Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Spring at the Homestead Resort

Staycation: that's still a thing, right? It is for me. I love where I live, and though I'd like to travel more, I recognize that the beauty of where I live is breathtaking. What's in my backyard is not to be missed.

Last fall I was invited to visit the Homestead Resort in Midway. Have you been there? Though I've lived in Utah for almost 20 years, it was my first visit, and I liked it a lot.

Shel Silverstein visited?

Just a short drive up the canyon from where I live in Provo, it's far enough away (and on the other side of a mountain) that I feel like it's a legit getaway. The room I stayed in felt more like a cottage than a hotel room. Exploring the grounds on a crisp, cool day was refreshing, and when I went for a run I found myself in beautiful Wasatch Mountain State Park.

A standout from my stay was being in the Homestead Crater. Over 10,000 years old, the crater is a geothermal spring; in other words, naturally heated mineral water (90-96 degrees F). For about an hour or so I floated (with a life jacket) in this warm water, people gently swimming around me, scuba training happening below, natural light from the opening at the top of the crater falling around us. The warm water actually felt a bit like a massage after my run, and I found myself spending quite a bit of my time there stretching while I was floating. Being in the crater is a one-of-a-kind experience, and requires a reservation, so be sure to plan on that while you're there.

The Homestead has some great things going on right now, perfect for curing your Spring Fever.*

Easter at the Homestead

Have plans for Easter Brunch? The Homestead's Easter Brunch menu includes an omelet station and salad station, in addition to the main courses and sweets available. March 27 is right around the corner so make your reservation today by calling (435) 654-1102.

Utah Resident Discount Through March

If you're a local, like me, take advantage of $40 off your stay through the month of March. Just a week or so left, but the fresh air and scenery are worth it.

"Miss it, Noonan!"

Rumor has it, Crater Springs Golf Course might be open by the end of this month! This is earlier than the usual open date of April 15. Stay tuned, you might be able to get out there sooner than later. (And if not, don't forget: Crater.)

I can't wait to get back there again. I could use that warm water in the crater right about now.

You can find Homestead Resort on facebook, twitter, instagram, and pinterest.

*cowbell not included

Disclosure: This year I'm a brand ambassador for the Homestead Resort, so I'll be letting you know what I think about the place every now and then. It's cool-- you can trust me. 

Friday, March 11, 2016

Singing With The Choir


One Sunday morning a few weeks ago I found myself in the tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City. I wasn't attending Music and the Spoken Word, I was in front of the pipe organ.

Just a little over a week prior, I had gotten an email with a casting call. The first line read, Have you ever wanted to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir?  Here’s your chance!!

A long-time and all-but-forgotten dream, my answer was, YES! Of COURSE I've wanted to sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir! 

As a blogger I was well aware of the chance to be included in the virtual choir, but this opportunity to sing with the choir in person came to me as an actor. I submitted my application and was one of about 80 extras cast. 

We were told to wear street clothes, and our call time was 7:00 a.m. After the weekly Music and the Spoken Word broadcast was finished we were brought upstairs, lined up, and eventually placed in our seats.


The choir members then joined us, taking their places around the extras. It was a cozy arrangement, to be certain, and the choir members were gracious, kind, and encouraging. I was glad to have seen DeAnn, Amanda, Ben, and Thomas. 

Among the extras there were familiar faces from my life, and familiar faces from YouTube. 

Trina was the only other choir extra I knew, and when I saw her at rehearsal on Thursday my only disappointment was that she is a soprano so I didn't get to sit next to her. She has taught #LetsPlayMusic to 2 of my kids and I always wanted to stay after class to talk with her (for those of you keeping track, this is the third of my kids' music teachers I saw at the Tabernacle yesterday) (DeAnn taught my girls piano, don't know if I mentioned that). The pic on the left was taken at about 7:30 in the morning; the pic on the right at about 3:30 in the afternoon. We asked those girls to photo bomb that one. And we were exhausted. One of my very favorite things about the entire experience yesterday is that the last time I sang the Hallelujah Chorus, I did so standing next to Trina. It was a tight camera shot for the organist, and we're likely not even in it, I just really liked singing with her. #hallelujah #ShareGoodness #ShareAwesome #mormon #LDS #MoTab #NoFilter #IHaveAwesomeFriends
A photo posted by jenny noonan (@formerlyphread) on

With the choir and orchestra members in place, Mack Wilberg approached the podium, welcomed everyone and we quickly began rehearsal with a click track. 

The melody of Hallelujah Chorus is so well-known even small children sing it without knowing much about it. It wasn't lost on me that I was singing this song with one of the best choirs on this planet. 

It was straight out of a dream. I really don't know how else to describe it. As I stood there singing, memories rushed by: standing by the stereo in my childhood home, learning choral music and imagining what it would sound like to be with this choir; singing Battle Hymn of the Republic in an outdoor amphitheater at all-county choir and dreaming of what it would sound like in the tabernacle; being in the tabernacle and hearing the choir in person for the first time in 1997 and wondering what it would be like to sit in those very seats as part of the choir; singing hymns along with the choir broadcast on the radio while in my kitchen (just earlier that month). 

From where I stood (alto section, 5th row up, 2nd seat in from the aisle) (look for the one in the grey pullover, not a white dress) it sounded perfect every time. Any chance to pick up again and sing even a portion of the Hallelujah Chorus was, for me, nothing less than thrilling.

Like most film acting jobs there was a lot of waiting while cameras were set and reset, and I loved talking with the choir members around me, finding out their experiences, how long they've been singing with the choir. Many women I talked with have careers in music education. These are women from all walks of life, with a vast range of life experiences who come together each week in identical dresses (oh yes, we talked about the dresses) to worship through song.

Surprisingly (to no one more than myself) I was able to keep it together and not cry during the experience. I'm grateful to have been able to enjoy and be in the moment, taking in all I could around me that day. 

The #Hallelujah virtual choir video will be released on Sunday (visit followhim.mormon.org). I can't wait to see it, because I want to see how it all comes together with the videos that were submitted. Friends from so many seasons of my life told me they submitted videos: friends in my current neighborhood in Utah, friends in my hometown in New York, friends who are Mormon, not Mormon, gay, straight, married, single... I hope you'll forgive such classifications, I just want to express how moved I was that, just like the members of the choir I sat next to in the tabernacle that Sunday, friends from all walks of life, with a vast range of life experiences came together for this oratorio suited for the Easter season-- to worship through song.


If you're interested in behind-the-scenes stuff: 

Ooooh, here's something I got to be involved with on Sunday. Life goal item: Sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, CHECK! (have you submitted your video yet? Deadline March 1!) #hallelujah
Posted by formerly phread on Thursday, February 25, 2016

 360 members of a world-famous choir combine with 2,500 voices all over the world to create an incredible musical tribute to Jesus Christ.#HallelujahLearn more at http://mor.mn/4etxu.
Posted by Mormon.org on Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Want to Sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir? Srsly.

(And, no, you don't have to be a Mormon.)

Let me guess. You were in choir in high school but since then you haven't really had time or opportunity to sing, except in your car or shower. But every now and then you'll hear a Christmas song or something and automatically know the harmony because of your experience back then, and you remember it wasn't horrible to learn a part and sing in a choir, right?

Or maybe you're super-famous and have made your career from being a singer, I don't know your life.

Either way: get your robes back on, Friends: now you can sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (yes, that one) for a special Easter performance of Handel's Messiah. Which song? Hallelujah Chorus. Dude, you totally know that one!

The voice submissions (made online) will be mixed and played during the performance. You know, now that I think of it? Sure, you can say you sang with the MoTab, but when it comes down to it? They'll be singing along with YOU.

This will be the world's largest virtual Hallelujah Chorus, you should be a part of it. Here's an example of what can be done when people submit their voices for a virtual choir:

Come on. You should do this.

Let's review:

Yes. You can sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for a special Easter performance.

I'm not even in Salt Lake.
But you are online. This is called a Virtual Choir: Your part is done online and put together with the other voices.

1. pick your voice part; download the music and practice
2. make a video of yourself singing your part
3. upload it, and use the hashtag #Hallelujah
The instructions are clear, but if you need help, ask me (I'm serious) (you know I mean it).

Who, me? 
YOU. Yes, you there thinking, "She doesn't mean me." I MEAN YOU.

But I'm not a Mormon.
You're invited. And you can sit by me. I'll be singing alto, but I'll sit anywhere.

The sooner you get this done the better! Start now by listening to your voice part (Soprano? Alto? Tenor? Bass?), downloading the sheet music, and practicing. Upload your video before the March 1st deadline, and tell your friends.

And then come back here so we can discuss how utterly thrilled Brother Mack Wilberg looks to be directing the likes of you and me.

(Don't forget: #Hallelujah)

Monday, February 08, 2016

How to Tour the Provo City Center Temple

Temples are sacred buildings of worship for Mormons (members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). There is a period of time, after temples are built and before they are used for worship services, when free tours are available, an Open House to the public.

My city’s second temple, the Provo City Center Temple, is now holding its Open House (through Saturday, March 5th), and it’s been projected that over 900,000 people will tour the temple during that time. Twice so far I’ve gotten to tour the temple, and twice so far I’ve volunteered as an usher, and I have some thoughts about how to make the most of your Temple Open House experience.

take pics outside, not inside, and use #PCCT and/or #Templenacle

There are ten things you need to know.*

Just kidding: this list goes to ELEVEN.

1. You don’t need a ticket. You should have a ticket. Get one if you can. But if you can’t, there is a stand-by line. The best time to get through the stand-by line quickly is early in the morning, Monday through Thursday.

2. Wear what you want. There’s no dress code, and this is a tour, not church. Sometimes, though, you want to know what others will be wearing, right? If so, as a guideline, if you want it, remember the temple was built to be a sacred house of worship. Ushers for the tours are asked to wear Sunday Best.

3. Think about your shoes. As part of the tour, each guest (and usher) who enters the temple puts plastic covers over their shoes. This keeps the temple floors as clean as possible. Hey, Ladies? I’m looking at you, now: wear flats. Trust me. As a woman who owns at least six pair of heels and exactly one pair of flats, I’m telling you: you don’t want to mess with those shoe covers and heels. It’s one day, choose the flats.

4. Speaking of shoes… This is a walking tour. After the short video at the beginning, the tour is about 45 minutes of walking, including stairs. There are elevators and wheelchairs if needed. But you should be ready for Leg Day.

5. Leave your coat in your car. It’s cold, and maybe you don’t care about carrying your coat. But if you can stand it, try to leave your coat in your car. I saw a lot of people carrying huge parkas. Kids hhhhhate having to carry their coats (and their moms will carry the kids’ stuff…but they won’t like it).

6. Leave the other stuff in your car, too. I know, with the diaper bag. I get it, you might need it. But think about only what you’ll need for an hour and do your best.

7. Go to the bathroom and get a drink before the tour. It’s only an hour, you don’t want to be distracted during that time. And take your kids. I know they said they don’t have to go. Take them.

8. DON’T STOP. The walking tour? It’s continuous. There are people behind you, and people waiting to get inside for a tour. Take your time, and enjoy, don’t feel rushed. But keep walking so you don’t hold up the line.

9. Kids, Man. As an usher I love seeing kids tour the temple. If you bring kids, please keep an eye on them. It can be easy for them to wander into another line of people going another direction. Implement the Buddy System (especially if you’re bringing a group of kids, like for Activity Days or Scouts). Don’t give them gum or candy during the tour. And for the little, little ones? Please, PLEASE keep an eye on them especially near the stairs and railings on the top floor. Also, the woodwork in the temple is beautiful…and if you knew how many kids I saw put their hands and mouths and noses on the railings you wouldn’t go near any of it. Let them know to look with their eyes, not their hands, and when it comes to peeking over the railing to look down the staircase, please help them keep both feet on the floor rather than climb.

10. Talk about the temple…another time. Teach your kids and talk with your friends about the temple. But don’t hold up the line by pausing for a lesson about eternal marriage in a sealing room (srsly, have a family home evening about it and use handheld mirrors). If you didn’t talk about it before the tour, take a mental note and talk about it afterwards.

11. Hang out in Provo for a bit. Make a date of it, whether with your family, friends, or on an actual date. Downtown Provo has legit cool businesses and places to get a meal or a treat. Hungry and have some time? I recommend communal, Noodle King, India Palace, Black Sheep CafĂ©, or Guru's. If you need a treat go to Sodalicious (scotcharoos, Man), Sweet Tooth Fairy (right across the street from the temple!), grab some gelato at Gloria’s, or try Rockwell IceCream. Here’s a map. Provo's cool. 


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

I Found My Island, I've Been On It This Whole Time

While I’ve long said numbers aren’t my thing, I’ve realized over time that might not actually be the case. Music and dancing involve numbers. Cooking, too. And dates.

It’s been pointed out to me before that I use dates and timelines when telling stories. “And that was at the end of 2012,” or, “…on the next day, which was a Thursday, which was the 2nd…” and so on. Strange, maybe...it’s just how my mind works.

Last summer I was curious about something so I sat down to do some counting and figure it out. I'm glad I took the time to do it. When it showed up on my calendar yesterday I became a bit emotional.

Throughout the day yesterday I saw things differently, thought about my life and the people in it. Was, and am, overcome with gratitude thinking about how things have fallen into place.

One of the very first posts I ever wrote, over ten and a half years ago, had to do with where I’m from, with comparing New York with Utah. In that post I said, “After almost nine years of living here, I can be from Utah now.”

It’s not that my views have changed. In fact, I love Utah more now than I did then. I still catch my breath at the views here, the mountains, the sunsets. I love Provo, I really do; it’s not a very popular thing to do so I become defensive of my city. I love Salt Lake, too; countless times I’ve been asked, “Why don’t you just move there? You’re up there all the time.”

What’s changed, or at least become more clear, is not just that Utah is my home, but that New York is also my home. Provo and Busti, Salt Lake and Jamestown. Corners of Manhattan, sections of San Diego, and hundreds of places in between. Turns out, not where but who you’re with that really matters

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

25 - Richie

For the month of November I’ve decided to post each day about a person or people who have influenced my life for good. There’s no way I could include each and every person in one month or even one year, and for that I hope you’ll forgive me. This year, especially, has brought an acute awareness of the kindness and generosity which surrounds me and my kids, so here’s one attempt at giving thanks.

25 - Richie


Just kidding.

I don’t actually remember meeting Richie, I just … I think there was a time when I didn’t know him, but that was a long time ago. How’s that for specific?

I do, however, remember going to see him at a haunted house (I didn’t go inside, though) to talk about working together on a podcast. That was years ago, and for a long time I was involved a little bit, where I could be, but in the last year is when I’ve really been in a position where I can prioritize it like I’ve wanted to, and I’m glad because much of the best parts of my year have come from my associations and work with the podcast. I can’t tell you how many times this year I’ve thought about how grateful I am for that night at the haunted house all those years ago.

Richie and I have a lot in common, like siblings would. We’re both connectors, we both enjoy music and performing, we both sort of run sometimes. We also tease each other like siblings which is to say he teases me a ton and I just take it and roll my eyes and tell him he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Richie has been a really fantastic friend for a long time. He’s a friendly guy. He’s just nice. He knows how to be with people, which seems like something everyone would know, but they don’t, and Richard is fantastic at it. People are drawn to his charisma and charm.

He’s really good at his job. I mean…probably. I’m not an expert and I’m not his boss. But what I’ve seen, and the resulting product, tell that he’s great at what he does. I’ve also seen this with the podcast, he is a very busy guy and he gets it done. In fact, and I am not making this up, Ted Koppel said to him, “Well, thanks very much, Richard, and I genuinely enjoyed talking to you. You’re a very smart fella and I’m glad that my career is mostly behind me because I’d hate to have to compete against you.” (Maybe I cried when I heard that.)

Richie has taken my phone calls and messages and helped me out of some pretty stupid situations, whether with humor or sincerity or teasing—usually a combination of all three. I’m grateful for our chats, I’m grateful for his commitment to what’s important, and I’m even grateful for his teasing.

Thanks, Richard. I love you.