My Sister’s Perfect Garden Party

My nephew recently got engaged, and last weekend, my sister threw him and his fiance an engagement party at her house. As I’ve shared here before, I love to host parties … and I especially love take advantage of the gorgeous Southern California weather by hosting outdoor parties. So, I was in absolute heaven at this party, which was an afternoon BBQ, hosted outside in my sister’s gorgeous yard. The whole thing was so lovely, and I got so many great party and entertaining ideas, that I thought I’d share with you all too!

Attention, Tone & Subtext: A Communications Challenge

When I started PLANK, I mentioned that there might be some random musings … well today is one of those days. 

I was thinking the other day, as I was learning my script for Days of Our Lives, that it’s very interesting how you can take any sentence or phrase and say it at least 10 different ways … all with different subtext. As an actor, this is always interesting to explore, and there are even acting exercises dedicated to this very thing. 

This plays out in our everyday lives, too, in how we interact with people. As actors, we consider our character’s motivation and make conscious choices about how we deliver lines. But in life we often let emotion alone drive delivery … and sometimes our intention is lost in the mix.  Our communications can so easily be misunderstood, especially in today’s world where texting and emailing sometimes replace actual face-to-face conversations.

You Asked: Mary Beth Takes Your Questions

In my first post of the year, I asked you what you’d like to see featured on Plank this year. You sent in so many great suggestions and we’re excited to tackle some of those topics! Overwhelmingly, you said that you wanted “more video blogs.” I love the idea of getting others to join me in future video blogs, but for this first one, I wanted to respond to some of your questions.

Once again I asked for input and the response was HUGE – so many questions that I don’t think I got to everyone. But I did my best to respond to as many as possible.

Thank you all for your questions … and as always,  your continued support/readership/engagement here!

What To Do With Holiday Leftovers … Start a New Tradition

Who knows how traditions start. Certainly some cooking traditions develop over generations, or, like in the case of my cornbread & sausage stuffing, they take off quickly. In that case, I found the recipe and started a tradition that spread through my family and friends. 

However they begin, cooking traditions are fun, and I find it heartwarming to look forward to certain dishes each year.

Celebrating Hanukkah: Our Tradition of Family & Friends

As I shared before in my blog about Passover, I have always enjoyed the rituals, camaraderie and sense of belonging to a community that comes with Jewish Holiday celebrations. Early on in our marriage, my husband and I were lucky enough to find a group of couple friends who, like us, had one member who was Jewish; and we started celebrating Passover and Hanukkah with this group. My life-long best friend Carrie is among this group, but others are friends we’ve made along the way.  

As children were born and families grew, so did our annual celebrations. Over the years, even some of our non-Jewish friends have joined in on what has become our most fun and anticipated party of the year. For a while the the parties were HUGE, but as some families moved away, our group shrunk … and now we are typically about 15.

Katie’s Dental Humanitarian Outreach Program

As many of you know, I am a big supporter of several charities, including CASA of Los Angeles and One World Stage & Screen. I am so proud that the passion for giving back is something that my children share. My daugther, Katie, is extremely busy with dental school, but she finds time to give back – not only locally, but also in places throughout the world – through her participation in the Dental Humanitarian Outreach Program. The work this group does is amazing, and this week I asked her to share it with you.


Hi again! I am Mary Beth’s daughter, Katie, and I’m in my fourth year of dental school. For the past two years, I have been lucky to participate in my school’s Dental Humanitarian Outreach Program (DHOP), through which I had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines and Belize (see a video of last year’s trip) to provide free dental care to underserved communities.