We all do it. Reach for that Costco size 5 pound bag of chocolate chips when we feel we've had a rough couple of da-
Oh woops. Wrong blog. No I am talking about getting older. It's your BIRTHDAY!!!! Well technically today is mine and it's awesome. It is a day to CELEBRATE! Celebrate who I am and all that I have accomplished. You hear a lot of people complaining about getting older. Lamenting their birthday instead of realizing how lucky they are to have one. When I was 22 I was in a club in Rome flirting with some guy. He asked how old I was and I told him, to which he responded, "You're old." He was eighteen. What an a**hole. But in that moment I remember a sinking feeling thinking, "Oh God. This is what everyone always talks about. Nothing to look forward to after 21. They even say women peak at 18 and I'm well past that age." What I should have been thinking was, "I paid for this entire trip to Italy at 22 years old because I am a working professional and I am damn proud of that."
Screw that guy!
In my early twenties, there was a small anxious voice inside of me questioning if I was ready for the approaching age. "Have I met all the requirements one is supposed to meet when said "date" arrives?" Don't get me wrong, there is still that voice which I am 1000% sure everyone has. But with every passing year, it's like I'm adding another tool to my belt to prepare me for what's to come. Here is why getting older kicks ass:
1. You have experience:
You can't fake it. Genuine experience comes from living. So good job, if you're alive, you are on the right track! My best advice is to take as many risks as possible. Not like attempting to sky dive without a parachute, more like if you feel it in your bones to quit your day job and become a painter do it! I went to study abroad by myself at 21. I waved goodbye to my dad and sister at the gate thinking, "What the hell am I doing? I am going to be ALONE in a foreign country? Why did I do this!?" I sat next to an Italian doctor on the plane and when he heard what I was doing he said, "You have a lot of courage, you must be very proud!" And I was. Now, my absolute favorite thing to do is travel alone, and I have a lot of knowledge that makes each trip better than the next.
2. You have more confidence:
It's hard to believe you could be good at something if you've never experienced the outcome. I went on my first commercial audition when I was 17. The script was all improvised so it was the actor's job to keep it fun and interesting. I walked in holding my headshot and shaking, and was given one line to start with. Before I knew it, I couldn't stop talking and making things up. I walked out of there with a job and the belief that I was capable of achieving my goals.
3. You Know Your Body:
After YEARS of experimenting (and sometimes failing miserably) with different styles of clothes, shoes, makeup and haircuts, you know what will compliment you the best. You have your go to jeans for that date you are excited about, you know which haircut flatters your face, and what height shoe you need to take the focus off your thighs.
(EFF you ballet flats!)
4. You Know Yourself:
The wisdom never ends. Every day you are learning new things about who you are, what you are willing to fight for, and willing to shut up about. You know what you need out of your friendships, romantic relationships, careers and life in general. You aren't as afraid to ask for what you deserve. That raise? That date night? Those french fries?!? The need for approval is just not that important anymore. (Yes I want to be in bed early Friday for my Saturday morning spin class bugger off!) And the best part is you learn to just embrace the good, the bad and the ugly. That weird ass cowlick from childhood?! UGHHH EMBRACE IT! Things you used to stress yourself out about seem petty.
You always want to look your best, but at the end of the day appearance is fleeting, and the ability to make someone laugh or feel special is a much better priority.
Growin' up ain't easy. But there is so much to look forward to and hopefully you can be proud of the person you are becoming.
CHEERS TO A GREAT BIRTHDAY! (You better be eating cake)
This past November the musical I tour with headed to St. Louis to perform at the Westport Playhouse for a week. Other than passing briefly through when I was 7, I had never spent time in St. Louis and wasn’t expecting much. Since we only had shows in the evenings, we had the entire day to explore and I was truly delighted by all the great things there were to experience (and eat of course!)
1. Pappy’s Smokehouse (Memphis style BBQ)
Now, now now. I’m getting a tad emotional as I write this. The meal I had at Pappy’s was some of the best BBQ I have ever laid my hands on. They have all the meats, in sandwiches, in platters whatever way you want. I got the “Pick Two,” and chose brisket and pulled pork. Just two gigantic piles of meat on tray. I also got the beans and sweet potato fries on the side. Tender is an understatement. It was all so juicy and flavorful I barely needed to put anything on it, although their Pappy’s original BBQ sauce was a phenomenal addition. The gals and I went all in on an enormous Frito pie with burnt ends. Crunchy, meaty and delicious, this Frito pie was my first and will definitely be a hard act to follow. The line gets long very quickly and they sell out fast so get there before 4!
2. Brunch at Turn
If you’re looking for fresh local and delicious food, Turn has got you covered. The restaurant itself is beautiful with tall windows that allow the sunlight to shine through the entire place. (Great lighting for those insta shots!) The walls, covered in vinyl art reflect Chef David Kirkland's former DJing days. One of my favorite items on the menu was their biscuit flight. You get to try four of their house made biscuits paired with different butters and jams! Coincidentally there is a great vinyl shop upstairs (separate from the restaurant). Definitely worth checking out after brunch! Check out Turn’s menu below.
3. Head to Westport Social
We performed our musical in The Westport Plaza which lucky for us is also home to the awesome bar/restaurant Westport Social. This huge industrial looking space has it all. Giant TV screens playing every football game, other TVs screening movies, a karaoke room upstairs and great food! Sit back, order a burger and enjoy the game. Or you know, Terminator 2.
4. Eat Toasted Ravioli
Apparently fried ravioli, referred to as “toasted ravioli,” was created in St. Louis and is still a staple on many menus. I ordered some delicious fried lobster ravioli at Westport Social and tapped out after two. Those little guys are quite hefty. I also heard a lot about an Italian area called the Hill with great restaurants. I didn’t have a chance to check it out but there is a restaurant called Mama’s on the Hill that has a spaghetti and meatball challenge. It’s 4.5 pounds of Spaghetti with Mama’s marinara, topped with a two pound meatball. I am truly sad I missed this! If you get a chance to do this challenge let me know how it went!
5. City Museum
This place is truly a work of art and and a total funhouse experience. Everything in this 600,000 square foot old shoe factory is made with recyclable materials from the city of St. Louis itself. Crawling on old chimneys, bridges, abandoned planes and beautiful multi colored tiles makes you feel like a kid again, even when you come face to face with an actual kid. Ain’t no shame! There’s a small area for a circus with extremely talented performers, a bar for adults that sell local beer you can only find in St. Louis, and my absolute favorite part, a ten story slide! Need to get to the 1st floor from the 3rd? Take a slide instead of the stairs! There’s old organs playing fun music as you duck and dive around this amazing sustainable Disneyland. Sculptor Bob Cassilly is a genius and this place is a must see.
6. Visit the Forest Park Area
This beautiful plot of land is a nonprofit conservancy that is maintained through donors and volunteers. Basically it means FREE ADMISSION! I could not believe all the amazing things we had access to without paying a dime:
A. The Science Center
Dinosaurs, King Tut, using your mental energy to move a marble across the table? This science center had so much for kids and adults of every age to explore. Their planetarium was the only thing you had to pay for, $6 and it's worth it. Instead of seats they have mats where you can lay down as they close the lights and create a night sky full of stars. It was so cozy I woke up 20 minutes later drooling.
B. The St. Louis Zoo
We walked around for two hours in awe of the beautiful lions, hippos, polar bears and other glorious creatures. FOR FREE. It was also fall and the foliage was multi colored and stunning.
Forest Park also includes both a history and art museum which I unfortunately didn’t get a chance to see but heard are lovely.
Thanks for hanging with this starving actress!
The Big E, also known as New England’s “Great state fair” is one of the largest on the east coast and the 7th largest in the USA. This is a place that serves deep fried Kool Aid people. I eat clean regularly so I can feast on all things rolled in a ball and thrown into a deep fryer at events like this. When I heard they would be serving deep fried butter, I knew I had to take the 3 hour drive to test the limits of my heart. Here’s what to do and see at the Big E next year!
Indulge in all things that would break your scale in half
The Craz-E-burger - This bacon cheeseburger between a glazed donut is the sweet and savory combo that will make you click your heels together in song and dance. The cheeseburger is perfectly cooked and topped with two pieces of crisp bacon. The salty juice drips down onto the sweet glazed doughnut, and the bacon gives it that great crunchy texture. At only $7 a pop, it’s definitely a must try!
Chompers Bacon Cheeseburger Balls- These deep fried balls of goodness are NOT to be missed. They are fried to PERFECTION, crisp on the outside, and filled with juicy ground beef, bacon and melted cheese on the inside. Dunk these bad boys in some ketchup and try not to go cross-eyed in ecstasy. An order of 6 came to $8.
Marion’s Deep Fried Dough- This vendor is Willy Wonka’s dream come to life. They deep fry jelly beans, Oreos, Kool Aid and butter just to name a few. The fried Kool Aid is a mix of Marion’s batter and red Kool Aid powder, and once out of the fryer it resembles a red zeppole. In case that isn’t enough it is then sprinkled with more Kool Aid powder because WHY NOT. I didn’t try it but it was one of the most popular items on the menu. I did try the deep fried butter and Oreos. The Oreos were your standard deep fried treat that has become popular at festivals all over the country. Deep fried butter however? Better have the medics on hand. It had more batter surrounding it than what I expected and the result was a beautiful fresh pillow of carbs surrounding a big melting glob of butter. It tasted like a sweet, warm BUTTERY loaf of bread right out of the oven. I’m glad I got to say I tried deep fried butter. My integrity is gone.
Other unique eats I saw were footlong corn dogs, 18 inch bratwursts, chocolate and bacon covered french fries and alligator burgers!
Hang with all the cute animals
Is there anything cuter than watching puppies run obstacle courses? I think not. Take a seat in the arena, digest your fried cheesecake and watch these cute little creatures jump over surprisingly high hurdles.
Say hello to the camels that are just chillin, ride an elephant or feed the baby lambs and goats at the petting zoo.
There is a ton of different rides for both kids and adults, live music, shopping, exhibits, sculptures made entirely of butter, the list goes on and on! Tickets are $15 for adults, and it’s about a 3 hour drive from New York City. This is the home of the most indulgent eats I have ever witnessed and I cannot wait to get back next year!