Monday, December 31, 2012

The Next Year

As I sit here writing this, It's almost midnight. Midnight on New Years Eve. Jason is asleep next to me, and tired as I am sleep eludes me. We have to get up early to go to the Outback Bowl tomorrow so we didnt make plans. But it's so close to the new year I might as well stay awake to see it arrive.

I'm not a New Years Resolution maker. I'm more of a birthday change kind of person. I set my goals, my resolutions, on my birthday instead of on the date the calendar turns a year older.

But still, there's something special about the freshness and hope of a new year. A year when the possibilities are endless - 365 days of wonder laid out before us. We start with the best intentions - changing our diets, exercise and sleep patterns. Reconnecting with old friends, making coffee dates with new ones. Doing that one thing we have always wanted to try. And somewhere in there, the newness fades, as does our resolve. What changes? Is it life wearing us down? Obligations? Stress? Do we have so much on our plates that a year can pass without us noticing? Suddenly we're a year older and we still haven't done or seen or experienced what we wanted to. Life is a burden instead of a joy. So we resolve again next year - I will do it this time. And another year passes. Again.

Life can be an extraordinary if you let it.

So this year, resolve to make time for a few items on your bucket list. Life is precious. Time is fleeting. Go do it NOW, before you can't. Commit to giving time to yourself instead of to one more obligation/committee/charity.

And make 2013 the best one yet.

God Bless You. Happy New Year my friends.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Goodbye Sucks

I snuck into LA for a few short days to visit my family before Christmas. When I say I snuck in, I really mean it. There were only a handful of people who knew I was coming. Why? Because I needed to spend the time with my family, with my best friend, with my precious godbabies. I wasn't trying to hurt any feelings or blow anyone off, I was trying to make the most of the precious time I have.

I leave in the morning after only five days. Five days I am so grateful for, but wish they were longer.

Jason wasn't able to come on this visit with me - it was just me - giving me the opportunity to spend quality time and celebrate Christmas.

This will be my first Christmas away from my family. The last two years, Jason has made the sacrifice so I could be at home for the holiday. It's high time we celebrated with his family, especially since everyone will be in town this year. And they are so kind and gracious, offering to modify and include my traditions so the day won't be so sad for me. So I will feel included. I am so grateful and thankful that they love me so much they're concerned for me on Christmas. And that they understand just how difficult that day will be for me.

Whenever I hear "I'll be home for Christmas", I've been either crying or turning the radio off this year. I don't need any extra reminders that I will only be home for Christmas in my dreams. I'm sobbing right now, just thinking about it.

But I got to have a special Christmas breakfast with my family on this visit, which is the event that feels most like Christmas to me.

I got to hold my new godson for hours, smelling that scent that only babies have. I got to dance ballet with my god-daughter. I got to tell stories with my grandfather. I got to shop with my best friend, and run errands with my sister, and take my parents to the movies, and walk on the beach with Steph, and drink mimosas with Jen and Marissa. I am a lucky, lucky girl.

It has been such a great visit.

Still tomorrow, when it's time to say goodbye, it will hurt so badly.

Goodbye always sucks, no matter how many times you have said it.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

How to Dress for an Audition

Okay, folks. We need to have a conversation about what is appropriate at an audition and what isn't. I've been pounding the pavement quite a bit lately, and have been totally appalled by what some people consider audition appropriate attire. Maybe it's because I grew up in LA, and have been auditioning and working there for most of my adult life. Maybe I was just blessed to have an instructor beat it into my head somewhere along the road.

But the truth of it is, some people are just a hot mess. And I'm not even sure they know it.

The number one thing to consider when auditioning for a paid gig? It is essentially a job interview, and you would not (I hope) show up to an interview at a prospective employer looking like a schmuck, or like you just rolled out of bed.

You are showing the company and the casting director respect by showing up looking appropriate.

So first things first - no matter WHAT you are auditioning for, please do everyone the courtesy of doing your hair. Brush it, style it, but please make an effort. I understand wild hair - mine can be pretty crazy, especially in Florida - but I always either put it in big, sexy curls or straighten it. Unless it's behaving and I can put some product in it and show off my own natural curls. But I will not show up to an audition with a hot mess of hair, and you shouldn't either.

Second - Makeup and Grooming. Ladies, I'll get to you in a second. Men, make sure that your facial hair is well groomed. If you're rocking a beard, stash or wild brows, make sure that they are tamed and look presentable. And remember who you're auditioning for. Disney? No facial hair (except your eyebrows, of course). Ladies - we are putting our best and most attractive selves forward. I understand - there are days when I look in the mirror and think - "Who the heck is this person staring back at me? She is hopeless!". Still, foundation, eyes, cheeks, lips and a great lash curler can work miracles. If you don't know how to do this, enlist the help of a professional - ask them to teach you an easy routine to get you looking your best. We can all use a little extra help. Now if you're a model, the rules on makeup are different, so ignore what I just said. Besides, you're probably gorgeous all the time, sans makeup. Lucky you!

Wardrobe. For theatre, unless you are auditioning for something super edgy, a la Rock of Ages (where you can wear something "cooler"), a couple of nice outfits will do. Men - you can't go wrong with slacks and a button down. Ladies, you can't go wrong with a lovely dress that flatters your body and coloring and shows off your legs that look amazing in those heels. Now ladies, I understand some of us might be bashful about our legs - cellulite, varicose veins, etc... Try a pair of nice slacks with a heel. But have you really looked at some of the knee length dresses that are out there? They make some exceptionally flattering styles for all body types.

Your audition wardrobe should be a small investment, and purchased with the specific intention of wearing it to book jobs. Refresh it every now and again - you do not want to look dated. Seriously. Remember that they often don't remember your face - they remember the girl in the green dress. The girl with those killer shoes. The guy in the purple button down. It is all about impressions, folks. 100%.

For commercials, film and tv - dress appropriately to the role. College student? Jeans and a great top. Bride? Well the casting director will probably tell you if they want you to show up in a bridal gown, but otherwise a nice dress and heels should do the trick. Most Commercial/TV/Film casting directors are pretty specific about wardrobe, so when your agent sends you the breakdown, check to see if they've included any specific notes about wardrobe. If they haven't, dress as appropriately to the character as you can. And always, always dress nicely - be put together and appealing. You want to make them WANT to work with you. Only once was I ever asked to show up to an audition looking like a total slob. Once. And it felt awful.

Dance auditions. This is a whole different category, but the same general rules apply. Do your hair. Do your makeup. And please, please, please, don't show up in your rattiest gym clothes. One nice set of dance clothes or work out clothes that flatter your body and make it look it's absolute best will help.

Callbacks. Always, ALWAYS wear the same thing for your callback that you wore for your original audition. There was something about YOU that they loved that day, that caught their attention, so it's best to show up looking exactly the same unless they specifically ask you for something different. If your second call is a dance call, try to keep the hair and makeup the same and wear something in the same color if you can. Remember what I said about "The girl in the green dress"? They may not know it's you if you don't wear the same thing again. Seriously.

And besides - when you look your best, you feel confident, and we all could use a little more confidence walking into that audition room, right?

Happy Auditioning!

Did I miss something here? Do you have any tips to add to this list? Please let me know in the comments section below!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fox 35!

This morning I had my Orlando debut on the local Fox 35 news with the cast of COMPANY. It was a total blast - seven of the fourteen cast members were able to make it, and we had a great experience. Plus we were able to widely promote the show which opens tonight!

Only bummer is that I look HUGE in my costume in the photos. Well, you can't win em all, right? It's great to kick off my first production in Orlando with a TV appearance. That's pretty awesome!

Here are some photos from this morning!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gym Rat

You may remember from a post a few months back that I was working with the ranch trainer, Caleb, 2-3 times per week in addition to my regular weekly Yoga and Zumba. I made huge fitness strides during that time and saw big changes in my cardiovascular health and the appearance of my midsection.

I am proud to say that the hard work has continued. I desperately miss my Cody yoga ladies, but have managed to find some yoga and Pilates based classes I love here in Orlando.

Jason and I joined the National Training Center here, where they train Olympic and Paralympic athletes. It's also a major physical rehabilitation center, so on any given day we could be sharing the facilities with world class athletes and people dealing with major disabilities. It's so awesome to see amazing inspiration - both physical and spiritual - in the place you work out.

Since returning from Europe I've continued my Caleb workouts 2-3 times per week, and the other three days I take classes - Yoga, Pilates, Zumba.

And after a lifetime of not understanding how people could really devote so much time to exercise, I've finally come to see the draw. I have more energy, I feel better, I sleep better, I can see the continued changes in my body.

Against all odds, I've become a gym rat at 30. How cool is that?

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Turkey Trot

We leave for Atlanta first thing tomorrow morning - We're making the Turkey Trot up to Atlanta cause it's Thanksgiving time! We'll be spending our Thanksgiving with Jason's Aunt, Uncle and their whole family. It will be my first major holiday with Jason's family! Since we were married in 2010, we've spent both Thanksgivings and Christmases with my family, so it's certainly past time to celebrate with Jason's. It will be a loud, noisy holiday like I'm used to and it should be a blast.

A week to the day after Thanksgiving, we open COMPANY at the Orlando Shakespeare Theatre. Excited to be making my Orlando debut in one of my favorite shows - we have a lot of work to do between now and then, but it should be a total blast. And it feels great to be performing again. :)

I hope that wherever you are, you have a wonderful holiday with plenty to be thankful for!

Gobble, Gobble!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Doing it Right

We've been back in the States for one week and are still unpacking. I dove head first into rehearsals for Company when we got here. Then turned around and auditioned for a very lucrative performing gig, making it through all the cuts and am now playing the waiting game, though I'm assuming at this point I didn't get it and that's okay. I met and signed with my new agent who I'm super excited about. He and I have the same vision and are on the same page about where I fit in the business. He's already been submitting me on some huge projects for which I am super grateful. If my one year contract with him works as well as the first week, it's going to be a very exciting year! What else? After rehearsal today I have another big audition that could lead to lots of work down the line. And I've been going to the gym regularly, keeping up on what Caleb taught me. It's actually in my agency contract that I have to go several times a week - how's that for motivation?

So I'm going for it and I'm doing it right. I'm thirty and still chasing the dream - and you know what? That's okay.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Stranded in Paris

We're stranded in Paris. Our four nights to end our trip have become seven nights at the least. We're going to try again to get out tomorrow and see how it goes. With flights reopening we're hoping we'll be able to get something. But I can honestly say that I hope I will never again experience the kind of airport madness we encountered on Tuesday.

The stress of a hurricane in the states made people absolutely crazy at the airports. Panic mode. Panicked, angry people made the French airport staff ruder than normal. We did our best to be polite and positive and kind. To try to get on a flight to the states and take the rest as it comes.

We couldn't get out. Every US bound flight had been oversold by at least twenty seats with an additional stand by wait list of fifty (on which we were numbers 47 and 48). So we decided to spend two days waiting it out in Paris.

While we waited we were given some serious perspective. We met a Delta employee whose wife and two youngest kids made it on a flight out of Barcelona on Saturday. He and his two older kids - about eleven and fourteen - had been wearing the same clothes for four days trying to get any flight headed stateside. They'd made it to Paris but that was it. At least we have all our clothes (dirty though they may be) and no kids!

We're making the best of it and having a great time while trying to be as budget conscious as possible. Paris is a lovely place to be stuck but really expensive. We are back at the same hotel, in the same room with a view of the Eiffel Tower. We window shopped on the Champs-Elysees and saw the new Bond movie SKYFALL yesterday. We braved the rain and crowds at Versailles this morning.

We're having a good time during our bonus Paris time and making plans and contingency plans to get home. We're hoping to get home in time to watch some college football on Saturday.

But we'll see - after all, you can't predict a hurricane!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Ciao, Bella

It's our last whole day in Paris and tomorrow we flight back to the US if Hurricane Sandy cooperates. We have had an absolute blast these last three weeks - I cannot wait to recap them here on the blog and for you to see Jason's amazing photos over on his blog as well!

We are exhausted - we've been averaging about ten miles walking per day for three weeks. But this journey has been truly amazing! A fitting cap to the adventure we've been on since April 2011. Our adventure is changing now - just taking on a different shade.

We go back to Orlando and I immediately begin rehearsals for a production of Sondheim's COMPANY as Susan. This is a show I've wanted to be a part of for at least a dozen years and I'm excited to get the chance! I'm ready to act again, to brush off the dust and get back to work. I've found a new agent that I'm really excited about. I finally get to really unpack. We're ready to get to work on Jason's ETSY shop for the holidays and get me prepared for a few big auditions that are coming up.

All good things to come home to and look forward to.

But I wish we were going to be in Europe a week longer!

So - Ciao, Europe! You've been lovely! I'll see you next time!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sometimes it rains

... and sometimes it pours. It's been raining in Barcelona for two days. In that time we've barely left our hotel room because first Jason got sick and then I quickly followed. We're not sure if it was the stomach flu or food poisoning, but combined with jet lag it hit both of us pretty hard.

Everything happens for a reason so maybe this was to get us to slow down and rest before the next two and a half weeks of our trip. I'm going to be positive about it and take it as a gift of much needed rest. Besides, touring in the rain can be pretty miserable anyhow! And this city is so spectacular when the sun is out!

Now that we're on the mend we'll slowly see what we can this morning and then head for our cruise ship around noon.

The people of Barcelona have a been so kind to us while we were sick. At our hotel and at restaurants - feeding me not only gluten free food but gluten free sick food - broth and rice. Things that weren't on their menu.

I love this city - it's one of my absolute favorites and I hope that next time we
Come back we'll be able to explore.

So - adios Barcelona! Tomorrow? Provence!

Friday, October 12, 2012

Barcelona Gluten Free

This is my first trip to Barcelona since I went gluten free. The last time I was here I was with my friend Karenanna, and I swear I lived on Sangria, Bocadillos (sandwiches - usually ham and cheese - on a crusty baguette), paella, and tapas.

I love Barcelona. I was so excited to come back here for a few days and understandably nervous about what I would eat this time.

So I did my homework, coming up with lists of places other gluten free travelers had had successful eating experiences.

All that goes out the window though when your husband gets sick on the plane ride over.

We flew all night last night and while I managed about three hours of sleep (thank you earplugs and unisom) Jason did not get any. On top of that, his airplane meal did not sit right with him.

Still though, we got in early, dropped our bags at our hotel and hit the pavement until Jason was feeling too terrible to keep truckin'.

When your husband is sick as a dog and exhausted you generally end up on your own. All plans go out the window and you try to find somewhere close to the hotel that understands and can accommodate your dietary needs.

I was so relieved to wander into the Bar Estudantil across from the university of Barcelona. The waitress knew exactly what gluten is and provided me options of what I could have for dinner. (There were only two choices but I was grateful to be understood and eat a meal without fear of being glutened!)

So I had my sangria (excellent by the way) and grilled Chicken breasts with a salad. And I sat there listening to Catalan and Spanish flying around me. This is surely contentment - a full belly, rockin' sangria and life happening all around me.

Plus, how could life be bad with this little guy watching you from the next table?

So - here are a few tricks for finding a non touristy place to eat:

-Get away from the tourist zones. a block or two makes all the difference in the world!

-find a place that's PACKED with locals. If they're all speaking the language native to the country you're set

- don't be afraid to ask about specific dietary needs before you sit down

-And when in Spain... Drink Sangria!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Black Holes

One of the things that I've never liked about auditioning are the black holes that always pop up. A black hole is an actor or actress (or other type of performer) who spends all of their energy in the waiting room making sure everyone else knows how amazing they are, and tries to psyche others out of their focus. I have always hated these black holes - for their vanity, insane self confidence and negative energy they put out in an audition room. More than once, I've let them psyche me out of the quality audition I should have given. They make me crazy!

I'm back to auditioning this week after a year and a half hiatus. There have been plenty of black holes, that's for sure. The difference this time is that I don't care. I'm not intimidated, I don't question my abilities, I don't let it throw me off my game. Maybe it's age, maybe it's self acceptance, maybe it's sheer fed up-ness (there's a new word for you!), but I've been able to finally ignore it enough to get my work done. I still notice it, though, and am now seeing the extreme insecurity that comes with it.

Moral of the story? Don't be a black hole in anything you do. Those around you will be grateful not to have the big, self centered, energy sucking void around. Try tome positive energy instead and see how far it takes you!

My week of auditions and interviews is coming to an end. As with anything, there was lots of good and a little bit of bad. I'd say that it was a pretty good week. But I am soooo ready to drive to Atlanta tomorrow and get ready for our European extravaganza! I'm hoping to post from Europe at least a few times, so be sure to check back here!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Another Ending

We're here. I cannot believe it, but a year and a half after the adventure began it is changing. At the end of March, 2011 we left our lives in California, headed to Yellowstone Country in Wyoming. A year and a half later we're done - and we have both been forever changed by our time here and the people we've met. We leave in the morning, early. It will be dark when we go and I we won't be able to see this incredible place as we leave. But I know that we will always tell stories about the two summers we spent in Wyoming - an entire year of our lives - and that neither of us will ever regret our time spent here. For our marriage, for us as individuals, this time has been defining - and I expect we won't realize the extent of it until we're away.

I have always had trouble coping with big changes. I am hugely sentimental, and quick to tears. For someone who has trouble with change, I have surely sought out more change in the last 15 years than most people I know. And always, ALWAYS change is a good thing - but it is so difficult to say goodbye for now. Yet that is exactly what I'm doing right now - saying goodbye for now - and trusting that what comes next will be just as incredible and defining as this has been.

But for now, there are tears. Tomorrow morning there will again be tears as we drive away. And then later the excitement will come - the hope of the unknown - and the tears will fade. But I know this with all that's inside of me:

Our adventure continues, and what an incredible journey it has been so far.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Speedy September

September is flying in a blur, just like I figured it would! Not much time today but wanted to share: here are some of my favorite pictures from this month!

I love to snipe photos of Jason while he's shooting. This was in Yellowstone on Sunday!

Actually, from August and not July. I just love this photo of us in front of the Chuck Wagon. Yes, there is an antique chuck wagon at the ranch. It's pretty freaking cool.

We got to spend some time with Dad and his pal Jerry while they were fishing in West Yellowstone. So fun!

My dad is awesome. And the Farrell gene pool runs strong - see the resemblance?

Moose sighting! There aren't many Moose left in the area - the wolves have decimated their population - so it's very exciting when we see one close to the ranch. This lady was chowing on some grasses right by the ranch where I take Yoga!

That's the Hawkeye - all those trees, sitting there in the Valley. We've lived here since April of 2011.

Now that the guests are gone, I get to go riding again! Here I am on Poco, trying to keep her from chowing on grass. :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Time

We're in the last week and a half of our time here on the ranch. The end is easier for Jason because he'll be back here for two weeks of work after Thanksgiving. For me, well, we don't really know when I'll be able to come back. Hopefully sometime. It's weird and sad and exciting and humbling and terrifying and thrilling all at the same time. Mostly, though, I'm really looking forward to being finished with cleaning up after other people and after mice (we are way out here, and yes, there are mice), and sad to be leaving this beautiful place and my yoga ladies. So there you are.

Because we're so close to "the time", I've started preparing. I have two auditions lined up immediately after we arrive in Orlando, before we head to Europe. After we get back from our trip, I have an audition lined up with the Orlando Philharmonic, who are hiring singer/actors/dancers for How to Succeed... Fingers crossed for that one - if I book it, it could lead to more work down the road.

I'm also in the process of submitting to talent agencies in Orlando. Trying to finally find an agent who is a good fit for me and ready to help me book big jobs. Did you know that in all my agency booked auditions in Los Angeles, I was called back or held on 75% of them? That's 3 out of 4! But I never booked once through my agent, and part of that was the fact that I wasn't matched up with the right agent for me. This time around, I'm doing it right. I'm waiting for the right fit and signing with someone who is ready to help me make both of us some money. (And of course, help me chase my dream.)

After a year and a half off (with the exception of my awesome surprise caroling season last year), I am so, so, so ready to make my dreams come true. To perform. To work. To make it happen. It feels so strange to be back here in this place again - submitting, booking auditions, chasing the dream. But if anything, this time in Wyoming has clarified that for me. So I'm dusting off the headshots and resumes - getting them ready to go. Thank God I haven't changed in our time away. And I'm charging forward head first. I know how to do it. I just have to get back into the habit of it.

So, this is my time. I can feel it in my gut.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I often get hung up on the passing of time. Especially at times when I know change is coming soon. So here's a list of times that have been on my mind this week:

-Two weeks exactly until we leave the Hawkeye. We'll have lived here for exactly one year out of the last year and a half.
-One month and one day until my 30th birthday. Wow. I feel like I was just excited to turn 13, 16, 21, 25... Now 30 is here.
-One month and one day until I spend my 30th birthday in ROME. Yes... Rome!
-2 1/2 weeks until our 2nd wedding anniversary. What a HUGE couple of years we've had!
-4 weeks since I started training with Caleb and 2 weeks since I kicked up my workouts with extra cardio and ballet barre.
-2 weeks of training with Caleb left to go.
-8 days until I hope I get to meet up with my dad in West Yellowstone.
-Almost two months since baby Oliver was born and I still haven't been able to snuggle him.
-About two months or so until I hopefully get to see Mom, Dad, Kelli, Jeff, Solange, Nik, Caity and Olly.
-Twenty days until I have my first Orlando Audition. Hence, the kicked up cardio workouts.
-28 days until we embark on our Med cruise in Barcelona!
-3 1/2 months until my mom celebrates a big birthday!
-7 years - Our sweet dog Indy is SEVEN today! He has graduated to Senior dog food!
-3 Days until our last group of guests for the season leaves. Wow.

And I'm sure there are more I'll be stewing on today. But man... you blink and time just FLIES!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hiking the South Fork

About two weeks ago (or so... time seems to lose meaning way up here!) Jason, Indy and I hopped on the South Fork trail leading into the Wyoming wilderness. We live on the the South Fork of the Shoshone River, and as I've mentioned before, are surrounded by the largest wilderness area in the lower 48. Sometimes I have to pinch myself about how beautiful it is here. We get so wrapped up in the daily going's on of the ranch that I often forget to just stop and go... wow. So, on this day, that's exactly what we did. The smoke cleared up enough for us to hike, and we went for it. It was a beautiful hike, and moderate - every small climb was followed by a small descent. So here are a few pictures from our hike!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Where there's smoke...

...there always seems to be fire. West of us, there are currently 4 fires in Yellowstone, and three more fires surrounding Yellowstone. Since the wind blows in from the West here, we have had four days of extreme smoke here in the Valley. We would kill for a little bit of that Hurricane Isaac rain to come in here and put out the fires and clean the air. We are supposed to (finally) get a little rain in the next few days, but it's coming with Thunderstorms which are scaring. Lightning has been the cause of all the fires that are burning West of us, and because it has been SO dry up here this year, the possibility of more fires is pretty high. Anyhow, we're hoping the smoke will blow out of the valley soon so we can be more active and breathe easier. Literally.

We have the entire weekend off for Labor Day! Starting today and going through Monday, we are OFF! It's truly amazing. :) Of course, this is also the opening weekend of College Football, and we have big plans for camping out in the movie theatre and watching a ton of games. We actually got started last night, with the South Carolina/Vanderbilt game. Jason has been counting down the days to football since the last season ended with the Super Bowl. He's not too picky - College or NFL as long as it's football. I tend to prefer college. When the college season's over, my football season is pretty much over. Anyhow, Jason's Gators kick off against Bowling Green at 1:30pm our time on Saturday, and my #8 ranked Wolverines take on last year's National Champs, Alabama at Cowboys Stadium in Texas at 6pm our time. Super nervous about my game - just hoping that they make a good showing and that everyone walks away from the game without injuries. If they can do that, they stand the chance of having an AWESOME rest of the season! As the late, great Bo Schembechler once said, "Keep Believing". I am, Bo. I am.

I wish I could credit this image appropriately. But I can't. If you know who owns it, let me know so I can credit them! I just love it, though!

We're almost finished here on the ranch. One more month, and one more group of guests arriving on September 14. We're going to blink and it will be time to go. So, so crazy. Because we have this long weekend, we're hoping the smoke will clear out and we can go on a nice long hike Sunday up the river into the Wyoming wilderness.

Did you know that the ranch actually borders the largest wilderness area in the lower 48? No wonder we have grizzlies and wolves and moose and elk and big horn sheep. :) Oh my.

On Monday, smoke permitting, we're planning to hop in the hummer and take off on a photo expedition. Maybe into Yellowstone and Teton. Maybe somewhere else. Who knows? But again, the air needs to be clear.

Anyhow, I hope you have an incredible, beautiful Labor Day weekend, wherever you're at. Happy Opening Weekend of Football! And Go Blue!

Photo courtesy of MGoBlog

Thursday, August 23, 2012

In Training

I did it. I convinced the ranch trainer, Caleb, to train me. I'm working with him twice a week right now, building an exercise program that I can take with me when we leave.

I've always been active, and I've been fit. More fit at some times than others. But I have never felt confident about my body, especially my stomach. So this training is not about losing weight, but more about getting on a program, making a commitment to my body and tightening everything up.

And since I'll be 30 on October 16, it's the perfect time to build new habits - before a milestone birthday.

So here's where I'm at - I am a size 4, and I think I weigh on any given day somewhere between 130 and 135 pounds. (Stop rolling your eyes at me - we can all use to be fitter, no matter our size.) I could care less about how much I weigh exactly - it's about health - but my best guess is in that range based on the last time I went to the doctor's office.

At the end of six weeks of training with Caleb, I will have a tighter tummy, a stronger body, and a plan for continuing to change my exercise habits.

I already feel so much better, just for being proactive.

When I find my camera, I'll post my "before" belly photo and a weekly update. Some accountability will help me to continue!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Facing Forward

We're getting so close to the end of our time here in Wyoming. It's crazy to say that, but it's so true. We're officially done and on our way on October 1 this year. That's 7 weeks from tomorrow. And judging by how fast this summer has been flying by, I'll blink and it will be time to go. Strange.

Because the time is coming, Jason and I have been looking forward, thinking about what's next and trying to plan. I know... best laid plans and all, but here's what we think is up next for us:

We're going to book it from here to Orlando to spend a little bit of time with Jason's parents before they make the big move to China. More on that in a moment.

I turn 30 on October 16 - that's right, the big 3-0. Still trying to wrap my head around it, but confident that my thirties will be amazing. To celebrate my birthday in style, Jason and I are taking a twelve day Mediterranean Cruise that leaves from Barcelona on October 13 (one of my favorite cities), hits France, Italy, Greece and Turkey before heading back to Italy where it ends in Venice. Kind of a European sampler platter, and a great way to visit a lot of cities for a low cost. Because we're managing costs by cruise ship, we can afford to tack on a couple of days in Barcelona at the beginning and a couple more in Paris at the end. I'm super excited and already working on getting my Gluten Free resources together in several different languages. I can communicate my needs in English and Spanish, (and one Italian phrase - io sono celiaco) but that's about it.

Okay... back to China. Because Jason's parents are moving to China with Disney for a few years, we're moving into the family home in Florida. Incidentally, we're looking for jobs as well - so if you have any photography or performing arts connections in Orlando, please send them my way.

The adventure is by no means over - we're committing to getting out of Orlando one weekend a month and doing something - booking a cheap trip to an island in the Caribbean, hopping up to Atlanta, going to the Keys. Something.

And I think we're both really looking forward to not living out of suitcases anymore. For the past year and a half I've been calling us turtles - hauling our homes around with us on our backs. It will be nice to know that we don't have to pack everything up again in two months to drive across the country.

But will we miss Wyoming? Certainly. Will me miss this kind of freedom and simple lifestyle? Heck, yes. And will we always be grateful for this time together, out in wilds of Wyoming, just us and the dog? Absolutely. We wouldn't trade it for anything.

We certainly haven't checked out of our time here - we're living each day and enjoying as much as we can. But the time has come to start to face forward, and that's what we're doing.

Getting ready for the next adventure.

Because that's what it is - a great adventure.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Into the Nuthouse

This ranch has been a nuthouse.

We have had nonstop guests since just after the 4th of July. I'm not kidding, folks. Our guests have come in early (surprise!) and stayed late (surprise again!) making this 24 hour period I'm in right now the first guest free time we've had in more than a month.

As a staff, we're exhausted. There's been so much happening around here. 2 1/2 weeks ago, our chef got fired. For a week, we traded off cooking meals for staff and guests alike while they looked for a new one. Jason and I took on the major bulk of cooking (since we make such a good team), but let me tell you... I was so excited to see our new Chef arrive.

She's awesome. Yes... she. Totally down to earth, hard worker, makes great food that Jason swears has crack in it it's so addictive, and doesn't have any of the ego issues that you find in many (generalization here - don't jump down my back!) male chefs. Also, she's been feeding rockstars on tour forever (her first personal chef gig was for Ozzy Osbourne) so she's used to demands and interesting personalities. It's tough to ruffle her feathers. Which is GREAT around here. So... THANK YOU for joining us at the Hawkeye, Chef Ashley! I am so grateful you're here!

What else? After every 14 hour workday, Jason and I have been joining the guests in the movie theatre for Olympics viewing. Which has made us even more exhausted. But... the Summer Olympics only come every four years, so we are fighting through the exhaustion to cheer on Team USA. And of course, we were rooting for Michael Phelps and Misty and Kerry - whom it seems we've been cheering on forever!

Our next group comes in tomorrow - a couple of really nice guys who were here last summer and will be joining Jason on the pack trip that leaves on Monday morning.

Super excited for the men to leave on the pack trip - it means three days of peace and quiet and sleep and reading and time off here on the ranch. I'm booking a massage. :) I'll miss Jason, but man.... I'm so ready for some downtime. And besides - he'll be way deep in the back country, shooting some new amazing photographs. Can't wait to see what he comes home with.

So now you know why I'm tired and this blog has been so quiet. A guest flooded the laundry room yesterday and told me there was only a little water on the floor. When I walked in and found the flood, I cursed like a sailor and then started sobbing. Eventually I got it together and cleaned it up. But not until my emotional tide had ebbed. First time I've cried all summer - a major improvement over last year.

Still... this is an amazing place to live and work. Sometimes I have to remind myself of that several times a day. Especially when it's a nuthouse.

I can't wait for a whole day off!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Going Home

Last weekend, on the busiest day of our entire summer, I was cut loose from the ranch to go home to LA for Jen and Chris' wedding.

Because we were so busy, Jason wasn't able to come with me. Given the short nature of my visit, it was a whirlwind. There was no rest for the weary, but MAN did I have a blast.

I was able to get in some quality time with my family - Mom, Dad, Kelli, Jeff - a little bit of time (never enough) with Solange and Caity (but no Nik - he was super busy helping with Solange's brothers wedding), and even Steph. I live in Wyoming, Steph lives in South Africa and we were both in LA at the same time for ONE DAY. So we got pedicures together and had a great chat.

And of COURSE - the main event! Jen's wedding! She was a beautiful bride (of course - she's just gorgeous), and Chris was so handsome. I watched him watch her walk down the aisle to him, and the love in his eyes was amazing.

I also had a BLAST at the reception with some really wonderful friends who I never get to spend enough time with anymore.

And on Sunday I flew back to the ranch and got right back to work. We're still pushing through the week, and I'm EXHAUSTED but it has been so much fun!

Here are some of my favorite photos from the weekend!

My Caity Monkey is 3 1/2 now! Crazy!

Solangey - is going to have baby #2 in a few weeks!

With the bride to be!

My wedding shoes got to go for another go-round. Awesome aren't they?

Congratulations Chris and Jen!!!!!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Dog Nirvana

It's been no secret on this blog in the past year that our dog Indy loves the ranch. It's like Dog Nirvana. Dog Nirvana being a dream land where there're a lot of things to smell and pee on, lots of small critters to chase and kill, lots of big critters to chase and get in trouble for, things to roll in, chefs to feed you meat scraps and nice, sunny, warm spots to nap in when everything else has worn you out.

For Indy, being a city dog was definitely a disadvantage. He didn't know how to be off leash without losing his mind with joy, he didn't understand that getting kicked by a horse can kill you, he just has his ancient wild dog instinct - chase.

Last summer, I was able to ease him slowly into being off-leash and free to roam the ranch. He mostly did really well (by mostly I mean that he only chased the horses a few times), but I limited his time off-leash outside the garden - a few hours a day when I could keep close tabs on him.

This year has been so different. Since the garden is no longer my responsibility, I can't drop Indy off in there where he can't get into serious trouble but could still be outside. The options this year have been to a)keep him in the cabin (Sad.) or b) Get him an electronic collar and train him to be a ranch dog.

We chose option b. We ordered a SportDog electronic collar - he wears the collar and I carry the remote that operates the collar with me all day. If Indy hyper-focuses on a horse or the steer, I can buzz him to get his attention. If he disappears while I'm cleaning the lodge or a guest cabin, I can buzz him to get him to come back.

There is a zap button on the remote - and it's for the times that he's really in trouble. I've been calling and buzzing and calling and buzzing, and he's so stimmed out on chasing ground squirrels (we call them Picket Pens) that he still doesn't come. A good zap gets his attention and gets him moving in the right direction. (I should mention that there are varying intensities ranging from 1-10 for you to use based on the size and disposition of your dog - Indy only needs his on an intensity of 2.)

It also keeps him from getting killed by a horse or a steer stampede that he's created.

Pretty effective.

And since part of working on a ranch means your dog gets to go to work with you, Indy is now a working ranch dog. Eradicating the Picket Pen population day by day.

And he gets to spend all of every day outside - sniffing, rolling, peeing, chasing - living the dream in Dog Nirvana.

We should've bought the E-Collar a year ago. I don't think we'll ever train a dog without it again!

Speaking of the ranch, here's one of Jason's photos from the ranch. You can see it on his Etsy Shop by clicking HERE!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

La Familia Viene

Losely translated as - the Family Cometh. :)

Two weeks ago (yes - it's been that long), we were blessed to have Jason's family come to visit us at the Ranch for a few days. We had a blast, and they said it was one of their best vacations ever.

We went horseback riding, ATV-ing, we "shot shit" at the shooting range, we ate wonderful food prepared by Chef Andrew, we saw all that Cody had to offer (i.e. - The Buffalo Bill Historical Center, annual Native American Pow-wow, the Cody Nite Rodeo, the Silver Dollar Bar, and the Boot Barn). We just had an awesome time.

So - here are some photos from their visit, and a pretty cute video from the Cody Nite Rodeo of the nightly kids contest - who can be the first to take the ribbon of the calf?

There are a lot more photos from their visit, but they're in the cameras of G'ma Joyce, Catherine and Deborah. If I get my hands on some of them, I'll add more posts.

Rob and Bob cross the River. Photo by Jason.

Crossing the River. Photo by Jason.

Rob sits on Hollywood the bull at the Cody Nite Rodeo.

Rob gets in the spirit at Boot Barn.

Tommy and Deborah waiting for the Rodeo to begin.

Heading out on our ride. Photo by Jason.

Deborah and Catherine on ATVs.

Deborah on her ATV.

We're only missing G'ma Joyce in this photo!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Up on Etsy

I'm sorry that it's been two weeks since I've posted a blog. I have several excuses, but I should've at least put up some kind of post. I'm sorry. Thanks for reading, still!

What we've been working on, in this quiet time on my blog, is Jason's Etsy shop. As you probably know, my husband is a photographer. A damn good one, with the credentials to back him up.

So, since Etsy is such a high traffic site, we decided (after thinking long and hard about it) to list his photographs there. And we're REALLY excited about the possibilities.

So do me a favor or two - Go to Jason's Etsy shop by clicking on the link: Look around. See what you like. If the spirit moves you, please consider supporting us by purchasing an image! Maybe share his shop on your facebook, or pin a photo or two to Pinterest. If you have an Etsy account, consider adding one of his photos to a treasury of yours, or marking one as a favorite. Any of these would be amazing!

We'd really appreciate your help and support.

Thanks so much!

Like this photo? You can purchase it by clicking HERE!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I stressed myself out today.

We were late getting back to the ranch on Yoga night, which is one of my favorite parts of the week.

Doesn't it seem that whenever you are stressed, everything in the universe conspires against you to make the situation worse?

So there I was - half an hour late to yoga, stressed out because Indy threw up and diarrhead (sorry if that's too much) in our cabin while we were in town getting Jason's root canal and the poo still needs to be cleaned up. I walk in on class waaaay in session (here at the hawkeye this week) and they're doing some stretching and deep breathing (just what I need), so I roll out my mat and take a few moments just to let it all go. Deep breath.

At the end of our session, Danielle, my yoga instructor, said this - whenever we are stressed or frantic, it's a reminder that we may need to stop and be thankful for all the good in our lives.


When you focus energy on being thankful, it's almost impossible to be crazy.

So - tonight, I am thankful that Jason is home safely from California, that Indy seems to be feeling better, that we live in this amazing place, that we have a very nice roof over our heads, that I can go to Yoga every week with a great group of women, that there is a chef here who feeds us so well, and that we're employed.

Monday, June 11, 2012

New Baby Horses and Homemade Tamales

New Baby Horses and Homemade Tamales are two things that make me VERY happy.

Fortunately for me, both of those things were part of my day today!

We woke this morning to a brand new baby horse. She's the cutest little wobbly thing - all gangly legs. In another day or two she'll start to zoom around the pasture on her skinny little legs. I'll try to get some video for you all! Don't you just love Spring? (I know... the rest of the country is already in summer, but it's definitely still Spring in the mountains of Wyoming.) All the babies everywhere? We have baby Elk and Deer and Bighorn Sheep and Geese and Foxes and Robins and Cows and Horses. The whole Ranch is alive with the promise of brand new baby critters. It's the best. And it melts my heart!

And then, to make my day even better, Chef Andrew taught me to make tamales the way his Mexican grandmother taught him. Totally from scratch, even the sauce for the chicken filling - we toasted the spices and the peppers, soaked the peppers, ground the spices and blended them into a seriously delicious sauce.

He said I was better at rolling tamales than he is. It was awesome.

Jason's in California for a few days, delivering the photo truck to the boss, and right now he's having dinner with my family and watching the Kings in the Stanley Cup Finals. I'm kind of jealous.

But I got to see a brand new baby horse today. And I got to make tamales (a lifetime goal). And now I'm drinking a glass of wine, watching JULIE AND JULIA and writing for all of you.

So goodnight, out there! Bon Appetit!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Off to Montana

On Friday, Jason and I got to have a totally unusual work day. Jason and I drove a truck to Billings, Montana as did J.W. and Heidi and their two kiddos. Billings is the closest "big" city to the ranch at 3 1/2 hours away. The boys (Jason, J.W., and his son) went and did boy things (namely, Cabelas) and the girls (Heidi, her daughter and I) went SHOPPING. And when I say we went shopping, I'm really serious - Heidi and I cleaned up on sales racks around Billings. Sometimes you just need a little cheap retail therapy! And it turns out that Montana-ites don't like the clothes that Californian's are wearing just yet. So I really cleaned up. I'm very excited.

We met up with the boys for lunch, and then went to pick up the things we'd really driven to Billings for: Two pallets of sod for the new entryway, and this year's hanging flower baskets which are seriously gorgeous.

The day was gorgeous - sunny with perfect clouds in a blue sky the likes of which you only see in Montana and Wyoming. And it was in the 80s. It was outstanding. (So of course, we woke up to freezing temperatures the very next morning, and they have continued through today.)

Still, Friday was the best work day. Seriously.

So here are some photos from the day. The first two are shot out the window on the way back from Billings. The last is of some of the gorgeous baskets now hanging in our greenhouse at the ranch, waiting for the last frost to come and go so they can get hung around the ranch.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Man with Nine Lives

My husband is like the cat with nine lives. (He hates cats, so he'll really hate the comparison to one!)

Last year, Jason had a tree land on him. A tree. It suddenly fell over and hit him on the back. He walked away with no problems, and just some soreness in his shoulder.

In our first week here (early May), Jason was jumping the battery on one of the ATVs we have here on the ranch. The battery arced through his wedding ring, blasting a hole in the white gold and leaving a really serious burn all around his ring finger. (In retrospect, and seeing how slow the healing has been, it was probably third degree and we should have gone to the doctor.) A month later, it's STILL healing. He has a permanent scar from his wedding ring, and an indentation in his flesh where the ring was. The finger still looks nasty. He's lucky he still HAS a finger.

Today, we were working in the new Gallery addition, monkeying up and down ladders, wiring/hanging/focusing lights. His ladder slipped out from under him, and he fell from the rafters, landing on his back. He got up and walked away. He is a little stiff, though. Says he was just practicing his audition for WWE. I almost had a heart attack. I felt so helpless as it happened, wishing there was something I could do to stop it. But there wasn't. It happened in a snap.

I'm so grateful he's okay.

At this rate, I hope he has more than nine lives.

Maybe I should change his health insurance premium.

Monday, May 28, 2012

More Memorial Snow

Well, I promised that I would repost if our Memorial Snowfall became more epic. And it did.

Saturday morning we woke to eight more inches of snow. Since the ground is no longer frozen, it melted gradually from the bottom all day, turning the entire ranch into mud city. We all were off after lunch on Saturday. Everyone left the ranch except Jason and I. As the snow started all over again, falling in big fluffy flakes, Jason and I made pizza for dinner and then had a big fire in the lodge fireplace, and played cards while we watched the snow fall outside. It was awesome.

Sunday we woke to another six inches of snow, and decided that we were going to town to do some shopping and go the movies. Another date day. We saw MIB3 (which was great, and makes me want to watch the first one again) and then headed back up to the Ranch, where all of the snow had melted off during the day.

Today, we woke up to no snow, but a gloomy, cold, rainy day, so we stayed in bed until 3:30 this afternoon watching movies!

Not the sunniest or warmest Memorial Day weekend, but certainly a restful and beautiful one.

Enjoy the photos!

Saturday morning outside our cabin.

Jason took a TON of photos. Hopefully they'll be up on his blog soon.

This is Allen's dog, Toby. Check out his snow beard. Awesome!

The construction equipment covered in snow with a spectacular backdrop.

We live here. Seriously.

I shot this first thing in the morning from our cabin porch. Pretty, ain't it?

On the left you see Indy prints. On the right? Grizzly prints. BIG grizzly. Indy was trying to track him.

Stopped for a photo op on the way into town on Sunday. This was about where the snow stopped, and you can see the whole valley where we live in the background. It was CRAAAAAZY windy.