Favorite Five Friday (88th Edition)

24 Oct

Friday already? I don’t know where my week went. Let’s find out…


1.  Disneyland! Our trip was pretty great this month. The Halloween decorations are the best and we practically walked onto every ride. We also got to do a couple of things I had been wanting to do for a while – Dan got me my awesome Darth Vader on Dumbo shirt and we got our silhouettes done on Main Street. Mostly we just loved hanging out together. There is something about that magic in the air at Disneyland. :)




I am Groot.

I am Groot.

The shiny guy worries a lot.

The shiny guy worries a lot.



2.  Halloween Horror Nights continues!! After this weekend, there is only one weekend left. Come on over and get scared.



Creepy Twinsies

Creepy Twinsies

3.  More scary movies this week! An American Werewolf in London, Cabin in the Woods, and Toy Story of Terror just for good measure. We decided we had to watch An American Werewolf in London because that’s one of our mazes at HHN this year. It’s my favorite one, and, in my opinion, the scariest! I have literally screamed both times I’ve gone through it. The movie is 33 years old, and it still stands up. Sure, it’s not as scary now as it probably was then, but it looks awesome. (Tour Guide Fact: Rick Baker won the Academy award for best make-up in 1981 for An American Werewolf in London. It was the first time that award was ever given out. Plus, it’s a Universal film!) Cabin in the Woods is one of my favorite scary movies. It’s brilliantly put together. They play with and twist the horror genre into something totally different. It’s equal parts hilarious satire and totally scary movie. It’s definitely a must see. Oh, and Toy Story of Terror is just adorable. See these movies, y’all.

4.  One of the sweetest people I know is on her way out the door to NYC. So, we got together Tour Guide style for some Karaoke at Saddle Ranch to wish her well. I miss you already, Steph! You are going to do amazing things!


5.  An early birthday lunch at Aroma Cafe (my favorite) with Leah (my favorite)! We are both so busy that it’s hard to get our schedules to line up. I know whenever we get a chance to hang out, it will always be a good time. Thank you, Leah!


Have a great Halloween week, everyone! :) Happy Friday!

Favorite Five Friday (87th Edition)

18 Oct

I know… I’m late. It is in fact Saturday, but I swear I have good reason. This week had been insane! And super fun. Believe it or not, I started typing up this post on Thursday, added to it Friday, and finished it up on Saturday. It’s been a work in progress. (Just like me!) So, without further ado (or, ya know… excuses), here it is…


1.  My family knows how much I love October. This month I have already been showered with letters and gifts! I love getting “snail mail” and little surprises. I’ve never thought that gifts was one of my love languages, but I sure do like them. So thankful for the thoughtful people in my life.


Macenna wanted “I love you” to sound like a ghost was saying it so she added some extra O’s. Clever kid. :)


2.  It was time for some Fall fun so this week we decided to go apple picking! There is a really beautiful place about an hour and a half from the city called Oak Glen. They have several miles of orchards, restaurants, petting zoos, and shops! It’s really neat to travel a short distance and find a place that doesn’t even feel like California. We set off with our fabulous friends to pick some delicious apples, drink apple flavored drinks, eat apple flavored things, and pet adorable farm animals. We also got to see some real Fall colors! That in itself was worth the trip for me. :) What a refreshing day.

Fall colors! Are you seeing this, people?!

Fall colors! Are you seeing this, people?!


3.  Y’all, when it rains, it pours. In a good way! This week I have had SIX auditions. SIX. It all just happened so quickly. I feel like work often begets other work. The real work as an actor is the hustle, the auditioning, the preparation, the driving all over town. I’ve been a real working actor this week, and it’s been a thrill. (Exhausting, but a thrill.) My excitement must have been evident because while I was in the waiting room for one audition, I was approached by a casting director and asked to audition for this production as well. Unexpected moments like this are part of why I love this adventure so much. Here’s to the hustle!


4.  Pumpkin bread is my favorite seasonal treat! It’s also my favorite thing to make and share. The recipe I use (Thanks Grandma!) makes two loaves at a time. So, Dan and I agreed that every time I made pumpkin bread this year that I would have to give away/share the second loaf. It’s worked out pretty well so far. Today I get to share a loaf with my VIP Co-workers as we have a Fall Potluck! Guys, this time of year is the best.


5.  I couldn’t possibly tell you how many times I’ve read the Harry Potter series. They have been my favorite books since I was in 6th grade. I was 11 years old when I was first introduced to the series – the same age as Harry, Hermione, and Ron. I grew up with them! Every time I reread the books they make me laugh, cry, and wish I’d gotten my Hogwarts letter. Every time I discover something new, or something I love even more than the time before. Lately, I’ve been trying to resist the urge to pick them again (and pick something new), but you can’t fight love. So I’m reading them and falling in love all over again! So happy to be back with Harry, Hermione, Ron, and the rest. As J.K. Rowling says, “Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

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Happy Friday! I mean Saturday… Happy all of the days! :)

Favorite Five Friday (86th Edition)

10 Oct

Friday again?! That arrived quickly. I’m not totally sure where my week went, but this might help me figure it out…


1.  Halloween Horror Nights 2014 is in FULL swing. We are about half way through, and I’m pretty sure it has taken over my life. I have so much respect for people the work nights on a regular basis. I just don’t know how they do it! I’m having a hard time not sleeping my days away… or just snuggling up on the couch for some Fall TV or scary movies. But I also know that I need the rest… so, I’m trying to relax and enjoy. This is my favorite time of year, after all! HHN has been a lot of fun thus far – I love getting to do so many jobs! At VIP I could be greeting people in reception, giving a tour, and helping to track the vehicles coming and going – all in ONE night! Every night is something new, and that is what keeps it exciting. Plus, you can’t beat that Horror Nights atmosphere… mischief in the air, screams and laughter, adrenaline pumping… it’s definitely a good time. A few more weekends to go, so c’mon and visit us at Universal Studios Hollywood… if you dare! (Muahahaha!)

2.  Tori had a birthday, and we got to celebrate her with a trip to Malibu and a night of laughter. Such a good day.



3.  Dan and I have been waiting and waiting for Gone Girl to come out. We were both completely enthralled with the novel by Gillian Flynn, we love pretty much everything David Fincher puts his hands on, and we couldn’t wait to see what Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike would do with Nick and Amy. We were not disappointed! Almost a week later and I am still pondering that movie. It’s such an interesting, twisted story. The characters are so fascinating to read, to watch. I really enjoyed the film… both as a fan of the book and a movie-goer. They were so true to the book (maybe to a fault, but I didn’t mind), the casting was spot on (Thank you, Laray Mayfield!), and Fincher added in his own unique style. Personally, I think Affleck was perfect for Nick. It might be the best thing he has ever done. I am also such a fan of Pike’s work (Pride and Prejudice, An Education), and it was incredible to see her take on a completely different role. She nailed it, and I can’t wait to see what she will do next! If you want to see something dark and intriguing… check it out!

4.  Watched a couple scary movies I had never seen: Friday the 13th (The Original), Oculus, and The Conjuring. It was a great mix… campy/classic, mind-bender, and absolutely terrifying. I don’t really know why I enjoy being scared, but I do… I guess I’m just weird that way. ;) Still glad I had my cute husband sitting next to me… and my blanket so I could cover my face when it was too scary. Bring on more scary movies!

5.  One of my most favorite people does not enjoy getting scared, but she would let herself for me. :) I love going to haunted houses for my birthday (October Baby), and my sweet best friend forced herself into coming multiple times. That is love. We now have long distance best friendship. So, no haunted houses for her this year, but it makes me happy to know that if she had to… she would go just for me. Love you, Chi Chi!

This is what long distance best friendship looks like.

This is what long distance best friendship looks like.

Have a spook-tacular weekend, Crazies! Happy Fri-YAY!

Favorite Five Friday (85th Edition)

3 Oct

It’s Friday, and I am feeling good…


1.  My favorite month has arrived!!! October is here, and I couldn’t be happier. I know I already shared my feelings about Fall, but October is the absolute best. But maybe I’m just biased since it’s my birth month. ;) Dear October, put your feet up and stay a while.


2.  We went to see The Skeleton Twins this week, and both loved it. Seeing Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig do something so outside of what I usually expect to see them doing (…SNL) was wonderfully refreshing. They were both warm, charming, and captivating. It will also rip your heart out just a little bit. Expect to laugh, but don’t be surprised when you end up in tears.

3.  The new Tour Guides have joined the ranks so we welcomed them with a party! This week we had mixer so the old guides could meet the new, and we all had a good time. I have the best co-workers!


4.  Holiday movies are the best (Halloween and Christmas movies anyway). Dan and I were already getting into the season by watching the Scream Movies. But now that it’s October, it was time for my favorite… Hocus Pocus. I’m sure it was the first of many times that I will watch that movie this season. It is over twenty years old, and it’s still awesome. Don’t fight me on that… We might not be friends when it’s over. Haha. Just kidding… Kind of. But seriously, Hocus Pocus is the best, and if you haven’t seen it, now is the time!


5.  TimeHop is a really fun app that shows you social media posts from previous years. Since I’ve had the app I’ve seen photos I had forgotten about and updates I had shared about special moments. It’s really pretty neat. This week it showed me a blog post from a couple of years ago about some changes I had made in my life. Reading it was such a great reminder of how far I have come! It was also a helpful encourager to reach for the goals I still want to accomplish. I can’t believe it’s been three years. Here is to the next three and a healthier me. (Here is my original post for anyone who might be curious or interested: Habit Overcome By Habit)

Happy Friday and Happy October!!!


Favorite Five Friday (84th Edition)

26 Sep

It’s Friday! You know what that means…


1.  It’s officially FALL! My most favorite time of the year. I am a little biased because all of my favorite holidays start rolling in… Dan’s birthday, my birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. There is just something about the last few months of the year. You can feel it in the air – things are changing, shifting, moving. It’s that back to school feeling, ya know? A blank slate, a new beginning. The one thing I am missing is the actual shift in the air… it is still blazing hot outside here in California. I know, I kinda signed up for it when I moved to L.A. I do love that the sun shines and the weather is beautiful year round. Most of the time I am totally satisfied and happy about that. But this time of year, I miss that crisp fall air, the crunching of the leaves under my feet, snuggly sweaters, and being immersed in the beauty of Fall colors. There is nothing like it. I am craving a trip somewhere I can really experience the change of season… we shall see what adventure comes my way.


2.  Going to the movies is my favorite. I get excited every time I am in the theatre waiting for a film to begin. No matter what I am watching, there is always some moment that makes me just burn with the desire to do what they are doing – those actors up on screen. Every movie just propels me forward, teaches me, and helps me figure out what I am looking for as an actor.  This week we got to go see two movies I’ve been looking forward to. First was The Maze Runner. Dan and I had both finished reading the book, and we were excited to see how the brought it to life on-screen. I was really pleased with what they came up with! I might have even liked the movie better than the book (GASP! I don’t think I have ever said that. Ever.) The story just works so well on film. They also tightened up some of the details and fleshed out some of the things that were hard to imagine as I was reading. I’ll definitely go out to see the next film when that comes out.  The second movie was This Is Where I Leave You. We have been waiting to see this all-star cast in action for months. There are just so many actors I love in that film! The relationships were so fascinating to watch, and the family dynamic was so original. I would probably call it a dark comedy…people trying to face tough situations with a little humor. Like real people. ;) I loved getting to see Tina Fey do something a little different. She is just the best. Also, I adore Jason Bateman, Rose Byrne, and Corey Stoll. I will absolutely see that movie again. Soon. 4.5 Stars at least! 

3.  Tuesday nights have become one of the best parts of my week. For the last month or so, Tuesday night has become the hang out night for me, Dan, and our buddies. I love that this has kind of become the routine… whether we are getting dinner, seeing a movie, playing games, or just acting like crazy people. It’s always a good time. I love you Tuesday Night Crew. 

4.  It’s been a while since I’ve been able to go hiking, but Leah and I made it happen this week! It was refreshing to get up and head out into nature (Even if we could see the smog over the city) first thing in the morning. We went to our usual trail of choice, Fryman Canyon. It’s nice that it’s just so close by, and we know we can get it done in an hour. Always good to spend time outdoors… and with Leah… even though she likes Disney Slow Jams. :P


 5.  #TGIT!!!!! Fall shows are back! Guys, I watch entirely too much television. (It’s part of my job… stop judging me. Guess I should work on that too.) BUT it is just so good. These days I feel like television > movies in most cases. Which is what is bringing to many movie stars to the small screen. What I am most excited about is Shondaland Thursdays on ABC. Grey’s Anatomy has been one of my favorite shows since it has been on the air. Scandal has rocked my world since I started binge watching it. Now, How To Get Away With Murder is looking like it will be my favorite new show. Thank you Shonda Rhimes for playing such a large role in bringing powerful women to television. I can’t think of anything more amazing than to land a series regular on a Shonda Rhimes show. There. I said it. I am going to reach for that dream, and in the mean time I will keep watching these awesome characters and the fabulous actresses who bring them to life.

Fall into a great weekend, everyone! (See what I did there? ;) But really…)

Happy Friday!

Favorite Five Friday (83rd Edition)

18 Sep

Hey all! I’m not going to lie… I might as well call this the “Dan Edition.” All of my favorite parts of this week were spent celebrating my handsome husband’s birthday! Turn back now if you don’t want to see anything sappy. ;) (Don’t worry, it’s not that sticky.) Romantics and the brave at heart, keep on reading…


1.  I am so thankful that Dan was born! This guy is the most hard-working, courageous, and generous man I know. He always takes care of me, challenges me, makes me laugh, believes in me, and makes me feel like there is nothing better than being Joanna. I know… I am the luckiest. :) I feel like there should be more than one day a year to celebrate the fact that my best friend came into this world… so, I like to celebrate big. (If you don’t know me… I am a little obsessed with holidays. Birthdays included.) And that’s exactly what we did this week! Surprises, hunts for clues, treats, and adventures – it was quite a fun week!


2.  We got to kick off our celebration by going to the Employee Preview Night for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal. Beforehand, we had a few friends over for a little ice cream cake (it’s become a tradition for me to make ice cream cake every year for Dan’s birthday – this year was Nutella Crunch!) and to sing happy birthday, of course. Then we were on our way to evening full of screams and thrills! I love Halloween Horror Nights. Remember how I said I love holidays? Halloween is pretty much the top of my list, and I get to spend a full month in Halloween fun! We’ve got some pretty awesome mazes this year. I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone who might be planning to attend the event this year, but I think American Werewolf in London was my favorite maze. It got some serious screams out of me. So, if you are going… don’t miss that one! We got to go through all of the mazes and scare zones… it’s safe to say we had a screamin’ good time. (Yeah, I went there.) Come check out Halloween Horror Nights 2014!


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3.  For Dan’s actual birthday I planned two adventures. The first was going to Warner Brothers for their VIP Tour – something we’ve been talking about doing for months. As VIP Guides, it felt strange to be on the tourist side, but it was a lot of fun! We got to see some really neat sets, hear about some cool history, and learn some new things. Plus, there was a William H. Macy sighting which was super cool. Part of the reason I felt like we should to the WB tour for Dan’s birthday was because they are celebrating 75 years of Batman. They had all kind of cool displays set up to check out Batman over the years. They also film a bunch of other shows and movies we really like. We enjoyed getting to see another studio and getting to be VIP guests for the day.




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4.  The second adventure was a trip to Disneyland for the Happiest Haunts Tour. Disney offers all kinds of VIP tours, but around Halloween they give a tour that revolves around some Halloween history. We had a VIP Tour Guide and a Ghost Host to share lots of fun facts and get us VIP access to a few of the rides. Our favorite ride this time of year is The Haunted Mansion because Jack Skellington and The Nightmare Before Christmas crew come to deck the halls. We also got several sweet treats along the way, and a very cool Happiest Haunts pin. One of our favorite aspects of the tour was the audio devices they use. Each guest got an ear piece and a receiver to wear. Then the VIP Tour Guide could speak normally into his microphone and we could hear him as we walked along through the park. They also played special spooky theme music to underscore the evening. I’m pretty sure the other people in our group thought Dan and I were a little crazy as we broke out into silly dances along the way. It was a really magical adventure.

"I knew it!"

“I knew it!”


5.  I also just want to say thank you to the friends and family that reached out to Dan on his birthday… sending sweet messages, spoiling him with gifts, wishing him a good day. It makes my heart happy. :) I loved getting to see him be so loved! Thank you for celebrating with us!

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I hope your week was just as fun! Happy Friday and Happy Birthday, Dan!

Bonus Picture!

Bonus Picture!

Favorite Five Friday (82nd Edition)

11 Sep

Friday has almost come and gone, but there’s still time to sneak in a little…



1.  One of the coolest kids I know turned four, and I got to celebrate with him! We had a great time partying like pirates at Phin’s birthday party this week. Being a big kid is fun!


2.  I have spent most of the last week training Universal’s latest class of Tour Guides, and it has been a really neat experience. You all know that I love my job… seeing other people fall in love with it is awesome. I have really enjoyed watching to each of these Guides in Training as they learn the information, put their tour together, and put their own personal stamp on it. I can remember exactly what it was like to be in their position – the challenges and the excitement. Getting to be a mentor and a source of encouragement has been the highlight of my week. I am wishing them all luck as they get ready to test next week!


3.  There has been a Gratitude Challenge making its way around Facebook, and I was asked to join in this week. Basically, the challenge lasts five days, and each day you have to share three things you are grateful for and then challenge three more friends. Seeing my news feed flooded with so much positivity and thankfulness has been such a breath of fresh air. We can all get so caught up in complaining about the things that don’t go our way. It’s easy to forget all of the beautiful things that exist in our lives. There is so much to be grateful for.

4.  Speaking of gratitude, the 13th anniversary of the attacks on 9/11 was this week, and every where I turned people were sharing their stories, lifting each other up, and stopping to remember those we lost. I am so thankful for the people who gave their lives and those that still fight to keep us safe. I can’t believe it’s been 13 years. I will never forget where I was when I heard the news, the emotions it made me feel, how it changed me. I will always remember 9/11 as the day I truly discovered what it meant to be proud to be an American. We will never forget.

5.  This was particularly meaningful to me this week. I think it might be my new mantra… I need a theme song… ;)



Happy Friday, lovely people! Until next time!


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