Thursday, April 3, 2014

Surprise! Benefit Concert for...Me!!?? What!?

I haven't talked about this on my blog, but here goes:
As you know from past posts about 3 years ago, I did a study abroad in London, England in Shakespearean studies. This was one of the best experiences I have ever had in my entire life. You can read past posts, but Shakespeare is one of my favorite things in the entire world and it means the world to me. This study abroad meant the world to me. I wanted to go back this summer, almost as a graduation trip. (Did I mention I'm graduating April 25? Hooray!) It was getting me through my final year of college. Well as life happens, things came up, and by winter break, I was broke. No more savings. And I decided then that I would not be able to go to London. I told myself I was fine and I could go back some day. But as Spring semester started, I found myself unmotivated, not looking forward to my last semester ending, and just...down.

I woke up one morning a few weeks into the semester and my first thought was, "I'm going to London." It wasn't like something said it to me, it was more of a resolve. I was going to London, because I know it was the thing that was making me feel blue.
A few hours later I got an email from the professor I went with before, and he asked me to be his Assistant. Seriously? This would be amazing. I would have a chance to learn from one of my favorite professors, Once again live in South Kensington for 6 weeks, and hopefully network with grad schools and internships. Going to Grad School in London and eventually working there are my "hopes and my dreams" as my best friend, Kristi puts it. It is the final goal. Working for a Shakespeare company (especially one in the UK) is the ultimate goal.

The semester went on and there was one thing that was weighing on me: Where the HECK do I get money. Seriously. Trust me, I have gone down every avenue. Financial Aid, Scholarships, Grants, etc. Everything was a dead end. Because of my hours at school with classes, work, and scholarship/practicum hours, plus being in Picnic At Hanging Rock, I could not take on another job.

There have been a few avenues I've been able to take in order to make money. But not enough to pay my way to London.  I expressed this to a few friends. I asked everyone I could to let me know if there was a grant I missed or a scholarship that I hadn't found or some untapped money that I might be able to apply for etc. I am making and selling workout leggings/capris, because it's something I know how to do and can do in my limited spare time.  (Here is one of the kinds that I'm making. My sister is modeling and they turned out super cute) But it didn't change the fact that I was having a really hard time getting money together. My parents helped me out with a graduation gift (my flight).
As I worked the whole semester on trying to get my funds together, stressing, and having emotional breakdowns about money, something I didn't know about was happening. 
Fast forward to this last Monday. Well kinda.
About three weeks ago, my dear friend, Nic asked me to keep March 31 open, because it would be the first night he had open and he wanted to go on a Mandee-Nic date. I of course agreed, because I didn't have anything that night either. As the day approached, I was so excited! Also, there were things going on that were completely going over my head. Seriously, I was oblivious.
When that day came, Nic came to my voice lessons, made me sing "The World goes Round" for fun, and then told me we should dress up for our date and I should go home and dress up. Nic kept telling me to do things, and I just...blindly followed. Which is funny when I look back at how he was acting. I suspected nothing. (Even though someone totally gave it away, I still didn't catch it.)
That night I got back to the school, and after some really weird diverting and sleight of hands, Nic got me into the wildcat theatre and in I walked in to see A huge crowd of my friends and family clapping at me. I was so confused. My thoughts went like this in a split second, "HEY! That's all my friends! Hey! That's my family! Hey! Those are my costumes on display! Hey! Wait....Wait...this is for me...isn't it. What the heck? Oh my gosh. Whhhaaaa!?" Then I got embarrassed and emotional. And then more embarrassed for being emotional. 

My friends threw me the most amazing benefit concert. To raise money for my trip to London. I was blown away. I LOVED the concert. My friends are amazingly talented, they all chose beautiful songs that they felt personally applied to me or songs that I loved. 
It was very overwhelming.
In a good way.
I just couldn't understand why they picked me. I felt so loved and blessed, but so amazed as to...why me? But they all said the same thing, Because they loved me. It was a beautiful evening. They raised quite a bit of money for me, but that wasn't even the important thing in the evening for me. Don't get me wrong, I was so incredibly grateful. But the love my friends showed me was astonishing. 

Nic and Maddie opening the show with
"A Foggy Day in London Town

Alice singing "Once Upon A Time" from Brooklyn

Dear Jenessa singing "I have Confidence."


My gorgeous Amelia, Maddie, and Becca singing the stunning trio "Neverland."
I wish I had the video. This was truly amazing.
(Here's the link to the youtube video of them singing this amazing song)



Compilation of videos for the night
Me entering with my Nicholas, Nic singing London Town, and then they  had me get up on stage and sing the song Nic made me practice at voice lessons (Thank goodness he made me practice)


video

A lot of people weren't able to attend, and really wanted to. And a lot of people have been asking me how they can help donate since they couldn't be at the concert. Every penny helps. Seriously. There's a Fundly-Fundraiser Set up for my trip to London.  That is a link, so click there.  Or on the link below to go donate.


https://fundly.com/help-send-mandee-to-study-in-london


And seriously. Thank you.
And thank you to my amazing friends and family who gave me the most amazing gift. I don't know what I would have done without them.






Tuesday, April 1, 2014

My Sunshine's 40th Birthday Party

I am so behind on my blogging. My priorities have been elsewhere, and my time scarce, but I am trying to give you an idea of what has been happening in the last year. One thing that was AWESOME, was my sister's 40th Birthday Party. (Check out her amazing blog here) She is my sunshine, my only sunshine, My gypsy at heart twin. And in July (YES! CLEAR BACK IN JULY!) My sister turned 40. I love spending time with her. We love going to the Renn Faire together: 

SO last July we threw her a birthday party worthy of who she is: A Gypsy. It was a BLAST! And in true nature of who my sisters and I are, lacking a filter of when too much is too much, we threw the best party ever, despite the fact that it POURED RAIN ALL MORNING

Setting up the bunting and garland
 Took over the entire dining room!

 The tables by daylight


The crazy thing is that I owned most of that fabric, India stuff, etc.

The chocolate fountain station:

The cake: It's supposed to match the colors while mimicking the designs of Henna Tattoos





The Gypsy Lounging Area






 Let the Festivities begin!!!


Candlelight 



Buffet Table

Chocolate Fountain

Lanterns


Parties are so much better when sisters are doing it together. 



Sunday, March 16, 2014

My Costume Design How To: Part 1

Recently I had a comment on one of my posts asking me "How do you costume design? I'd love to know how to do this." That is QUITE the question. And something that is hard to answer in one blog post. (Which is while I'll do a series of posts.) In just over a month I will be graduating from Weber State University with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theatre Arts with my emphasis on Costume Design. I have known I wanted to be a costume designer since I was a teenager. I've loved making costumes and designing them since I was a child and would do so for my American Girl Dolls and my Barbies. I would rarely actually color my coloring books, but draw dresses in the margins. But it wasn't until I went to college that I really understood what went into doing the costumes for a show. I am going to have a bachelor's degree and I know I still have worlds to learn.
I will also, through these posts, be sharing with you one of the greatest experiences I have ever had: Costume Designing for The Plain Princess at Weber State.
ANYWAY.
SO...How do you Costume Design? Part 1.

STEP 1: READ THE SCRIPT!

So when you costume design for a play or musical you always start in the same place.
READ THE SCRIPT! Seriously. You'd think this is common knowledge, but I can't tell you how many times I've seen designers think they know a show, because they've heard of it and read the wikipedia synopsis (I am serious) and then try to start designing. And personally, I am a HUGE fan of NOT WATCHING THE DANG MOVIE! It WILL affect your designs.
The first time you read the script, just read it. Read it for the story and plot. That's all. Don't try to start designing, just let the story and characters sink in.
Then read it again. This time, read it and try to visualize it, analyze it, do all the script analysis you want. Take notes in the margins, highlight things, think of colors or lines.
Also, this will not be the last time you read the script. You want to know this script incredibly well, know the characters as well as you know yourself (just for the record, I love talking to the actors about their realizations and discoveries of their characters.) You're dressing them, you better know who they are.
When I designed The Plain Princess, I didn't get a script until 2 days before auditions. Why? Because it wasn't finished. haha. One of the fun things of doing an original works, you don't know when you're going to get your script or when you'll get re-writes.
The director/writer gave me the book the story comes from to read over the summer. Since I didn't have a script, I read and reread the script.
This synopsis comes from the website for the musical:
"Princess Esmerelada seems to have everything that a young princess should...except that she is "plain." In order to overcome her dilemma, the King and Queen seek the help of anyone who can remedy their daughter's situation. After the wizards and physicians refuse the challenge, a clever widow accepts the task and takes Esmerelda to live with her and her five charming daughters.
The result is a special kind of magic that works a miracle."
Luckily for me, the playwrights stayed incredibly close to the story, so reading the book allowed me to think a lot of my design and wasn't radically altering when the story came out.

STEP 2: Talk to your Director

With Plain Princess, when my director, Jim Christian first talked to me about designing his show, he gave me a color palette to think about. This happened before the script was ever even close to being done, before I had read the script or book or anything. He showed me a bouquet of flowers. This was the direction my director sent me on. (The first direction)
The first time I read the script was actually a read-through at the playwright/director's house the Sunday before our Fall semester started. (I actually read/sang for the part of Dulcibelle at the read-through). Our first production meeting was a few days later. I did not have much time to do renderings. My shop manager and I went and started purchasing fabrics so when I got to the first production meeting, I had research to show (I will talk about research in my next post) some basic sketches, and some fabrics with color choices. Because I showed up prepared (as did my fellow designers) we all had a mutual direction to go. A lot of my color choices in fabric influenced set colors, prop colors, and definitely light colors.

I do want to also add: If you are not actually doing a show and you are just designing for fun, practice, or a class assignment, come up with a Design statement.

This week's book/s to check out (aka books I love and use a lot):
Costume Design 101 Which has tons of great info on the process and basics of costume design. It's always fantastic to have a guide or reminder.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Salt City Steampunk Convention

My good friend, Allen, texted me about a month ago and asked me if I could help him make a steampunk costume. If you want to know what steampunk is, go google it. Wikipedia actually has a great description, or just look at the google image search.
Anyway, I love making costumes for Allen, because he is always excited about projects that I do for him! I made a great Dr. Frankenstein costume for him once when he was in a play where they made the actors get their own costumes (Ugh. Never okay.) And he was so enthusiastic and excited. It makes me want to sew for him all the time! Anyways, I didn't really have time, but I wanted to do it so bad, I moved some dates around so I could do it. But as I finished the costume, I wanted to go with him SO BAD! So I made myself a corset the night before so I could go with him and we had a blast! We've already started planning next year! And we have some AMAZING ideas that are going to kick butt! Allen is even hoping to do a panel, in which I'll be his assistant.  But I was SO proud of how his costume turned out!


Photos taken by Vladimir Chopine

 That is not a wig. That is my hair.


Please ignore my messy Sewing room. It's kind of a disaster right now. 

Full shot without the jacket

Vest up-close and Vest back. I wish you could see the detail. And it was all in black, keeping it sleek and keeping all the details very very subtle. I loved it.

Full shot with a messy sewing room. :(            Up close of the jacket

With his jewelers loop.


Allen and I at the convention          I did my hair all saloon-girl

Ran into my good friend, Angie!

Other players at the Convention

His costumes were fantastic every single day.

Day 2 We went a little more traditional, also, they were walking by with that background as we took a pic. coincidence.

I made this costume in high school with a historical pattern. I got SO many compliments and so many pictures taken! I was in historically accurate underwear and everything. A woah. That corset was fine as long as I didn't sit for too long, then it kind of dug into my kidneys. But I wouldn't have fit back into that dress without the corset. 


It was a blast. I am way excited for next year and I want to be more involved. I love theater, I love doing costumes, but I absolutely love conventions and Renn Faires. Seriously. They are SO much fun. 

Friday, July 5, 2013

"Clean Eating"

Yesterday was the fourth of July! Happy Birthday 'Murica! Which is my favorite holiday in the whole entire world. I'll have to write a post on that another time. But today is about the realization I had yesterday that has nothing to do with the birthday of America, but my own body.

Almost three weeks ago I joined Crossfit.  When I joined, I started eating clean according to our box's "Eat to Compete" challenge. It wasn't really hard. As long as I kept working out, it was easy to keep eating healthy, and vice versa. For example. Anytime I wanted to "cheat" and eat something not on the plan I just thought of how many burpees that was worth and it usually kept me from straying. Haha. (Burpees are not my favorite.)

I told myself on the fourth of July I could have a rootbeer float and a hamburger with the fixins. And I did. I also had a handful of M&Ms that my dad offered while I was watching Independence Day. The M&Ms about threw me into sugar shock. I couldn't believe that after two and a half weeks of clean eating, and only having fructose as a form of sugar, a handful of M&Ms made me feel so...blech. I did have the hamburger and the rootbeer float. And again, the root beer float was SO SUGARY, (But that Hamburger was incredible and I savored every bite. :)
This morning, getting back to the eating challenge hasn't even been a problem. I KNOW! I HAD A CHEAT DAY AND IT DIDN'T TURN INTO A CHEAT WEEK!

I'm just amazed at what we're willing to put into our bodies. I can't believe I used to drink Mountain Dew and Diet Coke by the gallon. I can't believe I used to eat as much sugar and unhealthy carbs as I used to. No wonder I felt the way I did. 
So in three weeks of Crossfit (almost every day) and adhering to the eating challenge, here are the changes I have seen:
1- No Migraines. (I usually got one to two a week, and more during my period. I haven't had one.)
2- A better ability to control my blood sugar levels (This helped with the Migraines.)
3- I have lost 10 pounds, two inches around my waist, an inch around my hips, and an inch from each thigh.
4- More energy.
5- Better recognition of when my body is "satisfied" so that I don't over eat and make myself sick.
6- Every day tasks have started getting easier, my body moves easier, bends over easier, lifts easier, etc.
7- I CAN TOUCH MY TOES WITH MY LEGS STRAIGHT! (You don't even understand how happy this makes me.)
8- My muscles are repairing and building faster, resulting in me not staying as sore as long after workouts.
9- My emotional/mental state is absolutely more positive, happier, and goal oriented. <--big div="" one="">
10- More creative ways to prepare food that fits into the parameters of eating challenge.

I've made friends with some of the people at the Box and I love them. I usually attend the women's class, because the women are incredible and absolutely inspiring. One of the women I adore is Shelly. She did the eating challenge and did the WODs for two months and won the challenge.

Before and After

I love that woman! I try to stand near her during WODs, because she pushes and inspires me!
Seeing her success has pushed me to keep working at what I'm doing, keep eating clean, and keep WODing it up, because I can feel myself getting stronger. And it just feels SO GOOD.
"Randy" for time: 75 Power Snatches at 55 lbs
My time was 6:53

That's a nervous smile as in: I'm not sure how I'm going to finish this WOD, because 75 is a lot more than I thought it would be.