Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mountains, Orchids and Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

Last Wednesday was Jason's birthday, and we went all out to celebrate! On Thursday we went to see John Mayer at the Staples Center (we had AWESOME seats), and then went to the Eastern Sierras for the weekend. Jason is a photographer who shoots landscapes (check out his site: and so we went on a quest for the perfect shot (or several of them). We started up towards Mammoth, first by Lake Crowley and then up to Mono Lake, still surrounded by snow. Gorgeous. While Jason shot the landscape, I shot Jason and his dog Indy on their many adventures.

On Day Two we stayed in the Bishop Area, shooting in the Buttermilks, a popular climbing area, then headed South to Lone Pine for the Alabama Hills and dinner with my parents who were staying at their trailer that weekend.

Sunday took us to Trona in the desert near San Bernadino. We had a wonderful time, and it was great to have some wonderful time as a couple, without work (I often work both days on the weekend) complicating things!

At breakfast on Sunday at the Alabama Hills restaurant in Lone Pine (best breakfast in the Eastern Sierras) I had a MAJOR gluten craving. After eating out all weekend (dangerous, since I'm limited in my food choices when I eat out), all I wanted for breakfast was a pastry. Or pancakes. Or the special: Cinnamon Roll French Toast with Bananas. It was AWFUL. Usually, I can remember what something would taste like and knowing how bad it would make me feel now, be okay with not having it. Sunday, though.... Oooh. That was rough. I wanted something flaky and bread-y and sweet. The only thing that kept me from breaking down was the certain knowledge that if I ate something gluten-licious, I would be so sick for two days I wouldn't be able to function.

Fast forward to today: I thought I was supposed to work at Redondo High School. Turns out, due to a kink in the crazy electronic sub-finder system that I am NOT working. This means... GLUTEN FREE CINNAMON ROLLS! My personal dream. :)

I made these twice at Christmas-time and they were delicious. Better than any cinnamon rolls except for those of Cinnabon. All others pale in comparison. :) So go ahead, bake away! And think of me when you bite into one of these delicious little pastries!

OH! And the orchid that my gardener grandfather (86 years old) gave me when I moved into my house is blooming. Welcome, Spring!

My Gluten-Free Cinnamon Rolls (Recipe Below):
Check out that beautiful dough! It's been rising for an hour. :)

All rolled out and ready to go into the oven!

Final Product! Maybe not perfect looking, but SO delicious!


SERVES 8 , 8 rolls



  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup skim milk, warmed
  • 1 tablespoon yeast
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla


  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened


  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


1. Dissolve the yeast in large mixing bowl with warmed milk. Let bubble for a few minutes.

2. Add sugar, butter, oil, and vanilla to milk/yeast mixture. Stir to combine.

3. Add egg and combine thoroughly.

4. Sift together salt, potato starch, cornstarch, quinoa flour, baking soda, baking powder, and xanthan gum.

5. Slowly add flour mixture to mixing bowl. Stir until well combined.

6. Remove dough from mixing bowl and place in a greased container and put in a warm place to rise for 45-60 minutes. The dough will be extremely sticky, do not worry, this is normal.

7. Preheat oven to 400°F.

8. Roll dough to 1/4" thick 13 x 13 square between 2 pieces of well floured parchment paper.

9. Remove top sheet of paper from rolled dough and spread softened butter on top of dough.

10. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over buttered dough surface. Leave a 2" strip of dough uncovered at one end of square.

11. Using bottom sheet of parchment paper has an aid, roll the dough into a log. Start at the end opposite of that which you left uncovered.

12. Carefully cut into 8 equal pieces using a serrated knife. Place rolls in a greased baking dish, leaving about half an inch between rolls to allow for expansion. Put any remaining cinnamon/sugar mixture in the bottom of the dish.

13. At this point you can either bake them or allow them to rise a bit longer.

14. Bake in oven for ~18-22 minutes until tops are golden brown and delicious. Check for doneness by running a knife between rolls in the center of the dish. Dough should not easily stick to the knife.

15. While the rolls are baking, whip together frosting ingredients until soft and creamy. Spread on top of warm rolls. Enjoy!

*I froze half of the batch after baking to use for my pastry cravings later!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

It's a Wrap :)

This morning, I woke up feeling much lighter. The musical at North High, BACK TO THE 80s, is running, and my commitment to the project is finished! It was a wonderful experience, and I have NEVER worked with a nicer group of teenagers in my life. They made me WANT to go to rehearsal. Many of them were having their first experience in a musical, and I believe that they had a really great time! For where they're at, with the limited experience of the cast as a whole, they did a FANTASTIC job on a really silly show. I will miss all of them!

That said, the last few weeks have been heinous schedule wise, and I'm excited to be getting some of those hours back to myself for a while. With ALL SHOOK UP still in rehearsals (I'm directing), and knowing how exhausted the project overlap has made me, I will not be taking on an additional project before June, at least as a director/choreographer. (I say that now...)

Hope that March has been a wonderful month for all of you!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Solo Round the World.

Just found this and wanted to share.

There's a sixteen year old girl, Abby, who left from Marina del Rey here in Los Angeles, and is currently sailing solo around the world. Here's her blog:

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Karma - it's a b*&%#! (I Hope)

So, to begin this post, I actually have to begin with a story from January, one that I debated posting on my blog at the time. Not only do I regularly sub performing arts and fine arts classes, I also sub for several Spanish teachers throughout the South Bay.

In the middle of one of our days of torrential rain in January, I was subbing for eighth grade Spanish. Because Torrance Schools are broke, and we rarely have rain in Southern California, schools are not equipped for rainy weather. When it rains, the schools go on what is called "Rainy Day Schedule" to minimize students getting drenched. What this means for teachers is that instead of a full lunch break, you get HALF of your lunch, and get stuck with students for the other half of their lunch break. So imagine... it's pouring rain, and a bunch of soaked eighth graders are forced to come BACK to your classroom for a 30 minute "advisement period". You are unprepared for this, and because they were pretty great during class (before lunch) decide to let them chat as long as they're sitting down. After all, that's what they'd normally be doing outside at this point in their lunch.

This particular class has some young women (who are really very pretty girls - at least on the outside... their insides? That's a different story) who are so obsessed with themselves that they put mirrors inside their textbooks and will try to spend their entire class period STARING at themselves. If you ask them to please look at their text and not their own faces, they act like you told them to run around the school naked. No joke.

These stellar young ladies (let's call them 1 and 2) are sitting with their buddies (there's only a few of them... no one else is "good" enough to hang out with them) at a table near the teacher's desk. I keep my ears open for general rumblings of dissent and madness, especially because unusual things seem to happen around me quite often.

1 and 2 get up from the desks they were sitting at and take the longest possible route around to the front of the classroom. Once there, I see them drop something on a young man's desk. Immediately he leaps up, backs away and starts this male version of a shriek. "Eek! Eww. Ahhh!"

It was a condom. Out of its package and stretched out. Here's the rest of the conversation:

Me: "Did you just drop a CONDOM on his desk?"
1: "It's not mine. She did it."
2: "It's not mine, either! I found it!"
Me: "Wait. You FOUND a condom, picked it up, hid it in your hand and thought it was a great idea to drop it on someone's desk?"
1: "Well, it's not mine."
Me: "I just want to be clear. You FOUND an open condom and thought, I want to pick that up. That's disgusting. It would have been better if you had brought an unopened one into class deliberately, opened it, and thrown it on his desk. Instead, you're now the girls who pick up used condoms."
1: "Well, she did it anyway. I didn't touch it."

*Obviously, you can tell which one is the Queen Bee and which one is her little minion.

So... I report it to Administration. They yank those girls out of their classes for the rest of the day. 1 and 2 immediately roll on their friends, turning them in, blaming them. Two delinquent teenagers in the principal's office becomes six, and I am the hero of every teacher on campus who hates those girls and can't do a thing about it for fear of losing their jobs. Or at least, I provide them with something to genuinely chuckle about. I also have the Vice Principal tell me that I win the award for the craziest thing happening in a classroom all year long.

Fast forward two months. I am back in this classroom for the first time since this has happened. The first thing that 1 and 2 say to me is... "Wait, are you our sub today?" (they're obviously very bright since I'm IN THEIR CLASSROOM). I say "Yes", which is all I really can say, because inside I'm thinking - If I was you, and I had been busted for being an IDIOT, I would be too embarassed to say a word. Their response: "Cool."


Fifteen minutes into class, I see 1 grab all of her belongings and head for 2's desk. The conversation:

Me: "Hey. Where do you think you're going?"
1: "She lets us sit wherever we want."
Me: "Well, regardless of what your teacher lets you do, I know how you are, and you need to get back to your own seat."
1 huffs back to her seat like a spoiled child.

-Ten minutes later.

Me: "Class is not makeup time. Put the mirror away and get to work on some Spanish."
2 mopes and pitches a mini fit, throwing things around at her desk.

Some kids just never learn. I can only hope that someday, somehow, they get theirs. After all, Karma is a bitch.

I feel guilty for hoping that.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Among other things today (so much to write about today!) I had an audition for a Midas commercial. It was the audition of hurdles, though, so I just have to share.

First, the audition came in the middle of hell week for the musical at North High School. The audition was at 2:50pm on La Brea right by Beverly at the 200 South offices. I was already committed to sub for the dance classes I love, and since the teacher has a sixth period prep, I planned to jam up to LA after fifth period. That's all fine and well, except that North High was on a special schedule today to accommodate an assembly (more to come on the assembly later) and the schedule was crazy. Fifth period ended about ten minutes later than I had planned. THEN in my sweaty, just-taught-five-hours-of-dance state, I quickly changed and threw some makeup on my face. Ran to the school office to drop off my keys and raced to my car like a bat out of hell. Drive out and realize I do not have my printouts of directions and audition info. Hope I remember it all. I get on the freeway and I have 45 minutes to make it from the South Bay up to LA (a 35 minute drive on a perfect day). Halfway there my gas light comes on. I get off on La Brea and start looking for a gas station. I pull into the only gas station that is on my side of a very busy street and insert my debit card. It says "see attendant". The attendant tells me their system is down and that I can only pay cash. I don't HAVE any cash. Super frustrated and praying that I make it to the casting office. I find it. I park. I didn't run out of gas. I run in the door, sign in with four minutes to share and am immediately called in to audition. I didn't have a second to over-think it or be nervous. That's a plus!

It went great. Thank you God! So again... we wait. Maybe this time it will be my turn. Not sure. Just hoping. I'm an eternal optimist.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


In the midst of my madness (even at my quietest, there's some kind of madness in my life), I ended up with a day without a teaching job. Instead of what I know I SHOULD be doing (choreography, staging, blocking, etc...) I decided to spend my hours off cleaning my little house and cooking. I love my little house, and it has been sadly neglected between the hours of juggling my relationship and my work. I also love to cook, or make messes, really, because I'm not all that good of a cook.

This morning, when I woke up at 9am after not having a sub call, I threw myself into cleaning my house, pausing in the middle to make GLUTEN FREE Chicken Fried Steak. Now, here's the question - Who really craves Chicken Fried Steak? Answer: Me. Not that I have always craved fried foods. There's just something about not being able to HAVE a food that makes you want it all the more. So... I made a gravy with Tapioca Flour and some Sausage (yum), then went to work on the steak, battering it with tapioca flour, cornmeal and egg instead of regular flour. And you know what?! It was crispy, fatty and delicious, and now that I know how to fry things gluten-free, I think the cravings will subside. I certainly am set on Chicken Fried steak for a while, and made enough gravy to freeze some extra. Maybe I'll put it on some toasted rice bread one of these days. Mmmm.

People often ask me how I cope with such a major diet change at the age of twenty-seven after a lifetime of eating breads. My answer is that I feel SO much better now, without those foods, that I rarely ever crave them. And the honest truth is, too, that I can make almost all of the foods I miss at home. If I'm having a craving bad enough, I'll figure out how to make it. Like the cinnamon rolls I made over the holidays - they were delicious and gooey. Amazing! So really, I'm okay. And my body is SOOOO much happier. I weigh the same and fit my clothes the same, but my body has leaned out - I look like I've lost twenty pounds. The depression I struggled with for five years is long gone, the circulation in my hands and feet is improving, the acne has improved, and I don't struggle with chronic exhaustion anymore.

Plus, I have an amazing boyfriend who is willing to try any gluten free food at least once. :)

All told, I consider today a success!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Why the Arts are important in our school system

As I was teaching today, I was reminded of why I love to give back to high school arts programs. Here's how the programs in my public school changed my life:

I was always a dancer, from the day I was old enough, I was in the studio taking classes. This continued up through high school, when I was dancing on the Advanced Dance team. During my sophomore year, for one year ONLY, the Advanced Dance team was "forced" to be in the Spring musical - that backfired, and all but three members dropped the class that semester. I was one of the three who stayed. We performed in the ensemble and created some of the choreography for the show. I distinctly remember the day I was sitting watching a run-through of ONCE UPON A MATTRESS, and thought, "I could DO that." SO... I did. Throughout the process, I was blessed to have a choral director and acting teacher who saw something special in me. They gave me SOOOOOO many opportunities in the next two years of my education, and my life changed COMPLETELY and IRREVOCABLY. I would not be the person that I am today without those two teachers, their belief in my potential and the opportunities they provided. I can't even say what I'd be doing now instead, honestly. That's how much they changed my life.

In a time of budget cuts, when high school students are organizing protests against the elimination of teaching positions and programs, the Arts are always the first to go. I guess politicians think they're not important - but they ARE. They have more power to shape the personalities, work ethic, social abilities and creative potential of a generation than any combination of the maths and sciences (which I also heartily support - don't get me wrong).

Deep cuts to the arts hurt my soul! Please support the arts in your local school!

:::stepping off my soapbox now:::

Friday, March 5, 2010

Callback Update

So I went back for my callback today, and AGAIN found myself walking down Sunset Blvd. on a Friday in Victorian dress. This time I felt a little more comfortable, and as I walked up I saw my partner from the first call! So both of us made it through the cut. :)

There were five women and four men there for the roles, and this time the creative team was in the room. They altered the original direction a little bit (no dialogue - all blocking and reactions) and then started swapping partners around on-camera.

As I sat in the waiting area between turns in the room, I suddenly realized that EVERY SINGLE PAID PERFORMING GIG I've booked since college has been a period piece. Especially late 19th - early 20th Century. Guess I have one of those old timey faces. Anyhow, as I went in and out, the director asked me to "pull it down a little bit" (i.e. - don't act) which is a tough direction when you're already an over the top personality in life. But I really made an effort to act less (which for me translates to "do nothing") and they seemed to react well.

All I know is that there's a possibility I could book this job, and regardless of what happens I feel encouraged and ready to start putting myself out there for work again. I've also decided that it's time to really pursue new representation... again... I've had two lame brain, sketchy agents back to back, and this time I'm shooting for the moon. Any whiff of something sketchy, and I'm running for the door.

So, wish me luck and send me your prayers!


Thursday, March 4, 2010


Last Friday, I had an audition for a Mercedes Commercial. I felt really good about it, and was hoping to either book the job straight away or get a callback. Well... I got a callback! It's tomorrow at 12:15pm, so send some prayers and love my way. Often when I go out on a commercial audition, I'll get a callback, but won't book it. Hopefully this time it's my turn!

Will update. :)

*And for my blog about the original audition, look back at my post from last week!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Little Reminders

Usually when I get bogged down with feeling sorry for myself, God always comes in and gives me a reminder of how good my life really is.

I've blogged a lot about my experience with BACK TO THE 80s at North High because I've been so inspired by how hungry these kids are to dance. I've been especially inspired by my group of b-boys who joined the cast. They're always positive, and although they're baffled at many times by the things I ask them to do and try, they always work until they get them. With two weeks left until showtime, they will never be "perfect", but they have grown as artists in so many ways. It's been such an honor to bring several other styles of dance to them, and to watch them test and try them out. They're hungry to learn about dance, to have opportunities to dance, and I have the means to help them on their journey. What an honor! This is what I have learned time and time again at North High, and why I love to work there so much.

Most students at North do not have the financial means to pursue the arts as a "hobby" outside of school, but many of them have always wanted to have the opportunities that my parents struggled to make available to me. I'm able to give as much of the knowledge my parents made it possible for me to have back to this group of kids who WANT to learn. I get so excited to see them be little sponges, and so sad to realize that without financial assistance, their road into the arts may end here. Money should not be allowed to define who is a good dancer or singer or actor or musician. But it DOES. Significant scholarship opportunities are few and far between, so most of these kids will soak up what little I can offer them, and then that will be it for their artistic dreams. And NOW they're talking about cutting back or eliminating arts programs in public schools because we're having a "budget crisis". WHAT?! My high school arts programs shaped a lot of who I have become, and who I continue to become. They're not IMPORTANT?! Bah humbug to you too, Mr. Scrooge!

How unfortunate!

So I feel a very pressing need to find some way to scholarship talented kids in need into some of the programs I work with. Any ideas would be welcomed. Thanks!

Quickly, back to what I originally intended to be the focus of this blog: Tonight, leaving my very long and difficult rehearsal, on the way to my other rehearsal, two of my 'b-boys' called out to me:

-"Ms. Erin! You're our idol! Really."

:) I'm not sure if I deserve that distinction, but I am thrilled to know that I have made some positive impact with my cheesy choreography and slightly nutty personality. Truly, they are my heroes.