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And the winner of NAC tickets is …

I used random.org to have one of the names be virtually pulled out of a hat and the winner is …

Pam!

Congrats Pam! You now have two tickets to the NAC’s production of Mozart’s Final Piano Concerto — Beyond the Score. (I’ll email you directly with details.)

So, as my “date” Andrea said her blog, a peek inside the fishbowl: LET’S HERE IT FOR A CLASSY NIGHT OUT! (To further whet your appetite, you can also read what Andrea wrote about the event here.)

If you didn’t win and you’d still like to attend, tickets are available here on Ticketmaster Canada. Regular ticket prices run from $16.50 to $85.00. And if you’re a student, definitely take advantage of the NAC’s LiveRush program and snag a ticket for $11 before the show.

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Indiana Jones and the Temple of Fairies

My daughter’s tastes are what many refer to as “tomboy.” She has never taken to playing with dolls of any sort, never cared for the colour pink and couldn’t care less what she’s wearing as long as she’s allowed to play in the mud with it.

My husband and I have always chosen to just go with the flow, and let her play with whatever she likes, however she likes. So it’s never been an issue at home. And socially, it’s never been an issue either since she’s always had a crew of friends who enjoyed the same things (and who happen to be boys).

But I’ve really noticed a difference as of late. She’s now in Grade Two, and the gender divide is already happening. When the boys play with her at recess, some of the girls will tease her and say “Is that your boyfriend?” or alternatively, will taunt the boy with “Are you a girl?”

When it came to birthday parties in younger years, the birthday parties included friends — boys or girls. But now, it seems girls have girls to their parties and boys have boys to their parties. On occasion Stella still gets a birthday invite from a boy, and we’re never really surprised to turn up and find that she’s the only girl there. But more often than not, she just doesn’t get an invite at all these days.

So it was with great excitement that Stella came home about a week ago toting a birthday invitation from a Mary, a girl in her class. I acted casual, but inside I was thrilled that she had been included in a social event.

Today was the big day. As you can imagine, Stella is not a girl who wears dresses. It’s jeans and t-shirts only. But today, it was like she was more aware of being included by the girls. She dug out a t-shirt from the back of the cupboard; it had a dog on it and rhinestone accents. RHINESTONES. This was huge.

We arrived to the party and she immediately joined the girls on the outside play structure. She showed a little bit of nervousness, but within minutes she was happily waving me off while swinging up a storm. I returned her wave and went back home to put Max down for his nap.

When the time for pick-up arrives, I show up and she’s nowhere to be seen. Mary’s mom calls inside the house for her. Stella comes skipping out of the house. She looks happy as a lark. I feel so relieved.

Mary excitedly starts gathering up Stella’s loot bag items, which include a fairy wand, pink wig and butterfly wings. I can see that Stella has already assessed these treats and she’s got a response at the ready: “Oh, no, I’m totally fine. Thanks anyways.”

Naturally, Mary looks confused and thrusts the items towards her anyways. Not wanting to be rude, Stella accepts them with thanks. I glance at Mary’s Mom. I think she knows what’s going on, but I’m not sure.

I turn to Sara’s parents and thank them for having Stella to the party. Her Mom says, “We enjoyed having her. She’s … cute.” That long pause before “cute” was a bit wierd, but whatever, Stella’s happy and that’s what counts.

In the car driving home, I ask how the party was. Stella tells me it was SO GREAT. I am so pleased for her!

I'm gonna get me some fairies!

I'm gonna get me some fairies!

Then she tells me that Mary’s older brothers and sisters served them their food. I think this was a highlight event for these younger girls. Stella continues, “And they said that Indiana Jones can have her cake first!”

“Who’s Indiana Jones,” I ask. 

“Me,” she replies.

I hesitate. “Why were they calling you Indiana Jones?”

“Oh, that’s because when all the girls were playing fairies, she replies nonchalantly, “I decided to be Indiana Jones and chase them with a skipping rope.”

I can’t help but laugh.

“What’s so funny about that?” she asks.

Now I understand that long pause of Mary’s Mom. “Oh, nothing. I just think it’s … cute.”

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Beyond the Brown Exterior (hint: NAC ticket giveaway!)

Beyond the blah-brown exterior of our country’s National Arts Centre is a vibrant group of employees, volunteers and an ever-evolving programme of theatre, music and dance.

Don’t believe me? Well, here’s proof for you: their marketing department has a cyber-marketing division. How hip is that?  

This same cyber-marketing division is hosting a “Blogger Night” at the NAC on Wednesday, September 30th. By a Blogger Night, I gather that they’re aiming to secure third-party endorsement and generally create some buzz over their programming by inviting a group of local bloggers to attend an event. And it’s working, isn’t it — cuz here I am talking about it!

But more than that, I am also inviting you to attend with me. No, it’s not a Seinfeld event or even a performance by the National Ballet (hey, don’t snicker! Ballet is cool, don’t ya know?), it’s classical music.

I’ve never been able to get into classical music, have you? I’ve always been more attracted to music with words. No surpise really, since I just love anything with words strung together in interesting ways.

But like the brown exterior of the NAC building, I suspect that classical music offers something truly satisfying … if I could just get “inside” it. And if you’re like me, here’s our chance.

Beyond the Score
Mozart’s Final Piano Concerto

Why it’s Different:
Aiming to take attendees beyond the basic score of the music, there will be an actor playing the part of Mozart and a narrator describing actual events that were happening in Mozart’s life at the time when he wrote this musical piece. This interpretation part will take place during the first half of the event, and in the second half the music will stand on its own just for listening.

At least that’s how I understand it. And I think it sounds so interesting. If you do too, let me know by dropping me a quick comment.

You’ll need to be able to be in Ottawa for the evening of Wednesday, September 30th. The winner will be able to pick up 2 tickets at the front box office before the event. I’ll do a random draw on Sunday morning from those who have commented and post the winner’s name on the blog.

Good luck!

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I’m still here, are you?

I started this blog in June. Within 2 weeks, I was an addict. My head is always spinning about, thinking about potential blog posts and ruminating about other people’s posts. I just love how the blogosphere keeps my mind a-buzzin’.

Most of all, I love the fact that people actually come here, read my words and take the time to comment. Oh, I love, love, love that! Not sure why, but if you want, you can pay a therapist to figure out why I need this type of affirmation. As for me, I’ll just keep carrying on.

And on this theme, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve got in the works. It’s a new blog design!

I am really excited about it, but trying to squeeze it all in between my paying gigs has resulted in a slower process (thanks for being so patient Brendan!). It’s almost ready for show now. The design idea was developed by my friends over at AN Design Communications. They know me well, and managed to visually create something that looks like it came right out of my head.

So, all this to say, it’s been 4 months. I’m still here. I hope you’ll stay with me on this journey.

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4 Ingredients — episode 3

Ah, wondering why I’ve tried another recipe so soon after the last one? I know, it’s out of character but hubby’s away. And while hubby’s away, this wife must cook.

Well, okay, not really — he did leave two meals for me in the freezer. And I admit to ordering in pizza last night. But tonight, those chicken breasts sitting in the fridge gave me the guilts. As in, “if you don’t cook me tonight, you’re throwing good money into the garbage!”

So, don’t get too excited now … I’ve got another (wait for it), yes, CHICKEN recipe for you again! One day I may venture out of the chicken section of my 4 Ingredients cookbook. In fact, after tonight, that day may just come sooner than expected.

Here’s the recipe, exactly how it appears in the book …

Cranberry & Orange Chicken
Serves 4.       Y.u.m.m.y!
4 chicken breasts
1 pkt French onion soup
3/4 cup cranberry sauce
3/4 cup orange juice

I didn’t have the onion soup or the cranberry sauce, so I picked them up this afternoon. I almost decided to cancel the whole exercise when I realized that every package of French onion soup in the grocery store listed MSG on its ingredients. I also heard my husband’s voice in my head saying, “never trust a recipe that lists soup as an ingredient!” But I didn’t listen.

Silly me. Cause it was Y.u.c.k.y! And I think it was all because of the darn onion soup. I ended up scraping off all the topping before serving it up. We did eat it, but only because it didn’t have a speck of the actual recipe left on it.

I may just need to venture farther out than 4 Ingredients to become a half decent cook (and I do have some great suggested learning sources now thanks to the commenters on episode 2!). The promise of cooking with only four ingredients is so compelling though that I think I’ll give at least a meat recipe a shot.

There’s no scoring for this one because we didn’t even eat it. (And Lynn, I’m purposely not listing the instructions this time. I don’t want you to bother!)

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This was our ‘dirty’

Looking back, I can see why my parents continued to fork over what was a considerable sum of money so that I could keep up with my dance classes. I still have no idea how they managed to afford it since I find two children’s activities costly, and they had four. But they did. Somehow.

Sure, they knew I loved it. And I begged to take as many classes as could humanly be squeezed into a highschooler’s schedule. Only now, as a parent myself, do I start to realize there could have been another reason.

Dirty-Dancing-movie-08[1]You see, while other highschoolers were indulging in house parties on the weekend, my circle of dance friends would get together and watch Dirty Dancing. We just never tired of it. I have no idea how many times we repeatedly watched this film (and White Nights — of course!) during those late 80s years.

I hadn’t seen Dirty Dancing since then, though. In honour of Patrick Swayze’s death, I just watched this iconic scene “Nobody puts Baby in a Corner.” The fact that Swayze is just as fabulous as what I remember didn’t surprise me. What did was that we actually considered this “dirty.” Compared to today’s pump-n-grind antics on the dance floors, this dirty dancing seems downright virginal.

Get it now? My parents must have thought that every penny spent on dance classes was worth it if it meant that my weekends were occupied with such relatively innocent behaviour — chocolate consumption and Dirty Dancing.

I’m sure glad they did. Cause I had the time of my life.

R.I.P.

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4 Ingredients — episode 2

It’s okay, you’re forgiven for thinking that I’d given up (again!) on the idea of teaching myself how to not suck at cooking.

My first post on this topic sparked comments from readers that reassured me that I am not the only female lacking in such talent. Instead of mocking me, these lovely folks were sympathetic and encouraging.

This propped me back up because despite it being an age of so-called gender equality, people do tend to go on and on about just how lucky I am that my husband cooks for the family. I wonder if my husband’s male friends go on and on about how lucky he is to have a woman that does the dishes every night? 

While my husband has been working his way through the complicated recipes in the latest Food & Drink magazine (and people wonder why I can’t keep weight off), I have worked my way through the 4 Ingredients cookbook.

Okay, so not really. But I did do one more recipe. Sure, it was another chicken recipe, but it was a recipe. And no, it didn’t work out like it was supposed to, but it was edible.

Here’s the recipe I picked:

Chicken with Lemon & Honey
1.  1 chicken, cut into pieces
2.  2 lemons, quartered
3.  2 tbs. honey
4.  2 springs of rosemary

And here’s how it went:

First of all, I didn’t have a whole chicken. This is just too much for a squeamish, former vegetarian. Instead, I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts that magically grow in plastic packages at the supermarket. (I was nervous about this switch but checked with hubby and he assured me the recipe would still work.)

Then the next hiccup was a lack of rosemary springs. So I just pretended that they were not a part of the recipe and went about my business.

The result was a fresh tasting chicken that the whole family deemed enjoyable. My husband did remark on the lack of rosemary, saying he’d been thinking about the delicious combination of it with lemon. I explained I didn’t that we didn’t have any. He explained we had some growing on our deck. Who knew.

The ratings: Hubby gave it an 9/10, Stella gave it an 8/10, and I gave it an 8/10. It’s easy and the mild taste goes down well with the younger set.

The cookbook I’m using for these posts was written by two Australian women. It’s readily available in Australian and in the U.K. since it’s been a huge hit. And here’s why: (1) All recipes have 4 or fewer ingredients, (2) All can be measured in terms of cup, tablespoon and teaspoon, (3) The methodology is explained on average using 4 sentences, and (4) All recipes use ingredients mostly found in your pantry or fridge already. If you’re one of my Canadian or American readers, fear not, you too can get a copy! Here is a link it on Amazon.ca and here is one for Amazon.com

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