Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful... "Cinderella" at the Paramount!

If you haven't seen the new twist on the classic Rodger's + Hammerstein's Cinderella, you're missing out! The colors, the set, the costumes! The powerful voices and superb acting! It was an enchanting few hours (literally!) and I had so much fun!
I invited my mom, since she loves musicals but doesn't enjoy going by herself. Plus I didn't want to have to cajole my own kid into going (even though I knew she'd love it) and make her stay up late on a school night.
[I was provided with complimentary tickets. All opinions are my own]

I hadn't liked the original 1965 movie version, since they cast their Cinderella based on her dancing ability, rather than her voice. That's a major pet peeve of mine. (I'm looking at you, Russell Crowe in Les Miz!) Well, this director did not make THAT mistake, let me tell you! And while I wasn't sure how I felt about the "cheeky new script" during the first few scenes, by the first dance number for "The Prince is Giving a Ball," they won me over! Choreographer Josh Rhodes did not "play it safe" with the dances. I have watched every season of So You Think You Can Dance, so I have pretty high standards for choreography. They did some amazing tricks and lifts!

The sets were so beautiful and full of detail, and the costumes were colorful and very well done. So amazing, in fact, that costume designer William Ivey Long won a Tony Award for them! An honor well deserved! I'm pretty blase about stuff like that usually, but even I was impressed!

And that was BEFORE I saw the transformation scenes! Cinderella and the Fairy Godmother literally transform right before your eyes! No double hiding offstage switching places during a puff of smoke or a flash of light. A twirl and a tug, and rags turn into a beautiful ball gown! Shoulder-length ringlets and a head scarf become an updo and a tiara in the blink of an eye! I saw it happen and still couldn't tell you how it was done. Truly incredible!

While I was delighted by the gorgeous costumes and sets, and loved the beautiful singing, it was the character dynamics of the stepmother and stepsisters that kept me entertained the whole show. The sarcasm, the attitude, and the "asides," all had me chuckling in my seat, and it's hard to get me to laugh out loud.

I had someone ask me if this show would be appropriate for kids, and I'd have to answer with an emphatic YES! (Obviously, depends on your kids though, and whether they can sit still-ish through a show without too much fidgeting or talking.) I got to witness this first-hand, since even though I opted to bring my mom instead of my own 6-year-old, I happened to be seated right next to a girl around the same age. There was only the normal amount of fidgeting as she tried to stay comfortable and see while sitting on the "booster cushion" provided at the Paramount. And I think I whispered more to my mom throughout the show than this kid did with hers!
The costumes and sets gave enough to occupy the senses during any dialog that went above their heads, and the humor and delivery were perfect, making things fun even if you didn't "get" the joke. Plus the woodland creature puppets in a few scenes would have been my girl's favorite parts! I saw dozens of little princesses in a variety of ages all up past their bedtimes, and they all behaved smashingly well!  This would be the perfect Mommy and Me experience, no matter how old you are!

Cinderella is currently playing in Seattle (it's not too late! More details below, or click here to get tickets!) But for those of you who don't live near me, they're only on the third stop on their tour, so be sure to hurry and get tickets near you!

THE 2013 TONY® AWARD-WINNING BROADWAY MUSICAL

                                   
COMES TO THE PARAMOUNT THEATRE
FROM FEBRUARY 24 –MARCH 1, 2015


RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA, the 2013 Tony® Award-winning Broadway musical from the creators of South Pacific and The Sound of Music, will play The Paramount Theatre for a limited engagement from February 24 – March 1, 2015. Tickets are available on-line at stgpresents.org and tickets.com, by calling 877-STG-4TIX (784-4849) or in person at select Ticketmaster locations and at The Paramount Theatre Box Office (Monday through Friday, 10am to 6pm).

With its fresh new take on the beloved tale of a young woman who is transformed from a chambermaid into a princess, this hilarious and romantic Rodgers + Hammerstein's CINDERELLA combines the story's classic elements – glass slippers, pumpkin, and a beautiful ball along with some surprising twists. More than just a pretty face with the right shoe size, this Cinderella is a contemporary figure living in a fairytale setting. She is a spirited young woman with savvy and soul who doesn't let her rags or her gowns trip her up in her quest for kindness, compassion and forgiveness. She longs to escape the drudgery of her work at home and instead work to make the world a better place. She not only fights for her own dreams, but forces the prince to open his eyes to the world around him and realize his dreams too. 

CINDERELLA has music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, a new book by Douglas Carter Beane and original book by Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical is directed by Mark Brokaw and choreographed by Josh Rhodes. Music adaptation, supervision and arrangements are by David Chase and orchestrations are by Danny Troob.

One of Rodgers + Hammerstein's most popular titles, CINDERELLA was written for television -- debuting in 1957 starring Julie Andrews. In 2013, the show made its long-overdue Broadway debut. Along with CINDERELLA, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's legendary musicals include OKLAHOMA!CarouselThe King and ISouth Pacific and The Sound of Music.

Mr. Beane's book for CINDERELLA blends masterfully with the musical's cherished score with songs including "In My Own Little Corner," "Impossible/It's Possible," "Ten Minutes Ago" and "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?"

The creative team includes scenic design by Tony® Award nominee Anna Louizos, costume design by six-time Tony® Award-winner William Ivey Long, lighting design by Tony® Award-winner Kenneth Posner and sound design by Tony® Award nominee Nevin Steinberg.

The CINDERELLA tour is produced by Robyn Goodman, Jill Furman, Stephen Kocis, Edward Walson, Venetian Glass Productions, The Araca Group, Caiola Productions, Roy Furman, Peter May, Sanford Robertson, Eric Schmidt, James Spry and Blanket Fort Productions.

CINDERELLA will be at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre for 8 performances. The schedule for the Seattle engagement is:

Tuesday, February 24                        7:30 pm
Wednesday, February 25                   7:30pm
Thursday, February  26                      7:30pm
Friday, February 27                            8:00pm
Saturday, February 28                        2:00pm and 8:00 pm
Sunday, March 1                                1:00pm An ASL / AVIA Interpreted performance
6:30pm – An Open Caption performance
*For tickets to the ASL- Open Caption performances, call the TTY line at 888-331-6774.

Tickets for CINDERELLA start at $25 and are available on-line at stgpresents.org and tickets.com, by calling 877-STG-4TIX (784-4849,) or in person at select Ticketmaster locations and at The Paramount Theatre Box Office (Monday through Friday, 10am to 6pm).
CINDERELLA is part of the 2014/2015 KeyBank Broadway at The Paramount series, presented by Seattle Theatre Group, with support for the fifth year from KeyBank as the series title sponsor. Brotherton Cadillac is the official auto sponsor, The Roosevelt Hotel is the official sponsor hotel and Alaska Airlines is the official sponsor airline of KeyBank Broadway at The Paramount.

For more information please visit www.CinderellaOnBroadway.com
Twitter: @CinderellaBway

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Chocolate-Dipped Valentine's Day with Driscolls!

I've never been a big Valentine's Day enthusiast. Not as an adult anyway. It's a fake holiday that was created to sell cards and chocolates, and seems to unfairly put the burden on the guy to make it special. Plus good luck getting a reservation anywhere! But I will happily help my kids celebrate! And what better way to celebrate friendship than sharing a plate of chocolate covered strawberries? Making your own is easy and far more affordable than buying them pre-made, plus you have the flexibility to get organic berries, avoid GMOs, get allergy-friendly chocolate, etc.

[This post is sponsored by Driscoll's Berries]

My niece's birthday is right around Valentines Day, so when she wanted a sleepover with her cousins that weekend, chocolate-covered strawberries were prominently on the menu! They are supremely easy to make, and so fun to eat, but there are a few tricks to getting them just right!

I've found that candy melts and chocolate chips tend to melt too thick (and usually have artificial colors, flavors, and milk, which we can't have.) So if you're using these, add a little oil or shortening to get a better consistency. I prefer coconut oil or palm shortening, since the brand-name shortening has petroleum-derived preservatives.
Another solution is to buy chocolate bars... They already contain an emulsifier to help them get nice and melty and smooth. You can find chocolate that is all-natural, organic, fair trade, dairy-free, or made in a nut-free facility... whatever you need to make them safe for your family! And in the case of making your own chocolate goodies, you get what you pay for. If you buy cheap chocolate, your results won't be as yummy and fancy and special. It's worth it to splurge for the "good stuff" here!

I'm lazy and choose to melt in the microwave, but as it turns out, that helps you get a better quality finish on the chocolate versus a double-boiler, since you aren't getting moisture from the steam. But for treats being eaten right away, chocolate bloom isn't really an issue! Hahah! But if you are needing a large amount of melted chocolate, double boilers are safer and can hold more at once.
Microwave melting is easy though, and I have a glass dish with a sealable lid that I can use again and again and keep the leftovers ready for next time. Glass is best for this, since it doesn't retain heat like plastic or ceramic, so you run less risk of overheating and ruining your chocolate.

Make sure that your berries are washed and completely dry. Water messes up the chocolate and prevents it from sticking to the berries.

How to Make Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries
To melt chocolate in the microwave, put your chocolate (around a cup at a time) in a microwave safe dish and heat for 1 minute on High. Then stir and cook for 30 seconds more. Continue to heat in 30-second intervals, stirring each time, until melted. Then dip away! (If adding oil to thin, add a little at a time between heatings until desired consistency is reached.)

Since it isn't very cost-effective to have enough melted quality chocolate to fully dip whole berries, use a spoon to help cover both sides. Let most of the excess drip off.

Place dipped strawberries onto a parchment-lined baking tray or plate, or on a silicone baking mat on a baking sheet to cool. Allow them to cool at room temperature, unless you plan to eat them all soon. Putting them in the fridge is faster, but can cause unsightly chocolate bloom spots to appear a few hours later.

If you want to get fancy, add gently sifted powdered sugar, crushed nuts or cookies or graham crackers, sprinkles, or mini chocolate chips before leaving the chocolate to harden. Drizzled chocolate designs are also fun and can be done in different colored melted chocolates or even the same, as long as you wait for the dipped chocolate to be mostly hardened first.

Enjoy, and have a berry great holiday, no matter how you celebrate it!

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Cinderella is Coming to Seattle's Paramount Theatre!

When I was in grade school, our district had a Summer theatre program that would rehearse for the last half of the Summer and beginning of the next September to perform a musical every year. We had to audition and everything... I was a good extra year after year! Lol! One of the last ones I was in was Rodgers + Hammerstein's Cinderella. You can even see me in it on YouTube! I have a line at 5:50 as a villager, and you can see me again as a lady at the ball at 43:25 (in the blue dress, 3rd person in line on the left, double pointy hat.) Clearly I'm the star of the show!

So imagine my delight when I heard that Cinderella was coming to the Paramount! For my local friends, it's not too late to grab tickets! For everyone else, Seattle is just the third of many stops on their US tour, so be sure check the schedule to find a performance near you! 
Even though it was over 20 years ago (gasp! When did THAT happen?!) hearing the music again, it all comes back to me! It will be difficult to sit quietly in the theatre without singing along!

[I have been provided with complimentary tickets. All opinions are my own]


THE 2013 TONY® AWARD-WINNING BROADWAY MUSICAL

                                   
COMES TO THE PARAMOUNT THEATRE
FROM FEBRUARY 24 –MARCH 1, 2015
RODGERS + HAMMERSTEIN'S CINDERELLA, the 2013 Tony® Award-winning Broadway musical from the creators of South Pacific and The Sound of Music, will play The Paramount Theatre in Seattle for a limited engagement from February 24 – March 1, 2015. Tickets are available on-line at stgpresents.org and tickets.com, by calling 877-STG-4TIX (784-4849) or in person at select Ticketmaster locations and at The Paramount Theatre Box Office (Monday through Friday, 10am to 6pm).

With its fresh new take on the beloved tale of a young woman who is transformed from a chambermaid into a princess, this hilarious and romantic Rodgers + Hammerstein's CINDERELLA combines the story's classic elements – glass slippers, pumpkin, and a beautiful ball along with some surprising twists. More than just a pretty face with the right shoe size, this Cinderella is a contemporary figure living in a fairytale setting. She is a spirited young woman with savvy and soul who doesn't let her rags or her gowns trip her up in her quest for kindness, compassion and forgiveness. She longs to escape the drudgery of her work at home and instead work to make the world a better place. She not only fights for her own dreams, but forces the prince to open his eyes to the world around him and realize his dreams too. 

CINDERELLA has music by Richard Rodgers, lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II, a new book by Douglas Carter Beane and original book by Oscar Hammerstein II. The musical is directed by Mark Brokaw and choreographed by Josh Rhodes. Music adaptation, supervision and arrangements are by David Chase and orchestrations are by Danny Troob.

One of Rodgers + Hammerstein's most popular titles, CINDERELLA was written for television -- debuting in 1957 starring Julie Andrews. In 2013, the show made its long-overdue Broadway debut. Along with CINDERELLA, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein's legendary musicals include OKLAHOMA!CarouselThe King and ISouth Pacific and The Sound of Music.

Mr. Beane's book for CINDERELLA blends masterfully with the musical's cherished score with songs including "In My Own Little Corner," "Impossible/It's Possible," "Ten Minutes Ago" and "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?"

The creative team includes scenic design by Tony® Award nominee Anna Louizos, costume design by six-time Tony® Award-winner William Ivey Long, lighting design by Tony® Award-winner Kenneth Posner and sound design by Tony® Award nominee Nevin Steinberg.

The CINDERELLA tour is produced by Robyn Goodman, Jill Furman, Stephen Kocis, Edward Walson, Venetian Glass Productions, The Araca Group, Caiola Productions, Roy Furman, Peter May, Sanford Robertson, Eric Schmidt, James Spry and Blanket Fort Productions.

CINDERELLA will be at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre for 16 performances. The schedule for the Seattle engagement is:

Tuesday, February 24                        7:30 pm
Wednesday, February 25                   7:30pm
Thursday, February  26                      7:30pm
Friday, February 27                            8:00pm
Saturday, February 28                        2:00pm and 8:00 pm
Sunday, March 1                                1:00pm An ASL / AVIA Interpreted performance
6:30pm – An Open Caption performance
*For tickets to the ASL- Open Caption performances, call the TTY line at 888-331-6774.

Tickets for CINDERELLA start at $25 and are available on-line at stgpresents.org and tickets.com, by calling 877-STG-4TIX (784-4849) or in person at select Ticketmaster locations and at The Paramount Theatre Box Office (Monday through Friday, 10am to 6pm).
CINDERELLA is part of the 2014/2015 KeyBank Broadway at The Paramount series, presented by Seattle Theatre Group, with support for the fifth year from KeyBank as the series title sponsor. Brotherton Cadillac is the official auto sponsor, The Roosevelt Hotel is the official sponsor hotel and Alaska Airlines is the official sponsor airline of KeyBank Broadway at The Paramount.

For more information please visit www.CinderellaOnBroadway.com
Twitter: @CinderellaBway

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Chocolate Raspberry Green Smoothies with Driscoll's! #myberrysmoothie

I love green smoothies because they're a quick and easy way to fill my kids with power-packed nutrients that they'll actually EAT. Add organic Driscoll's berries and they're sure to be a hit every time! What better way to kick off a new year than with a healthy kid-friendly option for breakfast, lunch, or even dessert!
This post was sponsored by Driscoll's Berries!

My little one will drink smoothies no problem, but Big Sis needs a ton of extra sugar to be willing to drink them. If I freeze them in cups or popsicle molds however, she'll eat them all day long! So while she's at school, I make a batch of smoothies for the little one and I, and freeze the leftovers for Big Sis. They make a great after-school snack, and I'm more than happy to let her "indulge" - whole-food fruits, veggies, and protein, with less than a teaspoon of added sugar per serving? Uh, yes! (Bonus: I use either local raw honey to help our seasonal allergies, or else organic elderberry syrup* to boost our immune systems. So even the added sugar is quality, in my mind!)
*I get my elderberry syrup special order through Natural Choice Apothecary on Etsy. (Affiliate link)

Chocolate Raspberry Green Smoothie
Ingredients:
1 cup Driscoll's organic raspberries (fresh or frozen) plus more to garnish (optional)
1 cup organic spinach leaves or 2-3 organic kale leaves, stems removed
1 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
1 banana (fresh or frozen)
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp sweetener of choice (honey, agave, sugar, Norbu, etc - optional. Depends how sweet your fruit is)
1-2 tsp lemon or lime juice or vinegar (optional - to help neutralize the bitterness of the cocoa)
1-2 Tbsp total optional mix-ins: chia seeds, hemp hearts, protein powder, dried milk (or non-dairy milk) powder

Directions: 
Add all ingredients to blender. Blend well!

 
Notes: 
  • I like using at least some frozen produce, so I don't need to add ice to make it cold. Bananas are super easy to freeze (just jam them in the freezer - the peel protects them from freezer burn!) and most places will sell you their overripe stock from the back room at a discount! I also freeze torn kale leaves and extra berries when I find them on sale.
  • I've had best results whizzing greens and seeds together first, before adding frozen items and milk. I add fresh fruit last. But with a powerful enough blender, you can just dump it all in at once.
  • Amount of added liquid can vary each time, so start with only half the milk in wiht the other ingredients, blend, and add more until you reach the desired consistency.
  • Feel free to wait before adding any sweetener. Sometimes the fruit adds plenty of sweetness, other times you'll need to add extra!

 

 Check out the Driscoll's Berry website for more great berry smoothie recipes
Or if you prefer to experiment and create your own, check out their How to Build A Smoothie guide!


 3pk Berry Baskets
(affiliate links)

Friday, January 30, 2015

"Blue Friday" Seahawks Bento

 
I made my 1st Grader a special lunch for Blue Friday and the upcoming Superbowl! Not that she is aware of much more than an upcoming visit to her favorite Auntie's house this Sunday!

"Blue Friday" Bento
GF goat cheese and ham sandwich, GF vegan brownie, organic blueberries and sugar snap peas
I was able to make a football-shaped sandwich using one of the larger circles in my circle cutter set - just make a circle (or most of one!) and then move the cutter up until the sides intersect the sandwich in a football shape! Easy as pie! I used a knife to cut some goat cheese scraps to make the stitching, and placed them on after I flipped the sandwich over in the oven. I used mayo instead of butter on the bread for the first time. She loooooves mayo, so it's sure to be a hit!

I stole this Seahawks cupcake ring off a cupcake that was up for grabs at the school PTSO meeting this week - since it was covered in fake colors and filled with gluten, I left the cupcake for someone else to enjoy.

There were also some vegan gluten-free brownies at the meeting, so I took a few home and used the same technique as the sandwich with a smaller circle to make a football shape there too. This one's smaller because it's under-inflated. *wink wink* (Oh, yes, I went there!) I had a little leftover dairy-free "buttercream" icing my sister made for us, so I put a bit in a sandwich baggie, snipped a tiny opening in the corner, and piped on the stitches!

 [This post contains affiliate links.

Tools of the Trade
     

Monday, January 26, 2015

Get Ready For #BlueberryPancakeDay with Driscoll's!

 
January 28th is National Blueberry Pancake Day, and what better way to celebrate than with some blueberry pancakes for breakfast (or lunch!)

[This post is sponsored by Driscoll's Berries]

I don't really have a "pancake recipe" since I'm usually lazy and just use a gluten-free pancake mix. But I always add 1-2 tsp cinnamon and 1 tsp real vanilla extract in addition to whatever the package says, and I substitute non-dairy milk and butter. However, I do enjoy making a quickie microwave berry compote to go on top instead of syrup!

I tried making a big batch of compote once, but I'm the only one who eats it - my girls prefer maple syrup or honey or powdered sugar on their pancakes. And Hubby prefers peanut butter. So I figured out a way to make myself a single serving in the microwave. Quick, easy, and I don't have to boil jars to store the leftovers... since there aren't any!

Microwave Blueberry Compote
Single-Serve:
~1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries (I just use a 6 oz berry clamshell usually)
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2-3/4 tsp corn starch

Enough for Everyone (3-4 servings):
3 cups fresh or frozen berries
3 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp corn starch

Combine berries, sugar, and corn starch in a large microwave-safe bowl (can use smaller bowl for single-serve size.) Mix well.
Cover (I use a plate) and microwave on High for 2-3 minutes.
Stir (mash fresh berries a little if needed) and microwave again for 2-3 minutes, until bubbling and starting to thicken.

I like to stock up on organic Driscoll's berries when they are on sale or if I have a coupon, and then freeze any that don't get used up fast enough. Fresh berries are great for lunchboxes and shortcake or sundae toppings; and frozen berries are perfect to add into pancakes or baking, making compote or jam, or to make cold smoothies without needing to water it down with ice! 

Berries shown in the Crisp reusable Berry Basket. Great for rinsing, straining, and storing fresh berries and grapes!
3pk Berry Baskets