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11.29.2012

The Academy of Vocal Arts: The Barber of Seville Performance Review

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A few weeks Ryan and I had the opportunity to attend a fun performance of Rossini's The Barber of Seville at The Centennial Hall at The Haverford School. I have seen this opera several times in Houston but I was surprised Ryan had not seen it yet so it was nice for him. 

The Academy of Vocal Arts has an amazing season. Even though they are not an opera company but an organization, they have an extensive season list to give opportunity to all artists-in-training at the Academy. Let me tell you a little about them. 

The Academy was founded in 1934 by Helen Corning Warden and their mission is "to provide tuition-free and opera training of the highest quality and financial support during training to exceptionally talented and committed singers who have potential  for international  stature." Their training focuses solely on operatic training.


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We look forward to the rest of the rest of the season. If you are ever interested I would STRONGLY encourage to plan a date with your loved one or even with a group of friends to catch a performance.

THE ACADEMY OF VOCAL ARTS
2012-2013 SEASON


Jubilate! A Concert of Sacred Music

December 1 & 2, 2012


Eugene Onegin

January 15-22, 2013


Don Quichotte (Don Quixote)

March 2-14, 2013


Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball)

April 27 - May 11, 2013


Farewell Recital

May 10, 2013



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11.28.2012

{Restaurant Review} Pronto:Gourmet Italian Drive Thru


Pronto food


I have been holding back on this review because I have needed time to think about my experience. Ryan and I enjoy eating out and trying new restaurants and one of the things we were most excited about was knowing we were going to be in an area where food options were greater.

I heard about Pronto from our neighbors several months ago when we first moved so I checked out their website. The only GOOD Italian restaurant we had in Michigan was Olive Garden just because we lived in a college town so finding a good Italian place seemed important.

I ended up finding out that Pronto was asking their customers to vote for them to be listed in Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Wow, I then thought this place must be excellent especially for a gourmet Italian drive-thru.

Pronto pick-up

I contacted the owners and set up a time to meet in order to find out more about their company. They agreed to let me review some of their popular dishes. Let me tell you something funny though, the night before I was going to pick up our meals from them our neighbors had us over and they served us food from Pronto. Whoa! Who knew!

They ordered the Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti marinara, a vegetarian penne pasta, and two different kinds of salads; their chopped classico salad and their caprese salad. While the company was nice the meal left us hanging a bit. While the salads were fresh they hardly had enough toppings for the price. The Caprese salad had greens and tomatoes and four TINY THIN slices of mozzarella. The salad was 9 bucks which I could make at home for 2 bucks. Atrocious.

Pronto entrees

Anyway, Ryan and I were not impressed with their pastas either but we thought we would give them a second chance seeing we were going to be tasting some other items the following evening, 

Pronto has an option where you choose your pasta, (they offer a gluten-free pasta and a whole wheat pasta too), then you choose your topping, like meatballs, sausage, chicken, shrimp, wild mushroom blend and broccoli and then you choose your sauce, like tomato, marinara, alfredo, arrabbiata, blush, or garlic and oil.

I chose to go with their most popular spaghetti and meatballs with their marinara. I was planning on splitting the pasta with Ryan so I was shocked that I only got two meatballs and a ton of pasta. I did not ask but additional meatballs cost 0.75 each.

The other dish we got was the Pronto favorite called the Porchetta, which is a slow-roasted pork topped with broccoli rabe and sharp provolone. I ordered this more for Ryan since he likes pork. I, on the other hand do not. I took one bite just to be able to review and the broccoli rabe was VERY bitter. I waited for Ryan to take a bite. He thought it was gross and therefore removed the broccoli from the sub. The sandwich itself was priced at 7.99 and was huge. It was priced well.

The spaghetti and meatballs was tasty only because the marinara was good but the meatballs were nothing to rave about. The salads that came with our meal were VERY fresh and I have to say that these were our favorite. The balsamic vinaigrette and their house Italian are all homemade and were very tasty.

Pronto dessert

I had not planned on getting dessert but since the meals were on the house I decided to buy some desserts to complete my review. I ordered their tiramisu and cannoli, which does not happen to be on their paper menu. Both desserts were 3.99 each and again, they were really nothing to rave about. I liked the cannoli shell but the filling was just creamy and gross. The tiramisu lacked flavor and required more coffee and liquor in my opinion. 

I have to say for QUICK gourmet food it is decent for a night of the week with no dinner plans but I have to say anyone can through some pasta and sauce together and it taste better. It was a little on the pricey especially for the portions.

I know Pronto just opened their second location in Thorndale so they seem to be popular. They also do a lot of catering as well. When it comes to busy professionals, this seems to be the place to go but for me, they are definitely not Guy Fieri-worthy. While this restaurant is run by 2 brothers, their parents own restaurants in Thorndale called Ruffini's restaurant, Cafe' Gap and piazza Deli. Maybe I will try one one those places but in the meantime, I will still search for a great Italian restaurant in our area.

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11.27.2012

Thanksgiving Weekend



We enjoyed our Thanksgiving this past weekend, did you? It was nice to have the hubby home and my sister and bro-in-law for company this year. It was great to have someone helping out in the kitchen and having more than 1 mouth to feed.


Last year Julianne was about 3 weeks old and everyone was out of town so it was a very quiet Thanksgiving. I still made a turkey with all the side dishes but it was strange not celebrating with family.

This year there were five of us and it was fun. I made the same turkey I have made the last 3 years from Bon Appetit. It is a no-fail recipe and it is easy to me so maybe next year I will try a new recipe.


While the turkey was brining for 18 hours, we prepared a pumpkin pie.


I also made a corn-syrup free Pecan Pie from Deliciously Organic's website. It was delicious and a hit with me because I had been wanting pecan pie for weeks!


Since we had the pies baked a day ahead they kept tantalizing me. It was hard not to dig into them!


Our finished product!


My sister and I had tried a delicious appetizer at a restaurant and decided to make them as a starter for our meal. Goat cheese-stuffed dates wrapped in prosciutto and baked in the oven. They were SOOOO good. The men raved and planned on making them for Christmas already!


I decided to try an alcohol-free wine which turned out to taste disgusting. Why bother seriously? I definitely think it is better to have the real thing and wait so I am not doing that again. Alcohol-free beer is SO much better.


I took an almost 28-week picture with a new haircut. Did I mention that I have a hairstylist living next to me? All I had to do was walk over and get a hair cut and color. Seeing that I am already limited with my time. I feel blessed to have someone that is okay with me coming over and having my hair cut. SCORE!



On Black Friday, Ryan and I were given the opportunity to go on an ALL-DATE. We were out for 12 hours while my sister and BIL babysat for Julianne. It was amazing and rejuvenating. Even though we did not have a lot of planned shopping to do we thought it would be fun to be out and see how the crowds would be like. It was disappointing! It was so not crowded but by the time mid day came around, the malls started getting busier.



On Saturday we decided to go on a walk around downtown West Chester since my sister and BIL had not been. We decided to also see what this Small Business Saturday was all about. It was a VERY chilly and windy but it was perfect for Julianne because she actually took an hour nap in the Ergo as we went into different shops.


We went into a gallery where they were showcasing not only paintings but jewelry by an artist as well. It was gorgeous and intricately painted.


Christmas decorations were underway. 



We also visited Highland Orchards where we bought a variety of apples and apple cider doughnuts. YUM!


Julianne enjoyed saying hello to the goats in the farm area. She wanted to feed them hay.


All in all the weekend was lovely and restful. I did not think it went by too quickly but it was the perfect amount of time to spend with this small family.

How was YOUR weekend? 

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11.26.2012

Joovy: The BabaSling Review



If anyone knows anything about me it is the fact that I love baby carrying. I have been carrying Julianne since she has been born and I feel like there has been such a special connection. I believe it is the reason she dislikes being in her stroller often but she just might be particular.

I had an opportunity to review this lovely sling which I believe came in perfect timing. Now that I am almost 7 months pregnant the Ergo carrier is not the MOST comfortable carrier so I am enjoying slings much better.

joovy

Joovy sent me theBabaSling in deep blue to try out. It took me a bit to try it because the weather changed on us from cool to nippy. I tried it in the house and realized that since my Julianne is now a toddler it was harder dropping her into the sling. It was MUCH easier sitting her on my knee and placing the sling over her head and body.

I used this several weeks ago when we went to the pumpkin patch and it was great because we did not have to use the stroller. We were able to take a hayride with the baby all cozy next to her mama.


This sling has 5 ways to carry a baby so I am super excited to use this with baby #2 come February. Right now, the hip carry or side saddle is the best for this pregnant mama. We have been taking walks in the neighborhood with Julianne all bundled up. The sling works more like a hammock and it has a nice cushion or padding for the baby's head for added support.

The sling is 100% cotton which I love! I can wash it in the washing machine and hang to dry. The shoulder pad on the sling is VERY comfortable seeing that this sling has adjustable straps. It fits on either shoulder and it has second security buckle for added security. 


I cannot wait to breastfeed with this sling because there are 2 discreet positions to try. It has a lot of material and I feel comfortable carrying my baby in this. It is also comfortable wearing her while feeling very pregnant too. I plan to use this sling when we fly next month. Here is hoping she will nap in this sling too! 

I can use this sling up to the age of 2 or about 33 pounds so I am glad I have some time to use it for both babies! 


Joovy is an American company and a family-owned business with facilities in Texas and California that focus on creating products that are good-looking, fun and extremely useful to families. I am for sure enjoying this sling and look forward trying out other products in the future.

Thanks Joovy for letting me review this wonderful sling. Where can you buy this product? Click this page to order one!

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11.20.2012

Essence of Vali Product Review

EOV 
Winter is almost upon us which sometimes means fewer sunny days depending where you live. Ever since I have had my family staying with me we have noticed that there have a lot more cloudy days but somehow having the company makes it better.

Since we lived in Michigan the last 3 years we REALLY realized how little we saw sunny days. We never bought one of those Vitamin D lamps but we made sure to be outdoors to get fresh air.

Now that I have a toddler and am close to being 7 months pregnant being outdoors and in the fresh air seems very essential to both our mental and emotional health. I noticed that Julianne LOVES being outdoors. She even forgets to nap and we have to remind her it is time which then she goes out!

Besides having a solid spiritual connection to my Creator, God, I find that without having a daily walk and reading his work really plays a huge role how I feel. I have to constantly be mindful of this. Why do I bring this into my post today? Well, it is part of my life and while I review products that make a big impression and lift my spirits I never want to lose focus on my true influence in life.


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I recently had a chance to communicate with the owner of Essence of Vali, Valerie Bennis, about her amazing products. I received a small sample of her EOV Eau de Parfum and boy was I blown away! I dabbed a bit of the perfume on my neck and on my wrists and my senses were hit immediately.What was I smelling? Essential oils (from plants) of lavender, rosewood, cedarwood, patchouli, palmarosa, geranium, litsea cubeba and clove in a base of corn alcohol and water. It is described as a warm floral, slightly citrus, earthy and sensual and uplifting at the same time. It also received the best natural product award in 2004 at the Fall Extracts Show. My husband came home and he LOVED the smell and the rest is private. :-)


EOV2 


After I had a chance to try this sample I knew I would love the rest of the products Essence of Vali offered. Ms. Bennis sent me an array of samples of essential oils that had been mixed into her personal recipes sold for different symptoms. Below is a healing index of the symptoms that anyone could be going through. On the right, she then lists the remedy using the name of the blend she has created for each symptom.



Now I some of you might be wondering or worried why I would be using these while pregnant but there is a list stating that none of these blends should be used in the first trimester. Since I am past that then it has been safe using these. The only ones not to be used at anytime during pregnancy are the Relief and Balance Blend. I am just holding them until I have the baby. 
How have these blends been working? They have been so soothing! I have been going through restless nights waking up twice a night just plain uncomfortable. I have used the SLEEP blend which uses the essential oils (from plants) of lavender, marjoram, cedarwood & ylang/ylang. It is so sweet smelling and relaxing! 
Learn MORE about how each blend was created and how affects each person.
Something I never realized until now is that I have always loved essential oils. I have used Eucalyptus and Peppermint oils to open my nasal passages when a cold hits. Aromatherapy really does have an amazing effect on the senses and whether you know it or not, the perfumes that one buys in the store contain a specific amount of certain essential oils but not as pure as these products.
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 I WILL be purchasing the larger bottle of the EOV Eau de Parfum because it is simply the most natural and sensual scent I have smelled in a long time. It is relaxing and invigorating and not harmful to the body at all.
Thank you to Ms. Bennis for such lovely products. It is amazing how she has been able to live her dream creating and selling her blends after being involved in the corporate world by day. She finally went full time after receiving her full certification in aromatherapy. Please read more about her success and life story HERE.
On top of this these products are 100% natural and 100% vegan! Never tested on animals is always a plus.
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