Don’t Miss GYPSY at Studio Tenn!

I am happy to say that I'll be back on stage in just a couple of weeks playing the role of Mazappa in StudioTenn's production of GYPSY! It's been awhile since I sat in a rehearsal room and it feels GREAT! For those of you who aren't familiar with my career as a stage actor, there's lots of catch-up reading in the "actor" tab above. When I was 13, I played Dainty June in GYPSY at the Strauss Playhouse. Now I've graduated to the role of Mazeppa! A big leap! Haha...  This musical is one of my very favorites. The book is incredible. The music is incredible. Our CAST is going to be incredible! Thanks to StudioTenn for giving this mama the chance to Bump it with A Trumpet! Click here for TICKETS and INFO! gypsy studio tenn mazeppa

Emmet Pumpkin inspired by The Lego Movie

Hello! I wanted to share this pumpkin idea I came up with for my son's school Pumpkin Competition. It's Emmet from The Lego Movie and my son and his classmates LOVED it! 109 I used a fake pumpkin and an orange storage box from the craft store. I painted the pumpkin with yellow gloss paint (for that plastic look) and then painted the hair brown. The eyes and mouth are cut out of paper. For the torso, I used duct tape, sharpie, and paint. If I had time, I would have done the arms, but it had to be delivered to my son's classroom, so Emmet is armless. Ha ha. The kids didn't seem to mind. I hope you enjoy this fun, easy project!  If you do it, leave me a comment and let me know. I've never originated a popular crafting "pin" and would love to see how it travels! Sincerely, Sarah Jane (owner-designer Emmet Pumpkin Emmet Pumpkin Lego Movie And here are few more fun pumpkin ideas from the other class pumpkins at Rutland Elementary School in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. Enjoy! Creeper Pumpkin Spaceship Pumpkin Idea Pumpkin Ideas Pumpkin Idea Spider Frozen Pumpkin Idea

Les Miserables Birthday Party for Rosalee’s 9th Birthday!

"Mom! I know the theme I want for my 9th Birthday!" said 8 year old Rosey from the backseat of the car...  I was excited to hear because we have quite a tradition for fun birthday events with her past themes spanning, Wiggles, Princess, Teddy Bear PJ Party, and more... "Les Miserables!" Yes, we are a family of theatre nerds and it's starting to show up in Rosey big time. The following pictures chronicle Rosey's Les Miz themed party! The Menu: French Baguette, Spiral Cut Ham, Double Cream French Brie, Sharp Cheddar, Parmesan/Gouda Blend from Trader Joe's (Rosey's Favorite), Water Crackers, Deviled Eggs with Smoked Paprika, Raw Veggies (Red Peppers, Cucumbers, and Carrots) with Ranch Dip, Chocolate Fondue with fresh Strawberries and Pound Cake, Strawberry/Mango/Lemonade Punch, and the Cake was from Dulce Desserts in Nashville (Vanilla Cake with Vanilla Buttercream and fresh Strawberry Buttercream Filing.) YUM! I decorated the table with wood and silver. The only thing I purchased was a set of silver candle sticks to represent the gift from the Bishop in the story. I used as many wooden cutting boards and wooden bowls as I could find to give it a rustic look. The favors were French Revolution Rosettes made by my wonderful mama, Carla Duffy.  I used the leftover ribbon from the rosettes to make little French flags with wooden skewers. (thank goodness U.S. 4th of July ribbon is red, white, and blue just like the French flag!) The game was "Pin the Candle on Val Jean." My step-dad Steve Duffy drew it and it's so fabulous! LOL! I wanted the kids to have some sort of costumes, so I went to Goodwill in search of "peasant wear." They didn't have much but I discovered that old curtain valances are cheap and work perfectly as a shawl. In the picture below, I'm wearing a brown curtain valance! Only 1.99 at Goodwill. Ha, ha! We did Karaoke and Rosey sang song after song. She loves "On My Own" and "The Confrontation: between Javert and Val Jean is always a big hit in our house. As I said, musical theatre nerds, all of us! Enjoy the pics! The whole event ended with a girls-only sleepover. There were even some 4th of July fireworks happening late in the sky above our backyard. Some of the girls thought I arranged that! Nope. Just party planning luck! The next morning, my brother Jay Nelson showed up to pick up my niece Rylee, and he couldn't pass up the chance to do some Les Miz Karaoke (He is a Nelson after all!) Jay and Rosey squared off for "The Confrontation" between Javert and Val Jean. It was hilarious. All in all, it was a wonderful celebration of a very special little girl. Rosey is a shining light in my world and I am so proud of the young lady she is becoming each day. Caring, kind, and full of creative ideas. Happy Birthday my sweet girl. Your mama loves you so much... :) Sarah Jane 003 les miz party-017003 les miz party-002003 les miz party-003003 les miz party 003 les miz party-014 003 les miz party-025003 les miz party-005 003 les miz party-006 003 les miz party-007 003 les miz party-008 003 les miz party-009 003 les miz party-011 003 les miz party-012 003 les miz party-013 003 les miz party-019 003 les miz party-020 003 les miz party-021 003 les miz party-022 003 les miz party-023003 les miz party-004

Look what I found on my walk!

Where do we find inspiration?  Joy? Gratitude?  Sometimes I get stressed out and negative and then something will remind me of the beauty and LOVE that makes life worthwhile. The other day, I had been working too long and was feeling particularly burned out and anxious, so I headed out for a walk around my neighborhood.  I was walking really briskly, and then this caught my eye... It was a little heart sticker turned upside down with some dirt on it.  There was something about it that made me smile, so I took this photo with my phone.  I continued walking and soon came across this... It was a heart shaped hole in the sidewalk!  How cool!  I snapped a photo and continued walking. A block later I saw this... So pretty right?  I love the red brick it was sitting on.  By this time I was feeling like a little kid on a scavenger hunt - excitedly looking at the ground as I walked.   Just a bit down that block I saw this one too... I noticed that my anxiety had melted away in marveling at these simple little gifts of nature.  My mind started taking stock of all the beauty that is right in front of us - beauty we can't see because we're so busy thinking negatively.  And then this... How stunning is this one?  I guess it's old chewing gum in the shape of a heart!  By this point I was really feeling the LOVE!  Kept walking and sure enough... It had rained earlier that morning and this little wet spot looked like a heart!  If you back away from the picture you see it even more and that's how I saw it from a little distance. I love how subtle this one is.  As I walked along pondering that one I realized that sometimes love is more of a whisper than a siren.  A whisper that guides the best things we do in life. As I rounded the corner to my apartment, I saw this one.  The leaves were just sitting there like this and the whole thing was getting pretty amazing at this point... After my 30 minute adventure, my mindset was totally changed.  I went from feeling on the verge of an anxiety attack to coming home energized and positive.  Taking a walk always turns around my mood, but the little hearts along the way made me extra joyful.  I walked up my apartment stairs and on the wall of the building I noticed this... It was a TINY bit of paint from the trim of the building that was shaped like a heart.  It was only a 1/4" in size so I never noticed before. Today, take time to notice the beauty around you, and though all life's challenges, you'll be reminded that LOVE really is all around us.  And see if you can find some hearts around you too!  I bet you'll see them... *If you have photos of hearts you've discovered, post them on Facebook and then post the link in a comment below so we can see! ** Feel free to share this post with your friends on Pinterest and Facebook.  I'm going to start writing more blog posts and would love to build my mailing list.  If you're not signed up just put your e-mail in the box to your right and be sure to check your e-mail to confirm  your subscription. Love, Sarah Jane owner/designer Handstamped Jewelry That Speaks

Bloom – What my rose garden is trying to teach me…

622   I've never been a plant person but I have a spectacular rose garden in my front yard. I can't take credit for it (our landlord is the one who cares for them) but I've grown to adore them so much. As the spring has sprung, I have marveled every single day at the beauty of the new roses I discover. Surprises in every corner of the yard keep opening up to me. I'm in awe of the yellow, lavender, red, coral - all different sizes and scents. These days are so precious and fleeting. Happy moments with my little Mateo age 5 and Rosey age 7 - delicious snuggles, enlightening talks, and so many priceless moments. I want to bottle up the minutes and make them last forever, but that's not how it works. Taking pictures is the only way I know how to stop time. And so that's what I do with the roses too. They bud and bloom and I take photos.  Photos that show them in all their glory, in their peak of splendor, and then they bloom full and begin their process of passing away. It's interesting that they smell the very sweetest as they begin to wither.  I put my nose all the way inside and sniff each time I pass. I can't get enough, and then they're gone. New roses pop up.  New colors I've never seen before, brightness and sweetness... I guess this garden is here to show us in the most glorious way that life is in motion, nothing lasts, everything changes and moves forward. My life has had thorns. Sometimes the challenges and heartbreaks overwhelm me, but overall, in the big picture, there is so much to be grateful for. Let us all treasure the moments when life is gloriously in BLOOM. Below you'd find pics of my front yard roses. None of the photos are retouched! Just natural beauty, frozen in time, forever in bloom... Leave a comment below if you wish. I'd love to know that someone is out there listening.  Also feel free to share with a rose-lover (or a life-lover) who might enjoy this post. Love, Sarah Jane

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COOK with it!

I wanted to share this quote I read in the Lulu Powers newsletter.  Check her out at (she's a cooking/entertaining diva).  The quote really resonated with me, so I created this little graphic to help us all remember: don't try to run from fear (it will catch up to you again and again) - you've got to COOK with it!  So many good things that I've done in my life started as fears. I really do believe that the only way out is through and this quote is a fun reminder...  Enjoy!


Well, here I am. Sitting in bed, noodling around on the computer.  The house is quiet except for the purr of my cat, Bob, sitting next to me.  No one to feed, no one to pick up or drop off, no one to comfort or discipline or praise or referee. I'm alone. For those of you who don't have kids, this likely seems pretty mundane.  For those of you who have small children - this is INCREDIBLE!  My husband was out of town working for eight long weeks and his gift to me is that he took our 4 and 7 year old kids away to San Diego for the weekend. This is my first alone time in SEVEN YEARS.  I have to say that again. My first alone time in SEVEN YEARS.  I'm not proud of that.  It's not healthy at all, but living far from family and always moving around, the opportunity has never arisen.  Once I went somewhere with Rene for four days and that was pretty wild and wonderful to be a couple without kids. We had a ball.  Other than that's it's been togetherness to the max. So I thought I'd chronicle my journey of three nights alone in our LA apartment.  Here goes: Thursday, November 1 1:30pm - Rene packs up the van and I burst into tears as I'm saying goodbye. As I'm crying I have no idea why I'm so emotional.  I've been quite excited of the upcoming alone time, but when it's time to go, I get very sentimental about being away from them.  I LOVE my family and want them to come back home SAFE and SOUND.  What's that you say? I'm not in control?  Even when I am with them I'm not in control? Oh, well then I guess I'll just say a prayer and send them on their merry way.  The kids are stoked!!! 3:30pm - After they leave, I dry my tears and head off to Hollywood for a voice over audition.  As I'm driving I feel great. I feel liberated that can go anywhere I want! After the audition I decide to eat drive-through fast food (something I never do with my children) and drive around neighborhoods looking at amazing houses (also something I would never do with my kids in tow). 6:30pm - I get home and it really hits me they're gone. I can do whatever I want!!!  What do I do? NOTHING. I put on my pj's and lay around in bed watching stupid TV.  My cat Bob loves this idea and takes advantage of lots of petting he hasn't had since I was a NYC bachelorette.  Bob has been with me 15 years, and he remembers when there as no Rene, Rosey, or Mateo.  I think Bob needed this weekend too. I make a call and get a spontaneous dinner plan with my friend Dana.  We go to a nice Italian restaurant in our neighborhood and talk for a long time.  There's a part of me that still feels like I'm forgetting to do something... Like someone needs me to get home or pick something up for them.  Of course that's not the case.  It's just Sarah Jane.  Pretty crazy!  It was so fun to have an impromptu dinner out... Friday, November 2 5:00am - I wake up early as usual and pull my laptop onto the bed.  One thing I don't get to do when my family is here is be a work-a-holic.  I take great pride in my goal to balance work and family, but as any of you who own your own business know, there's SO much to do!  So I worked and worked and worked and worked until I realized that I needed to eat.  So I go in the kitchen and eat a cupcake and milk for breakfast.  I'm a wild woman at this point!  Then I sugar crashed and start falling alseep at the computer.  Some turkey breast from the fridge fixes me right up, and I'm ready to go again.  I had a meeting with a business consultant and all morning Rene gave me text updates that they were having a BALL at Seaworld.  Rosey rode the new rollercoaster, Manta, three times!  It felt amazing that the world was going on without me. Everyone was happy and well.  Wait a minute, I am not the center of my family's universe? Well, that's actually quite a weight of my shoulders.  I love that the kids can love their mama and NEED their mama, but when I'm not there, the are happy and well adjusted.  That also speaks to the involvement of Rene, the best daddy in the world. 4:00pm - By late afternoon, I have had my fill of work and need to get out into the world.  I go to the Century City Mall and wander... I go in random stores, try things on, spend lots of time looking.  There's no one to whine, or pull on my shirt to leave, or hide inside the clothes racks, or beg for ice cream before dinner, or need to go to the bathroom at inopportune times.  Just me and MY needs, MY interests, MY time.  I'm starting to get the hang of this! For a moment I wonder if this is how it starts when mothers abandon their families.  Do they get a taste of this and decide they can't GIVE anymore? Oh no! What if I enjoy this too much and then a year from now I'm out partying every night and going to Phish concerts with a bunch of single friends and I screw up my kids for life and then they'll spend years in psychotherapy talking about how I was a selfish mother!!!! Wait - It's ok for me to enjoy just being me.  It's okay for me to have time alone.  It's healthy that I don't spend 18 years losing sight of my own needs.  I need to put on my oxygen mask first! It's okay.  And with that, I went to a hip restaurant for dinner and ate almost a whole bowl of guacamole by myself while reading a magazine.   When it was time to go home I swung by Target, just because I could.  Wandering the aisles of Target is a special little "happy place" for me.  As I snuggled into bed, I felt very content, and I felt more like myself that I had in years.  Sarah Jane was emerging. Nice. Saturday November 3 9:00am - I met a friend for breakfast to catch up and also talk about a school event I'm helping with.  By now I'm feeling fresh and new. I have an ease in my energy that I haven't felt for a long time. That ease really made me see what the responsibility of children can do to a person's nerves.  The constant responsibility for other human beings takes it toll!  It felt like someone removed a weight off my chest and I felt lighter and softer.  I like the woman I am right now! This is the fun, creative, nicely groomed, energized Sarah Jane rather than the frazzled, overwhelmed, crazy woman I sometimes feel like.  Ahhh... 11:00am - After I get home from breakfast, I feel great.  I get lots of work done.  It's tedious inventory work that  I've never gotten around to because it takes lots time and quiet thinking that my work-from-home mom life doesn't easily allow for.  I work all day and totally forget to eat.  Good thing there are some leftover chips and salsa in the fridge! I'm back to my single girl eating habits.  Not a good thing.  Note to self: having to feed your kids at regular intervals forces you to eat better.  Finally as evening rolls around I get a text from my friend, Jason, and he says he can get me in to a concert he's doing in Los Feliz.  Because I'm able to be so spontaneous, I say YES!  My friend Sunita goes with me and we had a great time.  Of course when Rene is home he's always happy to hang with the kids while I do social things like that, but there's something different about that.  I felt more free than ever. 12 midnight - I get home and realize as I'm going to bed that I can't wait to see my babies.  I'm actually starting to really MISS them.  I'm so glad they're having fun with daddy and feel like this weekend is such a wonderful thing for all of us. Sunday, November 4th 6:30am - I wake up at 6:30 which is actually late for me! It's my last day to work so I go full blast.  I get brunch with a friend and work some more. Texts from Rene and the kids make me so happy! 4:30pm - And that brings me to right now.  I'm about to head off to dinner with my friend, Shadi.  She is a mom of three and never gets a break! I hope this little three day weekend thing is going to sweep through my circle of friends!  And if you're thinking, "My husband would never do that." Just ask yourself this.  Are you feeling out of control, over worked, and don't know who you are anymore?  Is that good thing for your marriage? Are you modeling a balance that is healthy for your kids?  Get some time, not an hour or a day but a WHOLE WEEKEND to really unwind the stress. Let these fathers be fathers.  Let them get some alone time to really get to know their kiddos.  It's not easy, you know that, but it's also very rewarding and important. These dads are intelligent people and I know they can do it.  Just make it clear that your long-term health and sanity depend on it. I can't wait to see my kids and my husband when they get home this evening! I miss them and they miss me.  I hope that this weekend-off experiment can be something we do regularly - at least twice a year. Fall and Spring perhaps? It really is a win-win for everyone.  As they say, "if mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy..." I'm thrilled to report that mama is more herself than she's been in years... And daddy has won himself some major brownie points! ;) Love to all, Sarah Jane P.S. - Feel free to share this with friends and family! Visit to follow my social media and blog posts...      

A Very Personal and Important Post

  I lived in NYC for 10 years and the thing I'm SO glad to be away from is the harassment I received on the street. That is the most memorable negative of a city I love. I was flashed, men said crude things to me, a man in a nice suit asked me the time and then when he was close enough he pulled out the cover of a porn VHS and muttered a bunch of gross things, and once a man walked by and grabbed my crotch really hard, then disappeared into a crowd. That was in the middle of Times Square! The last straw was when my baby daughter was 6 months old and a man pulled out his penis standing right on the sidewalk near our apartment on the Upper West Side. That was it. Never again. Now that we live in LA, I miss the interaction you get from NYC (LA can be pretty isolating) but you know what? I don't miss it that much! I'll stay in my car thank you very much. Read the article below and you'll see why I'm glad people are speaking up about this issue. Men are raping, violating, abusing, and disrespecting women all over the world. The media FEEDS it. Women are afraid to speak out and fight back for fear of retaliation. Sometimes they play along to try to fit in. We all know that physical assault is not okay but even the verbal harassment is very violating and damaging. What can you do? TEACH your sons RESPECT for women. Don't make women sexual objects in front of them (what you do with your partner behind closed doors is your business - ha, ha) As a parent you can make difference in our culture. When you see commercials during Monday night football, talk about how it's inappropriate to sexualize the women in the commercial. And you want to know why women agree to perform in those commercials? Because they think that their sexuality is ALL THEY HAVE TO OFFER. Teach our girls that they are more than a piece of flesh. Educate then on sexual abuse. Let them study martial arts so they can put someone much bigger then them in a deadly choke hold if they ever need to. And let's work to make sure these sickos like the one in the story below are held accountable for their actions.