Monday, July 09, 2018

Called that one wrong

It seems my Grand Duke audition didn't go nearly as well as I thought.  Not only did I not get the Baroness, but I wasn't even offered one of the comprimario roles.  Ah well, chorus will be easy, given that I've sung the show before.  Not getting a role in Grand Duke means I'm still in the running, at least theoretically, for a role in the Sing-Out.  That announcement will be published sometime Wednesday.

Sunday, July 08, 2018

FINALLY starting to nail this singing thing

I've gotten a lot of very encouraging feedback on my singing lately.  First was this semester's jury - the panel's comments were generally very positive.

When I sang my jury pieces for a friend who's a professional singer and voice teacher, he was very complimentary about my musicality, breath, line, and more - all the things I've been working on so hard lately.  He capped it with "You were someone who likes to sing.  Now you're someone who sings."  Coming from him, a person who doesn't give compliments lately, that means A LOT!  I still do a happy dance when I think of it. 😄

I had an audition the other night and used my Handel jury piece, even though I was auditioning for a G&S show, just to show them what I can do nowadays.  The MD got this look on his face that I chose to interpret as "Wouldya look at what she can do!"  The director hadn't heard me in 7 years and commented on how much "fuller" my voice is now.  I told her I'd been working on it and she said, "It shows."

This morning I led the responsorial psalm at mass and had at least 4 people tell me how beautiful it sounded.

I still have a lot of work to do, getting all my technical stuff to be more automatic and "hard-wired," but I'm finally at the point where the years of voice lessons are starting to pay off.

Wednesday, July 04, 2018

Recipe - modified rapture

While the Strawberry Cream on Shortbread didn't work out - I'll have to come up with something else to give the new neighbors - the berry trifle I took to this evening's party was a big success.  The cream filling was too thick to work down into the cake (layers were cake/filling/berries, repeat), so the cake was a bit dry.  However, it tasted good, and people were ridiculously impressed with how pretty it looked.  I actually had at least 2 people ask if I measured or used a ruler to place the strawberries!  No, I just placed 'em individually instead of throwing 'em in any old how, the way I did with the berries that don't show. 😄

KAF, you failed me!

Today I tried the King Arthur Flour recipe for Strawberry Cream on Shortbread.  The recipe reviews were quite favorable, with no warnings about the filling.

To my disappointment, the berry puree never set up, so when I folded in the whipped cream, the filling thickened but never solidified, even after 3 or 4 hours in the fridge.  I had made it in a springform pan, but didn't dare release it or I'd've had strawberry glop all over the place.  At the Chief's suggestion, I put it in the freezer before we left for a Fourth party at friends'.  When we came back, nearly 4 hours later, the filling was still a bit soupy in the middle!  I have no idea how long the gelatin had been sitting in the pantry; can gelatin lose its effectiveness?

It also didn't have as strong a strawberry taste as we'd expected.  Maybe it needed a bit more sugar; the recipe gave a range on the sugar amount and I went with the lower amount.

I've tried dozens of KAF recipes over the years and have usually been very happy with them.  Unless I can figure out why the filling never set, though, this one falls into the "don't make again" category. 😕

Monday, June 18, 2018

Design calendar filling up

Just in the past month or so, I've added a few shows to my designer's calendar.  The company for which I'm a board member has me doing their July production.  That one should be easy, as the director & costumer are going for a basic, contemporary look - no special effects of any sort.

A local company I've been trying to get in with has asked me to design their January show.  That one should be easy too - only 4 actors, who will be doing their own hair & makeup.  The only thing special I might need to do will be to show 2 of them how to do age makeup.  Like next month's show, once the actors know what to do, I can step back & enjoy the process.  (Not like Patience, which required special attention every night for a few of the cast members.)

In February I'll be doing The Gondoliers for the one company that actually pays me a design fee.  The only possible problem with that one is that I want to audition for it and I learned from The Merry Widow that designing for a show I'm also in can be something of a juggling act.  Ah well, first I'll audition and see whether I'm cast; then I'll worry about the juggling.

The show I'm most looking forward to working on, though, is for a community theater company with a reputation for high standards.  The play includes a couple of special effects that involve blood.  This will be the first time I've worked with stage blood since my stage makeup class 3 years ago.  More, I'll have to come up with a way for someone to bleed onstage that a) won't make a mess and b) won't stain costumes.  This is gonna be a fun challenge!

Census of this year's garden

We went a little crazy with the plants this year.  The Chief decided to turn our rusted-out grill into a planter, so we filled it with dirt and:
- 3 angelwing begonias
- 3 double impatiens in different colors
- 2 browallias (new to me but suggested by someone on the nursery's staff)
- a variegated ivy
- 2 colors of torenia

I put "medium dark red" geraniums (this color's a keeper!) and a fuchsia Rising Star superbell in the railing planter w/ the annuals.  It's only just getting hot enough for the geraniums so it's too soon to tell whether I'll want to use the same combination next year.

The Chief also repurposed one of the clothesline poles into a trellis.  I just planted a Westerplatte clematis (burgundy) on the east side of it and a Ramona clematis (dark lavender) on the west side.

He also spent way too much time assembling our new grill (Kingsford, you need to fire or at least retrain the person writing the assembly manual!) and we got the umbrella "planted" in our patio table, so we're all ready for our first cookout of the season.

Out of the 21 ice plants (delosperma) I put in the front yard, only about 14 or 15 are growing or at least hanging in there.  Fortunately, the nursery will let me return the dead ones!  I do have to dig 'em up and take them back w/ the receipt, but they'll refund the purchase price.  My first choice would be to buy more ice plants; here's hoping they still have some.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What is it with January?!?

The Chief's BIL died of his cancer in mid-January and his widow, the Chief's sister, was put on hospice for hers at about the same time. This is 3 years running that we've had loved ones die, nearly all of them from cancer, in January.  And the Chief's mother got her terminal diagnosis in January.  T.S. Eliot was wrong: April isn't the cruelest month; January is, at least for us.

This year's garden

Our neighbor to the south had to take down a big maple that was between our driveways.  We were hoping that would mean more sun on the tomato bed, but it doesn't look like that'll be the case.  Oh well, I put in 5 tomato plants anyway:  2 Sweet 100s, 1 golden (something), a Steakhouse, and another larger variety.  I also planted an onion that had sprouted; we'll see if it actually grows.

No purslane or sunflowers this year; instead, I've got lantana in the pot I used for lantana last year, and 2 other colors of lantana in the majolica planters that had sunflowers last year.  I'm looking forward to LOTS of butterflies and hummingbirds this year! 😊

I'm putting just 4 pots on the front steps this year.  One pair has angelonia, a tall white flower; melampodium, a short yellow one, and a "quartz mix" verbena that I hope will sort of split the difference between the angelonia and melampodium.  The other pair of flower pots has marigolds from last year's seeds.  I was delighted (and relieved) to see that the seeds started sprouting just a few days after planting.  I'm looking forward to seeing how they do.  One thing's for sure; as long as I keep harvesting seeds and am happy with the varieties I've got, I'll never have to buy marigolds again.

The biggest project so far was digging up a considerable section of the front corner of the yard next to the driveway and a smaller corner by the front door and putting in 21 ice plants (3 or 4 different varieties).  Eventually I want to have the whole patch planted with ice plant so it doesn't need mowing, but that's going to take a few years.  Buying enough plants for the whole patch -  as many as 100 bedding plants! - is more than I want to tackle (or spend) in a single year!

I have two pots of citronella, sold as "mosquito plant".  Maybe it'll keep 'em away, maybe not, but if they don't, at least I'll have 2 pretty plants that smell nice.  I also have some herbs.  My established oregano came back even after it got deadheaded last fall, and I also got a tiny seedling of a syrian variety of it from the local listserv.  I'm trying rosemary yet again, in the same spot as last year.  (I'm ever the optimist.)  In addition, I've got 2 curly parsley plants, 2 basil plants, some thyme, and I want to get some mint to replace the spearmint, which didn't come back this year.

The newest garden project was the Chief's idea.  The grill was so badly rusted out that we had to buy a new one.  We hadn't gotten as far as figuring out what to do with the old one when the Chief saw the flat of bedding plants I had set on the shelf of the old grill and decided to turn the old grill into a planter.  He got some sheet metal to reinforce the bottom and cover the rusted-out places that would be below the dirt line, chose purple for the paint, and is leaving it to me to decide what to plant.  Because he wants to leave the grill in a spot n the backyard that gets shade most of the day, I'll probably go with some combination of begonias, impatiens, coleus, maybe some torenia or asparagus fern.

When you're retired...

Oh, the joys of retirement.  The Chief had his one-year post-op checkup today, after which we stopped for a nice, leisurely lunch.  SO nice to be able to do that sort of thing without having to take time off work. 😊

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Kid with a new toy :)

The Chief asked me what I wanted for a graduation/Christmas present and I decided on a food processor.  I found that clean-up wasn't as bad as I'd feared, and we managed to find space to store the thing, but what really converted me was when I made salmon spread for our Christmas party.  (The Chief let me open my present early so I could use it for party prep.)  It takes a long time and a lot of elbow grease to mix the salmon & cream cheese thoroughly by hand.  My new Cuisinart did a more thorough job, and did it in 30 seconds, if that!  It also did a nice job on cookie dough.

Earlier this week I used it to shred cabbage for unstuffed cabbage rolls (I like to make batches of this to have in the freezer for lunches), and today I used it to shred carrots and sweet potatoes for orange soup and sweet potato-black bean chili (more "freezer food" - I'm restocking the freezer this week now that the semester has begun).  I know I've barely scratched the surface of what I can use my food processor for, but I'm beginning to realize why so many people swear by theirs.

Orange soup is something I made up, named for its color, not because there's any citrus in it.  I don't us a recipe so much as instructions:  Sautee onion and garlic in some evoo, add butternut or any other winter squash (I like to use the frozen pureed stuff because it's both easier & cheaper than the cut-up stuff in the store, which goes for $5.99/lb!), a can of pumpkin, a carrot or few, and a sweet potato or two.  I throw in 1/2 tsp of garam masala, let it simmer for a coupla hours, puree it, and freeze in single-serving containers.  When I want some protein, I throw in some thawed salad shrimp for the last minute or two of heating.  Yum, yum, yum!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Wig laundry

I'm designing hair & makeup for The Merry Widow, set in 1895.  Almost none of the women in the cast have hair long enough to approximate 1895 styles, which means wigs for the rest of us.  Fortunately, the company has dozens.  After spending a few hours going through them all, I found 7 that might work.  However, you can tell they've been stored in a non-climate-controlled space (musty at best), which means I wanted to wash them before making anyone wear them.  Here's a kitchen sink full of wigs:

And here are 6 of them, set out to dry: