Hi, Neighbor!

Insurance

We don’t need insurance. We don’t. Really.

“Oh, Heather (you might say), we DO need insurance! Let me tell you about this harrowing story where insurance saved us from financial ruin! Without insurance, [loved one] would have died!!”

Ok. I get it. Its emotional. I’ll tackle medical insurance in a few. For now, let’s start easy.

Most people I talk with believe in insurance. Many stores offer it for their products. The employees from these stores who offer me the insurance are confused and surprised when I decline the coverage, and I often have to decline it over and over, in the same conversation.

I went to one of those big-box electronic stores and bought a video game. “Would you like to purchase a 1-year warranty for the game?” Nope. “Its only $3!” No thank you. “It will cover scratches, spills…” Please stop.

When did companies stop offering warranties for their products and install this nickel and dime b.s.? I have never had a game (or movie) glitch out on me, and I’ve bought many of them. If one dies, and I have to buy a new one, I will certainly do so with all the extra money I saved by NOT buying warranties for every dang thing I buy.

Nothing lasts forever. Nothing. This is all temporary. If my car breaks down, if my body breaks down, if my phone breaks down, I’ll deal with it with whatever resource I have at my disposal. And the more I decline your crappy insurance, the more money I’ll have in my pocket to do that.

Now, medical insurance. A friend recently had to visit the hospital for stomach pains. They did blood work, CAT scan and gave him some medicine. He was there for 5 hours and they charged him $11,000 (holy cow… for what??). He spoke with a doctor friend of his and she told him, “Yeah, we have to over-charge people with insurance to help cover the people without insurance, so that’s why your bill was so high.”

Excuse me? So… if I don’t have insurance, someone else will foot the bill? Sign me up! Oh, wait. That’s the kind of mentality that got us into this mess.

I know… let’s create free healthcare, so no one has to foot the bill! Oh wait. There’s no such thing as “free healthcare”, because someone somewhere has to pay for it, and trust me – it won’t be the 1%ers paying, it will be you and me.

I know many doctors. The general consensus is that they have to play a game with the insurance companies to get the most out of them that they can (by over-charging you and me), and when they have patients that don’t have any insurance (and not a lot of money), they work with them within their budget.

Do you think that maybe without insurance, most things wouldn’t cost nearly as much as they do? Cars, homes, health, electronics, etc.? Isn’t it by relying on insurance for fear of something that might happen that has gotten us into a huge mess? The amount my husband and I have to pay each month toward heath insurance, compared to how often he and I visit the doctor is staggering. If we didn’t have insurance, and put that money into our own savings account, we’d have PLENTY of money to take care of whatever incidentals arise (especially with the lower rates the docs would have for us uninsured folks!). Same with our cars. The number of times he and I have had accidents is so small, that if we were to save that money each month, we’d have enough to cover whatever damage we cause now and then.

Its just so frustrating.

Hard in Hightown

For Christmas this year, I decided to create an audiobook recording of a short story for Hogan. This story was written by someone(s) over at BioWare, and was included in a series of video games Hogan and I adore (Dragon Age). In the games, the “author” of the story was a character named “Varric Tethras”; a beloved dwarf and raconteur.

I’m putting them here, mainly because Hogan suggested it, in case anyone else cares to listen. The story is about an hour long, has several [poorly done] dialects and is set in a world from the video game, so if you’re not familiar with Thedas, you may not enjoy is as much as someone who is.

In case I need to add this: I was not paid for this, nor am I asking to be.

Enjoy.

Chapters 1 through 10

Chapters 11 through 19

Paths of Destiny

I was just notified that my latest book, Paths of Destiny is available for purchase on Amazon. Its a really cute book, and is recommended for kids aged 8-10. The publisher’s summary is:

“Wizard twins Jack and Maddie Austin have been separated, finding their own paths while discovering their powers. In this continuation of Destiny Revealed, Jack wants nothing more than to defeat the evil Tardon, a constant threat to his family’s lives, but Maddie has been given a different perspective. Only when the two are reunited can the truth be exposed. As new friends and enemies join the adventure, only one thing is certain: the twins are stronger when they’re together, and together, they can defeat evil once and for all.”

As it says, this book is a continuation, and I’d recommend reading the first in the series before this one. Enjoy!

Line run-through

We’re well into our rehearsals for Mousetrap – so much so that we had a dress rehearsal last Friday, for which we had an audience of “invited-only” members (friends, family, etc).

I can’t speak for everyone in the cast, but I dropped or missed a couple of lines during that performance, and so was glad to hear we’d be having a “Line Run-Through” the following Sunday. I’ve never had a rehearsal like that after doing a dress; I’ve only ever experienced that kind of rehearsal on the first day, with scripts, pencils (and a modicum of shyness).

IT WAS SO SUPER FUN! To have everyone off-book like that, and go through the lines, created a magical evening. We didn’t need to be in character when delivering our lines, and we’ve now spent many evenings together as a cast, so fun and trust has been established – at least enough for all of us to feel comfy enough to PLAY. Each of us delivered our lines in different accents, or we changed our characters’ personalities, or we tried to do impressions of each other.

It was very freeing. This is what I do this for – the fun, to experiment, to be playful and discover things. I was also really impressed with my fellow cast members. They didn’t drop the accent after one or two lines – they kept it up for the beat, and then switched to something else. It showed a level of commitment and ability that I recognize purely as talent.

That rehearsal will go down as one of my favorites. I had fun, I learned a few things, and I fell in love with my cast even more.

Thanks, Chrissy.

Back to One

Much has happened over the past few months, including letting go of a few key individuals in my life who I thought were friends, but as it turns out, were not. And while I found it devastating at the time and for a few months after, I’ve gotten to a place where I’m glad to have the weight of them lifted from my shoulders.

Now that the dust has settled, I find myself thinking more and more about getting back into acting. Not just “voice” acting, as I currently do, but stage and film too. There is something different and lovely about theater folk. Now that I’m back in that world, I am delighted at rekindling that fire. I find that actors are “my people”, if such a thing exists, and I can’t describe how nice it is to feel free to break into song or discuss the finer points of Shakespeare with someone who gets it and accepts it without a second thought.

The play I’m in (The Mousetrap) is one I’ve done before – even the role I’m playing is the same. Its like a comfortable shoe or a pair of well-worn slippers that fit so perfectly, you smile and sigh with delight. The other members of the cast are a talented bunch and as nice as can be. I believe I was guided to do this show, and to pursue this course.

Come out and see the show if you are in the area. I’ll continue to post about any show I’m in.

I’m back.

Skyrim Mod

I recently had the pleasure of recording 2 different characters for a player-created mod for the video game, “Skyrim”. The following is a trailer for the mod, and when the mod is published, I’ll see about posting the entire play through here, when it is released in October of this year.

Help a brother out

I saw this written out on Reddit today. I think its from the West Wing, but I’m not sure. I’m putting it here mainly for my own reference, because it highlights something I learned recently about helping one’s fellow man:

“So there’s this guy, walking along, and he falls into this giant hole. The sides of the wall are so steep he can’t get out, so he starts shouting for help. After a few minutes a doctor walks by and the guy says “Doctor, I fell down this hole and I can’t get out.” The doctor writes a prescription, throws it down the hole, and carries on. Then a priest walks by and the guy yells up “Father, please help me, I’ve fallen down this hole and I can’t get out”. The priest says a prayer for the man and moves on. Then a friend walks by. The guy yells up “Hey, buddy, can you help me? I’ve fallen in this hole and I can’t get out.” The friend looks down into the hole for a few seconds and then jumps down into the hole. “What the hell are you doing?” the guy says, “Now we’re both in the hole!” “Yeah,” the friend says, “but I’ve been down here before, and I know the way out.””

And back to VO

I’m once again back to doing voiceovers. After [a little more than] a year’s hiatus, I’ve decided to get back in the booth.

The reason I left was straight-up burn out. That, and the thought that I wasn’t making nearly enough money to “earn” my keep at home. My husband is currently at a job that pays him enough that I don’t have to work at all, but that doesn’t seem to matter – I’ve still been living under the belief that I need to earn my place.

I’m still working with this idea, but one thing I’ve realized is that’s all it is – an “idea”. He’s never said anything to make me think this way; never once asked me to do anything special. According to him, I may do whatever makes me happy. That’s a hell of a thing to say to someone with a “worthless” complex! What do you mean, I may do whatever I want?? How dare you give me so much freedom that all my fucked up ghosts get in my face!?

Sigh. As insane as all of this sounds; as “first world problems” this seems to be, it feels like I’m wrestling with an opponent I can’t grab. An idea has no form, except what I give it. A concept is like an invisible gnat buzzing in one’s ear, that will only vanish when you change your mind. But how do you change your mind while its buzzing!?

Forgiveness. Its always the answer, and its always the thing I avoid. Maybe that’s why my eye keeps twitching. Hm.

“Fancypants”, a poem

My friend and I wrote back and forth today, and I [apparently] began a poem with the line, “I once knew a girl named Fancypants” and then she sent me an interesting response. Now, I just want to put it out there that I did once know a girl whose [nick]name was “Fancypants”. She did not have a hump; in fact, she was completely delightful, but the way this poem worked out made me laugh, so I had to share.

The following is the full (brief) poem:

I once knew a girl named Fancypants
And everytime I saw her, she would start to dance.
With her eyes closed and her feet a-flyin’,
She’d jiggle and wiggle ’til she left ya cryin’!
Not ashamed of her hump, she’d invite folks to join her,
As she shook her heavy load like a mangy old cur.

You’re welcome.

$20 Homeless Backpack Care Kit

http://www.wimp.com/homelessbackpack/

The above is a link to a video on Wimp.com that inspired me. Hogan and I spent the past 2 weekends shopping at Thrift stores, CostCo and Dollar Stores, looking for the items suggested in the video, and putting together a couple of backpacks.

Yes… I bought some things in bulk, but it helped to keep my costs down, and it gave me the push I needed to clean out our master closet to make room for the extra stuff. You never know what kind of room you have in your home until you need it!

The project has been fun and pretty rewarding. I’ve not handed any out yet, but I’ll keep one in my car for the next time I see someone in need. The picture below is one that I took of the first kit I made (I made 2, but they both have the same stuff in them). The one pictured only cost me $16.25 (including the $2 backpack which is hard to see in the upper left corner of the pic). I would have put more in there, but it was kind of full. I left out beanies, scarves and gloves because I couldn’t find any at the thrift store, and besides, the weather has been getting warmer here lately, so I thought it’d be ok to leave them out until it starts getting cold again.

Just wanted to share what’s happening over here in Heatherland.

IMG_0864

 

List of what’s in the bag:

Socks
Toothbrush
Toothpaste
2 Bars of Soap
Comb
2 WetOnes
2 Rolls of Toilet Paper
2 Packs of Tissues
Razor
First Aid Kit
Chapstick
4 Granola Bars
2 Small Containers of Fruit Juice
2 Small Bottles of Water
Peanut Butter
Spoon

I found some emergency blankets on Amazon for $0.63/each, so I’ll include those when they arrive.

First World Probs

I’ve been working pretty steadily since January and had an opportunity this week to take a little break. By “little” I mean I decided, spur of the moment, to actively not work this week, even though I do have a book to do, but the deadline is so far off that I thought some time off would be nice.

Since I’ve no where to go, I’m taking a “Staycation” and I’m not sure how I feel about it. It kind of feels like it did when I wasn’t working much… which is to say, I feel unproductive. I think I’m wrapped up in the ‘glorification of busy’ where I think I have to do stuff in order to be happy. It doesn’t help that the weather has been grey all week, but really, that shouldn’t matter, right?

Its times like these (where I’m aware of my funk) where I stop and listen; check and see what I want to do… and then go do that. And honestly? I think I want to get back to work. Or play a video game. Actually, I might go take a nap since I’ve been awake since about 5am. Then there’s the closet that needs clearing out, or the bookcase in my office, which I could definitely pare down.

See what I mean?? I’m all like… blerg… what to do, what to do!?

Maybe I’ll just go and get my car washed. I hope it doesn’t rain.

Joss Whedon does Shakespeare

Holy crap, Joss Whedon is doing Much Ado… with Nathan Fillion! I’m super excited!!

Much Ado trailer

Lava Lamp

I just bought a lava lamp. I have to say… I’m pretty excited.

Blue Lava Lamp

Cats and Lipstick

Once a day, Freddy likes to sit on my lap while I’m at my desk in the office. Its a nice little break for us both. About half the time, he will stand on my torso and mash his face into mine. That’s my favorite.

However, today I was wearing bright red lipstick, and even though I could tell by the look in his eye he wanted to get close and personal, I didn’t react quickly enough to protect my mouth from him or him from my lipstick…

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Audiobook Creation Exchange

We’ve all heard of Amazon.com, but did you know they had their own audiobook publishing company called Audible.com? If you’re into audiobooks, they’re definitely worth checking out. What’s even more interesting, is what they’ve created under that: ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange).

This is where publishers and producers meet. In other words, the people who own the rights to books can go to ACX to find narrators and producers to turn a book into an audiobook. As a narrator, this is where I spend the bulk of my time when I’m in the mood to create an audiobook.  The folks at ACX are super nice and have their act together. The site is easy to navigate and the audition process is simple and fun. I’m uploading a recent book right now to their site, for the right’s holder to approve before it goes to Audible.com. I won’t lie, its fun to see my name on their website, as a narrator for a book 😉

I mention all this because I know many of you have only heard of these things from talking to me, and I thought it would be nice to get the word out to the rest of you with whom I’ve not spoken. Also, there are a few of you who have indicated an interest in being a narrator, so here’s just a bit of info to point you in a good direction.

So whether you want to release your inner story-teller… OR, if you’re a writer who wants their book put into audiobook format but just don’t want to do that yourself… go to ACX.com and take a look around.

Sidenote: This is the book I just finished. It won’t be available for a few weeks – I’ll let you know when it is, in case you’re interested. Its a pretty good beginner’s guide to meditation.

uwekyzedilcrywud1357340360738_160x160

Surrendering

I’ve been working with surrendering, in the spiritual sense of the word. I came across the following and it gave me such a deeper understanding of the word that I wanted to save it somewhere, and I thought – hey, why not post it in a blog so not only can I access it whenever I want, I’ll also share it with everyone else?

SHARANAGATI
The True Meaning of Surrender from the Bhakti Yoga Tradition
by KK Sah

“In the West the word “surrender” means the act of yielding to the power of another or the acknowledgement of defeat. This does not, in any way, reflect the true meaning of the process of surrender in the Hindu spiritual tradition. As far as my own knowledge, I have not found an equivalent English word for the process which, in Hindi, is called sharanagati – the process of surrender.

At times when someone who is afraid takes the shelter of any person or place, he is fully dependent upon that shelter, and he does not even think of any other help for his liberation. In this state of shelter, he surrenders all of his body, mind and other sense organs to the situation. Like in the situation of a drowning person, he surrenders himself to the person coming for his rescue. In the situation of a person terrified of the scorching heat from the sun during peak hours of the summer noon, if he finds a tree for shelter then he cannot ignore it at any cost. The mental state of that drowning person, or the peace felt at the moment the overheated person finds relief cannot be expressed in words. But, even these worldly examples are not complete in the real understanding of a sharanagat.”

Juice Fast II

We broke the fast this morning.  I wasn’t feeling well last night. I think it was low blood pressure. Hogan and I went to our dancing class and mid-way through I had to stop and sit down because I felt woozy.  On the way home, we discussed whether or not we wanted to continue the fast, and we both decided to at least keep it up for the remainder of the night and decide in the morning.  However, for the rest of the night, we talked about how neither of us thought this was “right” for either of us. We both got something out of it, so we considered it a success.

After breakfast I went to the grocery store and spent about an hour really looking at food. I got some of the same stuff we’ve been enjoying, and some new stuff to try. I am still very interested in simplifying what I eat, and the word moderation is whispering in my ear.

As for my body, I feel as though I’ve gotten past another hurdle on my way to total acceptance and love.  I was seeing this fast as my savior, and of course, it disappointed me. I knew that going into it, but there’s nothing quite like experience to really understand a lesson.

Juice Fast

Have you ever done a juice fast/cleanse/feast? I’ve never done one before, but am now on day 4 of my very first. I did some research before starting, including watching a fun documentary called, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. If you have the opportunity to see this, I highly recommend it.

What prompted me to do this? I’m so glad you asked!

According to the research I’ve done, juice fasting will cure a multitude of ills, including but not limited to, weight loss. I would like to take better care of my body, and in doing that… my body gets in the way. In other words, I’d like to run, but my right knee gives me grief; I’d like to stretch and touch my toes, but my belly gets in the way; I’d like to eat more raw fruits and veggies, but my addiction to food takes over… Oh wait, that’s not my body doing that, its my mind.

In fact, all of it is in my mind. Can’t run? Walk. Can’t touch your toes, so what? Stretch anyway. No, no, no, my mind says – if you can’t do it right, why bother?

So, ultimately, this is about me challenging my mind. I think I have an addiction to food. When I feel hunger pangs, I run (see what I did there?) to the refrigerator. When I see myself in pictures or in the mirror, I feel shame. I’ve been working a lot on that last bit – feeling embarrassed or ashamed of what I think I look like, as if people won’t approve of me or love me unless I fit into what our culture has decided is appropriate. I’ve actually come a long way with that and feel the confidence I used to feel when I was younger.  However, its a work in progress and I reckon that no matter what weight or size I am, I’ll have to work on it.

Side note: I was at a wedding recently and I didn’t know very many people there, so I was free to just sit back and observe. What I noticed was that all of the women there were really lovely. They all seemed happy and had beautiful hair and pretty dresses and slender bodies. However, when they didn’t think anyone was looking, they each tugged at their dresses, or used a purse to hide behind, or shied away from photos. They were beautiful, but they didn’t know it. Good lesson for me – even slender women have body issues.

Back to the Juice Fast.

So, working on my body thoughts is secondary to the first: Challenging my thoughts about food. Do I have a food addiction? I don’t know, but I do know that I turn to food when I’m upset. Almost anything can set me off, and I’ve never learned how to soothe myself otherwise. In doing my research about this Juice Fast, I found a blog entry from some guy who seemed to struggle with the same stuff I do, and he said that during his fast he had to find other ways to deal with his emotions, instead of turning to food, and I was like, YES! So my thinking is that if I take away the bandaid (food), I will be forced to deal with my thoughts head on.

This is only day 4, so I don’t know how much of that has occurred so far, but I’ve certainly had to deal with hunger pains, which used to send me running to the fridge. Now I just remind myself that I’m safe; that nothing bad is going to happen, and they subside. Someone once told me that hunger is fear. I believed him then, but now I grock it.

Asheville

Hogan and I went to Asheville, NC this past weekend. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend it.

We have friends there who we stay with, and though the photo below is not a picture from their home, it might as well be. They live on the top of a hill and the view from their living room is spectacular. Next time we visit, I’ll take a real shot and post again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pet Sitter

Hogan and I are going on a trip in April. This will mean leaving our 3 cats alone for a couple of days, which is normally fine because we have family next door who can come over and take care of them while we’re gone.  However, this time will be different because they will also be away during part of the same time, so I had to come up with another solution: A Pet Sitter.

A got a recommendation from a friend of mine for a local (Summerville) Pet Sitter, so I gave her a call and we set up a meeting for this morning at 10am. I normally get up around 8:30, so 10am shouldn’t have been a problem…

Hogan had been on an overnight trip and came home last night. I guess we stayed up a little late chatting because I woke up at 8:30, as normal, and then closed my eyes for a SECOND and… ding dong

It was 10am and I was still in bed. Blerg.

I grabbed my robe, flew down the stairs and opened the door. There she was, all smiles and sunshine, and I think my hair was actually in my face.  She came in and we had a lovely interview. She seems really great and I am glad to have her take care of my kitties while we’re away. I’m just a little embarrassed that I was still sleeping at 10am! I even still had the wrinkles on my skin from the sheets, lol.

Anyway, if you’re in the S’ville area and need a pet sitter/dog walker, give her a ring – she’s really kind and loves animals. She doesn’t even care if you answer the door in your robe.

Palmetto Premium Pet Care

17 Tips to Make Your Life Easier

I saw this on Pinterest, so I clicked through and read the article written by Alex Juel and wanted to post it to my blog, so I’d never loose these great tips!

1. Reheat Pizza
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
Heat up leftover pizza in a nonstick skillet on top of the stove , set heat to med-low and heat till warm. This keeps the crust crispy. No soggy micro pizza. I saw this on the cooking channel and it really works.

2. Easy Deviled Eggs
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
Put cooked egg yolks in a zip lock bag. Seal, mash till they are all broken up. Add remainder of ingredients, reseal, keep mashing it up mixing roughly, cut the tip of the baggy, squeeze mixture into egg. Just throw bag away when done easy clean up.

3. Expanding Frosting
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
When you buy a container of cake frosting from the store, whip it with your mixer for a few minutes. You can double it in size. You get to frost more cake/cupcakes with the same amount. You also eat less sugar and calories per serving.

4. Reheating Refrigerated Bread
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
To warm biscuits, pancakes, or muffins that were refrigerated , place them in a microwave with a cup of water. The increased moisture will keep the food moist and help it reheat faster.

5. Newspaper Weeds Away
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
Start putting in your plants, work the nutrients in your soil. Wet newspapers put layers around the plants overlapping as you go cover with mulch and forget about weeds. Weeds will get through some gardening plastic they will not get through wet newspapers.

6. Picking Up Broken Glass
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
Use a wet cotton ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of glass you can’t see easily.

7. No More Mosquitoes
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away.

8. Squirrel Away!
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
To keep squirrels from eating your plants sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn’t hurt the plant and the squirrels won’t come near it.

9. Flexible Vacuum
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum. It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings.

10. Reducing Static Cling
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and — ta da! — static is gone.

11. Unsticky Measuring Cups
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don’t dry cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out.

12. Foggy Windshield?
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
Hate foggy windshields? Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car. When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!

13. Reopening Envelopes
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Voila! It unseals easily.

14. Smoother Legs With Conditioner
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It’s a lot cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It’s also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn’t like when you tried it in your hair…

15. Goodbye Fruit Flies
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
To get rid of pesky fruit flies , take a small glass fill it 1/2″ with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dish washing liquid , mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever!

16. Get Rid of Ants
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it, take it “home”, can’t digest it so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains , but it works & you don’t have the worry about pets or small children being harmed!

17. Info About Clothes Dryers
17 Tips To Make Your Life Easier
From the original author of this article: The heating unit went out on my dryer! The gentleman that fixes things around the house for us told us that he wanted to show us something and he went over to the dryer and pulled out the lint filter. It was clean. (I always clean the lint from the filter after every load clothes.) He told us that he wanted to show us something; he took the filter over to the sink, ran hot water over it. The lint filter is made of a mesh material – I’m sure you know what your dryer’s lint filter looks like.

WELL…the hot water just sat on top of the mesh! It didn’t go through it at all! He told us that dryer sheets cause a film over that mesh that’s what burns out the heating unit. You can’t SEE the film , but it’s there. It’s wha t is in the dryer sheets to make your clothes soft and static free – that nice fragrance too, you know how they can feel waxy when you take them out of the box, well this stuff builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen This is also what causes dryer units to catch fire & potentially burn your house down with it! He said the best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (& to keep your electric bill lower) is to take that filter out & wash it with hot soapy water & an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months. He said that makes the life of the dryer at least twice as long!

A voiceover I recently did

I don’t always get to see/hear the finished product when I record a voiceover. In about the middle of October I recorded a TV spot for a Hospital. The producer kindly offered to send me the finished spot, which I very much appreciate.

A little background on the recording itself: I normally do everything in my booth… solo, send my recording to the client and re-do anything that my client needs re-done. For this one, I did my very first phone patch and had 5 other folks on the other end giving feedback and coaching. It was a great experience; they were all really nice and we ended up having a lot of fun.  The final video is below.

Birthday Cake

Today is my birthday.

Like many other people, there are certain traditions that I not only love, but [think] I need in order for the day to be “right”.

For example, a few years ago, my dear friend Ana and I decided to forgo the traditional Thanksgiving fare and have Chinese instead. I wasn’t ok for weeks. I found out that year that I needed turkey on Thanksgiving.

Birthday cake is another one of those for me. I want to say “any cake will do” but that really isn’t true. I need homemade cake, preferably round, 2 layers and if I’m really being honest, I like vanilla cake with chocolate frosting.

A few years back, I made the mistake of announcing that I was going to bake my own cake (cuz I like to bake and more than anyone, I know what I need), but there were many people around me who thought that was a horrible, sad idea, and I let them talk me into letting my husband buy me a cake at the local supermarket. I loved that he went out of his way to do that for me, it was very fancy and delicious, but… I really just wanted a simple, homemade cake. Never again would I publicize my cake-baking intentions.

And, um, for the record, I’m talking about Duncan Hines or Betty Crocker. I don’t think I’ve made a cake from scratch in my life – just add some eggs, oil and water and boom, you have cake.

So, this year, I went out and bought a box o cake and was going to make it this afternoon while my dearest friend Christina came to visit.  However, she put a stop to my plans by bringing me a cake that SHE baked, JUST FOR ME!!

I am so moved by this gift!  There is something wonderful about having people in your life with whom you share a history; who know you so well, they even make you a cake from a box when they normally do it from scratch, cuz they know you like it that way; who know that something so simple will mean so much.

Thank you, Christina. I know this gift was made with love, and I will love eating it!

Gift Ideas

Hey all,

I received an email forward from a dear friend. I thought the contents were very interesting, so I figured I’d put it in a blog. What I like about this email is the idea of giving services and experiences. I, for one, do not need more “stuff”.

Something to ponder as the time of giving approaches:
 
As Hanukah and Christmas approach, Asian factories are kicking into high gear to provide Americans with piles of cheaply produced goods – at the expense of American labor.  This year can be different.  Aside from the spiritual importance of each Holiday- which should NEVER be overlooked.  The months ahead are a time when you, yes… little tiny YOU an ME can make a difference for our neighbors and ourselves.  Consider this when planning your gift giving…


• How about gift certificates from your local Hair salon or Barber?
• Gym or Pool membership?  It’s appropriate for all ages.
• Small, American owned detail shops and car washes have gift certificates or a whole book of gift certificates.
• Like to give candles?  Look at the label- there ARE American made candles in many stores.
• Spending the really big $$??  Perhaps that grateful gift receiver would like his driveway sealed, lawn mowed for the summer, or driveway plowed all winter- by the local teenager or someone you know who is unemployed.  Maybe rounds at the local golf course?
• Mom & Dad need help with yard work, small repairs, etc.?  Hire your neighbor who just got layed off- company outsourced his job, college student, etc.  Print Mom & Dad out a nice gift certificate.  They will love the help and you’ll also be helping someone else to pay their bills, buy groceries, etc.
• There are a gazillion family-run restaurants — all offering gift certificates.  What about a half dozen breakfasts at the local Diner?.  Family run ice cream shops, pizza, or bakery? Remember, this isn’t about big National chains — this is about supporting your neighbors whose financial lives are on the line.  So they can keep their doors open, hire our kids, or even us- when the company we gave the last 20 years of our lives to, cuts us off at the knees.
• How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or motorcycle?  Done at a shop run by your neighbor; who hires folks from town?
• Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom?  Why not the services of a local cleaning lady for a day or a month?  How about a Spa gift certificate for a massage, mani or pedi.  Keep the $$ here at home- in your town.
• Computer trouble?   You can surely find some local young guy who is struggling to get his repair business up and running.
• Local crafters make great gifts; scarves, gloves, cool hats, jewelry, pottery and other great crafts.  Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave your server a bigger tip.  Add some culture and go see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.  Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.  
• Honestly folks, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese lights for the house?  When you buy a five dollar string of lights; about fifty cents stays in the community.  If you have those bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy, mechanic, or babysitter a nice BIG tip.    
 
Hanukkah and Christmas should not be about draining American pockets so that China (a Communist Nation, I remind you) can build another, city, enlarge its military, or loan the U.S. more money.  Hanukkah and Christmas aside form their SPIRITUAL IMPORTANCE are an opportunity to prove we care about each other, the American people, and our country; by enabling local small businesses to STAY OPEN, do better, and hire more people.
 
Something to consider.  Feel free to pass it on….  I hope you do.”

Movie Review: Footloose

I’m not an expert on movies. I regard myself as just an average movie-goer who likes what she likes, and what I like is a movie that causes me to forget myself and fall into a good story.

The original Footloose was one such movie. No, it wasn’t the greatest movie I’d ever seen, but it is on my list of “I’d see that again”. Sometimes you have to have something against which to compare a thing in order to know how good it really is.  The new Footloose movie did that for me. It made me realize just how good the original was.

After learning that my husband had never seen the original, we rented it the other night. I don’t think he was terribly enthusiastic about seeing it, but if it would make me happy, then he’d suck it up and sit through it.

As it turns out, he really liked it. And I know why.

As a side note, I have to say that I was excited about the “New” Footloose coming out because I love, love, LOVE me some dancing movies. Step Up 3D? Yeah, I saw that… and enjoyed the heck out of it. To me, dancing is joy in form. Watching other people dance with joy makes ME feel joy. Who needs drugs when they can get that feeling from something so easy, so fundamental?

Ok, back to the movie. Across the board, I’d recommend the new one, if you like dancing movies like I do. However, if you thought the original was really well done, then don’t bring that with you into the theater because the remake will leave you wanting.

Wanting what, you ask?  Connection.  The original, although it was about dancing, was not a “dancing” movie, much like Dirty Dancing was not really about dancing… it was about the PEOPLE. It was about the relationships and the connections and the things we do to and for the people we love.

The creators of the Footloose remake went for style over substance. The actors did a fine job with what they were given, but honestly, the writing and story decisions were lacking. It was not a frame-for-frame copy of the original, nor did it need to be; they changed some of the story, and honestly I was ok with that… but there were NO real connections.

For example, in the original, we see Ariel trying to get her father’s attention at home, but he is always working and responds to her as if she’s interrupting him… we see the dissapointment on her face, over and over… we understand why she’s “wild” – she’s dying for attention. In the remake, we never see why she’s dying for it, she tells us she is, which is a weaker choice.

Shaw and Vi?  Nothing. In the original, Vi (played by Dianne Wiest) is a shy and quiet woman, who seems like she’d snap in two if you looked at her the wrong way. She defers to her husband and even when she speaks up, its tentative and uncertain (until the end when it really matters).  In the remake, Andie MacDowell is too substantive; too confident. The moments when she speaks up are lost because we are not surprised by them.

The dance. The final dance, when everyone is finally allowed to dance without fear of reprisals. In the original, the camera scans the crowd, which is made up of a room full of very reluctant teenagers. No one is talking to each other, a few boys seem like they might be on the verge of asking a girl to dance, and then they wimp out at the last moment. It sets it up brilliantly for when Ren and Ariel finally show up and immediately start dancing, which encourages others to join in. They just needed to see someone else do it… and in the remake, the camera scans the room where we see kids having a fine time, talking and joking around – not dancing, but still. When Ren and Ariel come in, there is no contrast. I think that was the point where I got mad.

I could go on (I really could), but I think I’ll leave the rest unsaid here and let you decide for yourself, if you go see it. I’d love to hear your take on it.

Soap on Sale

Ok, I’m feeling just a little bit crazy right now. See the pic of all that hand soap over there? There was a sale at the supermarket and I saved over $7 by buying all 10 of them. I’ve never bought so much hand soap at one time in my life. Looking at the gaggle of them on my counter had me shaking my head.

I think I’ll be ok on hand soap for a few years. But hey, I saved a few bucks, right?

No Cats Allowed!!

There is a sign on my voiceover booth that says, very clearly, “No Cats Allowed!!” It even has a little kitty skull with crossbones (see pic). Hogan made it for me when I first started, because when I go in the booth, at least one of the cats decides that’s the time he needs to talk to me. He will meow, scratch or bang on the door, until I open it and pay him some attention. Freddy is the worst about this.  I’ve let him in the booth with me a few times, and I’ve added the sound clip of that at the bottom of this post, in case you care to hear THAT exchange. No, its not the most riveting 2:31 you’ll ever spend, but the end gets kind of funny.

Can’t he read the sign? Its clearly posted, and should strike fear in his heart!  I suppose I should teach him how to read.

Here is the audio of me talking to my cat, while in the midst of recording an audiobook. While he was in the booth, I thought the mic was picking up on all the noise he was making. At about 1:52, I picked him up and brought him to the mic to get the FX of a cat purring, in case that would come in useful at some point… it hasn’t yet. Shortly after that, I kicked him out:


Coca Cola

When someone asks me what project I’m working on, its normally someone outside of the voiceover business, like friends and family.

When this happens, I give a shortcut answer, that isn’t entirely accurate, like, “I’m doing a job for Coca Cola,” or “Le Creuset”.

For those of you who have gotten an answer like this from me, please know that I do not work for these companies directly (and no, I don’t get any discounts, lol). What it really means is that I was hired by a production company or agency, whose client is most likely the more famous name I gave you.

If I’m being honest, I do this not just for economical communication, but also because I think it makes me look ‘cool’ in your estimation. This is total crap, which is why I’m coming clean here. I’m still going to use the short cut answer, but just know that while I’m still amazing, its not because I am doing a job for someone famous.

😉

Kicks

I occasionally get on these “kicks”. Like, last year for about 4 months, I was really interested in learning how to play guitar. After that, I wanted a bicycle to ride around. I pictured myself riding that thing everywhere… and then the heat came and the lovely bike has been sitting in my garage for a few months now (though I fully intend on riding it once the weather cools off a bit).

Then it was learning Spanish via the Rosetta Stone. I think I did that for about a month before promising myself I’d get back to it “soon”.

Well, I just did a job for an ESL program, where I recorded sentences like, “She is eating soup. She is eating fish.” and so on. Of course it made me think of the Rosetta Stone and how I really would like to learn Spanish.

And I will.  Soon.

Paring down

One of my best friends is into the new phenomenon, “Micro Homes“.  Ever since she introduced them to me, I’ve been increasingly intrigued. I’ve seen a few YouTube videos on the subject and the more I see, the more I like.

I’m not saying I’m thinking of moving into one, but the thought of having to pare down my current horde of “stuff” in order to fit my life into 100 square feet (more or less) has gotten me thinking. Do I really need all these DVDs? All these books? If I could only keep a few, which would I keep? Am I really going to watch All of Me again? What about Citizen Kane? I think I was keeping that, and quite a few [unread] books, because I thought it “said something about me.”

Well now its in the “going out” pile. All it said about me was that I mistakenly bought into the idea that stuff = love. Yes, I’ll keep a few books, and I’ll probably keep the All of Me DVD… until six months from now when I do another paring down and it goes, too.

There is much more to do and I’m kind of on a roll now, getting rid of stuff that, frankly, I just don’t need.

Finding Beauty

I live in South Carolina. Its really beautiful here; everywhere I look, I have a choice: let my thoughts take over and distract me, or let them go and look at the sky, the trees, the way the grass here grows really wild if left alone.

When I do that; when I soak it in, its amazing how peaceful I feel; how calm and certain.

Without going into details, I’ve been off-balance for the last few days. Something was brought up in a session with my Life Coach, and it sent me reeling.  Today is the first day I’ve felt right again, after about 5 days.  I’m still in process regarding the upset, so I just looked out my window and saw all these different bushes around the building across the street from me and how each one is so different from the other; each one its own shade of green; each one has its own leaves; each one has its own way of growing out of the ground.  The landscapers did a lovely job with this area, and beyond the building I can see an un-landscaped area, which to me is even more beautiful.

I had been feeling better before I looked out the window. Now I feel happy and peaceful. And thankful.

Toilet training kitties

About 8 years ago, after I’d adopted my 2 cats and had them in my apartment for awhile, I decided to train them to use a toilet. I bought a book on how to do it, and within 3 weeks, they were doing it.

Sort of.

Freddy caught on and did not seem to have any trouble sticking with the program. Sebastian, however, didn’t like it much and for the next 2 years, I dug my heels in and did whatever I could to MAKE him use the toilet.  He would pee in the bathtub and poop on the floor, or on my bed, or also in the bathtub.

The result was, I lost the war and had to bring the litter box back.

Then, on Friday, I was watching Shark Tank (for the first time), and saw CitiKitty. Some woman had invented a system to train cats on how to use the toilet.  Its been a few years, and I still have Sebastian, but I figure, what the hell, I’ll give it another shot.  I mean, as it stands, if Sebastian doesn’t like how full the litter box is, he’ll poop on the floor next to it, so I figure, I’m having to clean up poop anyway, why not try to bring the toilet back into play?

She also has some automatic flushing system on her site, which I’ll totally invest in… IF the kitties get on board.

If you want to know more about CitiKitty, here’s the link for the site. Good luck if you decide to do it – I’d love to hear about your own experiences with it.

I’ll probably use this project as an excuse to write more often in my blog, so… stay tuned!

The Cracked Pot

A water bearer had two large pots, each hung on each end of a pole which he carried across his neck.

One of the pots had a crack in it, and while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the master’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For 2 years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water in his master’s house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made; but the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After 2 years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream.

“I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”

“Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”

“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your master’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in his compassion he said, “As we return to the master’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”

Indeed as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path and this cheered it some. But at the end of tile trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on YOUR side of your path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your crack, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them.

For 2 years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my master’s table. Without you being just the way you are, he would not have this beauty to grace his house.”

Keds

I love Keds.  I do, I just think they’re cute and comfy and great little shoes.

I haven’t owned a pair in a few years. I bought into the notion that I needed “real” sneakers in order to do any activity, but I’ve recently discovered that is just not the case. So, I bought 2 new pairs of “Classic” Keds.  One for my daily wear, and one for the trunk of my car, for those times I decide to wear a pair of uncomfortable shoes and need something I can slip into and continue my day.

Here’s a pic of me wearing my new everyday-shoes:

Ahhh, its so nice to be home.

Fire Tossing

Last night, Hogan and I were invited to a party out near Moncks Corner.

The party was at the residence of our friends, and their home is affectionately referred to as “The Farm” – probably because the home is on more than 50 acres of land.

Every year, our friends host a party around this time, and the draw of the party (other than the people themselves), is their Fireball Throwing game.  Here’s the deal: You take a little bit of this and a little bit of that till you get a ball, wait till its cold, light the sucker on fire, and toss it around to your buddies (the actual details and ingredients are a family secret to which I am not privy.)

We went last year, and I have a great pic of Hogan participating, which I will add to this post below. Last night, it was pretty cold and they all stayed out there playing for about an hour. I’d guess there were about 15 people in the circle. It was a freakin hoot.

Afterwards, in the kitchen, while they were washing their hands off, and comparing how much hair had been singed off their knuckles, I thought to myself that maybe next year, I’ll step into the circle. Maybe.

While the throwing is going on, Jeanne Mitchum (of Holy City Photography) stands off to the side with her fancy camera and takes photos of the game. She leave the shutter open, so she gets these amazing shots of the fire’s route from person to person. That’s why the below shot looks the way it does. When she adds more to her Facebook, I’ll grab them and add them below. This shot is from last year:

UPDATE!! Here’s a shot from this year: 

Guitar lessons

I have a guitar lesson today, but haven’t been practicing. I’m still at the early stages of this endeavor, so I suppose my teacher will either not notice, or [hopefully] be very patient with me.

Haiku, written by a cat

The food in my bowl
Is old, and more to the point
Contains no tuna.

So you want to play.
Will I claw at dancing string?
Your ankle’s closer.

There’s no dignity
In being sick – which is why
I don’t tell you where.

Seeking solitude
I am locked in the closet.
For once I need you.

Tiny can, dumped in
Plastic bowl. Presentation,
One star; service: none.

Am I in your way?
You seem to have it backwards:
This pillow’s taken.

Your mouth is moving;
Up and down, emitting noise.
I’ve lost interest.

The dog wags his tail,
Seeking approval. See mine?
Different message.

My brain: walnut-sized.
Yours: largest among primates.
Yet, who leaves for work?

Most problems can be
Ignored. The more difficult
Ones can be slept through.

My affection is
conditional. Don’t stand up,
It’s your lap I love.

Cats can’t steal the breath
Of children. But if my tail’s
Pulled again, I’ll learn.

I don’t mind being
Teased, any more than you mind
A skin graft or two.

So you call this thing
Your “cat carrier.” I call
These my “blades of death.”

Toy mice, dancing yarn
Meowing sounds. I’m convinced:
You’re an idiot.

Hair Color

I am not a natural redhead.  At least… not physically.  I’ve been coloring my hair since I was about 18 years old.  One reason is that I started getting gray hairs when I was 14.  I don’t always choose the same red.  Sometimes it just depends on my mood.  Sometimes I choose by the picture on the box.  Sometimes my choice are seasonally-based.  This time around, I picked something I thought would look somewhat “Autumnal”, but it came out a bit brassier than I like.

I am posting this pic for clarification:

Cats

I woke up this morning and all three of my cats were looking at me. I think they’re trying to control my dreams.

A lesson in love

Have you ever learned something unexpectedly? Like, you’re going along in life and… wham!  You see something from a different angle, or in a different light and you wonder why you’d never seen it like that before.

That happened to me today.  I got a bad scratch on my arm and Hogan immediately took over and made sure I was ok.  He took such tender care of me that it struck me: He treated me more lovingly than I treat myself.

Its hard to explain what I “learned” exactly. Its more of a paradigm shift, where I realized something that was right in front of me.  There are days where I will exhaust myself with self-criticism.  If Hogan can treat me with so much love, then dang it, so can I.

Music stand cozy

A few weeks ago I attended a great class on audiobooks, which ended up with me cutting my first audiobook demo (see “Demos” to the right).

When I was in their booth recording, I noticed that their metal music stand had a kind of rubber mat just behind where my script sat. I imagined such a device was used in order to absorb my voice, instead of it being reflected back at my by the stand. I was correct.

However, when I came back to my home studio, I couldn’t find anything online that matched what I saw at Buzzy’s. So, I contacted Denise Chamberlain and lo and behold, she actually makes “cozys” for music stands, for this very purpose!

We chatted about material and color, and today I received my red velvet cozy and not only can I read in the booth without worrying about the sound, I feel absolutely decadent!  If you need one of these items, contact Denise right away.

Audiobook demo

Hey, y’all – I just received the audiobook I recorded last week with Pat Fraley, Scott Brick and Renée Raudman. Scott Brick introduces me:

Pecheles Honda

TV spot I did last month for Pecheles Honda:

Zycam

I have a head cold.

The good news is, I rarely get sick, so the occasional head cold isn’t about to get me down. I have heard good things about Zycam, so started chewing on them today. Not terrible as medicines go, but I wouldn’t chew on them if I weren’t sick.

Meanwhile, I’m not sure if I should just rest, or if I should live my life as if my cold were a minor inconvenience. I’m not the type to lay in bed all day – I get too bored. Maybe a little television and couch time wouldn’t hurt, though.

The Rental

I arrived in California late Friday night and needed to rent a car. Normally when I come here, I take a hotel shuttle bus and remain in whatever hotel I’m staying at for the duration of my trip. This is because I normally come here for some convention.

This time is different. I’m here to make a demo, as I outlined in my previous post, and the studio where that is being done isn’t in the hotel…

So, I go to the rental counter, have a conversation with the lovely lady and walk away a little giddy. Because I don’t often travel, I don’t often rent or drive strange cars.

Out in the lot, waiting for me was a brand new Mustang convertible. I’d just been talking the other day to Hogan about my old Mustang and what a great car that had been, and I consider convertibles totally frivolous, so I went for it.

The drive to the hotel was SO FUN! I put the top down and rolled the windows up and just drove. At some point I realized I had a grin on my face.

I’m decidedly glad I rented the car, mostly because it’s different, but also because it was a good reminder of how much I love my Honda. My hips are just a bit too generous for the Mustang’s bucket seats (the seatbelt fastener digs into me uncomfortably); I love to wear lipstick and being in a convertible without proper hair inhibitors can get messy and annoying.

However, for 3 days, those minor inconveniences are just that – minor.

Beep beep.

California

I feel like I just got home from my recent trip to LA, but something came up and I’m heading back over.

While I don’t like to travel, I do it when I see the value in it and I’m certain there will be value to my pending trip.

I’m going (this time) for a 2-day demo class for audiobooks with Pat Fraley, Scott Brick and Renee Raudman. All three are masters and I’m genuinely looking forward to meeting them and learning from them.  At the end of the weekend, I’ll have recorded 3 pieces for an audiobook demo I will display on the front page of this site, along with my other demos.

I’ve been agonizing over what 3 pieces to choose for the demo, and as of this blog post, I’ve only decided on 1 for certain – an excerpt from The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav. If you’re interested in quantum mechanics, but don’t know much about it (and are perhaps a bit afraid of physics), I would recommend this book. Gary Zukav has a lovely way of explaining this topic for non-masters (like me).

So now I’m off to the bookstore to browse around for my other choices. I’m tempted to stay “safe” and pick things that I’m comfy with, but this is important and I’d like to show at least a range of abilities… which is why I chose a piece on physics – it sounds brainy, and so now I can juxtapose that with something from the children’s section or a light piece of fiction.

I’ll add to the post when I’ve made my final choices.

UPDATE: Ok, I’ve added The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Frenemies by Megan Crane and The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine, MD.

According to the leaders of the class, I’ll only be doing 3 of the 4 choices, so I’ll update again when I come back.

Alone Time

My husband has been in Minnesota on business since Monday.  I’m going to go pick him up from the airport in an hour and I’m SO excited to see him.

I know its only been a few days, but he and I are rarely apart, so this time alone has been a challenge.  Before he left, I made plans to totally veg out, maybe read a book or play a video game.  Instead, I just missed the crap out of him and wandered around the condo like a zombie.  I watched a little tv, ate popcorn for dinner and hung out with my cats.  It kind of sucked, but I’m glad I went through it. It made me miss him a lot, but it was good for me to be alone for a few days, to kind of be alone with my thoughts and such.

Blogging

My father recently created his own blog, after weeks (and maybe months) of considering it.  He was hesitating because he wasn’t sure he had anything useful to say.

We convinced him to pull the trigger, and he’s been blogging up a storm!

As for me, I don’t often write down my own thoughts for the same reason he hesitated.  However, I totally enjoy when he or some other friend of mine writes a blog, no matter how random or strange or serious it might be, because I like being invited into their thoughts, if only for a brief moment.

The other cool thing about having a blog is that people I’ve not been in touch with for a long time can google me and find me here.  This happened twice recently.  The first was a pleasant surprise, and the second was certainly a surprise, but not entirely pleasant.

That’s ok. I’ll take the surprise, no matter what the outcome.  I love opportunities to learn.

Narrating with Kirby Heyborne

Funny video from Kirby Heyborne on audio narration:

David Kaye

Very interesting video about voiceover animation

Orson Welles on performers working an audience (1979)

Fun interview with Orson Welles on audiences:

Dairy

When you eat dairy, do you notice that you have to clear your throat more often for awhile after you finish?  I do, and its annoying, but its especially bad when you’re working and doing auditions.

Gotta remember… No dairy during the day!

Need an argument for being irrational?

Seth Goden wrote an interesting post about rationality:

“Are you rational?

Before you make any more decisions you need to answer that question.

A rational decision is based on testing and data and an understanding of the mechanics underneath the system you’re working on. The more you know, the better you decide.

An irrational decision is based on gut instincts, conviction and faith.

No one is rational all the time. In fact, somewhere along the way we made ‘irrational’ into a bad word, but it shouldn’t be.

There are card counters in Las Vegas who are rational about blackjack. And they make a decent living. The more they play, the better they will do. In the same casino, there are craps players who blow on the dice, wiggle their hips and wear lucky shoes. Inevitably, if they play long enough, they will be broke.

If you’re running Adwords on Google, I hope you’re making rational decisions based on clickthrough and conversion.

On the other hand, were you rational when you fell in love? Did you do the math? Medical analysis?

What about the last time you fell for an April Fools joke?

The very nature of faith is that you don’t (and shouldn’t be) rational about it. In fact, you’re entitled to be aghast when anyone confronts you with proof. Proof and rationality aren’t the point.

Same with fine art. If your taste in paintings or music or wine is based on some sort of rational analysis or Zagats-type survey, I feel quite badly for you. Deeper and more detailed information is not better information when you’re making irrational decisions. If you need to hate on Copernicus in order to have more faith, something is seriously wrong.

When Chris Blackwell introduced reggae to the rest of the world (Bob Marley!), it was irrational. That moment in time was the best time to be working with Bonnie Raitt or Jackson Browne, not some unknown spleef-smoking guys from a tiny island in the Caribbean. No amount of rational analysis would have led an investor to back Chris.

Irrational passion is the key change agent of our economy. Faith and beauty and a desire to change things can’t be easily quantified, and we can’t live without them.

Steve Jobs is irrational about product design. As a result, focus groups make no sense. Who cares what other people think? He has faith in his gut. Your website: is it rationally designed? Should it be? What about the process you use to create new products or ads? Or the way you pick the focus of your startup? There’s room for both rational and irrational decision making, and I think we do best when we choose our path in advance instead of pretending to do one when we’re actually doing the other. The worst thing we can do is force one when we actually need the other.”

Australian

Can you do an Australian accent?  I can (sort of).  I recently bought a very good book by Paul Meier called, “Accents and Dialects for Stage and Screen” and I think it was well-worth the investment.  This book has 24 accents and dialects and comes with CDs for you to hear the sounds and different tones others use when speaking.

I bought it  for 2 reasons: I’ve always wanted to be able to do an Australian accent, but could never get my mouth around the sounds, and I think being able to speak with different accents or dialects makes me more marketable as a voice actor.

So, how has this been going so far?  Well, when I drive around, I will call out things I see (like a 3 year old) and say them with a touch of Aussie.  I can’t put whole sentences together yet, but I’m working on it… mate.

HA!

Full day!

I had a full day today!

Had breakfast with my sister Sarah at Charleston Cafe (it was very good, I’d recommend it), then on to Tanger Outlets for some girly shopping.

After I left there I headed on over to the gym to take my new swimsuit for a test drive.  I cannot believe how much I love the water… and how bad I am at swimming right now.  I think its been about 6 years since I’ve swam, and I ended up choking on some pool water but had so much fun anyway.

After that, headed on over to the supermarket and picked a few things up for the weekend, plus a sammich for myself, ate it at Hogan’s office and hung out with the boys for a bit then came home and had a nice chat with my mother.

Yup, a nice, full day!

Mindful Eating

I have a new favorite website: Zenhabits.net. The latest post is really great and has to do with something I’m working on: Mindful Eating. Click here to read the whole article.  Below are the 10 steps he suggests to get started:

How to master the art of mindful eating:

1. Start small. Like all new habits, it’s best to set realistic expectations. Choose one meal or snack each day and commit to focusing on mindful eating at that time.

2. Stop multitasking at meal times. It’s really difficult to focus on eating if you’re doing other things. Set aside time for eating without other entertainment.

3. Only eat at the table. Another way to minimize mindless munching is to get into the habit of only eating when you are sitting down and able to give the food your full attention. No more snacking on the run.
4. Appreciate the appearance. While we’ve all drooled over gorgeous food porn in magazines or online, sometimes we forget about the beauty of the food we are about to eat. Taking the time to notice sets the scene for mindful eating.
5. Focus on each mouthful. Think about the flavour, texture and even the sound of the food in your mouth. Focus on how much you like, or dislike these sensations.
6. Chew. While it can be overkill to go to the monastic extreme of 100 bites per mouthful, make sure you chew your food enough so that it is well broken down before you swallow.

7.Use cutlery and put it down between mouthfuls. It’s much easier to take smaller portions when using a knife and fork. Of course if you feel like you’re having a ridiculous Seinfeld moment eating a chocolate bar with utensils, then skip this step but do put the bar down in between bites so you can focus.

8. Talk and share. One of the joys of eating is sharing a meal with loved ones. It can be challenging to incorporate mindfulness in a social situation but not impossible. Turn the focus of the conversation onto the meal while you are actually eating. Share what you are experiencing in terms of flavours and textures, likes and dislikes. At first this may seem a little weird but trust me, you’ll soon find yourself having fun with it.

9. Go for quality not quantity. By choosing smaller amounts of the best food you can afford, you will not only enjoy it more, you’re far more likely to be satisfied without having to over eat.

10. Make time to prepare your own meals, preferably from fresh ingredients. The cooking process can be as relaxing and enjoyable as eating if you let it. For me, the peace of mind that comes from knowing exactly what has gone into my food makes any hassle worthwhile.

Zombie photo

Hogan and I recently had some photos taken by a professional photographer and friend, Jeanne Mitchum. Here’s the first one I’ve seen, edited. Jeanne is a big horror movie/zombie fan…

Zombie Photo

Great dinner

I had a great dinner last night – in fact, I think it was one of my favorite meals I’ve made.

My friend Christina and I went to Whole Foods yesterday and picked up some fresh food. In case you’ve never been there, Whole Foods offers samples of some of their foods, mostly cheese, crackers and fruit. I usually pass these samples by, but Christina twisted my arm by sampling some cheese in front of me, so I just had to do it. It was called “Robusto” and I couldn’t talk for awhile because there was a PARTY going on in my mouth!

I immediately picked some up and started having ideas about how to incorporate that cheese and the grapes I sampled next (because their flavor combination was awesome) into what I was going to make for dinner.

So, the menu:

“Robusto” Cheese
Seedless Red Grapes
Sliced Red Delicious Apples
Alouette Cheese Spread
Fresh French Bread
Hanger Steak (marinated in Grub Rub)

It was FANTASTIC! I had everything spread out on the table, and we each ate whatever item we wanted. The flavor combinations were better than I expected. I asked Hogan what he thought and he seemed to like it and said it was kind of like a “barbaric” meal because we were mostly eating with our hands.

It was awesome – I was so happy during the meal and totally satisfied for the rest of the night!

VOCareer.com

I just finished recording a testimonial for a company I really like: VOCareer.com.

Parking lot attack!

Went to lunch today with Hogan and my bro. Got to the parking lot, parked the car and as Hogan was about to open his door, a large truck pulled into the spot next to us, so he stopped and waited for the truck to settle before opening his door.

The three of us got out and were in the middle of a light-hearted conversation when WHAM!! The man from the truck comes around the back of his truck and says very angrily, “Do you always open your car door into other people’s cars??!!” Aiming his remark at my brother, who had exited on that side.

My brother responded that the door of our car wouldn’t even reach his truck if he HAD opened it all the way, which he insisted that he hadn’t.

They went back and forth for another minute and when it was clear that my brother wasn’t going to back down, the man disengaged and went on his merry way.

The three of us went to the restaurant for our lunch and it took a good few minutes to get over the shock of being attacked like that in the parking lot. I’m sure if that man had come over and said something like, “excuse me, I think you might have opened your door into my car…” the conversation might have gone a bit different – but no! He decided to come at us with guns ablazin. Jerk.

Looking back on it, it could have gone MUCH worse… and I didn’t have my Taser with me. I’ll remedy that right now.

Don’t go out there defenseless! You never know when you might run into a troll.

A bit of sad news

I just found out that 2 high school classmates of mine are dying of cancer.

They are unrelated stories, but I found out about both of them at the same time.

I didn’t know either person very well, but I do feel sad knowing that these people, whose lives I crossed years ago are sick.

I feel very sad for their families and will keep them both in my thoughts and prayers.

Godspeed.

Sugar – The Bitter Truth

I saw this video a few weeks ago and it has really opened my eyes to what we put in our bodies on a daily basis.

Below is the video in its entirety, and here is another version of the same video, chopped up into 9 parts, 10 min each (easier to watch if you don’t have a lot of time.)

Breadcrumbs

Oh! AND – I had some chicken breasts thawed and ready in the fridge and didn’t know what to do with them because whenever I try to cook chicken breasts, they come out tough and dry. I don’t know how restaurants cook them so they come out so nice!

Anyway, I bought a great cookbook: “How to cook everything” and I looked up chicken parmesan but moved on because I didn’t have any breadcrumbs handy and didn’t feel like going out.

Well, I kept going back to the recipe because I’d never made a dish like that and I liked the challenge. I noticed that the cookbook had a page reference for breadcrumbs and WOW, I can’t believe how easy it is make them.

Remember that bread I made? I took a slice from the loaf (the end was a little stale at this point), and riped it into smallish pieces and put them in my little Cuisinart food processor, which I’ve had for years and I don’t think I’ve ever used, and chopped up the bread into little crumbs!

The meal came out great and I’m pretty proud of myself for trying something new, AND was able to cook a healthy meal for dinner (all items were organic).

Cooking

I’ve been experimenting with cooking things from scratch. Recently, I borrowed my sister’s breadmaking machine (does that count as “scratch”?) and used organic flour, eggs, milk, etc. I was worried about how it would come out because #1, this was my first time, and #2, it was all organic material, and didn’t have all the stuff that other breads have.

It was GREAT! Especially warm and fresh from the oven – seriously, if you haven’t baked bread before, I suggest you try it, its a real treat.

Decaf

So… remember that post I wrote about coffee? That I get a headache if I don’t drink the caffeine?

Well, I’m also trying to loose weight and I know that caffeine is a hindrance to that. I thought I could somehow skirt around that little detail, but after 6 months of frustration I’m going to change to decaf and Diet 7-Up.

I realize this means migraines for me for the next 3 days, but I think I’ll be better off in the long run.

Meanwhile, I got some decaf yesterday, and its pretty delish, so I’m happy about that. Now… where’s the Advil?

Carbs

We all know enough about nutrition to get ourselves into trouble. I’m no exception.

I have done just about every diet out there and the one I like the most is the Atkins Diet. I just feel better when I’m on the diet than when I’m off, but of course STAYING on that diet can prove to be a real challenge.

My husband and I decided to try it out last summer and we’ve stayed on it for the last 6 months, with some success.

One of the reasons we can stay on it without loosing our minds is we take every third weekend “off” from it and go crazy.

This is one of those weekends, and yes… I do feel crazy.

Sugar should be classified as a drug, in my opinion. I’ve had some today and I just… don’t… feel… good. I’m shaky and miserable. I’m thirsty, I feel bloated and just generally in a bad mood.

Why do I do this to myself every third weekend? Well, for one thing, its a great reminder of why I eat the way I do the rest of the time; eating cookies is fun while I’m eating them; I like that I can eat crap and not feel guilty about it (that’s a big one); and I like feeling “normal” – that I can eat whatever I want, which is what I perceive “normal” people doing.

For now, I feel like the old adage, you are what you eat: Crap.

Marketing

I ready a very interesting blog today from Seth Godin about marketing. What he has to say will apply to every aspect of your life, when you think about it.

Good stuff, Seth.

Home Studio

I’ve made a decision!!

Well, to be precise, I asked Hogan to tell me what to do, and his preference is for the booth to be at home, so that’s where I’ll stay.

Its a hell of a thing to not know what to do. I’m relieved and happy now to have it decided, AND I prefer it to be at home as well, so that worked out well.

My thanks to Hogan for helping me out.

Studio location

I’ve been struggling with a choice: Do I keep my studio in my home or should I move it to another location? I have an opportunity to get a sound booth, which is a heck of lot better than my closet. The problem is, the thing is large and we don’t have a lot of space at home.

The other ‘location’ is within my family’s business offices, in which there is potentially a space for me.

Pros and cons for home:
Pros: Well… I’ll be home, which means I’ll be comfortable and feel safe to experiment with the copy; I can possibly use the space in my home to write off the business expenses; I’ll have immediate access to the booth, in case a client needs something right away.
Cons: I might not focus on the business as much if I’m too comfortable and I have a lot of distractions here. I don’t have as much space in my home for a “studio”, and the booth alone will take up a lot of space and be a potential eyesore.

Pros and cons for office:
Pros: I’ll be out of the house and when one does that, one tends to focus more; I’ll have more space and may possibly be able to get a larger booth with a few more bells and whistles; my family will have ready access to the booth for their own needs.
Cons: I might not feel as safe to experiment with the copy (which might turn out to be a good thing for me; it might be good for me to be forced to be creative in an open environment as you never know when that kind of skill will come in handy); I won’t have immediate access to the booth, in case a client needs something right away; I can’t protect my equipment if its out of my hands.

As you can see, I’ve thought a lot about it. I think my druthers would be to stay at home, but it just may not be feasible in the little condo. I don’t want to squeeze us into a smaller space by introducing a large room-within-a-room situation, but I also feel like it would all be just fine and Hogan and I would make the best of it.

I’d love to hear what you think about it. What would you do?

Fixed!

My site re-direction went all kaflooie, but its all fixed now! Thanks for stopping by!

Haiti

We just donated money to the Haitian relief from StillerStrong.org – I saw that Ben Stiller had actually created a charity organization, like his character Zoolander said he’d do in the movie.

I thought that was clever, so I donated thru his site instead of Red Cross or something.

Cranky

SO CRANKY TODAY!

Business and Pleasure

I took a business class about a year ago and one of the instructors offered to give honest feedback about our websites.

He was brutally honest and I really appreciated that.

Now its a year later and I’m going against some of his advice, because I’ve been convinced about the new way to do business. In case you haven’t noticed, things have gotten a lot more social.

Last year, the advice was to keep it professional only, and I think there was a time when that would have been the thing to do – but nowadays, with the internet making our planet smaller and smaller, people are more interested in doing business with people they know, and I like the idea of that.

So. I merged my 2 sites, like I said in an earlier post, and now you know why.

What do you think about the new ‘social’ way to do business?

Gamer

I’m a big gamer.  I may not be as big as most (like my friend Ian in Texas), but let’s say I know a thing or two about a thing or two.

Anyway, my sister is not a big gamer, but seems to enjoy playing video games, mostly to be social.

She came over tonight and played the original Fable because she had played Fable II recently at a friends house, and I tried to convince her that the original was better.  To me, it still is.  I don’t know where she stands on the matter, but I was a bit taken aback by the graphics compared to how graphics are now.  The difference is pretty amazing and I’m really in awe of how the smartie pants of the world figure out how to make things better and better all the time.

I had a lovely evening and hope she wasn’t too bored with my pixelated hero of Albion…  Maybe I need to invest in some multi-player games for the next visit.

What say you?

Merge

Hey!  I did it!  I figured out how to merge my voiceover site with my blog.

/bow

It only took me all day and a smidge of my sanity, but here we are!

Medium Rare

Went to a restuant today and ordered a “medium rare” burger.

It arrived raw.  Nice way to ruin a perfectly good day.

Coffee

A wise person once said, “I don’t have a problem with caffeine. I have a problem without caffeine.”

For me, the problem is I get a major headache if I don’t have coffee.  Its terrible, but the good news is, I LOVE coffee, so about 99% of the time, no problem. This post will not be about headaches – just wanted to share.

Currently my favorite flavor is French Vanilla.  Someone suggested I try the Paul Newman version of the little K-Cups we use (specialty coffee maker), and so while at Target recently, I picked up the only box that was there.

The ‘flavor’ we unwittingly bought was something called “Extra Bold”.  I was unsure about this new flavor, but being the adventurous woman that I am, I took a chance.

Woah!  Delicious!  Move over, Guatemalan Antigua, Mama has a new baby!

Now I still have the French Vanilla in the afternoons, but the mornings are reserved for the Extra Bold.  I forgot how much I love super-strong coffee, and I felt moved enough to blog about it.

Or I was pushed into it by Christina and Nick. Either way.

😉

Journals

I was doing some fall-cleaning yesterday and decided to re-do my library.  I found a huge cache of old journals.  Each and everyone of them had some writing in them, but not one of them was filled.  I have no idea why I have like 15 different books, all partially filled.

I haven’t journaled in a few years (blogging is the only thing that comes close), and I’ll hang on to these journals to enjoy later… but sheesh!  All these books, only partially filled?  What a waste.

Rude!

I went to the supermarket for a bit of light shopping.  When I checked out, the girl behind the register looked at my hair and commented, “Interesting color.”

I noticed that wasn’t exactly a compliment, so I replied good-naturedly, “It was an accident.”  I then explained what happened (different color than I’m used to – its pretty brassy.)

She proceeded to start to write down a name on a piece of paper.  I asked what she was doing and she said, “I’m going to give you the name of someone who can fix that,” and she pointed at my head with her pen.

At this point, I start laughing because I can’t believe how absurd this conversation is. This girl doesn’t know me, and has no idea how rude she’s being. She honestly is trying to ‘help’ me.

I thanked her and explained that I really didn’t need the number, and that the color would eventually fade.  As I walked away, I said, “And besides, if my husband doesn’t mind, why should I, right?”

She replied, “Yeah, its a good thing he loves you, no matter what,” as she looked again at my copper head.

True. So true.

How’s your handshake?

Hogan and I went shopping today. We bought a ceiling fan at Lowes for the home office, bought some books from B&N, and then stopped by a couple of furniture stores to do a little recon on dining room sets.

The fellow at the first place we looked was someone with whom we’ve worked before, when we bought our living room furniture.  Nice guy, very pleasant.  As we were leaving, he stuck out his hand for a handshake to say farewell.

Now… handshakes are tricky.  I won’t claim its a universal truth… but in my humble opinion, handshakes are a gateway into someone’s character.

There are the “grippers” – people who think they need to be aggressive and subject your hand to their vice-like grip; basically letting you know they lack the confidence to shake your hand properly.

Then, there are the “dead fish” kind.  These people barely make the effort to keep a firm hand or look you in the eye; basically letting you know they lack the confidence to shake your hand properly.

Either way is awful, for its own reason (though I think I’d prefer a grip to a fish, but that’s me).

They guy at the store was a dead fish and it honestly made me not want to do business with him.  Like I said, he was a nice guy, but… I really don’t like to do business with people who leave me feeling ‘oogy’.

How’s YOUR handshake?  Not sure?  Shake my hand and I’ll tell you.

NaNoWriMo

Its that time again. NaNoWriMo begins in a few days and I’m thinking about doing it.

I go thru this every year and am feeling ambiguous about it.

What is NaNoWriMo?  The “National Novel Writing Month” organization hosts a website where you can challenge yourself to write a novel (50,000 words) within 30 days – specifically, from November 1st to the 30th.  There is no competition, except with yourself, and it can be grueling, but ultimately a LOT of fun.

I “won” the contest in 2004 and 2005, and have attempted to do it again since then, but life has been pretty busy the past few Novembers and I didn’t follow thru.

I love the NaNoWriMo and love being challenged. Hm. Maybe I’ll do it this year.

Want to do it with me?

Diamonds

I’ve been having some issues with my earlobe lately.

Growing up, if I wore earrings that weren’t at least 14k gold, my lobes would get red and sore and hurt a really lot.

I stopped wearing earrings for a long time and one day, got a wild hair and started wearing them again.  And… no problem!

Now, I have a ton of crazy earrings and its been REALLY fun… but the old soreness has come back (but only in my left lobe – explain THAT one to me), and I stopped again.

For the past few days I’d been thinking I should maybe go to Target or something and grab a small pair of 14k studs to get back into the swing of things, but got distracted by the sparkly display at Kay Jeweler next door…

I called Hogan to clear it with him, and he gave me the ok: I now own my very first pair of diamond stud earrings!  That wasn’t my intention going in there, but I had a price in my head that I was willing to pay, and as it turns out, I was able to afford diamonds!

I left the store in sort of a giddy limbo – I really don’t know how to feel about it.  Am totally tickled that I have DIAMONDS on my person. Right now. On display. Totally decadent.

Its getting to look a lot like…

I went to Walmart last week with Hogan and he remarked that the merchandise on the way out of the store looked strangely like Christmas decorations.

We go thru this every year – we are always surprised at how early the stores start to push the season, but in the world of supply and demand, is it really their fault?  Would they do it if people didn’t buy stuff this early?  I think not.

As for me, I wait till around Thanksgiving to start making… oh who am I kidding?  I have 2 boxes of blank Christmas cards sitting right next to me, and and am worried about getting people’s addresses in time.

Garbage

So, yesterday morning sucked.

Our garbage is kept in the pantry, which for about 3 years has worked just fine.

A few days ago I started noticing a strange smell, which I just figured was something in the garbage that had gone sour.

I was sort of right.

I took out the bag and saw that somehow, something had leaked INTO the garbage liner, and there was about an inch of sludge, baiting me; mocking me.

It was gross, let me tell you. I think the actual liquid part of it was chicken grease, but what made it horrid was the added smell of the Bounce dryer sheet swimming in the grease, that I had put there as a deodorant. OH, and the garbage bags? Yeah, they have some god-awful “Vanilla” deodorizer-smell (which I hate), which added a lot to the whole experience.

Feeling sick yet?

So, I poured out the sludge into the bag I had just taken out, ended up spilling a bit (of course), and took the liner into the bathroom where I spent the next 30 min disinfecting the thing.

So the good news is, the smell is gone and my can is clean.

Bloggin

Hi.  Was talking to my girlfriend Christina the other day, and she inspired me to start up my blog again.

I think I’ll keep it simple, cause I’m a simple gal.

😉