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happily thankful


By way of our mutual BFFs Carl Nelson and Sidra Smith, Tichina Arnold has become an uber-cool friend, often chronicled in "...The Life of Riley..." - from casual hangs to L.A. sightings to the night she joined us at Native Restaurant for "All-Star Karaoke Thursday Night" (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/tag/tichina-arnold). Whenever we all connect, it's a good time! With some of Tichina's own fam in tow and my BFF Ern in the mix, we all gathered at Sid's place for an impromptu, day-after-Thanksgiving feast - comprised of delightful dishes Sid had prepared the day prior and lovingly warmed up for us to enjoy. Seasoned to perfection, the menu included turkey, dressing, collard greens, yams, macaroni and cheese, sweet potato pie, and more! For entertainment, Tichina gave our ears a sneak-peek of her new music (for a CD on which she's been working and plans to release - maybe independently). I've always been a fan of Tichina, THE SINGER. As she writes most of the material, I can now say I'm a fan of Tichina, THE SINGER/SONGWRITER! Meanwhile, Tichina, THE ACTRESS, is busy as ever ---- celebrating TV Land's acquiring 11 more episodes of her hit sitcom (with THE NANNY's Fran Drescher): "Happily Divorced" (www.tvland.com/shows/happily-divorced). So, Season 2 - which premieres next Wednesday, November 28th (with a guest star turn by Joan Collins) - will now run for 24 episodes. ANOTHER NIGHT during THANKSGIVING weekend, we found ourselves in Brooklyn at SOCO Restaurant (www.socobk.com/) and we got to hang out with girlfriend Vilay and her beau. A little karaoke afterwards at DUETS 53 rounded that night out. AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, we are GRATEFUL to dear friends Danielle and Bernard who threw a MOST-DELIGHTFUL THANKSGIVING DINNER – menu including: Marinated Roasted Turkey; Baked Glazed Ham (a la Ernest Maynor); Red Beans & Rice; Caribbean Mac & Cheese with Smokey Chipotle Peppers; Cornbread Stuffing with Andouille Sausage & Aromatic Vegetables; Candied Yams; Potato Salad; Sauteed String Beans with Shallots & Pancetta; Spicy Apple Cranberry Relish (and my favorite Cranberry Sauce from the can). Cocktails included Torched Cherry Sangria and Homemade Bajan Rum Punch. DESSERT included Fresh Fruit Tart, Carrot Cake, Sweet Potato Pie, and a Red Velvet Cake (for my birthday: SURPRISE!). Bernard’s parents; cousin; and aunt were in the mix as well… and we had a blast!


With Chicago buddies Jaci and Kelli in tow, we were HONORED to be in the presence – once again – of Tony Award winner RUBEN SANTIAGO-HUDSON. He's Director of August Wilson's "The Piano Lesson" in NYC. (Shout out to my friend, Walk Tall Girl Productions/Black Theater Online’s Marcia Pendelton (http://walktallgirlproductions.com/). She made sure we were all in the house as she works on the marketing/audience team for this show and many shows – Broadway and off-Broadway). Ruben directs August Wilson’s “The Piano Lesson”… and we got to enjoy a wine & cheese/photo-op moment with him (for personal catch up); but prior, a discussion between Ruben and Vinnie Bagwell (the sculptor who created the art that is on the piano) took place…and they each talked about their process, the history and themes behind the sculptures, Ruben's personal connection with August Wilson and SO MUCH MORE! I’ve hung out with Ruben a time or few in New York City – including a run-in at a Halle Berry movie premiere (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2010/12/1/i-recall-the-scenes-that-never-die.html)  and I interviewed him at the American Stroke Association’s benefit at The Apollo last year (http://thelifeofriley.squarespace.com/rilys-blog/2011/5/15/nothing-ventured-nothing-gained.html).  He’s always a JOY and ready to tell amazing stories – on and off the stage. And now that “Piano Lesson” has been extended to January 13th, you MUST check it out yet another of his directorial masterpieces: http://www.signaturetheatre.org/tickets/production.aspx?pid=2371.


Toasts all around for our 7 YEAR ANNIVERSARY! Got one more toast in with Chicago friends Jaci and Kelli. From there, on the actual day, we laid low at home before heading out to toast with friends Carl Nelson, Andy Diaz, and others at NABJ buddy Taj Tsonga’s place followed by a New Ro HIGH-FIVE at A Loft with my Amazing Grace Nichole; Troy; Michelle Sanchez-Boyce; Nelson Boyce; Cynthia Burgos; Elijah; Dawn; Tracey; and the rest of the crew! We even snuck in a late night/early morning Amy Ruth meal. Then, Sunday brunch (and lots more toasting) with The Porters…and MISS NINA! Shout out to Rakia for the "Cosby Show" nod! CUTE SHIRT!


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