Thursday, December 29, 2016

My Christmas Haul

I spent this year's Christmas with my family on Maryland's Eastern Shore. My sister and her boyfriend flew in from California, and my aunt and uncle came, too. It was so nice to see everyone, and of course we all celebrated by sharing gifts!

Here's what I got (there was more, like candy and such, but these were the top gifts):

1. UNICORNS! Unicorns have been my thing for a long time (I never grew out of my pony phase), and I love collecting them. My sister painted the geometric unicorn for me. How amazing is that?! This was my favorite gift this year. My sister also made me a purple ceramic bowl with a unicorn head on it (the mane and tail are painted on as rainbows!). My aunt made me the "Fierce" unicorn T-shirt (using a bleach pen), and I also got a unicorn night light and key chain. My family is so creative!

2. One of my new year's resolutions is to take better care of my skin, so my mom bought me one of those Clarisonic brushes (the Mia 2, specifically), and the pumpkin enzyme face mask from Naturopathica (it smells SO good!). I also got floss: not really good for my face, but for my smile? I always get floss in my stocking, which I love because it's one of those little things I just don't feel like spending money on.

3. I go snowboarding every year with my dad in February, so I got some warm leggings and a fleece mask thing to keep me warm on the slopes!

4. This was a specific item on my wish-list. This leather jacket from Express is so cool! I had one of their other jackets for five years, and it was finally getting worn, so now I have a new one!

5. I got more gift cards this year than ever before! Looks like I'll be making purchases from DSW, Sephora, and the Cheesecake Factory in 2017!

6. Little shots of alcohol. Need I say more?

7. Socks. Everyone gets socks for Christmas, right? I know some people think that's the worst gift, but I like fun socks! Plus, when you buy Bombas, another pair is donated to those in need, which is so fitting with the holiday spirit.

How did you make out this year with your gifts? Share your favorite present in the comments!

Monday, December 19, 2016

Play Review: Sleeping Beauty at Synetic Theater

Image found here.
One of Synetic Theater's claim to fame is that they perform a lot of silent plays. This version of Sleeping Beauty had no dialogue, but instead uses exaggerated movements from the actors to reveal what's going on.

Image found here.
The set for this play was incredible! There were multiple curtains hanging from the ceiling, and images were projected onto them (which is a complete other component to the play that most performances don't need to have!). The curtains performed many functions: they represented trees and waterfalls in the woods; they were the sky full of lightening from the witch's wrath; they are obstacles keeping the prince from saving the princess (like in the picture above). It was amazing to watch the set transform. The set was a character itself!

The play also had a curtain in the back used to make shadows, which I thought was clever.
Image found here.
Image found here.
The actors did a great job. Irina Tsikurishvili, the founding choreographer of the theater and the wife of the founding artistic director, played the witch. She is very dynamic and full of energy, and she was definitely scary when she was mad!

Image found here.
I also thought the fairies were a lot of fun. Francesca Blume, Kathy Gordon, and Emily Whitworth (I think that's the order in picture above, left to right) were the fairies, and they were quite fun. They brought slapstick comedy to the show, bumping into one another and generally being silly. I believe Gordon played the orange fairy, who was the most emotive. Their costumes were fun and eclectic, and I liked that the play brought in fun moments from the Disney version, like when the fairies are putting together a birthday party for Briar Rose (the name of the princess) and keep changing things different colors (see below; GIF found here).


Image found here.
I have seen Zana Gankhuyag (the prince) in several of Synetic's productions. He's very good, but it was distracting to watch him as a blonde (as if we couldn't believe he was the witch's son without them having the same hair color...). I think when I saw him in this play his hair was dyed, but in one show he must have worn a wig (like in the photo above). Costumes can make or break a character, and with the light hair, I just wasn't buying it.

And I have to say that Eliza Smith looks so young as the princess Briar Rose. I actually thought it was a child playing the role! Her petite frame and sweet face give her the appearance of an eleven year-old girl. I couldn't get past it! So I never bought the romantic part of the story in this show. 

Like most of Synetic's plays, I enjoyed the show, but I was not overwhelmed. And I usually fall asleep for at least a little bit. This was only a 90 minute play (with no intermission), but it easily could have been made shorter. Some scenes were dragged out, especially near the end when the prince is trying to save Briar Rose; we all know he's going to save her, so we don't need to watch ten minutes (or more!) of him struggling to get to her. So, not Synetic's best, but not a waste of time if you do decide to go.

Read another article about this play from the Washington Post.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Play Review: Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley

Image found here.
Like many women, I love the Jane Austen story of Pride and Prejudice. I grew up watching the A&E version (i.e. the best version), read the book in high school, and even sat through the Keira Knightley version (ew). So when I saw that the play Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley was playing at Round House Theatre in Bethesda, I knew I had to get tickets!

This play did not disappoint. It was everything you would have wanted. The play takes place in the drawing room at Pemberley, and Elizabeth is very excited about having a Christmas tree in her new home, even though it's a German holiday tradition. The rest of the family is visiting, from the lovely eldest sister Jane and her happy-go-lucky husband Bingley, to the younger, exasperating sister Lydia, to the studious middle sister Mary, the protagonist of the play. Mary is glad to be with her sisters, but has been feeling lonely recently; she feels trapped in her role as the unwed daughter who is destined to remain unmarried and take care of her elderly parents. But Darcy's cousin, Arthur de Bourgh, comes to visit for the holiday, and he and Mary instantly hit it off, talking about maps and books and their mutual wish to explore the world. A wrench is put into their budding friendship when Lydia tries to flirt with Arthur, and THEN Anne de Bourgh (another of Darcy's cousins) shows up claiming that she's already engaged to Arthur! Conflict ensues, misunderstandings multiply, but in the end, all is right, and you get the happy, romantic ending that you always expect from one of Austen's stories.

This play was so well done! The set was beautiful, as were the costumes. But my favorite part was that the play assumes you know the story of Pride and Prejudice. There's no background, no time wasted explaining who's who and what's going on. They throw you right in, expecting you to understand why no one seems too sad about Catherine de Bourgh's death or knowing why Mary insists that her mother talks all the time (though Mrs. Bennett is not in the play at all). I loved how the actors completely embodied their characters, just slipping in right where the book or film left off. Brandon McCoy's Bingley is jovial and content as always; Miranda Rizzolo as Lydia is just as annoying as you remember; Erin Weaver and Katie deBuys as Elizabeth and Jane are as lovely as ever. But we also get to know Mary (played by Katie Kleiger) much better. Yes, she is always reading or playing the piano, but she is also passionate and curious about the world, and has deeper feelings regarding relationships (and lack there of) than any of us ever knew.

This performance was perfection. I laughed, I cried; it has everything! I certainly recommend it, and tickets are on sale now! (or you can find some of Goldstar, too)

Here's another review if you'd like to check that out!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Recipe: Thai Noodle Soup with Shrimp & Pumpkin

This recipe looked so yummy, so I had to try it!


  • 8 oz. Thai rice noodles (I found some by Annie Chun at Safeway)
  • 1 tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 shallot, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
  • 2 c. chicken stock
  • 1 (13.5-oz.) can coconut milk
  • 3 c. cubed fresh pumpkin or butternut squash
  • 1 tbsp. Thai roasted red chili paste
  • 1 tsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 c. snow peas
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • Fresh basil, for serving


  1. Cook noodles according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add shallot and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add ginger and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute. Add stock, coconut milk, pumpkin, chili paste, and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pumpkin is just tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in shrimp and cook until opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in snow peas and cook until bright green, 1 minute. Stir in lime juice and fish sauce.
  3. Divide noodles between four serving bowls. Top with soup and basil.
And of course I changed it to make my own version. I didn't bother with the chili paste, lime juice, or fish sauce, since I don't use those ingredients often enough to warrant buying them. I also didn't add the shallot or the sugar since they aren't really necessary. I used coconut oil instead of canola oil, since the recipe calls for coconut milk anyway, and powdered ginger instead of fresh; I used mixed frozen veggies instead of snow peas, and I added curry powder and cubes of red bell pepper for some more flavor.

I recommend using butternut squash instead of pumpkin, since they are usually smaller and easier to work with (not as many seeds to deal with in the middle!). I also bought pre-cooked, pre-peeled frozen shrimp, so all I had to do was defrost them and then add them to the soup at the end. And I topped the bowl off with some shredded coconut as a finishing touch!