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Archive for March, 2011

Well, it’s been a little while since I last posted- I think the last time I checked in I was about to embark upon the weekend of performances for Guys and Dolls Jr. Despite all of our ridiculous hurdles, we managed to put out a nice dress rehearsal performance and I was relatively calm about putting on the show for the public. I had a leisurely Saturday, and went out in the afternoon to do a little shopping and some errands. I had left my phone at home and when I got home after 4:00, I noticed that I had two voice mail messages- both detailing how the male lead of our show had woken up that morning with a fever and vomiting. OMG. Luckily, the mom had some serious anti-vomit medicine handy and, after checking with a pediatrician, gave him the drugs that he needed to get through the day. The kid was a trouper, too- you wouldn’t even have known he was sick that morning. Of course, this was one of the few kids who I never had to worry about breaking character or missing lines… he was the least of my worries- until I had to worry that he might hurl on stage!

Anyway, that aside, the weekend was a success- and while I was relieved for it to be over, I didn’t really get to relax last week, as I was gearing up for the NYSSMA festival I would be taking my students to the following weekend. For those of you not from New York, NYSSMA (New York State School Music Association) has festivals all over the state each spring for students to be adjudicated by a certified judge. My little ones just go for the experience- mostly they’re playing things like Lightly Row and Home on the Range… if there’s a real hot shot they might play a Bach minuet from Suzuki book 1. So, for me, it’s not really stressful- it’s just a weekend when I have to be impossibly perky and upbeat because I’m usually dealing with a kid’s first NYSSMA solo and I want them to have a good experience.

This year at NYSSMA I only had two students freak out and cry. It’s funny- the ones who cry are always the total hams the rest of the time- so it’s always sort of shocking to see them break down over something like a NYSSMA solo. One of my 4th grade bass players was so nervous that he started playing his solo really fast in the warm-up room… and he couldn’t get through it. The tears were just rolling off the tip of his nose. His mom and I talked him off the ledge with the promise of cookies and potato chips afterward and he did fine. The other cryer was this normally sassy 4th grade violin player- she arrived a little late and I didn’t see her right away- but when I did, she had the tell-tale red, puffy eyes and did not look happy. I managed to calm her down with some effusive compliments and a couple lame knock-knock jokes.

So, NYSSMA pretty much ate up my whole weekend and now this is my last quiet night before I jump headfirst into a high school pit orchestra I’ m playing for this weekend. Last night I made some pasta for dinner and I used that Philly Cooking Creme again- this time I bought the original flavor, and as I predicted, it was definitely the way to go. I sauteed some onion and garlic in a little olive oil, then added a cup of chicken stock. I had a whole bag of baby spinach that needed to get used, so that all went in. I also added a can of quartered artichokes. Then I stirred in the cooking cream and added some grated Romano cheese. I tossed it with some tagliatelli and had a nice dinner. It was also good a day later, as I ate leftovers tonight. I’m not going to bother posting pictures because it doesn’t look that much different from the last pasta I made. I think it was definitely a good idea to cut the cream with some chicken stock, though. It actually made it creamier and more saucy. I might go with the low sodium variety next time, as it was a little salty between the broth and the cheese.

I’m not sure what to do about dinner the next three days- tomorrow I have a rehearsal from 5 to 9, Wednesday I’m getting my hair cut and colored and then going to a board meeting, and Thursday I have another rehearsal from 5 to 9. I could try to be good and pack some healthy food, but I know that fast food is going to lure me in. We’ll see. Which do you think it will be? Greek yogurt with granola and a banana or chicken McNuggets?

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Whew, what a couple of weeks it has been. The last time I posted was around Eartha’s dental adventure, and she has recovered nicely. I would even venture to say that she has become a little more tolerable in general after her extractions. Maybe those teeth were really bothering her and that is why she was always so surly. Though, who am I kidding? She’s still Eartha.

First, I’ll post pictures of that birthday cake I thoughtlessly bragged about and then never showed you:

I decided to use the William Sonoma specialty pans Mom gave me for Christmas. I’ve used them a couple times since I got them and it was sort of a trial and error process.

The first time I tried to use them, I followed the directions religiously and used the recipe that came with the pan, which called for lots of expensive ingredients like chocolate and whatnot. I don’t know what I did wrong… maybe I didn’t grease the pans well enough, and in retrospect I don’t think I had gotten my little oven thermometer yet so I wasn’t aware that my oven was not preheating as fast as I thought it was, and the cakes were probably a little underdone. Anyway, regardless of that, the recipe was definitely more of a brownie recipe than a cake recipe and it didn’t want to come out of the pans- so I was forced to turn the mess into cake balls. I had already made the buttercream frosting too, so I just mixed it all together and put it in the fridge to deal with later. There was definitely more frosting than I would have normally used for cake balls, and between the cakes and the frosting there was something ridiculous like four sticks of butter involved.

Well, when I took it out of the fridge the next morning to try and salvage it, it had cooled into a giant fudgy rock. I nearly gave myself blisters scooping out spoonfuls. It resulted in what I dubbed ‘Brownie truffle balls’. I didn’t think it was possible to make something richer than a cake ball, but there you have it.

The second time I used my William Sonoma pans, I just used a cake mix. It was exactly the right amount of batter, and the cakes popped out of the pans perfectly. Go figure. I just put vanilla frosting in the middle and decorated the top with some chocolate frosting and cocoa powder.

This time when I used the pans, I decided to get a little creative. I still used a cake mix, but I covered each cake in chocolate ganache, and mixed the frosting with crushed Oreo cookies. I probably could have used less Oreos, as it made the filling super thick, but no one seemed to mind. Then I just piped plain frosting around the edges to really make it look like an Oreo cookie and personalized the top.

Okay, I feel better now that I have documented the cake. The reason why I haven’t posted in a while is because I have been smack in the middle of production week for the my school’s Drama Club production, which I have the overwhelming task of directing. Overwhelming, you say? But I thought you teach fourth and fifth graders? It must be so cute. Ha ha ha. Our spring musical has evolved into this behemoth with a cast of over ninety kids, and we rehearse for four months. So, it pretty much takes over my life, especially towards the end.

Last year, we did Annie Junior– so I wanted to choose a show with more parts for boys, which led me to choose Guys and Dolls Junior. I will leave out all of the gory details, but let me say that I now have a few more grey hairs and all have names which commemorate certain cast members. At the beginning of the week I wasn’t sure how we were going to pull it all together, but as such things always do, we ended up with a nice school performance yesterday. Two more shows this weekend and I can get on with my life.

Some of the more memorable moments onstage yesterday included a kid manifesting his stage fright in an urgent need to pee during the opening number- he ran offstage and I prayed to the theater gods that he would return in time for his next line moments later. He did. Another kid got stuck backstage behind a group of crapshooters and missed his entrance because he was too meek to push his way through. Not to worry, he made up for it later by coming out way too early for another entrance, stopping in his tracks and slowly backing up until he was offstage. My favorite moment though, was during the Havana scene, where I noticed an unopened pack of fruit snacks on the stage by Sarah and Sky’s feet. Apparently someone was hoarding fruit snacks in their suit pockets backstage and we kept finding mysterious fruit snack trails everywhere, a la Hansel and Gretel.

All right. I have sat in front of the computer long enough. I have too much to get done today, and I would really like the day to include a trip to the gym. Would you believe I still haven’t gone?

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Today I had the pleasure of bringing Eartha back to the vet for her extractions. She had two teeth in bad shape and the vet suggested making the appointment right away, so being the dutiful cat mommy I set up the appointment. I knew I was going to be in trouble when I had to take away her food and water at 9 pm last night. Eartha gets in trouble on normal nights when she just wants fresh food… let alone being deprived for half of a day. I fed them yesterday evening and she was taking her time picking at the food, so when I took it away at 9, I don’t think she had eaten very much. I prepped myself for the impending wrath by closing the bathroom doors (the night before I awoke to a crash when she knocked the magazine rack off of the toilet tank) and the the bedroom doors. When I came downstairs this morning, she had knocked all of the books off of the coffee table, but luckily the glass candle holders were still intact.

I dropped her off before 8:30 this morning, and she protested vocally in the car, but it was nothing compared to what I would hear when I picked her up. It’s been a while since Eartha behaved really badly at the vet- maybe it’s just been a while since she’s been there so I forgot how bad she gets. When I arrived back at the vet, the first thing the receptionist said to me when I identified myself was, “She’s really pissed off. Is she good for you? Because the tech is afraid to take her out of the ‘recovery cage’. Maybe you should come back and try to get her into her carrier.”

Okay. So I paid the almost 500 dollar bill and went to the back. Apparently, every time someone walked by Eartha’s cage she would screech ferociously at them and lunge forward while punching her paws through the cage in an attempt to make contact with her ‘enemies.’ They tried to quiet her down so she wouldn’t totally freak out all of the other animals by covering the front of her cage with a towel. Well, as soon as I came back and they removed the towel, I got screamed at. By the cat, that is. This was not one of those scenes where Eartha is ill-behaved and then I show up and she is all purrs and sweetness. No, she wanted to attack me just as much as she wanted to attack everyone else. The noises coming out of her were so ridiculous that the tech and I just stood there for a minute in disbelief, almost laughing.

Since my presence didn’t seem to help the situation, the tech finally took a deep breath and said, “I’m going in.” She grabbed a towel, wrapped it around the shrieking cat and deposited her into her carrier, with nary a scratch. After this whole ordeal was over and Eartha was calming down on the car ride home, I was trying to describe this whole experience over the phone. Any impersonations I attempted simply did not do her vocalizations justice. So, when I got home I went on youtube and found this:

And there you have it. That is exactly what Eartha sounded like, except she was being way more violent by lunging at us and trying to beat her way through the cage. I find it amusing that an asthmatic cat with respiratory problems has the lung capacity to create such impressive noise. I noticed when I found the youtube video that there are a lot of comments on it from concerned people who think the cat must have been abused, but clearly they don’t have a cat like Eartha. When I got her home, I let her out of the carrier and she attempted to scurry away, but I guess she was still a little drugged and had trouble staying upright. Great. So now I had a drunk, angry, hungry cat. I put down some wet food for her and she attacked it like a competitive eater. She kept going back and forth between the wet food and dry food like she couldn’t decide what she wanted more. I’m amazed that she didn’t barf it up. Around dinner time I squirted the pain meds into her mouth and she has been pretty quiet ever since. Hopefully she will be back to her old self tomorrow.

Oh, I also made a SLAMMIN’ birthday cake tonight for one of my friends at school tomorrow- but I’ll wait to post about it until tomorrow when I can take pictures of it in natural light. Until then, goodnight!

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