Korean Skincare

Korean-beauty-products

When you see a Korean woman, chances are that you won’t be able to guess their age. Korean woman are obsessed with beauty and know all the best beauty secrets and products. American women want in on K-beauty too! The best part is that we don’t have to fly across the world to get our hands on it. We love Korean beauty because it offers natural quality ingredients with happy designs that make you LOVE skincare routines.

I went to an Asian grocery store with my friend Tomo once and had so much fun shopping the beauty aisle…the walls were filled with beauty products. She convinced me to try some sheet masks and I’ve been hooked ever since. Asian grocery stores, Birchbox, Sephora and Sokoglam are great places to shop if you’d like to sample some of the best Korean beauty products.

Korean beauty is known for their enormous quantity of sheet masks, BB creams, essences, and serums packaged to look fun and cheerful. K-beauty products are all the rage and have been for quite some time.

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What should you try?

Cleanser
How ever long you spend applying your makeup, should be the same time amount cleaning it off. The Korean mentality is more comprehensive and detailed than the American approach to skincare. It all starts with a cleanser. Try Phytowash cleansing foam and massage in circles to brighten skin.

Exfoliator
Exfoliating with a natural scrub like the Skin Food Black Sugar Wash Off Mask really brings your skin back to its younger days. Concentrate on the t-zone or where you see blackheads.

Refresher/Toner
Toner can help remove pollutants along with any residue from your cleansers, while also restoring your skin’s pH balance. It soothes and preps your skin to absorb the next step…the essence. Place SU:M37 Water-full Skin Refresher/Toner onto a cotton pad and wipe your face and neck.

The Essence
The foundation of a Korean beauty routine starts with hydration…considered the most important step to Korean women. Waterest essence is a soothing moisturizer that purifies and hydrates skin with a blend of natural botanicals.

Serum
Serums (Ampoules) are super-concentrated versions of essences, and are often referred to as serums and boosters. Dr. Jart+ Premium Time Returning Serum is an intensive anti-wrinkle serum that supports natural regeneration and restoration of damaged skin and wrinkles. Serums help to brighten skin, fading sunspots, and smoothing fine lines.

Sheet Mask
My favorite product! Wrap the face for fifteen to twenty minutes to intensively deliver hydrating and anti-aging ingredients to the skin. Use one or two times a week for an instant and lasting glow. Manefit Bling Bling Hydro Gel Masks are soaked in ingredients like collagen, which they in turn soak into your skin. Korean sheet masks is luxuriously thick, cooling and soothing and gives my skin intense hydration.

Eye Cream
Gently tap Etude House Moistfull Collagen Eye Cream around the eye area for better absorption. 

Moisturizer
Korean women are all about layering…generously massage the Etude House Moistfull Collagen Emulsion (the Korean translation for “moisturizer”) with gentle strokes so that it really sinks deep into your skin.

BB Cream
BB cream stands for beauty balm. It’s packed with benefits and SPF. Use the BB cream in the morning for a dewy and luminous look. Try Dr. Jart+ Premium BB SPF 45 for the ultimate BB.

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What’s the order of application?

A smart method for applying your Korean products is from the most lightweight to the heavier textures. This is because lightweight textures are designed to penetrate (usually essences or serums) versus heavier textures that create a barrier to keep skin hydrated (usually moisturizers or creams). So after cleansing, use your toner, then serum or essence, then moisturizer.

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Why is it great?

There’s a huge difference between the American approach…the faster I can get ready the better. In the American ideal, beauty is supposed to look effortless…a sun-kissed California girl. Korean women devote much more time to their skin and it shows. In Korea, beauty is associated with hard work. Helena Rubenstein said that “there are no ugly women, only lazy ones.” Korean skin care is a part of every day self-care…not about vanity. K-beauty is amazingly effective and fun! Like Mikey said, “Try it, you’ll like it!”

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Ski Colorfully: Packing List

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Skiing is too much fun not to dress bright and happy. Maybe you just came back from the slopes and wish you were still there or your planning for an upcoming spring ski and checking things off your list. Either way, it’s fun to channel the skier the way Dutch artist, Sabastiaan Bremer does. Whether you’re post-ski, during-ski or apres-ski…hit the slopes cheerfully and colorfully!

Ski necessities

Outerwear
A warm, waterproof ski jacket and snow pants are a must.

Goggles
Find some colorful goggles to hit the slopes in.

Clothing

Layers are the key to staying warm and dry in the mountains.

Thermal leggings & undershirts
When you’re warm on the top of the mountain, you’ll be so glad.

Good quality ski socks
Your toes will thank you!

Jeans 
Take a pair of jeans for the time you’ll spend off the slopes. Casual is key…everyone will want to be comfortable after skiing all day.

Sweaters 
Something cozy for both skiing and apres-ski. These Norwegian sweaters are timeless.

swimsuit
For the apres-ski time in the hot tub.

Boots

Bring a pair of comfortable winter boots for walking through snow.

Toiletries

Dry shampoo
Give your hair a break on your ski vacation.

Sunscreen
Don’t get sunburned! Protect your skin from the rays that bounce off of the bright white snow.

Accessories

Gloves
Bring waterproof gloves and mittens. These sweet mittens will warm your heart and hands.

Hat
Bring a colorful hat…maybe with a fur pom!

Sunglasses
If it’s a nice day, sunglasses might be more comfortable than goggles. These sunglasses are my favorites!

Electronics

GoPro Camera
Bring your GoPro so you can capture your kids runs.

Extras

Hand and toe warmers
Just in case…better comfortable than sorry.

Ibuprofen
Just in case…
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The mountains are calling, it’s time to ski…colorfully!

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Modern Salt Caves for the whole family

 

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My friend and favorite yoga teacher, Sloane, introduced me to the Salt Cave of Southlake. Every time I’ve visited the salt cave, I leave feeling like I’ve been on vacation…totally relaxed. On Saturday, the yoga cave wasn’t ready yet (a couples massage was running a little over) and I was offered a mimosa before class…they really want you to relax! Since I’ve been going, I’ve noticed that I’m sleeping, breathing and feeling better than usual during these cold dry winter days. If you have the winter blues, a little salt cave time will make you feel happy and healthy.

Breathing in salt vapor during yoga class helps to breathe deeper…purifying the lungs and clearing sinuses. The combination of yoga and salt therapy naturally relaxes the body and opens airways increasing oxygen intake.

Salt therapy is an all-natural, holistic treatment recently made modern…inspired by Eastern European countries.  Natural underground salt caves in Eastern Europe have been used to heal skin conditions, allergies, asthma and more. Salt has been used for its medicinal properties as far back as the Egyptians. Modern salt caves can be found today above ground…made to feel like a natural underground European salt cave.

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The air is enriched with salt dust by reducing pure Himalayan salt crystals that are ground into miniscule micro-crystals and blown into a relaxing spa environment.

The benefits of salt therapy give a sense of well-being, reducing allergy issues, insomnia, boosting energy and alleviating depression and stress. It’s the same relaxing feeling after spending the day in the natural settings of mountains, waterfalls, or beaches…the negative ions emitted increase oxygen flow to the brain.

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The Salt Cave of Southlake also has a “Kids Cave.” My kids encourage me to go take a yoga class there so that they can come and play in the salt…it’s magical to them! Children can play, read, draw while Mom and Dad take a yoga class. It’s healthy for the whole family.

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We couldn’t survive without salt…it does the body good!

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Gustave Caillebotte…with children

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It’s a guarantee that when we are on a holiday, we will visit the museum. There are always a few paintings that make you want to step into the picture. When you go to the museum with children, it’s nice for them to be the leaders and see what paintings they would like to step inside of.

We seemed to agree that The Floor Scrapers, Traffic Island, Boulevard Haussmann and Paris Street: Rainy Day were three that pulled us in…making us wonder and feel like our holiday was in Paris (if only for the afternoon). Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth was a treat to see. Caillebotte’s paintings make the viewer wonder what it is we’re looking at, what we’ve decided we see, and why…

Do you know how to say Caillebotte? The Kimbell created this fun video…see if you’re right!

Here are three Gustave Caillebotte paintings that will make you wonder…

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The Floor-Scrapers
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The Floor Scrapers demand the viewer’s attention…showing a dramatic perspective. Look at the splayed stripes of the wooden floor being so laboriously scraped. Caillebotte visually drops the bare-chested workers right in the viewer’s lap. It’s a painting of three laborers at work preparing his first studio. It was in what was then the relatively new neighborhood of the 8th arrondissement, where Caillebotte’s father had bought. It’s an odd subject matter…very different from his Impressionist friends, Monet and Renoir. His colleagues invited him to participate in their 1876 exhibition. He chose to submit The Floor Scrapers, and it was very popular…viewers either adored it or hated it, but everyone was talking about it!

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A Traffic Island, Boulevard Haussmann
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Caillebotte’s Traffic Island is an aerial painting that captures a sensible and controlled environment. This is a true impression of a Paris street with people in isolation going about their everyday routines and repetitions. It might remind the viewer of Degas’s Place de la Concorde (1875) the way that you see these people going about their day as if the viewer were “people watching”…they both have a serene quality. Views like this one could only be afforded by buildings that were ten stories or higher…Caillebotte was one of few painters who could afford the view.

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Paris Street; Rainy Day
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This is a painting about intersections…working class and upper class mixing together in modern Paris. The Parisian bourgeoisie cross in and out of the picture on this Right Bank drizzle-slicked street. Caillebotte steals the limelight from Claude Monet and Auguste Renoir during this time because he created this glowing light that the great Impressionists were trying to capture. Sadly, Caillebotte was never considered a true member of the inner circle of the Impressionists…lacking the easy brushstrokes and sunshine scenes with people interacting. Instead, Caillebotte tells us two things we know about Paris (then and now)…the sky is usually grey and fashion is black.

Gustave Caillebotte had a short career: born in 1848, he didn’t start painting until his late twenties, and he was dead from a stroke by the age of forty-five. Upon the death of his father (who had much success on the Paris real estate market) Gustave inherited a hearty fortune. The cash meant that Caillebotte could work at his own pace, selling almost nothing; the large majority of his art still belongs to his successors. He never needed to work for a living, and never married or had a family. He painted current, in the moment surroundings…gardens, river boating, and his father’s country house. This is why he is one of the most modern of the Impressionists.

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All three paintings are remarkable for plunging perspectives for children and a sense of contiguity. Step inside Gustave Caillebotte: The Painter’s Eye…it’s an air of modernité.

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Many happy returns Pebbles!

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My sister, Paige, and I used to play this game when we were kids…we’d jump off the dock at the lake and see who can swim to the next dock without freaking out about the algae touching our bellies, the possible snakes lurking beneath our toes, or that water was freezing cold (we played this game in the fall too). It was so silly but it gave us so much pleasure and we just kept on jumping off that dock!

My sister has many gifts…the gift of gab, the promise of uncontrollable laughter and the ability to recite movie quotes from great eighties movies like High Spirits, Beatlejuice and The Goonies.

Growing up, Paige had many nicknames…Goldilocks, Pebbles and Peaches to name a few. This picture of Paige in her Pebbles costume with a Rapunzel wig is one of my favorites.

There were once two sisters
who were not afraid of the dark
because the dark was full of the other’s voice
across the room,
because even when the night was thick
and starless
they walked home together from the river
seeing who could last the longest
without turning on her flashlight,
not afraid
because sometimes in the pitch of night
they’d lie on their backs
in the middle of the path
and look up until the stars came back
and when they did,
they’d reach their arms up to touch them
and did.
― Jandy Nelson, The Sky is Everywhere

Many happy returns Pebbles! I’m not afraid of the dark or jumping off the dock as long as we’re together. I love you! xx

Read more about my beautiful little sister here.

Five things you might not know about the Rockettes

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Tourists have been flocking to Manhatten to see one of the New York City’s oldest traditions…The Rockettes.

The Rockettes are the world’s most beloved precision dance company…legendary for their high kicks. Their style of dance, called precision dance, is a combination of ballet, jazz, tap and modern dance.

Since their start more than eighty-five years ago, the Rockettes have been steadfast and iconic to New York City. These beautiful dancers are an example of the American dream performing for grateful audiences everywhere. Founded in 1925 and since 1935 they have performed out of New York City’s, Radio City Music Hall.

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Many girls have dreams of being a Rockette…(I was one of those girls) and wish that I was tall enough! For those who have the height, auditions to be a Rockettes are held in the summer in New York City then their rehearsals start in September and are everyday Monday through Friday, from 10am to 6pm. They are about to end their Radio City Christmas Spectacular (ending January 3rd) and get ready for their New York Spring Spectacular.

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Here are five things you might not know about the Rockettes…

  1. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular kicked off in 1933, and two of the original numbers still light up the stage…”Parade of the Wooden Soldiers” and “The Living Nativity.”
  2. Rockettes have to be between 5’6″ and 5’10 1/2″ tall. In kick lines, thirty-six women stand with the tallest in the middle, moving down to the shortest on the ends, which creates the illusion that they’re doing everything in unison.
  3. Rockettes do their own hair…everyone wears a French twist, bright red lipstick, and red cheeks stay put thanks to the magic of double-sided tape.
  4. They “feel the fabric” of their neighbors’ costumes and rely on their core strength to stay upright instead of holding on to each other.
  5. They have more that six costume changes per show…more than 1,300 costumes cross the stage in the 90 minutes of the Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

02 Onstage in 1937, the Rockettes cut a sharp, diagonally receding line—in white and top hats—against the dark backdrop

The high-kicking precision-dancing Rockettes are full of New York City’s energy and enthusiasm. Never underestimate the beauty of a super-straight line and high kicks.

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It’s not New Year’s Day without Black-Eyed Peas and Cabbage

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It’s time to eat that famous southern dish to assist in your New Year’s good fortune. All the best superstitions are gastronomic. Most American’s know that black-eyed peas and cabbage are a must for good luck and good fortune for the New Year. I don’t think that I’ve ever had a New Year’s Day without them.

For the New Year’s good fortune, a plate of black-eyed peas or other beans is considered auspicious, forecasting wealth and prosperity. We all need luck and money! In the American South, they are traditionally to be enjoyed either just after midnight or sometime on New Year’s Day. Adding cooked greens (the color of money) is said to make them even luckier. Simmered with onion and a meaty ham bone (other options are salt pork, bacon, pig’s feet, hog jowl and ham hock), black-eyed peas are often seasoned quite simply, with just salt and pepper. They may also be made highly seasoned with hot pepper and spices.

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Black-Eyed Pea and Cabbage Soup

  • 1 smoked bone-in ham (about 10 lbs)
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 1 garlic, minced
  • 1 lb dried black-eyed peas, rinsed and picked through
  • 2 quarts water
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 T whole cloves
  • 1/2 C honey
  • 1 C coarse German style mustard
  • 1 large head of cabbage, cut into 8 even pieces
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large bowl, soak beans overnight covered by at least 2 inches of water. Drain and rinse beans.
  2. Preheat oven to 350.
  3. Place peas, onions, garlic, salt, and bay leaves in a large pot and add water to pot just to cover beans. Place the ham on top of the black-eyed peas. Combine the honey and mustard, and brush a small even coat on the surface of the ham.
  4. Transfer to the oven. Baste about every 45 minutes with the remaining honey mustard mixture. Bake for about three hours.
  5. Season the cabbage with salt and pepper and add to the pan with the peas. Cover and return to the oven, cook until the cabbage is tender, about 30 minutes.

Every New Year’s Day, my mom would have a pot of black-eyed peas, cabbage and ham cooking on the stove. Aside from their potassium and fiber, the beans impart a bit of luck and the ham and cabbage…the promise of prosperity. This hearty dish delivers dreams in a bowl. Even if you’re not superstitious, having a batch of this soup on hand will feel like a stroke of good fortune.

Hopping John Soup

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TRÈS ASHLEY GIFT GUIDE 2015

 

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It’s not too late to find the perfect gift! Here are some of the most exciting gift options around…each and every item is something mothers, fathers, husbands, kids, best friends, brothers and sisters would love to receive. I really hope you like it. Happy Shopping! xx

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GIFTS FOR THE KIDS 

Stacking Monster Blocks $54.  Stack and create your own monsters with these colorful blocks. Notice the detailed scalloped dowels, scales, robotic diodes, monster heads, hands, feet, patterns and much more. Mix and match to create endless monster combinations.

BB-8 App-Enabled Droid by Sphero $149.95  Bringing a new part of Star Wars: The Force Awakens into your home, BB-8 is the app-enabled Droid whose authentic movements are at your control with iPhone or iPad. BB-8 relates to your interactions, showing a range of expressions and actually perking up at the sound of your voice commands.

Dartboard $140. Five color silk-screened cork with a key hole on the back for easy hanging.  The dartboard will probably be the most popular activity (for children of all ages) in your house.

Elephant Doll House $170. The most charming elephant doll house…notice the trunk is up (that’s good luck). All the best toys are made of wood. These sweet little peg people $24. can be dressed in the design of your child’s choice. A pop up doll house book $24.95 would be a treasure to add to your favorite little person’s library and add to her doll house enjoyment.

Warm up Booties $36.40 For your little dancer or athlete who needs to keep her feet warm in a stylish way.

Rosie Revere, Engineer $9.28 Rosie is a brilliant inventor of gizmos and gadgets who dreams of becoming a great engineer. You can only truly fail, she explains, if you quit.

Playing Cards $12.95 Housed in a pretty box with foil stamping, these cards feature a full spectrum of colors on their face and a uniform black and white pattern on their backs.  The package also includes a mini booklet with history and lore, game instruction, and information about the artists.

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GIFTS FOR EVERYONE 

Black Tipsy Writer $35. The Tipsy Writer is a pen holder weighted by a half brass, half wooden ball. You would amuse your boss or child’s teacher…no matter how much you tip it over, it always finds a way back up.

Matchbox Puzzles (set of three) $12 The Matchbox Puzzles are handmade in Germany and make for a universally appreciated spatial diversion. Matchbox Puzzles are worth stashing in a stocking to give sweet little hands creative potential.

Small Ships $74. Christmas break is the time to create! Pick up the hammer, choose your paints, the nautical vessel of your choice awaits!

Copper Mug $30 (each) Imagine drinking Moscow Mules this winter in front of the fireplace…they are so handsome that you’ll be begging your recipient to invite you over for cocktails!

World Magnetic Travel Map $199. This is a fun way to track your families adventures. It’s easy for young children to use because it’s magnetic…not push pins.

Panini Press $99.95  This Breville panini is a family-friendly machine that accommodates up to four sandwiches at once.  A great choice for that busy family that needs a quick weeknight meal after basketball practice.

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GIFTS FOR MOM, SISTER, BEST FRIENDS… 

Telephone Dial Compact Mirror $30. How cute is this! I imagine the ladies from Downton Abbey would have something like this in their clutch.

Lace Ring $315.  I can imagine my Mom gasping as she opened this beautiful rose gold-plated ring. Aurelie Bidermann’s laser-cut jewelry also comes in silver.

Floppy Brim Fedora $136.50 This navy fedora is classic and chic for that best friend or sister that is super stylish and hip.

Paris Cocktails $19.95 This book is sure to pique the interest of any female Francophile. Paris Cocktails provides an inside guide to celebrating, entertaining and drinking like the French.

Satin Macaron Tea Tin $8.95 For your stylish tea drinking friend that has a fetish for all things French…and tea!

Pajama set $95. These polka dot pajamas are the comfiest and chicest way for your sister to get her eight hours of sleep.

Miu Miu Parfum $86. This is a classic and stylish fragrance…the first for Miu Miu. The girl you give this too must be stylish, sporty, intelligent, feminine, strong, quirky, and playful.

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GIFTS FOR DAD, BROTHER, BEST FRIEND… 

Morning After Cocktail Mix $56. This holiday season, give that notoriously boozy boy their choice of two delicious hair-of-the-dog options…Hellfire Bloody Mary Mix and Giovanni’s Nectar of the Gods Bellini Mix.

Solo Kayak $799.20 Your guy can break this kayak into two pieces, allowing him to easily haul his kayak to his favorite paddling spot and back again in a tight space at home.

Zojirushi Travel Mug $32.77 These new, bigger Zojirushi travel mugs are wide enough to fit your coffee filter holder inside the rim, avoiding messes.

The Golden Age of American Football $33.79 This beautiful book will be very popular on your coffee table.

Leather Football $150. These footballs are built to be used. Individually hand cut and sewn with highly durable thread by Leather Head Sports in Glen Rock, NJ.

Flask Funnel $10. A must-have accessory for your flask. Engraved with the saying, “Don’t waste a drop.” Equipped with a chain to hang over bottles or the top of your flask.

Pomade for his beard $38. This tin should last your man 3 to 5 months. It’s just what he needs for grooming his beard…you can use it on the ends of your hair!

Have a holly, jolly Christmas; It’s the best time of the year. I don’t know if there’ll be snow but have a cup of cheer.

Need more gift-giving inspiration? Check out gift guides from 20142013, 2012, 2011 and 2010 if you need more inspiration. subscriptions are also great for last-minute shopping. Wishing you a holly, jolly Christmas now GET GIFTED!! xx

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LakeCities Ballet Theatre Celebrates it’s Twenty-Fifth Nutcracker Anniversary

The holidays provide some of the happiest times in the year. After Thanksgiving, our bellies are full and we are feeling grateful for families and friends being near…all coming together to watch The Nutcracker. It’s especially memorable if they’ve come to watch a certain dancer.

There was only one early Christmas present that my daughter really wanted…to be a mouse again in the Nutcracker! I was grateful to have been overhearing a conversation from twenty little mice backstage as a “mouse mom.” The girls discussed their dream roles. Most of them have aspirations to be Clara but my little girl was content and thought being a mouse was the BEST role ever!

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The sold-out audience was packed with little girls in their holiday dresses with red bows like Clara and sparkling tiaras like the Sugar Plum Fairy. LakeCities Ballet Theatre’s production of the Nutcracker was special this year…celebrating it’s twenty-fifth year with the classicism and innocence that it’s known for.

The ballet begins with a live orchestra. Tchaikovsky’s score is played by the Lewisville Lake Symphony’s orchestra lead by Adron Ming. These people don’t just play music; they are music. Listening to Tchaikovsky live enhances the full experience…his score is dessert for a theatrical feast.

The audience falls under the spell in Act I as it opens with a Christmas party at Clara and Fritz’s home. Uncle Drosselmeyer (Kenn Wells) entertains the children with a puppet show and he brings presents, including a Nutcracker Doll. Wells brings so much joy to his character and has the audience laughing out loud when he almost falls in to the orchestra pit. Clara (Carly Greene) wakes in the night to find her Nutcracker. Greene’s graceful arms and powerful pique turns make her a stunning Clara.

Strange things now happen and the whole stage is alive with magic…including the Christmas tree. Twenty hungry mice appear, lead by a charismatic Mouse King (Robert Stewart). The Nutcracker comes to life and leads an army of toy soldiers to fight the mice.

The Battle scene is Artistic director, Kelly Lannin’s favorite part to choreograph. The Nutcracker soldiers and twenty mice engage in a skirmish…shooting canons, carrying off the wounded on stretchers and eating cheese all while worshiping their Mouse King.

The Nutcracker Prince (Jack Wolff) defeats the Mouse King and takes Clara to a magical land on a sleigh lead by angels, where snowflakes flirt rhythmically with the night sky. This was fifteen-year-old Wolff’s second year as the Nutcracker Prince. He was impressive last year and even more so this year…gaining power and strength.

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Act II transports Clara into the Land of Sweets. The Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier introduce Clara to dances from around the world…Spain, Arabia, China, Russia and the Mirlitons dance from France. The entertainment finishes with the dance of the flowers and the Sugar Plum Fairy dances with her Prince before Clara returns home.

When Clara arrived in the Land of Sweets, the audience is delighted with more amazing partnering. Carley Denton and Ruben Gerding were spicy with sweet confection as “Spanish Chocolate”, Andre Harrigton’s flew high in “Russian Baba,” but it was  the finesse of Faith Jones and Shannon Beacham in “Arabian Coffee” that still remains one of the favorite highlights of the Land of Sweets.

Another exciting surprise was the appearance of former Dallas Cowboys player, Isiah Stanback, as the role of Mother Ginger…wearing his Cowboys jersey and helmet! Stanback seemed right at home mothering his Polichinelles and throwing the football at the end. Score!

Guest artists Sarah Lane (American Ballet Theatre) and Daniel Ulbricht (New York City Ballet) brought a glittering, era-transcending splendor to Lewisville, Texas. How do they manage to make it appear so effortless when it actually required such concentration and effort. Ignoring the laws of physics (and gravity), Lane would strike an arabesque poised and perfect with the most beautiful arch to her foot. She appeared to glide across the stage with Ulbricht…every moment was the perfect picture. Ulbricht is agile, athletic and smooth…he has hang time in his tours en l’air. Watching them dance together created a tsunami of bliss…that’s the power of the Nutcracker. The audience becomes pleasantly intoxicated on dance.

My little mouse tells me after the battle scene that she had seen Sarah Lane backstage. “Mommy, I said hi to Sarah Lane and she said hi back to me. She smelled soooo good…just like a Sugar Plum!”  The excitement backstage is energizing to the little dancers. They breathe in the atmosphere that is thick with hairspray and sometimes sweet like a Sugar Plum.

My little mouse was emotional after the last performance…she didn’t want it to be over. She sobbed herself to sleep saying it would be the last time to be a mouse with the same exact cast. When her friend, Chloe, asked her if she wanted to be in the Nutcracker again next year, her response was quick and enthusiastic…”YES, of course I do!” She is still excited for Christmas…she wiggles her mouse paws in the chilly December air just like a mouse. And just like that, it’s over. Dancers lug their makeup kits and plastic bags of snacks out of the stage doors to go home and have dreams of the Sugar Plum Fairy dancing in their heads…until next year.

Frohilich Weihachten from the Stahlbaums’ household!

Photo credit: Nancy Loch Photography

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LakeCities Ballet Theatre 2014 Nutcracker

LakeCities Ballet Theatre 2013 Nutcracker

Clara’s Tea: Nutcracker Dreams

Frank Sinatra: Five things you might not know

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This year marks the centennial of the birth of Frank Sinatra, who came into this world on December 12, 1915 in Hoboken, New Jersey and died on May 14, 1998. Sinatra had many nicknames…The Voice, Ol’ Blue Eyes and The Chairman of the Board were a few. Each name represented different sides of his talent, good looks, charm and presence. Sinatra won nine Grammy Awards, performed on more than 1,400 records during his six-decade plus career. It was his honest voice that made the audience feel that he understood them.

When I think of Frank Sinatra, I think of my grandmother. I remember when I graduated from college in May, 1998 (the very month that Sinatra died)…my grandmother kept disappearing to the bar so she could talk to the bartender about Frank. It was as if she was in mourning for the loss of that time in her life.

I imagine that my grandmother would have loved to have been in the audience at The Copa Room in Las Vegas when Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were on stage…sipping cocktails and smoking cigarettes. This beautiful generation seemed to know how to enjoy life to the fullest.

My grandmother would have loved to have read this book to her great-grandchildren and elaborate on his life and his songs.

My children like to listen to Seriously Sinatra in my car on the way to school. I knew they would enjoy the John Seven book, Frankie Liked to Sing. This is a spunky biography that follows Sinatra as he moves from his humble childhood across the river to New York City, begins a recording career and makes it in Hollywood.

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Reading the book, Frankie Liked to Sing, is a beautiful way for grandparents and parents alike to pass on their love for Ol’ Blue Eyes to a younger generation. “Frankie’s voice made people feel like they could get through hard days and have fun on better ones.”
Perfectly timed to celebrate Sinatra’s one hundredth birthday…here are five things you might not know about Frank.
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1. Frank’s signature cocktail originated in Philadelphia. This drink can be considered a martini, but make sure to hold the olive. It is a rather refreshing, sweet cocktail that is popular in the summer time.
3 oz dry gin
3/4 oz Blue Curacao liqueur
1 oz sweet and sour mix
 
Get a martini shaker. Add a few ice cubes, then add all ingredients. Shake for ten seconds and serve in a martini glass or cocktail glass with a lemon twist.
  

 2. The song My Way is thought of as Sinatra’s signature song but he didn’t want to record it…thinking it was self-indulgent. Remember that scene with Peggy and Don in Mad Men? It’s a perfect moment when Sinatra’s “My Way” comes on the radio, and the two share a dance; it’s a magic moment for Don and Peggy.

3. Frank’s favorite color was orange. He used to say, “Orange is the happiest color.”

4. Frank inadvertently helped name Scooby-Doo. CBS exec, Fred Silverman, found inspiration in Frank’s signature, “Scoo-Be-Do-Be-Do!”

5. Born in a New Jersey, apartment, Francis Albert Sinatra was not breathing when he was born. Baby Frank was thought to be dead and was laid on the kitchen counter while the doctor attended to his mother. His grandma picked up the newborn, stuck him under some cold water, and little Frank sang his first song. Thank goodness for grandma!

His music crossed the decades from World War II to the 1990s. He defined the classic American songbook for decades with verve and panache.

Any song that Sinatra sang was most likely the very best rendition of that song. These are just a few that are linked to this amazing entertainer over his career.

Fly Me to the Moon Frank Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon” was the first song ever played on the moon.

I’ve Got the World on a String There have been many artists who have recorded their own versions but Sinatra’s is the most memorable.

Swinging on a Star “Swinging on a Star” was composed by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke and originally sung by Bing Crosby in the 1944 film Going My WayIt has been covered by artists including Burl Ives, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra.

New York, New York This love song to New York makes you want to be in a Broadway show.

Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas This is the gold star of Christmas songs.

Let it Snow This song helps set the mood for holiday festivities. It’s romantic, happy and everyone likes to sing along.

Luck be a Lady Hearing this song reminds me of when I was in the musical “Guys and Dolls.” It’s full of energy and spunk.

Strangers in the Night Frank Sinatra’s version of Strangers in the Night, can’t be beat…it’s smooth and I imagine my grandparents slow dancing to it.

My Way This song was not Sinatra’s favorite but it sure is a favoirte of fans…one of his most popular hits.

Mack the Knife This song is pure New York!

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May you live to be one hundred, and may the last voice you hear be mine. 

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Amelia Earhart: Five things you might not know