seriously?

seriously?

I had a very rapid epiphany while drifting to sleep in an upstate hotel near Saratoga Springs earlier this week —

I need to stop taking myself so seriously.

I don't know how or why this thought sprung from from crevices of my mind, but I'm glad that it did. I am constantly wrapping myself up in the little things – from the comparison of my surroundings, to where I'm going to be in six months when my show closes, all the way down to that thing I said to a coworker the other day that may have been funnier in my mind than it was out loud. And I slowly started to laugh to myself because, at the end of the day, I have very little control over the timing of my life. God, the universe – whoever or whatever you believe in – has a finite plan that rarely lines up with when exactly we want things to go our way. So why am I putting so much pressure on myself at twenty-five to be the best at everything, or be at the height of my career, or have myself completely figured out?

Our twenties are about discovery. Hell, life at any age is about discovery. My interests, my beliefs, my expectations, and my world are all slowly evolving as I grow and learn each day. I need to start consistently practicing the philosophy I preach. I need to stop wondering and start wandering. I need to bring my ideas to fruition. I need to embrace new intrigue now, while I'm young and vivacious and living in the atmosphere of a wild city that is filled to the brim with possibility.

I will thank myself later.

tj maxx, you should go

tj maxx, you should go

So anyone who knows me is well-aware — I am undoubtedly a Maxxinista. Most of my wardrobe, from my dresses, to my shoes, down to my underwear, is from one of the TJX stores.

Well, last week, I had the most outrageous experience with a $10 shirt that I purchased from the 57th Street TJMaxx in Manhattan earlier last month. It was a simple, pink, cotton shirt that was stylish without breaking the bank (as most items at TJMaxx are) manufactured by a brand named Lavender Field.

By the time I reached work at noon on Saturday, this shirt had stained everything I was wearing including my bra, my new purse, my Levi jeans and even my skin.


It was WILD. So I did what any millennial would, and I tweeted about it — pictures and all.

I was met in the days following with flawless customer service. Theresa, Andre, and Kevin were so incredibly helpful, kind, and generous with my situation. Since, of course, every item that was damaged came from their store, I was able to go in to the 57th street location in Manhattan and get store credit for, not just the culprit shirt itself, but every single item that it dyed (except my skin, cause they don't sell that there).

I just had to write about this. The TJX corporation has always been one of my faves and it was so comforting to know how highly they prioritize customer satisfaction. They will forever have my business because their customer service is MAGICAL.

green bean salad

So I have to be honest, I am extremely picky about my salads; mostly because 9 out of 10 times, restaurants will give you half a pound of lettuce, sprinkle it sparingly with toppings, and call it a salad.  It turns people off from the healthy alternative, and you’re left paying an arm and a leg for a bed of lettuce will never actually satisfy you nor fill you up.

Instead, I would much rather build my salads from the ground up with substance.  On a sweltering hot day such as today, all I could think about eating was cold, fresh fruits and veggies.

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So I bought a bunch of raw fruits and veggies that I love and dreamt up a lettuce-less salad to make at home.

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My base was green beans – which I know sounds weird, but I love raw green beans.  They’re crunchy, delicious and a alternative green base to your salad.

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I topped it with chopped baby carrots, raw sweet corn, avocado, red peppers, cucumbers, scallions and sliced cherry tomatoes.  To keep it as clean as possible, I made some guacamole as a “dressing.”  A little lime and black pepper and voila!

escaping reality

Manhattan is undoubtedly momumental; a concrete jungle filled to the brim with basically anything you could want at a moments notice.  It is yes and no all at the same time.  You can feel like you have everything and nothing in New York.  You can feel so suffocated yet so lonely in New York.  You can feel so much freedom yet so much restriction in New York.  New York City contains endless possibilities yet endless obstacles.

I have had many heart-to-hearts with a kindred spirit of mine, Hailei Moriah Call, who endlessly commiserates with me on many levels; but more recently the struggle of living in Manhattan while yearning for the escape to places outside of our itty-bitty city.  After a fourteen-show stretch at CATS, we all needed a breath of fresh air.  My breath of fresh air typically lies in the small town of Brookfield, Connecticut where I have spent the majority of my life learning and blooming into the person I am today.

Having two homes is simple and difficult all at the same time.  When I'm in one for too long, I crave the other.  And as I sit here in a Starbucks that lives on the corner of Route 3 in Rocky Hill, Connecticut rather than the average Manhattan street corner, I can't help but wonder if my heart will ever feel settled somewhere.

love my life in New York.  I wake up in my sunny Manhattan studio apartment each morning feeling undeniably grateful (and a little hungover on most weekends).  But as we ripen through our twenties to approach an age bracket where we should be "settling down," are we settling for where we settle?  Do we even have to settle?  Or can we break the glass ceiling and choose to put roots down in multiple places that set our souls on fire when we need them to?

My father said to me today that New York is not a part of me.  My heart almost exploded as I instantly went on the defense, because New York is a part of me.  Three and a half years of mistakes, adventures, tears, and triumphs become a part of you and they will continue to as long as I allow New York to be a part of me.  But the Statue of Liberty holding a chuck of my heart in her hands will never yank my roots out of the Connecticut soil, nor will it step on the roots I create anywhere else in my life.  For I would not be the person I am today if I did not ground myself into various places of this world.

tony

The Tony Awards have held a special place in my heart since I started watching them in my adolescence, and it has been my dream to attend one day in some capacity.  This past year, when I was asked to join the company of CATS as a dresser, I truly thought that I would have the opportunity to be involved with the 71st Annual Tony Awards.

When the revivals started popping up like weeds in the Spring, I surely thought our show could never be passed over.  I mean, come on, we’re CATS.  Reviving this show was huge for the theatrical community.  And when we did not receive a nomination, for anything, I was admittedly surprised, but took solace in the fact that we were not alone.  Many shows got snubbed – namely a fellow ALW revival, Sunset Boulevard.

Despite being disappointed, I quickly reached a place of acceptance – we were walking into a ten-day work week leading up to the Tony Awards and on top of our fourteen consecutive shows, had to put in four new actors before Monday.  A Tony performance would have annihilated us.  It was a blessing in disguise.

But as I watched tonight’s Tony Awards Broadcast, I realized that, despite zero recognition from the American Theatre Wing, CATS is one of the most resilient and hardest-working companies on Broadway today.  We put forth one of the most physically demanding shows, on a raked stage, on one of the most difficult schedules, every single week.  And we don’t need a nod from anyone to tell us that.

Congratulations to my friend Philip Heckmana fellow dresser at CATS who had the honor of dressing Mr. Kevin Spacey tonight as he brilliantly hosted these awards.  A huge shout out to Daniel Gaymon, our Macavity in CATS and one of the kindest and most enjoyable colleagues I have at the pleasure of working with each night at the Neil Simon who was one of those delicious men in the opening number.  Kudos to Andy Blankenbuehler, who probably couldn’t pick me out of a line-up, but still says hello to me every time he visits our theatre.  Who brought us boxes on boxes of incredible doughnuts yesterday with a message reminding us that we deserved to be performing on the Tony’s tonight.  Who revamped this iconic show and made it possible for me to have a job, and who won the Best Choreography Award for Bandstand, where in my old colleague Drew McVety performed while my buddy Zak Jacobs cheered in the wings as Assistant Company Manager to this new musical.  A huge congratulations to my girl Kate Baldwin, who I dressed in Songbird, and was nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical for Hello, Dolly! which I absolutely cannot wait to see.  I was tickled to see Gavin Creel win for Supporting Actor in Hello, Dolly!, a genuinely brilliant man who educated me in an hour-long masterclass about acting through song and cheered me on as he steered my performance in a productive direction back in 2012, which I will never forget.  To see Kristolyn Lloyd performing alongside the cast of Dear Evan Hansen after dressing her years ago in Heathers and knowing her warm spirit was such a proud mama moment.  And Zach Prince making the goofiest face next to his man on-screen during the line-up for Best Supporting Actor in a Musical, was nothing short of typical and fabulous.  It has been an honor to work with all of you in some capacity throughout my time in Manhattan and even more exciting to see your success on screen tonight.

 

Congratulations to everyone who has poured their soul into these productions, both on and off the stage.  The nominations and winners were beyond well-deserved, and I am so grateful to be a part of the theatrical community as the small fraction that I am.

top five

top five

Last night, three karafs of sangria in with my two girlfriends from college, we started discussing our top five favorite artists.  I’ve already touched on my love for Ed Sheeran (see before i dive right into you), but I got to thinking about my personal top five, and wanted to share them with you (in no particular order) —

S A R A   B A R E I L L E S

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My heart has been beating for Sara Bareilles since high school.  I’ve seen her in concert twice, and went to her opening night as Jenna in Waitress.  That is how much I adore her.

F A V O R I T E   A L B U M

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T O P   F I V E   F A V O R I T E   S O N G S

Uncharted — Kaleidoscope Heart

Many The Miles — Little Voice

Goodbye Song

Free Ride

Casseopia — The Blessed Unrest

D A V E   M A T T H E W S   B A N D

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Another one of baby Tara’s favorites.  It all started when I was a freshman in high school trying to impress my senior boyfriend who loved DMB; and then I actually fell in love with his music and carried it with me into college and beyond.  I’ve never seen him perform live, which is shocking, but I will one day.

F A V O R I T E   A L B U M

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T O P   F I V E   F A V O R I T E   S O N G S

Satellite – Under The Table And Dreaming

Why I Am – Big Whiskey and the Gru Grux King

Ants Marching – Under The Table And Dreaming

Grey Street – Busted Stuff

Crash Into Me – Crash

M U M F O R D   &   S O N S

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My Mumf love started in the autumn of my senior year of college back in 2012.  Ever since then, Mumford and Sons forever holds my fall-time anthems.  I have tried many times to see them live, but have yet to succeed.

F A V O R I T E   A L B U M

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T O P   F I V E   F A V O R I T E   S O N G S

I Will Wait – Babel

Little Lion Man – Sigh No More

Lover of the Light – Babel

The Cave – Sigh No More

Winter Winds – Sigh No More

J A S O N   M R A Z

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What can I even say about Mr. Az?  I love him, I love what he stands for, I love his music – all of it.  He is a brilliant artist and his affiliation with Sara Bareilles makes my heart beat for him even more.

F A V O R I T E   A L B U M

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T O P   F I V E   F A V O R I T E   S O N G S

Butterfly – We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things

Traveler/Make It Mine – Beautiful Mess: Live On Earth

You F*ckin Did It – LOVE Is A Four Letter Word

Welcome to Saratoga: Older Lover Undercover – Selections for Friends

Live High – Beautiful Mess: Live On Earth

E D   S H E E R AN

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This is the newest addition to the top five family.  Thinking Out Loud struck a chord in me, as it did with many people back in 2014, and from there I just fell in love with Ed Sheeran’s music.  I bet you’re starting to sense the trend I have with male guitarists.

F A V O R I T E   A L B U M

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T O P   F I V E   F A V O R I T E   S O N G S

Dive –  Divide

Thinking Out Loud – X

One – X

Photograph – X

Galway Girl – Divide

O T H E R    F A V E S

sweet pot noodles

After deciding to incorporate the Whole30 guidelines into my lifestyle rather than practicing only on a month-to-month basis, I’ve gotten incredibly crafty when it comes to my meals.  One of my absolute favorite things to make: sweet potato noodles.

You can make them yourself, or buy them in store (my boyfriend and I found them recently at Big Y Market in Connecticut for $4.99).  I bought a really inexpensive spiralizer on Amazon, which makes it incredibly easy to make veggie noodles of any kind at home if you don’t want to buy the precut ones.

Below is a real yummy recipe I made at home for next to nothing:

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S W E E T  P O T A T O  N O O D L E S

2 narrow sweet potatoes – spiralized

2 TSP Black Pepper

1 TSP Cayenne Pepper

1 TSP Salt

2 TBSP Refined Coconut Oil

Sauté spiralized sweet potato noodles and coconut oil in a medium-sized frying pan on medium heat until soft.  Gradually add spices while the noodles cook.

R O A S T E D  B R O C C O L I

1 small head of broccoli

1 TSP Black Pepper

2 TSP Lemon Pepper

1 TBSP Melted Coconut Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spread out chopped broccoli on a baking sheet and drizzle with melted coconut oil.  Sprinkle pepper and lemon pepper evenly over the broccoli.  Bake for 12 minutes, or until slightly crispy.

G U A C A M O L E

1 Avocado

5 Grape Tomatoes

1 Scallion Stalk

1/2 Lime

1 TSP Cayenne Pepper

1 TSP Black Pepper

Peel and slice avocado and mash in a bowl.  Dice grape tomatoes and scallions and add to avocado.  Squeeze “half a lime” juice into the bowl and add 2 TSP of pepper.  Stir until all blended to your liking.

Outline your plate with the sweet potato noodles, creating a ring around the edge.  Then take the broccoli and do the same on the interior of the sweet potato noodles, leaving a small circle in the center.  Fill the center with the guacamole and viola!