt and personal, so very us. Including the imperfections.

I married my love - and I have never been happier.

When asked, "do you feel any different?" we both say no. Jason and I are the same people we were before, our relationship is the same, but we have made a lifetime commitment to each other, we both have a new ring on our left hand, and life is more beautiful than it was before.

Right now our home looks like our suitcases and wedding gifts exploded in it. It's okay. It's perfect. I'll work on it this week. But for today - this beautiful, rainy Sunday in Redondo Beach- Jason and I ignored the mess and just relaxed, making stew a la Julia Child (oooh... delicious) and just being married. Just being us.

There will be many photo posts of our wedding and honeymoon in the next few weeks, but for now, I have these few shots for you (and they're all in reverse order) - all from my Uncle Mike's camera, and not yet from our photographer.

Love to you all!

The new Mr. and Mrs. Jason Speer!

My dad reads a passage from Scripture.

My new father-in-law, Bob, reads a passage from Scripture.

About to become Man and Wife. :)

Mom, Dad and I on the way down the aisle - I was caught mid-expression and am not sure what the look on my face is...

My beautiful bridesmaids, al in their individual dresses, waiting for me to come down the aisle. Sadly, Jen is cut out of this photo!
From L to R: Jen's shoulder, Nancy, Karenanna, Akiko, Steph, Solange, Kelli

Caitlin throws her basket and runs down the aisle, making everyone smile and laugh. Her poor Mother,
Solange, is in the back, stooping down to pick up the basket before she walks down the aisle.

The Men, Groomsmen and Pastor wait for the procession.
From L to R: Pastor Gary, Jason, Chad, Rob, Daniel, Jeff, John

Friday, October 1, 2010


I have no idea when or where this was taken, but I love it and wish we were more in focus!

Tomorrow is my wedding day, and I've come to my last post about my Bridesmaids. Now, Jen comes last in the list not because she is the least in any way, but because she was the last to come into my life!

When I moved back to the South Bay after college and working at a couple of theatre gigs, I came back to direct and choreograph a monster musical - SEUSSICAL - for Starlight. Jen was my stage manager on that show (through TWO productions of it), and not only did she save my bacon time and time again and keep me totally (or mostly!) sane, but she became my dear, dear friend.

That SEUSSICAL wrap party - July, 2007. L to R: Me, Nancy Gomez (in the front), Debbie Zaldivar (now Debbie Bowler), Nicole Anton (now Nicole Folger) and Jen.

At an age where most of my friends were already married or no longer in the area, I desperately needed a fun friend - someone I could go out with on a Friday or Saturday night and have a BLAST. A friend that wasn't just a "going out" friend, but someone who was in the same place as I was - dating in LA and trying to figure out all of the pieces of my life!

We've worked on so many shows and projects together since SEUSSICAL, and each one has been a blast because she was part of it. Jen has stood by me through some crazy times, and I've listened and been staunchly on her side through her own tough times.

Jen is sassy, sexy, hilarious, tells it like it is, is confident in her own skin and completely has my back. I have her back, too, but I don't know that I'd be any good in a fight!!!!! I'd try though, for her!

At Debbie's wedding, November 2009.

I have so many fun memories with Jen from the last few years, but two memories come to mind right away.

The first is from our Seussical wrap party - drinking margaritas, dancing and flirting with the camera - we absolutely had a blast!!!!!! The second is so recent - from my Bachelorette weekend, of spending hours at the Spa, just the two of us, talking a million miles an hour and realizing how far we've both come in the last few years! From dating crazy, bad-for-us men to finding the good ones - the men who stand by you and think you're gorgeous when you look (and smell!) like a dirtball.

Jen and I last year - November, 2009 I think - with Jason in the background!

Jen, I love you so much, my friend! THANK YOU for being a part of this adventure, and for welcoming me into your life at a time when I so badly needed a friend! I am so excited for you as you and Chris begin your journey together, building your first home together - and am thrilled to be sharing this special time with you! Here's to many more years of laughter, margaritas and Spa Days!!!!!!!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


On an island of the Coast of France, collecting Sea Glass -
one of the best days of my life so far! 2007.

We're almost to the wedding, and Karenanna is the next of my bridesmaids to hit the spotlight!

I transferred to the University of Michigan in Fall of 2003, and was placed in the Sophomore Class. At this time I technically should have been a Senior, and was a couple of years older than the rest of the students in my "BFA in Theatre Performance" Class. The class sizes are small at Michigan, one of the reasons I chose to go there, so you take every class with the people in your year all the way through your degree program. While everyone was very polite to me when I transferred, it's very difficult to stroll into an innately competitive environment where everyone else has had a full year to bond and find their "place". Being the one to upset the apple cart is difficult, no matter how nice everyone is!

Karenanna was the first real friend I had in my acting program - she sincerely approached me that first day, and I instantly fell in love with her sparkling personality and her red, red hair that is just like mine. Like me, she was also older than the students in our class - only 2 months younger than me - and when she turned 21 that December, we started going out for drinks occasionally just to download on everything that was going on.

Karenanna and I after our Graduation from the University of Michigan, 2006.

Karenanna was one of my biggest support posts during my three years at Michigan, one of those people who would sit and listen, cry with me, laugh with me, and celebrate with me too. I like to think that I supported and encouraged her just as much, but I also think that she was in a more stable place during that time. I think about Karenanna during that time of my life, and I think of a rock - never budging, staying solid in the storm. I don't think I ever told her just how much she rescued me during that time, knowing that she would stop and listen when I felt that life was spinning out of control or that I was drowning in my depression.

Since graduation, I have seen Karenanna once a year. First, my visit to Karenanna in Cognac, France in 2007. In 2008 we met in Barcelona for a magical week of art, adventures and Sangria. In 2009, in Vermont as I attended my leader training for World Learning. And for 2010 - well, that visit is days away! Every time I see her, it's like the years fall away - and we laugh, eat, cry, get real, and laugh some more...

K-nans and I on the harbor in Barcelona, 2008.

I have three favorite memories of Karenanna - the first one is from an Island off the coast of France - of eating chocolate crepes in an outdoor cafe then strolling and hunting for sea glass on the beach while we talked forever. The next is from our visit to a mountain top monastery just outside of Barcelona - of the cold, the mist, and the majesty. Of attending their mid-day prayer service and being surrounded by every language under the sun as we found ourselves in a Catholic Pilgrimage Site. Of the amazing conversation that came out of that visit. Then the most recent - a delicious outdoor dinner on the river in Vermont - amazing burgers, and some serious downloading time after a crazy, crazy week for both of us.

I love you, K-nans! I am so excited and honored that you are flying across the country and taking a few days from Grad School to be a part of this special day! I cannot WAIT to see you at the rehearsal on Friday and squeeze you to death!!!!!!!!!

Karenanna and I in Vermont during training for the
Experiment in International Living, 2009.