30 November 2017

This Weekend: Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

HI guys!
Cast of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.
Don't forget... this weekend the non-equity tour of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is stopping in Thousand Oaks, CA, for 6 performances:

  • Thursday, November 30, 2017: 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, December 1, 2017: 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Decmeber 2, 2017: 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 2, 2017: 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 3, 2017: 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 3, 2017: 7:30 p.m.
Starring a young and energized cast, many of whom are on their first national tour, the 2017 is the follow-up to the 2016 equity tour that was at the Ahmanson Theatre last spring that had audiences cracking up with laughter non-stop at all the great jokes and pranks and the fabulous projections and sets.

Show: A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murderj (Non Equity Tour)
Current Location: Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
Prices: $34-89 + feesParking: $8 Cash Only
Age Appropriateness: 13+, thematic elements and some crude humor
Accessible: YES! Read my review of the TOCAP's accessibility here.

29 November 2017

Countdown 2 Xmas: Purpose Jewelry

Less than a month until Christmas morning. Wow. Where does the time go? Welcome to my limited time series on several places you can buy gifts that will both please the intended recipient and also give back to the less fortunate!! Monday we focused on World Vision where you can buy anything from a goat to a bag of soccer balls in someone's name for those less fortunate and Tuesday on Soi Dog Foundation where you can support Thailand dogs that have had a tragic start to life.

Today I want to introduce you all to PURPOSE JEWELRY a fabulous organization that uses your purchases of their gorgeous jewelry to help bring women out of human trafficking and into the light of freedom in partnership with International Sanctuary. In the company's own words:
We work with survivors in Mumbai, India and Orange County, CA. From creation to shipping, these young women are playing a critical role in every step of the process. They are able to earn a fair wage and gain employable skills for the future. 

The options in their catalog are practically endless and the craftsmanship by the ladies is stunning with market competitive prices. So perhaps this year you'll buy those special ladies in your life something truly special -- a gift of beauty for one and a gift of freedom for those ladies you haven't met yet. Here are just a few of the beauties to be found on their website:

and my favorite...
Until next time... God bless you...

28 November 2017

Countdown 2 Xmas: Soi Dog Foundation

Less than a month until Christmas morning. Wow. Where does the time go? Welcome to my limited time series on several places you can buy gifts that will both please the intended recipient and also give back to the less fortunate!! Yesterday we focused on World Vision where you can buy anything from a goat to a bag of soccer balls in someone's name for those less fortunate.

Today on Giving Tuesday I'm excited to present - Soi Dog Foundation.

Soi Dog is especially near and dear to my heart because they helped save my beautiful furry baby, Hastings Alyosha, last year from the Yulin festival.

Soi Dog Foundation (Soi Dog) was established by John and the late Gill Dalley, a British couple, in 2003 in Phuket, Thailand, to help the street dogs and cats who had no-one else to care for them. Soi Dog was created to provide a humane and sustainable solution to managing the stray population and to address their medical needs.
Soi Dog is 100% non-profit and all funding comes from their supporters and volunteers whom are likeminded. There are three ways you can consider supporting Soi Dog while also crossing off individuals on your holiday shopping list.
Sponsor Jamie for $29/£24 pcm
1. Adopt/Sponsor a dog or cat! That's pretty easy especially when you see their adorable faces and read their heart wrenching stories.

2. Be a Flight Volunteer! Soi Dog needs flight volunteers who are flying to the UK, USA and Canada from Thailand. Are you possibly buying a holiday to Thailand? Why not add on to the trip a chance to help give these animals a second chance!!
Tote for £6/$7.88
3. Buy merchandise! This is probably the "easiest" option and most amazing because 100% of your purchase goes straight to the work Soi Dog is doing with the animals of Thailand and Asia. There are hoodies, baseball caps, mugs, tote bags, vests, etc. that you can buy for yourself and friends/family but there are also virtual gifts you can buy to support the dogs and cats at Soi Dog! How cool is that?

A huge thanks from Hastings Alyosha and myself for considering helping Soi Dog this season.
Until next time...

27 November 2017

Countdown 2 Xmas: World Vision

Less than a month until Christmas morning. Wow. Where does the time go? Today for Cyber Monday I wanted to launch my limited time series on several places you can buy gifts that will both please the intended recipient and also give back to the less fortunate!!

So lets start with #1 - World Vision.

I previously mentioned World Vision as part of my 2016 A to Z Challenge and The Night Manager's Natasha Little is an ambassador for the charity. World Vision is a global charity that (in their own words)
"seeks to create a protective environment around children, such that they not only survive but thrive in their communities. World Vision’s programs strive to ensure that physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs of the most vulnerable children are met within caring and protective families and communities — focusing on activities that prevent them from falling into crisis or harmful situations; protect those who are in immediate danger through responsive care and improved capacity of service providers to respond; and restore child survivors of abuse, exploitation, or violence through appropriate community-based care."

Their numerous celebrity ambassadors also include President Bill Clinton and actor Hugh Jackman.

In addition to sponsoring children through their organization, you can choose to browse their Charity Gift Catalog for unique options like buying medicine, chickens, necessities, soccer balls, etc., in the name of your loved one this holiday season. You'll also receive a free personalized card with each gift that you can present the recipient.

For their USA Gift Catalog
For their UK Gift Catalog

22 November 2017

Farewell, David Cassidy

David Cassidy, heartthrob of the 1970s, has sadly passed away yesterday, 21 November 2017. Son of the late Jack Cassidy (brilliant actor of the stage and screen) and Evelyn Ward and step-son of Shirley Jones. Cassidy was also the half-brother of actors Patrick Cassidy (recent star of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat), Ryan and Shaun Cassidy.

He is most well known for his portrayal of Keith Partridge in The Partridge Family where he played the son of his real stepmother Shirley Jones and the musical number I Think I Love You.

We have lost yet another talented performer this year... Best wishes to his family as they deal with this tragedy during the Thanksgiving season.

If you would like to donate to Alzheimer's Association of America (the same organization he supported with a costume auction in 2013) in his name, visit their website here.

21 November 2017

Health: Three Years...

My home in London. 2014.
3 years ago, I was living the dream in London making lifelong friends and studying for my Masters. On 21 November 2014 I went to see my physician after things got worse post my earlier episode of Tonsillitis. My health had deteriorated as if overnight going from one day when I was up and about to the next when I couldn't see clearly, I was experiencing terrible neuropathy and weakness and pain in my hands and feet meaning I had to crawl to the kitchen for a glass of water that was too heavy for me to hold and I needed friends' help getting down stairs and to/from the doctor's office. Life was impossible or so it felt. Mum even had to fly out on Thanksgiving Day to help me pack up and fly home for the unforeseeable future as I recovered.

The doctor on 21 November 2014 (3 years ago) said that I had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Post Viral Fatigue and even gave me a doctor's note to take to doctors and employers excusing me because of "fatigue". I couldn't help laugh because it sounded so insane and I couldn't imagine anyone taking this diagnosis serious. Thankfully my advisor/professor at the university was extremely helpful and has been throughout this crazy process. Friends were AMAZING (Huge shout outs to Natasha, Mafe and Ola) and I couldn't have felt more loved if I tried.
pre-surgery. 2016.
Fast forward 3 years and what has happened...

  • I was diagnosed with CERVICAL STENOSIS and DEGENERATIVE DISC DISEASE in Summer of 2016. This really came as a huge surprise and is thanks to my neurologist, Dr. Alboiny, for being thorough in his research!!!!
  • I was diagnosed with FIBROMYALGIA in January 2017.
  • I experienced with LYME supplements but felt no difference.
  • I gained 30+ lbs. thanks to LYRICA and a couple other medications. BOOO!
  • I had SURGERY on 7 September 2016 at USC. What an amazing facility and staff.
  • I've sampled almost all drugs possible but am down to two -- Gabapentin and Duloxetine.
  • I've been in physical and aquatic therapy since 2016.
  • I was able to complete my university assessments (not including the dissertation) for decent marks.
  • I have been to the ER twice, once having to stay in hospital for a week of studies.
  • Have my very own wheelchair and walker and shower bench.
  • Adopted a Yulin Survivor dog, Hastings Alyosha, in February 2017.
  • Fallen at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport and been laughed at by staff there!
  • Applying for disability... what a nightmare.
  • Used several types of wrist/hand braces without success.
  • Been told by pain management specialists there is nothing they can do for me.
  • Seen countless doctors and specialists locally and at Cedar Sinai and USC.
I'm still at home, folks. Yep. 

My rescue dog. February 2017.
I still cannot use my hands to even cut a piece of fruit or meat. I use the free Apple dictation service (Horrid) and hunt/peck with my fingers. I use pillows to prop my hands/arms up to help lessen the pain. I still cannot walk without my walker or the arm of a friend/family member. There is constant neuropathy and pain in my hands and feet. I am using ice at all times when home for back, neck and legs. 
with Ashley at Sister Act. 2017.
I am not able to work or finish school in my current state. And now to add more to think about, I found out that my university has a 'standard' limit for how many years a student can be enrolled - 4 - and that means I am no longer enrolled as a student and would have to RE-enroll (£$) to complete my graduation project/dissertation.
My girlfriend Laura took me to tea for my birthday. 2017.
My happy days consist of some of the following: loving on my rescue dog (Hastings Alyosha) and our other rescue dog (Shadow), getting my afternoon nap (medication makes my fatigue/exhaustion even worse), making breakfast and lunch, being able to put away the dishes, making my bed and taking a shower, checking social media, taking the dogs on a short walk around the block, and/or maybe a conversation and visit from a friend. That's my day, folks. And usually I have 3-4 medical appointments per week so that takes up a lot of my time too.

And thanks to my blog I have been able to have excursions to the theatre or an art exhibit or the circus or etc. but those excursions come with a cost of 2 days at least of rest afterwards plus extreme pain when sitting or walking or just breathing.
an art exhibit i was able to attend in 2016.
Man, I did not mean to make this post a downer. Just wanted to share what's happened in the past 3 years. Trying to figure out what next... Physical therapist says I am walking better with more fluidity (no more tin soldier -- Yay!!) so that is probably our biggest cheer. Aside from that, nothing seems to be working much. We will continue to see... Right now my hands are screaming from hunting and pecking on the keyboard and my brain hurts from dealing with the faulty dictation service and I have a head cold (rah rah). To bed I go.

happy times in London with Natasha. 2014.
Have a great night and a huge thank you to all my amazing friends and family who've stood by me and not forgotten me and loved on me. I don't know if I would be here without y'all. <3 The hardest part of this illness is the "isolation". I cannot get myself out to see folks as I used to, I cannot pick up the phone without my hand spasming and I am often so tired and drained that the idea of texting someone is too trying and tiring. And i know people are busy and without me being at the same social gatherings it becomes hard too on others but without my true girlfriends and Derek I don't know how I would have survived the last 3 years without going seriously insane. 
So thank you Natasha, Ashley, Laurie, Laura, Kaz, Derek, Ola, Mafe, Heather and Misty for not forgetting me. Thank you for holding my hand, sending me mail, letting me cry, sitting there, and getting me out of the house among civilization!! You guys will never know how much you have helped.

20 November 2017

Vlog: A Bad Day

what does a bad day look like?
Don't let the smiles fool you...

19 November 2017

Thanksgiving AND Pets

Hi guys! Thanksgiving is right around the corner. Wowsers. Where did time go? Three years ago I was horribly sick and mum flew out to London on Thanksgiving Day to bring me home. Where does time go?

Because of the holidays, I know we furry pet parents are concerned what is allowed for our babies o eat... so I did some research and here is what I found:

Fox News: 10 Thanksgiving Foods You Should Never Feed To Your Pets
here are a couple of the ones to surprise me...
Onions: "No matter what form they’re in (dry, raw, cooked, powder, or within other foods), onions are some of the absolute worst foods you could possibly give your pup (it’s poisonous for dogs, and it’s even worse for cats)," Sadie Cornelius, Marketing Director for Canine Journal told Reader’s Digest.
Salty Foods: While us humans can never get enough of potato chips, pretzels and popcorn, these salty treats can lead to “excessive thirst and urination, or even sodium ion poisoning” in our favorite dogs and cats, according to the ASPCA. 
CareThanksgiving Pet Safety: Can Our Pets Eat Our Favorite Thanksgiving Foods? 
here are a couple of the ones to surprise me...
Corn: Loose corn is fine, but avoid corn on the cob.
Mashed PotatoesVerdict: Depends on how it's prepared.If the potatoes are plain and bland, with minimal fat and salt, mashed potatoes can be slipped under the table. But if you go all out like most people and add butter and heavy cream galore, it makes the potatoes less ideal for your pet -- and your waistline. "Fatty foods can cause GI upset and pancreatitis, which can be life-threatening," warns Dr. Collins.

If you are not sure about something, always best to look online or ask the vet! Have a great Thanksgiving and be safe.

17 November 2017

Ralph Fiennes' Voice as JESUS is the Ultimate

Have you seen THE STAR yet? I cannot wait. Love the soundtrack already thanks to Apple Music. Until I get a chance to see the film in cinema, I decided to watch/listen to the 2000 Russian made stop-motion film Miracle Maker starring Ralph Fiennes as Jesus.
If you haven't already seen the movie, I highly recommend it! Perhaps stop motion is not your cup of tea (nor is it mine) but the voice portrayal of Ralph Fiennes as JESUS is exceptional, one of my all time favorite portrayals.
Miracle Maker. (c) Miracle Maker.
Fiennes' portrays Jesus as a humane man with great emotion -- including passion when he cries over John the Baptist, overturns tables at the Temple; a natural speaking voice riddled with humor when he speaks to the crowds and his disciples; and even a sigh (!) when the Pharisees begin to ask him another question. <Loved it.> I could go on and on. Ralph Fiennes might be better known for Schindler's List and Harry Potter but he was a perfectly casted Jesus (as an adult).

All that to say, I cannot wait to see THE STAR in cinemas (out today!!) and if you have Amazon Prime do yourself a favor and watch/listen to Ralph Fiennes' Miracle Maker.

Some THE STAR Trivia:
- Christopher Plummer (Herod) played Herod's son and heir in Jesus of Nazareth.


15 November 2017

PHOTO: Santa HQ (Pets Version)

Happy Wednesday!
It is another beautiful day here in Southern California and I have a treat for you all. Here is a first look at  tonight's Pets Night at Santa HQ (@ Thousand Oaks Mall), sponsored by HGTV.

Three more Pets Nights (5pm-8pm) are coming soon so don't miss out on the fun and memories.
November 29 || December 6 || December 13
Remember that on pet nights there will also be children and families in attendance eager to see Santa too. So stay considerate of your pets' needs and the needs and hustle bustle around you of the shoppers and fellow Santa fans. Also the best way inside for your pets will be through the parking structure entrance near the food court.

Giving Back:
Shoppers are invited to bring an unwrapped toy for Help Through Holiday Giving. The Oaks will be donating these toys to the Children's Services Auxiliary of Ventura County.

Photo Special:
Early bird photo packages are available starting at $39.99 and as an added bonus guests who pre-purchase a photo package can make a reservation with the Big Man at www.santa-hq.com.

And presenting my REVIEW...

p.s. thank you The Oaks and Vet's Here for spoiling my doggy for his first *real* Christmas season in America after all the horrors he faced in Thailand.

14 November 2017

Cavalia: Feisty and Fabulous (Opening Day Review)

Wow. Again, I say WOW. Cavalia Odysseo was better and grander and more incredible than I could have imagined or hoped for! The show is doing so well that additional performances have been adding meaning that Cavalia will be in Camarillo, California, now through January 7th!! 
For me, one of the best parts of seeing Cavalia Odysseo live was to see the horses in all their glory and beauty demonstrating character, charm, feistiness and watching how much work the trainers are required to keep the show running as smoothly as possible and without any injuries.
The show has three principle troupes who perform -- the horses/equestrians, aerialists and African tumblers/dancers. Each group was thrilling and I was really impressed by how everything came together so smoothly. The horses as I mentioned above and in my previous video are phenomenal!! And the riders -- so gorgeous too. The materials the costume team used to dress them were spot on allowing for great fluidity and grace.
Three performers with Samantha Harris and daughters. (c) Odysseo.
And what a treat to see the talented African acrobats -- you may have seen clips online but this was nothing comparatively to seeing them live. I lost count so many times of how many consecutive tumbles these men took and all while making it look so easy! And the gorgeous aerialists were just that -- gorgeous and beyond breathtaking. Their grace, their poise, their talent... Wow, wow, wow. I have never held my breath so much as during their stunts. 
Three beautiful aerialists with Tiffani Thiessen and daughter. (c) Odysseo.
I really would hate to say too much so your own experience might be spoiled but wow. Just wow. From the feisty and playful horses to the gorgeous riders to the graceful aerialists to the incredible acrobats from Africa the show was a pure hit. And don't forget the live music (in French)!
Accessibility Review:
After my earlier preview, they installed hand rails in the bleachers to help with navigating the stairs but do know that there are HUGE and TALL staircases so if you choose seats further in the back [which wouldn't be such a bad idea because of the great view you get] you will be climbing and descending some tall stairs. 

There is REDUCED MOBILITY SEATING (1-866-999-8111) where my friend L and I sat but do know these seats are scarce and few so call ASAP if you are looking for reduced mobility seating. And may I say how very accommodating and lovely the ushers were!! They took my walker for me at the beginning of the show and brought it right back to me at intermission and after the curtain call. Always with a smile.

Reduced mobility parking is available right next to the White Big Top. When you arrive, go to the parking lot entrance near the Box Office and tell the parking attendants you require reduced mobility parking.

And if you need a restroom, there are a couple handicap accessible restrooms with ramps and large enough for wheelchairs!

So what are you still doing reading my blog??? Go get your tickets!!! These will make a wonderful date night, great holiday gifts and there is even a discount going on right now for Thanksgiving Day. Enjoy!!!! xo

For details check out my preview here. And be warned that popcorn and pretzels go fast! :D

09 November 2017

Trivia with Hastings: His Name

Ever wonder where Hastings got his name? Well sit down and find out! xo

Trivia with Hastings #3

08 November 2017

Dogs are NOT Accessories!

This makes me so mad/sad. A precious rescue, Raylito (golden retriever/poodle mix, 7-8 years old), was adopted in September and RETURNED :(
Raylito (C) Life Animal Rescue.
You just don't do that!! Dogs are NOT accessories you can return to the store if you change your mind. They have feelings, hearts and needs. Yes, some dogs like Raylito need some extra loving TLC. [He has kidney disease and needs a special diet and regular fluids.] But that's no excuse for "Returning" a dog like you would a purse you don't fancy anymore. Being a dog parent is tuff work so deal with it.
Hastings Alyosha on his 1st Day with us. (c) The Joyous Living.
When we adopted Hastings Alyosha in February, we were told according to the records from the San Diego Humane Society that his problems were all fixed. WRONG. We must have spent $$$ on vet visits, trying different food options, and more vet visits. Not to mention tears and feelings of incompetence. Our little boy was such a damaged boy skin and bones, crying (still does!) being picked up, having nightmares, not wanting to cuddle/hug, and scampering under chairs for a good hiding/safe place. But my parents were real heroes in my book and paid the vet bills, loved on Hastings Alyosha, and talked with Jeffrey Beri who had rescued Hastings in Thailand and was able to finally offer an eating suggestion that worked (thanks Jeffrey!).

Trust me, it was no fun time having the poor baby screaming whenever he had a bowel movement, seeing him have rectal prolapses on a constant basis, rushing him to the vet hospital at night, etc... But we loved on him and he got better thanks to all involved at the vet, Jeffrey and my amazing parents. He's still not all there but with love, we're making progress one step at a time, maybe a few backward steps but always staying positive and hopeful with love.

All this to say... we had no idea what we were getting into when we adopted Hastings Alyosha who had a clean bill of health but that doesn't mean we returned him and said 'thanks a lot folks'. No, we buckled down and did what had to be done. He was our furry baby and we were his forever home. He had been through hell and back and needed us more than ever.
Raylito. (c) Life Animal Rescue.
So my heart breaks to hear poor Raylito's story. To have had a sweet taste of freedom and a forever home only to have it taken away. Please, please, visit his page on PetFinder and consider offering him a forever home where he'll know love and comfort and safety. Amazingly, Life Animal Rescue is even offering to pay for his food and medical care for the rest of his life!! So please, can someone offer him a home??

07 November 2017

Cavalia: My Surprise is Here!!

I promised you all a surprise and am beyond jazzed to finally share it with y'all today...
Today invited guests (including YOURS TRULY) were able to go behind the scenes and check out the set and stars of Cavalia: Odysseo in Camarillo, California, ahead of the 11/11/17 opening show.

Check out my YouTube video highlighting the best of today's experience...
Dates: 11 November 2017 - 10 December 2017
Parking: $20 (not including the Opening Performance)
Prices: $29.50 - $234 (special prices for kids and seniors)

Are You Accessible?
To better accommodate your needs, please contact a Cavalia rep for help with your ticket purchase.

Accessible Parking:
Reduced mobility parking is also available on site right next to the White Big Top. When you arrive, go to the parking lot entrance near the Box Office and tell the parking attendants you require reduced mobility parking.

For those longing for the ultimate experience, the V.I.P. Packages might be your best option.
You will receive:
  • VIP Pass.
  • Center-row seats.
  • Full meal buffet dining served before the show.
  • Great selection of various refreshments available at will.
  • Dessert buffet, coffee and tea served during the intermission.
  • Exclusive stable visit after the show.
  • An Odysseo souvenir.
  • Intermission Snacks:
    Hot dogs, popcorn, ice cream, pretzels, candies and the like are available, as well as a selection of beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
    Full meal buffet dining is included in our Rendez-Vous VIP Packages.

    Advisory for Ladies:
    Cavalia recommends ladies do not wear high heels.

    Show Duration:
    2 hours 30 minutes (including a 20-30 minute intermission)

    5230 Camino Ruiz
    Camarillo, CA 93012

    Directions (heading North):
    Exit Santa Rosa Road
    Turn Right on Santa Rosa Road
    Turn Right on Verdugo Way
    Turn Right on S. Camino Ruiz

    Directions (heading South):
    Exit Santa Rosa Road
    Turn Left on Santa Rosa Road
    Turn Right on Verdugo Way
    Turn Right on S. Camino Ruiz

    See you soon! You're not going to want to miss this!!