Christmas 2014

IMG_46392014 will always go down in history in my life story because it’s the year I married Dan. So many of my favorite memories are wrapped up in 2014: wedding (and all the festivities that go with it), honeymoon, launching The Whaling Club catering, new “Margot & Marie” episodes and two original live shows, exciting photography clients and collaborations, shooting a small pilot role, and lots of travel to see family and friends. One of my favorite parts of the new year is taking a moment to reflect. Dan and I spent a relaxing week celebrating Christmas in Lake Bluff, IL, and I returned to LA feeling recharged for January 2015. This year I aim to continue to be actively creative and my motto is “if you can dream it, you can do it.” Dan and I also had these black-eyed peas for the New Year’s good fortune and prosperity, and if that’s not a sure thing then I don’t know what is.IMG_4642^^Annual Christmas dinner (before Christmas) at The University Club of Chicago. One of my favorite traditions!IMG_4644 IMG_4645 IMG_4646 IMG_4647 IMG_4648IMG_4656^^Christmas dinner at home.IMG_4658 IMG_4660^^Dan made his Grandma Prior’s famous cream pie with a graham cracker crust and meringue on top.IMG_4662^^And my Dad made a Yuletide Log. These two are such pastry chefs! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday. Cheers to 2015!

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delights of 2013

For me, the end of a year and the beginning of a new one always brings a bit of mixed emotions. A little bit exciting, a little bit daunting. 2013 was such a special year for me. Reflecting on some of the highlights the other day as I browsed my photos from the past year helped me realize that you never know exactly what’s coming, and that’s part of the fun. And that sometimes what feels like a failure or scary in the moment, actually turns out to be a positive or lead you down a path you might never have tried otherwise. So, in no particular order, here some of my highlights from 2013. photoboothengagement-EditDan and I got engaged. It makes me tear up a little (trying to hold it together, I’m currently on a plane) to think about. Our engagement was so sweet and special, and I don’t know if you’re supposed to say this, but I just love my ring so much! And the engagement, of course, led to the beginning of wedding planning, dress shopping with my mom and girlfriends, an engagement shoot, and asking our loved ones to be a part of the wedding. For this reason alone, 2013 will always be a favorite. IMG_0149Photography. Being a freelancer and starting my own business is challenging, but I’m finding my way and am so grateful to have a job doing something I love. I’ve had some really cool opportunities come my way this year, and I’ve worked with so many lovely and creative clients. My photos were published in the LA Times, Bon Appetit, Los Angeles Magazine, and Angeleno Magazine. And many of my headshot clients signed with new representation and received countless auditions based on their new shots. As with any creative field, it’s a journey not a race, and I’m excited to continue to learn and expand my technical skills, as well as stay creative and see things in a new way.  IMG_6524-EditThe Whaling Club celebrated one year. When Dan and I started The Whaling Club we didn’t know what would happen. Would people like it? We quickly learned the answer was yes, and we’re so happy for that! I can’t wait to see where The Whaling Club takes us this year, but we have a few ideas in mind. Thank you to all of our 2013 guests, the writers who have featured us in their publications, Chef Frank Anderson for joining us over the year, and Sarah Mullin for her ongoing illustrations.

I booked a co-star in my first pilot. The best part was being invited to attend the network table read. I felt like skipping the whole time! And I worked with some of my female comedy idols. grush ss-2Margot and I created “Margot & Marie”! You can watch all the episodes of Season 1 here. Working with Margot on this show has been so rewarding, and there’s more to come. IMG_2046Mexico. Dan’s parents took the whole family to the Riviera Maya to celebrate their wedding anniversary and vow renewal. We swam with sea turtles, lay on the beach, snorkeled, and spent a very memorable day in Tulum. facebookSpank Show. One of my goals this year was to write a sketch show with my hilarious and talented friend, Tim, and put it up at Upright Citizens Brigade. We put a lot into it and it felt AMAZING to perform. Tim is a gem of a person and performer, and the brilliant Drew Droege directed. Our friends came out to pack the house and laugh when my wig flew off!IMG_9658Weddings. We went to a lot of weddings this year, and I’m not just saying this, but each one was really special and unique to the couple. I know it’s partially because we’re planning our own wedding, but I really loved seeing all the details each couple and their families chose and focused on. The majority of these weddings brought me back to Chicago to reunite with my girlfriends and get a little extra time with my family. IMG_5163And of course, everything in between… Caitlin and Emilie coming to visit me in LA. Seeing my brother’s beautiful musical. “Matilda” on Broadway with my parents. Quality time with my Grandmom both at her house in Connecticut and at Thanksgiving in Chicago. Dinners at Bucato, Longman & Eagle, The Publican, The University Club of Chicago, Hartwood, Baco Mercat, Bar Ama, Water Grill… Quiet nights at home in our apartment. Our first Christmas Tree. Bootcamp getting me out of bed in the mornings. Weekly improv practice with my team. Auditions. Watching Downton Abbey with my family. A day trip to Santa Barbara. Camping in Ojai. Ivan & Alyosha at the Troubadour. Support of friends near and far. The love and encouragement of my family.

Happy New Year to my little group of readers out there! I appreciate you stopping by!

groomsman

IMG_1342Dan wanted to put together a special way to ask his brothers and my brother to be his groomsmen. He’s always liked the idea of going to his barbershop with them the morning of the wedding, and everyone getting a shave or a cut, so he came up with this sweet idea to send them each a bottle of Bay Rum aftershave named “Groomsman”. IMG_1344I helped him design the labels, and then we stuck them on these matching bottles and filled them with the aftershave. I love the little detail of No. 1, No. 2, No. 3–Dan’s idea. He wrote them each a note, and sent them off to Florida, Colorado, and NYC. IMG_1352I think they turned out so well! Oh, and they said yes!

tulum, mexico

IMG_1737Dan and I spent a week of July in the Riviera Maya (south of Cancun) celebrating his parents’ 30th wedding anniversary! We all stayed at a massive resort with multiple pools, beach access, and a ton of restaurants. His parents renewed their vows on the beach on their actual anniversary in a very intimate and touching ceremony. Dan wrote and played a song about his parents’ last 30 years, including memories of when he and his brothers were little. Needless to say I think we all shed a tear! IMG_1777IMG_1775One of my favorite days of the trip was spent in Tulum. We visited the Tulum Ruins, and then walked down to the most gorgeous beach–such rich blue water and soft white sand.IMG_2005 IMG_1997 IMG_2013 IMG_2029 IMG_2031 IMG_2036 IMG_2041 IMG_2046Dan and I stayed the rest of the day, and made our way down to Hartwood for dinner, which had been highly recommended by friends. It’s located on a beach road on what they call the “jungle side” (meaning not the beach side). Tulum definitely has an eclectic bohemian vibe going on, and we stopped for a cocktail at Casa Jaguar while we waited for Hartwood to open. IMG_2049 IMG_2050We were blown away by the food and atmosphere at Hartwood! If you ever find yourself in Tulum, it’s a must. Their only source of cooking is a wood burning oven and open grill, and the dining is completely open air. We had a whole roasted snapper and pork ribs to die for.  After dinner we sat in a couple of chairs on the perimeter and enjoyed a few more daiquiris while watching the restaurant fill up with people and the sun go down. IMG_2053 IMG_2079 IMG_2073 IMG_2068 IMG_2067 IMG_2061 IMG_2060I know I’ll always remember that evening with Dan, and it’s fun that we can look back and know it was during our engagement, which is its own special time in life. We were sweaty and salty from the day (we stealthily had changed out of our bathing suits on the side of the road just a few hours earlier), but we were full and very happy.

east coast, part 2

IMG_7816After a a few days in NYC, my parents and I drove out to New Canaan, CT to spend time with my Grandmom and see my aunt and uncle. I’ve always loved my Grandmom’s house. I remember swinging in the yellow plastic swing that used to be in the backyard, and feeling a little crushed when I returned and it had been taken down. I traveled and flew by myself on a plane for the first time going to visit my Grandmom. It was around Easter, and she left candy under my pillow every night before I went to bed–like the chocolate coconut nests with candy eggs in the middle? And we took the train to NYC and went on a tour of Radio City Hall, and I was soooo excited to meet a real Rockette! I got my first and only lava lamp for Christmas in that house, and broke a ceramic duck by accident and sobbed in that house, and got ready with my Aunt Amy in that house before her wedding. Basically, it’s a really special place. And so is the lady who lives there 🙂IMG_7826IMG_7829IMG_7843IMG_7842IMG_7846 I love all the ’60s style–like that green carpet! After a few days of relaxing and shopping at the New Canaan J.Crew (major sale and way better selection than most), I went back to the city for a night out with friends. Dinner at The Meatball Shop was followed by dive drinks with some of the most special people EVER, and the night ended with a giant slice of Artichoke pizza in the East Village. It was perfect. Literally my heart swells for all my friends who came out that night. Reunited and it FELT SO GOOD. Really just the most delightful and loving people. Also, fake eyelashes happened (thank you, Danny). The next morning, Dan’s parents, my parents, and Willyman all met us at Walter Foods for a big family brunch to celebrate our engagement! instagram-blockI was exhausted when I got back to LA, but so so happy. AND I was upgraded to business class on the flight home. So, yeah, that didn’t suck. See you soon, New York!

east coast, part 1

IMG_7754I hadn’t been to NYC in a year and it felt so good! That may not seem like a long time, but I used to visit pretty much every other month when Dan and I were long distance, so I got used to seeing all my east coast friends more regularly. The trip was planned to see my brother’s grad school showcase. He’s a composer in NYU Tisch’s Musical Theatre Writing grad program, and he’s spent the last year working on a musical with his writing partner. I had heard bits and pieces of the process from my brother and via my mom, and I’m so thrilled I was there with my parents to see his gorgeous work. Communicating how people feel and love with humor through music is so mature and wise. AND he’s only 25!! The audience was clearly moved by his show, and I couldn’t have been more proud to be his sister. I’m always in awe.IMG_7770IMG_7760I dragged my family all over downtown for dinner and cocktails. Freemans is a favorite spot that Dan and I fell in love with on an impromptu date years ago in NYC. I love how each room is different, and it always feels comforting and hip. Mission Chinese totally lived up to all the awesome things I had heard! The front looks like a classic, hole in the wall, Chinese joint, but in the back is a full restaurant. Flavor explosion! My friend Aubrey (we worked together at Son of a Gun in LA) is the manager there. It was such a delight to see him, and we tried so many yummy dishes including the thrice cooked bacon with rice cakes, and super spicy chonqing chicken wings. I was so full, but I couldn’t stop eating. Then we all walked down to Painkiller, a tiki bar on the LES. My mom was ready to kill me when we showed up to an unmarked door with only a bouncer. Sorry, Mom!IMG_7788IMG_7790IMG_7792IMG_7795IMG_7798How gorgeous are all those blooming trees? I had the most delightful coffee catch up with my dear friend, Jeremy, in the West Village before heading back up to see a matinee of Matilda. I adored the show! The kids in the show were incredible, so committed and strong. Super funny. mailbox-jeremyIMG_7805IMG_7809Amazing, so far, right? And that’s only half way through! Part 2 coming up.

merry merry!

merrymerryI’m on the plane headed back to Los Angeles after a luxurious trip back to Chicago. I’m always emotional saying goodbye to my family, but I am really excited to see Dan, and my Grandmom is sitting next to me! She’s coming out to stay with my Aunt Amy and Uncle Peter who live in LA too. The week home was very relaxing. I slept in every day, wore my pajamas until the afternoon, and ate my parent’s amazing cooking. I meant to take even more pictures, but I was having so much fun I just wanted to be there enjoying the moment. You can see more on my Instagram.IMG_0151^traditional English trifle with homemade custard and sherryIMG_0157IMG_0164IMG_0162IMG_0161IMG_0169^we managed to use this twice this season!IMG_0172^I got this cheese slate for my parents last ChristmasIMG_0175^Bouche de Noel (Yule Log)

Hope you had a very Merry Christmas!

university club

IMG_4434Attending a Christmas dinner at The University Club of Chicago has become a favored family tradition. The building is a classic; collegiate and festive. The main dining hall always has an impressively huge, decked out tree–almost as impressive as the number of oysters I consume in one evening. Seriously, the guy serving said “back again?” on what was only my second out of three trips to the raw bar. What am I? An amateur?!oystersIMG_0123double-photoHope you’re all having a lovely day, celebrating Christmas or enjoying a “day off”. I’m still in my pajamas and plan on wearing them to the dinner table if I can get away with it. (And yes, The University Club is totally Hogwarts! Or so I’m told.)

happy holidays

happyholidaysI’m on the plane headed home to Chicago for Christmas where Mom, Dad, Willyman, Grandmom, and girlfriends await. I’ll be missing my best friend Caitlin who will be in CO for the holiday (we grew up across the street from each other), and of course, Dan, who’s headed back to the east coast to see him family. Last night Dan surprised me with a Pendleton blanket, and I’m currently obsessed. That guy knows me so well. With my new blanket, the tent Dan gave me for my birthday this year, and a January calendar that may actually allow for two days off in a row together (!), I think a camping trip is in order. I’d love any suggestions! I’ve heard good things about Ojai.

2012 has been an incredible year. Dan interviewed for a job on my birthday in March, got the job, moved to LA a month later, and in August we moved into our first apartment together. I took Blogshop and launched my photography business, and have been thrilled by the support and response from friends and clients. I spent a luxurious week in the Outerbanks with my family (and the weather was perfection!). I spent two incredible months writing and creating characters that culminated in a show at The Groundlings–some of the most fun I’ve ever had in my life. Dan and I created The Whaling Club, which continues to grow and challenge my creative side. The first of my group of girlfriends married her high school sweetheart, and their wedding was beautiful and so special (we also got to eat at Next on that trip!). I pumped myself up and found courage while dancing to Beyonce. And we re-elected Obama!

2013 you have a lot to live up to! Yet there’s already so much to look forward to. I’m excited to have a strong team supporting and working with me on my acting career. My best friends, Caitlin and Emilie, are coming to visit LA in February! Dan and I are planning a getaway up to San Francisco. I hope to visit New York, see my brother’s talent in action, and visit friends and family. And there will be a lot more dancing to Beyonce, duh.

Happy Holidays! Cheers!