Friday, December 19, 2014

PA Ballet Presents Delightful Performances of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker

This has got to be one of the most magical and busy Christmases I have ever experienced! And the very first thing I do after putting up my Christmas tree is attend a performance of George Balanchine's The Nutcracker™ at the Academy of Music by the ever-talented Pennsylvania Ballet company. Every year this magical performance wows me with its fanciful sets and whimsy, delightful dancing and holiday treats.

 

This year I took my fiancé Stephen, who has never seen any ballet before, much less The Nutcracker, for the Sunday afternoon December 14 performance. I was so excited to show him the wonder and merriment of this time-honored Christmas tradition. 

The amazingly talented orchestra, conducted by Beatrice Jona Affron, drew us into the world of Marie and Fritz on Christmas Eve while they and their parents, Frau and Dr. Stahlbaum, welcome family and friends for a delightful party. Herr Drosselmeier, all the children’s favorite family member arrives with presents for them all, and he gifts Marie with a unique nutcracker. Tensions build when Fritz steals the dolls from Marie and smashes it’s head. Fritz was a delight to watch, even though he is very naughty!

 

Drosselmeier tends to the doll, and soon the guests must go. After all are gone, Marie sneaks to the ballroom and falls asleep with her doll to comfort it. Her mother finds her out of bed, and searches for her, finding her asleep, covers her up and hurries back to bed. And then Marie dreams the most wonderful dream- of brave toy soldiers fighting mischievous mice with a scary Mouse King, where she fearlessly assists The Nutcracker as he heroically defeats the Mouse King! Marie and her Nutcracker watch as it snows and the charming snowflakes dance their intricate steps, and wonder off to the Land of Sweets.

 

Act Two draws us in to the whimsical world of candy as The Sugarplum Fairy and her angels dance and the brave Nutcracker tells his heroic story. More sweets come to visit, including popping candy canes, hot chocolate, and tea, and my favorite- coffee- dance their delights. Mother Ginger and her Polichinelles make the audience giggle as they jump around, and the Dewdrop whirls among her flowers. The Sugarplum Fairy and her Cavalier are most impressive as they tell their romantic and beautiful story among the sweets, and dance a final pas de deux. Soon Marie and her Nutcracker must go, for it is time to awaken, and sail away with glorious memories and sweets and happiness in a Christmas dream.

 

George Balanchine's The Nutcracker™ always evokes a warm and fierce holiday spirit and I was so happy to show that to Stephen, which he loved! The Nutcracker is a children’s ballet, but it appeals to all ages and never fails to fill me with delight and wonder.

 

The Pennsylvania Ballet was founded in 1963 by Balanchine student and protégée Barbara Weisberger. The Pennsylvania Ballet is one of the nation’s leading ballet companies. The Company’s annual local season features six programs of classic favorites and new works, and always the Philadelphia holiday tradition, George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™. For more information, visit paballet.org or call215.551.7000.

 

We continued our adventure to the Nutcracker Market in the Kimmel Center, where we found many glorious local vendors and bought up a good many things – spiced Chai Honey from Taste, seahorse pottery, ornaments, and more. After watching the entertainment – dancers and carolers, we greeted Santa Claus and Mrs Claus then headed out into the afternoon- on our next adventure!

 

Don’t miss this time-honored family tradition. George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker™ performances run until Wednesday, December 31.

 

Special thanks to the Academy of Music.


PA Ballet George Balanchine's The Nutcracker company artist photos courtesy of PA Ballet and by Alexander Iziliaev.

 


Friday, December 12, 2014

Day 33- Too Faced Natural Face Palette


It's high holiday season, and us ladies need makeup that will work with our schedules. 
I asked my friend Amanda what her fave beauty product was:

"TooFaced "Natural Face" is my go-to as a mom!
With little time to get ready it has the standards to spruce up my face without too much time/effort: bronzer, blush, concealer, brightener, highlighter and has direction cards to teach you looks for the look you desire," says friend Amanda Margretta Myers.

$39.00 for the set and includes everything you'll need to get gorgeous!


Too Faced Natural Face Makeup


#500DaysOfBeauty- Day 33








Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Eat, Shop, Stay, and Play in KoP!

This time of year is always so hectic, what with cleaning, entertaining, working…when does one get to relax? Maybe somewhere around the end of Christmas Day? And don’t forget the shopping and searching to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list!
Look no further- King of Prussia is the perfect place to embark on a shop-and-staycation! Stay, Play, Shop, & Eat- who says that hunting for the perfect gift has to be exhausting- turn gift giving into a gift for yourself as well! King of Prussia is home to the King of Prussia Mall, the largest mall on the East coast and is currently expanding to be even bigger- more stores and more places to dine!

Come for the weekend and stay and relax at the Hyatt House on Mall Boulevard. The Hyatt is a full service hotel with luxury rooms and suites, banquet and meeting facilities, a pool and hot tub, complimentary full breakfast every day, and a dining and bites area. Sink into your bed each night and drift away on a cloud, feeling accomplished and knowing you are treating others while treating yourself. King of Prussia has many great hotels and inns in the area, so stay and relax.
During a hard day of shopping for others, it’s time for a great meal for yourself- eat at Ruth Chris’s Steak House, which now offers lunch. Salads, chicken, and delicious grilled steaks are on offer for a quick and sumptuous lunch to fuel up before tackling the afternoon to shop.


Don't forget- the KOP Mall offers a free Holiday Shopper Shuttle to provide shoppers easy access around the property. When you come back to the hotel, relax in the hot tub, and take a nap, or head back to the mall for an evening of browsing. If you are bringing your child to see Santa Claus, skip the lines and make an appointment to be on your way faster, and less chance of a baby or toddler meltdown. Kids can't wait to meet Santa, but you don't want to wait in line- Make an appointment to visit Santa at simon.noerrsanta.com.

Stumped for gift ideas? Let the KoP gift guide assist you or utilize the Gift card promotion: Buy 3 or more Simon gift cards, receive complimentary packaging for each card-Available at Customer Service. 
Or try a special helper! Need some help finding the perfect gift, make an appointment with the Mall's Personal Shopper for some complimentary assistance! http://www.simon.com/king-of-prussias-personal-shopping-service

When a slice of pizza won’t cut it, try Morton’s Steakhouse for dinner. Complimentary valet parking, a relaxing bar, and an open air kitchen, this restaurant has it all. Begin with a drink – try the Ginger-politan or a dirty martini, and an appetizer or spicy lobster bisque and rich French Five-Onion Soup.  Try a tender fillet or fresh seafood with huge, ready-to-share savory side as such as potatoes au gratin or bacon and onion mac & cheese. During our dinner out, I opted for the crab cakes and shrimp Alexander- tender, flavorful and full of sweet crabmeat, while Stephen enjoyed the 8 ounce fillet with truffle butter.

We enjoyed so much delicious food, which fueled us for our evening outing- a night at the Valley Forge Casino. Just a short drive from the mall, or use the Hyatt’s complimentary shuttle service, we enjoyed a round of drinks while wandering the casino floor and discussing the coming entertainment- Smokey Robinson and then KC and the Sunshine Band. The VF Casino does a wonderful New Year’s Eve. The casino also does a great lineup of comedians.

Sunday found us refreshed from our comfortable bed and our delicious complimentary Hyatt breakfast- omelets to orders, eggs, sausage, fruit, waffles, potatoes and more- this was such a treat. After breakfast we checked out and headed back to the mall to continue our shopping, this time at the Court. We got a good deal done, then stopped for lunch at Legal Seafoods. We both enjoyed a drink – the old-fashioned old fashioned and white sangria with fresh oysters and the clam chowder- which Stephen has never had before- he loved it and said it was the best clam chowder he has ever had!

Finally we headed home, sated and happy, having shopped for everyone and had ourselves a mini-break. King of Prussia truly has it all!

Special thanks to Natalie McCrea at the Hyatt House in King of Prussia.

Special thanks to Morton’s Steakhouse Managers: Christopher Goss, General Manager, and
Kate Schumacher, Sales & Marketing Manager.

Thank you: Kathy Smith, Director of Marketing and Business Development, and Kate Johnson, Assistant Director of Marketing and Business Development.



A big thank you to Brooke Hersh at KOP-BID for all her assistance!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Staying at the Beach in the Off Season!

I just spent four days at the beach..over Thanksgiving!

The beach is very different during the winter, but still has a magical air to it, even though it was about 20 degrees. I still took walks on the beach and went shopping at my favorite places...forget black friday shopping at the malls! I did most of my gift-buying on LBI in Beach Haven, New Jersey and totally enjoyed supporting the small businesses such as How to Live and Country Kettle Chowda.
My fiance's family was going to be full up at the beach house, so we opted to stay at the open-year-round Engleside Inn where we also could bring our doggie. For several days, we enjoyed staying here, walking on the beach, dining for lunch and seeing our family and enjoying Thanksgiving. 

This inn is great any time of year and quite comfortable. We also enjoyed the sushi lunch which is offered every Friday and Saturday during the non-summer times.
If you find yourself in LBI, do yourself a favor and a book a room with a soaking tub and a view of the ocean and enjoy some great food- you'll be glad you did!

"The spring, summer, is quite a hectic time for people in their lives, but then it comes to autumn, and to winter, and you can't but help think back to the year that was, and then hopefully looking forward to the year that is approaching."
-Enya



Monday, December 1, 2014

Zyn Beauty - Fast and Fabulous

#500DaysOfBeauty

When I first heard about Zyn Beauty- essentially mobile makeup- I was intrigued. Doesn't it take a long time to get gorgeous? Time most of us don't have; I know I don't.


Zyn Beauty is the brain child of two attorneys- the tagline balance between busy and beautiful- certainly had a niche to fill. Who has hours to stand around and get their makeup done? Most of us have to get up pretty early in the morning to achieve a gorgeous face- and Zyn knows you don't have a lot of time, but want to look your best. And- also, no one wants to pay hundreds for this either.


Enter the brilliance of Zakiya and Nirvana, who often found themselves canceling beauty appointments if they worked late, or not being able to fit an appointment into their busy lives. They decided to create a mobile service that went to the client and worked with their needs- hair, nails, makeup- without the client having to travel to several locations. 

I booked an appointment for mere hours before my 20 years high school reunion and was arriving home from the shore after having Thanksgiving with my fiance's family. As it were, I come home at 3:30. My beauty therapist, Angela Ware, arrived exactly at 4:00, came in, set up, and we were off!



I told Angela the look I was going for: sexy-casual, with full hair and great makeup. Most of my classmates I see on FaceBook, but it's been a while since I've seen many of my classmates in person.


Angela is a true professional- she added product and turned my fine hair into a full head of fun curls with body and sassy bangs. My makeup was a palette of bronzes and golds with dramatic eyes and a first for me- false eyelashes- which once they were on I loved wearing! So bold! 

Working with MAC makeup and a host of other top-of-the line cosmetics, Angela made me look like a well-done version of myself. I wasn't wearing so much I didn't look like me. One of the best things of this experience is that Angela put me right at ease, chatting, and using her great products. All I had to do was sit there and let her work her magic on me.
Add in my favorite ellelauri top, jeans, and boots with fantastic jewelry and I was set! 

All this- Under an hour and half!!! who says beauty needs to take forever!?


And at the reunion- everyone said I looked fabulous, which was very awesome to hear. The confidence that those false eyelashes gave me was great!

The thanks goes to Angela Ware and Zyn Beauty!

Day 32 #500DaysOfBeauty



Saturday, November 15, 2014

#500DaysOfBeauty Day 31- Le Rêve Spa


I recently discovered a wee gem set in the heart of Philadelphia, in the Rittenhouse area on 17thstreet. As you know, dear readers, this blog is all things beauty, all products, all pampering. When a friend mentioned this place I wanted to try it out. I love all things that pamper me!

Le Rêve Spa has all the typical spa elements, plus a Himalayan salt bed, deluxe décor, and pampering products. Waxing, nails, massage, makeup, Botox (and more), couples relaxation massages, aromatherapy treatments, bridal spa parties, steam showers and so much more. I was booked for a waxing and massage- and that time was too short.

 

Owner Sophia Brodsky, from the Ukraine and into all things spa, has opened her dream facility and ready to pamper all ye who enter these crystal and wood hallways.

First, we began the waxing procedures in the comfy wax room. I was given a choice of soft warm wax with a cloth strip (and pulled) which I what I am used too. Or, I could try the hard wax- a melty wax that quickly hardens and is solid enough to pull and remove the hair. I opted for the hard wax for my bikini area and…my underarms!


I am a 14 year veteran of bikini waxes- I will never shave again ever- but I have never waxed my dainty armpits. I don’t have a lot of hair, which can be a problem shaving. There are fine hairs in hard to reach spots and I figured waxing it off would handle it. And I wouldn’t have to worry about shaving for some time!

My beauty therapist, Nagi, first did the bikini wax using the hard wax- the usual oh! Moment but def hurt less than traditional soft hot wax & strip. I had to wait a bit (a few minutes) for the wax to harden as opposed to spreading the hot wax then placing the strip and yanking- this process takes longer but doesn’t hurt as much.

 

Then we moved upwards to my underarms. Nagi said I had cute little underarms and not much hair so it would not take long. I wanted to try this treatment because I seem to miss spots and have to resort to dry-shaving in the mirror.

 

She spread on the wax, waited, and pulled. It didn’t even hurt! (guess I had numbed them with all my previous dry-shaving lol). I was pretty pleased with the entire process- I won’t be shaving my underarms anymore. Like my bikini line, waxing it is!

 

After this, Nagi brought me some water and I changed into a soft robe and slippers and was lead into another treatment room. Soft lightening and the scent of lavender filled the air. I got onto the massage table and Nagi began working on my back.

 

I wish I could tell you how the entire body massage was, but I had drifted off somewhere in the middle. I wasn’t paying much attention, only on how fantastic this massage was. I was so relaxed, so comfortable, that I just zoned out. I would awake every so often, but I would float away again.

 

When my therapist finished her massage, I was blissed out. All my muscles felt great and I felt like all the knots were worked out. After the massage, I was reminded to drinks lots of water to get the toxins out. She was very professional. I tend to carry a lot of stress in my hands and lower back (sitting and writing all day!), and she worked on those problem areas.

 

Out the door I went, and I wasn’t even stressed out by traffic on 76. That’s how relaxed I was!

 

So treat yourself or someone you love to a day at Le Rêve Spa in Rittenhouse. Prices are good, atmosphere is nice, and you’ll feel so much better. It was a nice respite from a crazy week!

 

Le Rêve Rittenhouse Spa

Medical Tower

255 S 17th Street

4th Floor

Philadelphia, PA 19103

(215) 563-8888 - Spa

(215) 790-4444 - Medical Spa Services


 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Melting Pot KoP Offers Seasonal Fondue

When it comes to a romantic meal that I wish to linger over with my fellow, I immediately think of The Melting Pot fondue restaurant.

Stephen and I decided to fall into the delicious new seasonal recipes at the King of Prussia Melting Pot.

We began with two amazing cheese fondues: Swiss and the lobster & cheese. Both of these were amazing. As we dipped our bread cubes, vegetables, and apples into the steamy cheese, we were commenting on how well the flavors came together for each pot. 

The Swiss is one of my favorite cheese fondues, and the seafood fondue, with small langoustines and lobster, were a tasty treat. Our server Marie was just fantastic! 

We then enjoyed salads- I always adore these chilled fresh salads- they make eating a salad fun! 

I enjoyed the greens with candied walnuts, blue cheese crumbles and veggies, while Stephen had the balsamic tomato salad. Yum! I would love to eat these daily!

For our main course, I went with Pacific shrimp, Angus sirloin, mushroom pot stickers, and fresh Atlantic lobster in the coq au vin cooking style. I truly loved this because everything got to marinate and cook in this heavenly mushroom and burgundy broth with spices.

Stephen went with the mojito cooking style, vegetarian platter- pot stickers, artichokes, mushrooms, potatoes, and broccoli.

We happily dipped our cooked edibles into all the scrummy sauces- fresh green goddess, savory bleu cheese, a gloriously spicy cocktail sauce, a rich curry sauce, a hearty plum sauce, and more. 

Dessert was the crown jewel of this meal! In honor of fall, the new menu features pumpkin white chocolate dessert fondue- like pumpkin pie with a really dreamy icing. AND- in addition to the bananas, strawberries, brownies, and marshmallows, we also enjoyed the gourmet add on of caramel sea salt cheesecake, vanilla cake rolls, and blondies.

The Melting Pot King of Prussia offering amazing food, with fantastic service, and the atmosphere is truly a factor. Stephen and I always sit in the side room in the back with a circular banquette and two burners. The atmosphere is always warm, inviting, and relaxing.

Special Thanks to Catie Bontempo!!

Photographs by Stephen Trimble.