Archive for November, 2010

Ava’s Mac N Cheesy

So…I decided to make my own macaroni & cheese for Thanksgiving. I’ve never made it before but it turned out great!! So I decided to post the recipe so that I can always refer to it if I ever need to.

Ava’s Mac N Cheesy

16 oz. uncooked elbow macaroni
1 T dried oregano
3 T salt
1 1/2 lb. extra sharp cheddar cheese, grated (Bought at Safeway)
8 oz. light blend of monterey jack, cheddar, & mozzarella cheese, grated (Bought at Trader Joe’s)
8 oz. sour cream
8 oz. small curd cottage cheese
1/2 cup 2% reduced fat milk
Salt & pepper to taste
1 c frozen peas (optional)
Extra cheddar cheese, grated, for topping

Potato Topping (optional)
3 cups seasoned tater tots, thawed & crumbled (Bought them at Safeway)
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook pasta, per package instructions. Before adding macaroni, sprinkle salt & oregano to water at boiling point.
3. Drain pasta and transfer to a nonstick pot big enough to stir around the pasta with the cheese.
4. Add cheddar cheese, blended cheese, sour cream & cottage cheese.
5. Mix in pot until cheese melts, add milk. Add peas (optional).
6. Add salt & pepper to taste.
7. Transfer macaroni & cheese to a 9 x 13 x 2 in baking dish, non-stick preferred.
8. Even out top of macaroni.
9. Sprinkle extra cheese on top & bake until cheese melts, approximately 20 minutes.
10. If adding in Potato Topping, mix together crumbled tater tots with melted butter & grated parmigiano reggiano.
11. Sprinkle on top evenly & bake until tater tots are browned, approximately 20 minutes.
12. Pop in a New Kids on the Block DVD and enjoy with mac n cheese, they go best together. :0)

I have to say, these measurements are just an educated guess for me. I keep tasting the food as I go along to see if I need more flavor or not. I guess this is more of a guide than a recipe then. Either way, good luck! Please comment if you have made it or have made something similar, I’d love to hear about it! :0)

American Music Weekend

I can’t believe I got to go to the American Music Awards over the weekend!! It’s my first big awards show and I only went to see New Kids on the Block perform. They had a great collaboration performance with the Backstreet Boys and I’ve never been more proud to call myself a Blockhead….wait, yes I have. I’ve ALWAYS been proud to call myself a Blockhead so this is no different. My favorite part was when they did a choreographed dance during their set, all 9 of them, and it was as if I was watching some kind of dance-related reality show. I was floored. I spent a good amount of time waving a pink heart and recording the performance. The only thing I regret is not recording the performance all the way through. If I did, I would have been able to record the end when NKOTB did their signature group hug after their performance. I would LOVE to be in the middle of that circle with them and just breathe. At one point, when they were about to announce the Artist of the Year, we were able to see NKOTB setting up from where we were sitting and we just started cheering for NKOTB. I wonder if people were able to hear us. Haha!

Other performances I got to witness were Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Christina Aguilera, Bon Jovi, Katy Perry, Kid Rock, Gavin Rossdale w/Santana, Justin Bieber, and Black-Eyed Peas. I don’t know why but most of the artists chose to sing slow songs. I have to admit, I did yawn a few times but I was just happy to be there with my girls. We had a blast and have absolutely no regrets…except the part where I cheated on my diet and ate all kinds of crap. I felt like I was just looking for an excuse to cheat and this trip was it. However, it’s the holidays and I will just have to get right back on that horse. I’ve got to admit, I really don’t have much motivation now that I’ve already met Paulo and I don’t feel that immediate need to look good. Perhaps I should use the wedding I have to go to as a motivator. Hmm…

Yes, I think that is what I’ll do. Other highlights of the weekend were getting to meet other Blockheads, spending time with long distance friends, and the road trip! Listening to the New Kids’ music and watching them perform has really renewed my love for them, and for Donnie. I haven’t had a Donnie high in a long time and this trip did it for me. Can’t wait until cruise time when I can wrap my arms around him again…or maybe sooner, who knows? *shrug*

Playing Dress Up

Had a great meeting over the weekend in the creative department of my life. From Stage Show —> Calendar –> Look Book –> Book, Show & Tour.

I’m a bit overwhelmed, yes. But with any creative outlet, it takes work & time. I guess this could also be my motivation for weight loss. I’m thinking of one word: burlesque. Haha! We’ll see how it goes. Now I need to find some photos for inspiration. Wow, for the first time in my life, I’m actually not shying away from something like this. Must be that elusive “self-confidence” I was missing that everyone’s always talking about. I’ve got to figure out SOMEway to look fabulous. Speaking of looking fabulous, what should I wear to the American Music Awards? EEEEKK!!!

Paulo Saga

Back in August, I wrote about wanting to meet Paulo Costanzo. Then, as if by accident, I discovered an event that he was going to be at, and I just HAD to go–once in a lifetime opportunity.

Plan A – Ask for Monday & Tuesday off from work, drive down to LA with friends for the weekend, and attend the event. Return home Tuesday.

Vacation days did NOT get approved.

Early October
Plan BQuit. Let me explain. I would never quit my job over not being approved for vacation. My reason for wanting to quit would lean towards my aversion with my job not because of this “non-approval” business but rather, it would be the straw that broke the camel’s back. I have never liked my job, which is why I am trying to leave. This just seemed a good enough reason to make that move. So I began job hunting…not much luck out there right now.

Plan C – Ask boss if I could just leave a little earlier on Monday, fly to LAX at a 4:15 PM flight, arrive to event late, and drive back after the event to go to straight to work because I was scheduled to work at 5 AM Tuesday morning.

Boss said she would think about it. Boss thought about it. Boss approved on a one-time only basis–with written warning in tow that I was never to ask again, knowing we were in our busiest month.

YAY!! And then I started a diet because I did not want to look like a blob standing next to Paulo’s slender physique. I lost 17 lbs by the time 11/8 came around and I felt great.

Plan D – Drive to LA from SF on my own, stay with my friend Amy, hang out with SoCal friends for the weekend, attend the event on Monday, drive home Tuesday. However, by early November, I heard that one of my favorite bands, New Kids on the Block(NKOTB) were going to be doing an interview with Ryan Seacrest and that the interview was held in San Francisco.

Early November
Plan E
8:30 AM – See my favorite band, New Kids on the Block(NKOTB) in San Francisco in the morning after their 8 am interview with Ryan Seacrest.
9:00 AM – Leave SF to go to airport.
10:55 AM – Fly to LAX
12:15 – Land in LAX, rent a car, and go to my friend’s work to get her apt keys, shower at her place, and arrive at The Paley Center by 5 PM.

What went wrong?

November 8, 2010
9:20 AM – NKOTB still hadn’t come out so I had to leave or I’d miss my flight. I did see Jonathan Knight wave hello to us as he was returning to the hotel from having a smoke break but that was about it. I had wanted to get my “Iā™„NKOTB” license plate signed but I had to go. Mind you, I have been trying to get it autographed for over a year now because I had lost my original one back in 2008. My friend Jennifer offered to help me get the plate signed, which speaks volumes about our friendship. She sacrificed an autograph for herself so that I could get mine. I love my friends.

Back to the journey. It was going to take me at least 30 minutes to go get my luggage, hike up 3 San Francisco hills, and drive to the airport. The Long Term parking is a LONG WAY!!! When I got into the terminal, it was already 10:35. In my haste, I forgot to remove my large hairspray so I had to check in my bag. I refused to just throw it away because it cost me $16! The airline lady told me it’s not guaranteed since it’s late check in. “What does that mean?”

“It means it might not be on the same flight & might be on the next one.” Great. I had to rush through security, passing everyone. Luckily, the girl beyond the metal detector scanner was an ex-coworker of mine so I think that might be why I was able to rush right through. I grabbed my flip flops,my purse & my jacket. Unfortunately, when I grabbed my jacket, a small tray next to it spilled its contents all over the roller bars at the end of the conveyor belt. It was now 10:52 am. I ran to my gate barefoot. I got on the plane just in time!

12:05 PM, we landed in LAX & after waiting for long while, it was apparent that my luggage did NOT make it on the flight after all. The next flight was arriving at 1:40 pm so I decided to charge my phone while I waited. I should’ve brought my car charger but in my haste, I forgot to grab it. I only grabbed the cord & the wall plug. I decided to go through twitter to see what happened at the NKOTB interview. That was when I saw all the photos of NKOTB with my friends. Yes, I was very sad that I missed it but I was very happy for my friends, especially the ones who had never had moments like these with the band. These moments are priceless, especially when the guys actually WANT to greet the fans! We have always behaved and I’m so proud of my girls. And Jennifer was able to get a couple of signatures on my plate! I was so excited!! She did me proud.

Anyway, by the time the next flight from SFO came, it was 1:30 and my phone was about 70% charged. I grabbed my luggage and got on a shuttle to the rental car place. I got my economy car and had to drive to my friend’s workplace near Burbank airport. Why didn’t I just take a flight to Burbank? I should’ve. I later found out I could have been on the same flight as NKOTB because they went to Burbank around noon, the same place I had to go to!! Haha! Life is such a prankster. It’s ok though, because that trip was not about NKOTB, it was about Paulo.

By 4:00 PM, I arrived at The Hub Channel office, got the keys from my friend who told me it was a new key and not to get it stuck in the lock. I drove to her place and opened the gate. However, when I tried to open her door what happened? THE KEY GOT STUCK IN THE LOCK. I couldn’t get in. Sigh…

Plan F – Showering & charging my phone at her place was out. Go straight to The Paley Center. Amy had to buy some WD-40 to loosen the key & open the door. It was now 4:45. I drove down, following the directions I copied from my phone onto my boarding pass so that I could conserve battery. My phone is my lifeline as I’m sure it is everyone else’s lifeline just as likely.

I arrived in Beverly Hills by 5:05 PM and saw that there were already people in line! I parked my car and surprisingly, parking in Beverly Hills was cheaper than parking in San Francisco! I would have thought it’d be much more expensive. My credit card took some abuse this weekend. I got in line and waited. I had purchased my ticket online and it was at will call. When they let us in at 6 PM, I had to go to the will call line while those with physical tickets were allowed through. That disappointed me but then I was just glad to have made it to the event at all.

I had read online that this event was a table read but it was actually a viewing of the premiere episode of the next episode that isn’t scheduled to air until January. We were getting to watch it a good 2 months in advance!! Lovely, just lovely. Consequently, there was a panel discussion with the cast & creators in attendance. My reason for coming!! There were the creators, Andrew Lenchewski & Michael Rauch, and the primary cast–Jill Flint, Reshma Shetty, Paulo Costanzo, and Mark Feuerstein. I was so excited and I felt my heart race.

Seeing Paulo in the flesh, after being in love with him for 10 years, made all the drama I went through worth it. Hearing his voice, getting his jokes, and feeling so elated to be in the same room with him was indescribable. I wasn’t on Cloud 9, I was on Cloud 99. I enjoyed the panel discussion so much! When Paulo was asked about whether he liked doing TV or movies, I already knew his answer before he spoke because I have read, seen & heard almost everything about him. The moderator, Diane Gordon, asked some wonderful questions that I had wanted to know myself, including the discussion on the rap videos they made. Those were HILARIOUS!! I enjoyed them so much. I wanted to ask if next time, they will let Paulo beatbox like he did on Road Trip but my heart was entertaining the idea of asking if he would take a photo with me.

When the audience was asked to deliver any questions during the Q & A, my heart began to race, faster than it did in the beginning. I wanted to raise my hand so badly but I didn’t want to interrupt the flow of the evening. People were asking questions specific to Royal Pains and here I am, wanting to have a one-on-one conversation with Paulo! How selfish am I?! I refused to do it, my mind said no…but my heart took over and my arm involuntarily went up when no one raised their hand for the last question of the night. Michael Rauch had just finished talking about being on Twitter so it was a good segue for me to go off of.

I told Michael Rauch that I had actually been tweeting him and he asked me if I was “missava”. I said yes and it seemed as if the whole audience got a kick out of me. I didn’t understand why they laughed but it put me at ease. I told Paulo that I had loved him for 10 years now, that I thought I was his #1 fan and I risked my job to come there that night and all I wanted was to take a photo with him after the event. He said something about not being able to answer legally and someone else said security was bad. It didn’t hit me what the answer really meant but I smiled and felt a little defeated and sat back down. After the event was over, I was going to return to my friend’s apt but a bunch of people rushed to the stage and the cast was signing autographs. Paulo was at the opposite end of me, talking to some people and helping them take photos. I wondered if I would be able to still take a photo with him.

I walked down to the stage and stood there, waited to see if he would come my way. At one point, the lady he was with said, “Where is she? Oh there she is” and pointed at me. Paulo came towards me and my heart exploded into confetti. He said hi and told me to calm myself and gave me a great big hug. That moment seized me, I was overwhelmed with joy. 10 YEARS I waited for this! I had to let it sink in. I don’t remember much but I do remember him pointing out his wife who was standing against the wall behind me. He said he was sorry and that made me laugh. I didn’t know he got married. I said I didn’t care and I loved him anyway. I asked if I could take a photo with him and he said yes. Then I gave him this card I had made for him that gave me the chance to tell him everything I’ve always wanted to him to know about his #1 fan, including how I won them over as Fan of the Week on the Royal Pains website in June 2010. I also included some buttons that I felt were a reflection of what I thought of him. He thanked me and said “Let’s go over here so we can take a better picture” and we walked to the middle of the stage. The security guard took the photo for me but 3 things I would have changed:

1) Stood on his left because my left side is my best side
2) Pulled down my top, and
3) Asked the security guard to take the photo at eye level instead of waist level. Who does that??

Needless to say, I came out looking like the blob I feared I would look like, standing next to Paulo’s perfectly slender stature. Great. And this would probably be the only photo I will ever get with him in my entire life. I was disappointed and knew that I would be going home both happy having met him and sad that the one documented record I had of that moment was one that I don’t ever want to display. As I left the stage, The lady who was sitting next to me, during the event asked me how was it. I told her it was a dream come true but my photo turned out crappy. She told me she had taken some photos while I was up there and when she showed me the photos in her camera, my face lit up. Her name was Helaine and she took photos from the seats which were elevated so it was at eye level!! I was SO HAPPY!!! She offered to emailed them to me and gave me her card. She made good on her promise and here they are. I am so grateful she & her husband(?) Lenny were able to take these photos for me. I will never forget this drama & joy-filled night. If it wasn’t for them, this experience would have been a sad memory for me.

I’ll always love you, Paulo Costanzo, married or not. Thank you for the pics, smiles & hugs. You rock!

(Yes this blog did not take only 5 minutes, more like 5 hours to write but I simply HAD to have a record of all that happened so that I can always look back & reminisce.)

And no, I will NOT be posting the waist level picture. That’s going under lock & key.

Oh, and you might wonder why I kept mentioning my phone. Because of my phone being dead, I got stranded outside Amy’s place. After the event, I used my handwritten directions to the Paley Center to make my way back to Amy’s because my phone was dead. When I arrived, her doorbell did not work so I was not able to contact her. I stood outside the gate yelling, “AMY!! AMY!!” She couldn’t hear me. I eventually had to leave and found a payphone. Did you know payphones now accept credit cards? Or maybe they always did, I wouldn’t know. I rarely used them. I couldn’t call Amy because I didn’t memorize her phone number (stupid move), and I was only able to call one of our mutual friends and leave her a message to call Amy to open the door. I drove back and fortunately, a tenant happened to be going in so I went with him. As Amy answered my knocking, I heard her on the phone, saying I’ve arrived.

The lesson I’ve learned: 1) Never take time for granted, 2) Face each challenge with a smile, and 3) Always respect the relationships with those around you.

Paulo Costanzo!!

I need to blog about Paulo. What a day!!! But I have to board a plane right now. In good time…