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.

Related posts:

Frank Sinatra: Five things you might not know

Mary Cassatt: Five things you might not know

Amelia Earhart: Five things you might not know

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

Related Posts:

New Year’s Eve Cocktails

New Year’s Eve Lobster Fete…Avec Les Enfants

New Year’s Traditions from around the World

Celebrate with Champagne in a Coupe

Classic Mad Men Cocktails

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

Related posts:

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. 

Related posts:

Mary Cassatt: Five things you might not know

Amelia Earhart: Five things you might not know

Le Ballet de Dracula is full of gothic charm

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DRACULA, the favorite “bad boy” of Halloween is back and scarier than ever! Audiences at the MCL Grande are encouraged to watch their necks and sprinkle garlic on themselves as Dracula takes a bite out of Lewisville in its tenth production for LBT’s Le Ballet de Dracula.

Le Ballet de Dracula is full of gothic charm…it’s everything pretty ballets are not! Dracula has a strong sense of mystery that is both eerie and frightening. To add to the gothic charm of Dracula, it is fun knowing that the ballet was first performed in the former Church, which was located on the very spot where the MCL Grand was later built. The ballet has burst in popularity in the last ten years since Tom Rutherford, the company’s art director, wrote it and Kelly Lannin, the artistic director, choreographed it.

Children at the Saturday matinée enjoyed a tour from the most beloved artistic director, Kelly Lannin. Children were presented with a veil and it was delightful to see all the little brides wandering around together. My daughter was curious to see some of the secrets of stage magic. Her favorite part was learning how the Weolas, frightening bat-like dancers, got into their cage through a secret door. For LBT’s tenth anniversary they brought back the haunted house which was both scary and whimsical. The fortune-teller asked children if they would like to have their palm read…we held out our hands and she put RED lipstick on our hands and pronounced in her gypsy voice, “Now your palm is RED!”

The haunted house and bride workshop helped to get us in the mood for Dracula. The curtain opened and we were transported back in time to 1897 Transylvania.

The Weolas (scary bat-like animals) opened up the performance crawling out with contorted movements and spinning their heads like hungry nocturnal gremlins. Dracula’s minion, Ratcliff (Asia Waters) enters and manages to scare the Weolas away (for a while) by showing a shiny golden cross.

Waters is very convincing as Dracula’s slave. She’s a true performer with her nervous facial expressions and awkward scuttling back and forth movements. She has the audience leaning forward as if contemplating wanting to leap from their seats and help her search for food and the golden cross.

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A new day brings in the sun in a romantic Romanian countryside. It’s a time of celebration as the town prepares to celebrate the engagement of Aurelia (Carley Denton) and Marius (Steven Loch). The town is full of love for the happy couple and watch with awe as they Denton and Loch portray their love for each other in a lovely pas de deux.

One of Steven Loch’s (from Pacific Northwest Ballet) great points is his elevation, the distance which he is able to rise in the air and the lightness with which he rises is breathtaking!

It is always a pleasure to watch Denton perform. She has a natural stage presence that is captivating…you can’t take your eyes off of her. I hear that she can sing too…Broadway was made for this dancer, actress and singer who can execute spot on en dedan pirouettes.

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I have a fondness for folk dancing and the Maypole dance does not disappoint. The whole Romanian town dances together…the gypsies are my favorite. If I were to dance a role, I would want to be a gypsy…free, flexible and fiery with just the right amount of abandonment.

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There is just something about Dracula (Shannon Beacham)! He is so cool and controls everything…he rules the ballet. He is careful, protective but super powerful…it makes me palpitate!

When Dracula puts a spell on his newest bride, Aurelia (Denton), her controlled and sprightly movements become a little more luxurious…watching Beacham and Denton together is spellbinding.

The second act opens with Dracula’s many brides as they awaken in the crypt of his castle seductively bourreeing in a tangle of white veils. The ghostly fog and makeup is a dramatic difference to the first act.

Aurelia is rescued just in time with the help of her fiance and Dracula’s minion.

The ballet is modern and fun and shows off the talents of the company’s dancers. The stage effects, gothic costumes and lighting add to the atmosphere. Music can be improved…the transitions between the songs could be spliced (live music would be dreamy) so the dancers don’t forcast their anticipation of the next movement.

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LBT is known for family friendly ballets like The Nutcracker, Coppélia and Cinderella but their production of Dracula (while still being family friendly) shows that they have an interesting darker side.

Congratulations to LBT on a decade of Dracula! Next up, the twenty-fifth anniversary of LBT’s Nutcracker!

Le Ballet de Dracula photos, courtesy of Nancy Loch Photography.

Related Posts:

Some not so tricky treats from FoodNetwork

Le Ballet de Dracula 2014

Le Ballet de Dracula 2013

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Nutella Sunday Breakfast…with my little Heidi!

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Cozy fall weekends are for hibernating in your pajamas and watching old movies. This weekend, my daughter and I finished reading the book Heidi together. To celebrate, we made a chocolaty breakfast in bed and watched the movie Heidi (the one with Shirley Temple).

The windows were open and we imagined that we could smell the wild flowers high in mountain meadow where Heidi’s grandfather lived.  Aww, fresh fall air…you can almost smell the Swiss Alps! Weekends are made for hitting the reset button, snuggling with your little reading buddy while watching an old movie and indulging in something chocolatey.

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My daughter let me know that she loves me more than Nutella!  I imagine Nutella is not far behind. Bananas and Nutella go together like Heidi and her grandfather…they compliment each other beautifully! This is one of the most perfect coffee cakes ever. It’s moist and chocolaty sweet…perfect for a Sunday morning.

Nutella Banana Coffee Cake

  • Cake:
  • 1 C of unsalted butter
  • 3 1/2 C flour
  • 2 C sugar
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 C whole milk
  • 4 eggs at room temp
  • 3/4 C sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla
  • Filling:
  • 2 ripe bananas, smashed
  • 1 C Nutella spread
  • 1/4 C brown sugar
  • Topping:
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 C all purpose flour
  • 3 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 C hazelnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13×9 inch pan.
  2. Melt the 1 C of butter and set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and add the melted butter.
  5. Using a spatula, mix the dry into the wet until combined.
  6. Layer half the batter into the pan, lay the smashed bananas on top and drizzle the Nutella spread…I microwave my Nutella for 30 seconds to make it pourable.
  7. Layer the remaining batter over the Nutella and banana filling using a spatula, smooth out the top of the batter making sure it’s even and reaches the edges of the pan.
  8. Sprinkle the top with the streusel…smash 4 softened butter, flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg with a fork.
  9. Bake for 50-55 minutes until set when a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Your Nutella weekend won’t be complete without Nutella hot chocolate. You HAVE to make this! My daughter said, “Mom, you are the BEST mom in the world” when I served the Nutella banana coffee cake with Nutella hot chocolate. She also asked, “Do you think Heidi had chocolate breakfasts too?” Hmm…with all the goats milk, I’m sure she probably whisked a little Swiss chocolate in there.

Fall Sunday mornings are made for Nutella and Heidi! Wishing you many more fall weekends…may they be full of Nutella, your favorite pajamas and snuggle buddy to enjoy a frothy, creamy, chocolaty Nutella breakfast!

Nutella Hot Chocolate
  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons Nutella
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Optional Toppings:
  • Marshmallows
  • Crushed hazelnuts
  • Chocolate chips
  • Extra Nutella
  1. Heat milk in a medium sized saucepan on medium – high heat until beginning to warm and steam. Add the spread, cocoa powder and sugar, and whisk until dissolved and combined. Bring to a gentle simmer while stirring, and take off heat.
  2. Serve with your desired toppings.

Guten Appetit from my little Heidi!

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Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga with my girl

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Last year, I tried stand up paddleboard with my friend Pamela and loved it. This year when my favorite yoga teacher suggested that I bring my daughter, I couldn’t wait to share SUP yoga with her too!

Stand up paddleboarding is such a relaxing and fun way to play on the water. Imagine taking your stationary yoga mat into the water and feeling that buoyancy when you balance…it’s hard but in a totally fun way!

My daughter and I share a love for dance (we recently performed on stage together) and now we share a love for SUP yoga! Sharing something with someone you love so much and doing what you love to do together is such an amazing feeling!

She LOVED to SUP! The class was very challenging (imagine crow pose, three leg down dog and even head stand on a paddleboard) but all performed with a smile! I would catch my daughter in three-legged downward dog feeling proud and she’d look at me from under her arm to see if I was watching her…as soon as she lost her focus to say, “Look Mom,” she’d fall in the water and laugh like crazy! I could see my little girl jumping at the chance to do SUP yoga again. I would imagine that kids who are SUPers can gain confidence, balance and strength early on…all with a smile and lots of laughter!

Kids are not afraid of falling…they love to fall! The paddleboard becomes their playground and they are the bravest in the class because in every pose, they go for it!

When I saw my yoga teacher a day after class, she asked, “How did you sleep after class? Are you still relaxed?” I honestly was…like I could still feel the water underneath my feet.

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My favorite part of this class was when our boards found each other and we held hands during savasana…it was the ultimate happy feeling.

Related post:

Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga

You’ve Got Mail!!

My husband calls me on the phone, “You’ve got mail!” Those are the BEST three words to hear!! He asks me if he needs to open it to put it in the fridge! That tells me it must be a HelloFresh or CraftedTaste. I can’t wait to get home and see! The day just gets instantly better when there’s a package waiting for you. These five monthly subscriptions make life a lot sweeter and easier. There’s nothing better or more simple than a subscription box…pay a small monthly fee, then wait for a box of goodies to show up at your door. Love it? Keep it! Not so much, cancel or send it back (if it’s a Stitchfix) and move onward!

 

Stitch Fix Box

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This is for the person who wants to update their closet but is maybe pressed for time to shop…think, working mothers with young children! Stitch Fix can step in as your personal stylist. They carefully collect a profile of information outlining your size and style then send you a box of five clothing and accessory items. You’ll pay a $20 styling fee per box, but if you keep any of the pieces, the $20 counts toward your purchase. If you keep all five, you’ll receive an additional 25% off the total price. Stitch Fix gives you the personalized advice you’d typically find in a boutique or higher-end department store but…the stylists rely on the initial survey to make perfect selections. Stitch Fix asks questions like…“How do you prefer clothes to fit the bottom half of your body?” and “What do you like to flaunt? What would you rather keep covered?” Try it, your closet will thank you!

$20/month

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CraftedTaste

Cocktail of the month subscription? Yes, please!! I like to drink seasonally but sometimes get stuck on my same summer cocktails. Crafted Taste delivers amazing craft cocktails from some of the world’s top bartenders. It’s fun to discover a new drink and get to play around with ingredients that might be hard to find on your own. Each kit includes all the full sized ingredients needed to create the cocktail at home, easy to follow instructions, other cocktail ideas you might want to experiment with and recommended food parings. Crafted Taste is all about learning, experimenting, sharing modern cocktails, and expanding your home bar.

 

$130/month

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HelloFresh

My friend Lisa told me about HelloFresh over the summer and I’ve been hooked sense then. I’ve gotten my Mom and my fellow teacher friends hooked too…everyone loves HelloFresh! My husband and I do love cooking dinner, but on busy weeks we sometimes wish there was someone else to take care of the planning and shopping. This is a huge reason of why our family enjoys HelloFresh. It’s perfect for a busy family who loves to eat well. It’s also a no brainer…saving you a grocery store trip! It also works with your budget…three meals for four people at only $129!! HelloFresh delivers great recipes and fresh ingredients to your doorstep weekly or as you’d like them too…there’s no commitment. I love that I can cook quick and healthy meals for my family and everyone is happy!

$60-129/month

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Birchbox

This is the perfect present for your best friend, mom, teachers…One of my favorite packages to receive! Birchbox lets you try high-end beauty samples and discover new products without committing to buying a full-size item. Based on your personal profile, each box will contain five to six travel-size skincare, makeup, and perfume samples, all geared to your specific taste. You might also score some non-beauty extras—think hair ties, water bottles, and ear buds. The company also caters to men…check out Birchbox Man as well.

$10/month

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ThePeriodStore

Tea, dessert, ibuprofen and tampons. What do these four products have in common? They’re all included in The Period Store’s monthly packages. Women can customize their monthly package right before their period starts…just fill out information about their cycles on the website and can customize packages to include your favorite products. Each package also comes along with some painkillers, two tea bags, a 5×7 piece of art and a gourmet treat.

$30/month

These amazing monthly boxes may be a gift from you to you, but that doesn’t take away any of the excitement…just wait until you get the phone call, “You’ve got mail!”