Friday, March 24, 2017

Brahms' Requiem

Last weekend I saw the National Philharmonic at the Strathmore. The performance included Brahms' Requiem, as well as the D.C.-area premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff's Zohar. Let's talk about the latter first.

Before the performance even began, there was a short discussion with cantors Laura Croen and Michael Shochet. I thought that was a nice touch, since they could explain a little bit behind the Zohar piece. Here's a short video about Zohar from the composer:

Here is the piece broken down into parts:

I. Zohar
Translation of the Hebrew: The wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens.

II. What is man?

III. Twenty-two letters (There are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet.)

IV. Tiferes, Shepherd Boy

V. Zohar

VI. Higher than High

And here is the Brahms piece (it's over an hour long, so feel free to just listen to bits of it!):

*Find a translation of the German lyrics here.

Two soloists performed that evening. Danielle Talamantes is a soprano, and Nmon Ford is a baritone. While I could not find videos of them singing any of these particular pieces, I did find several videos of her on YouTube, and you can hear Ford in the "shepherd boy" part of Zohar above (I found it interesting that a baritone was singing the voice of a little boy, although he is also the voice of God in the song, so that seemed fitting!).

I find that religious performances can be hit or miss, but I did enjoy this one. I hope you do, too!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Recipe: Alfredo pasta

I happened to have a Safeway Monopoly coupon to get a free container of half-and-half. Since I'm not a coffee drinker, I wasn't sure what I would do with it, but I won't turn down free food! So I looked up some recipes, and I saw this one on for alfredo sauce:

  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. 
  2. Whisk the flour and garlic salt into the melted butter until the mixture is smooth. 
  3. Slowly beat the half and half into the sauce until completely incorporated. 
  4. Stir the garlic, parsley, and Parmesan cheese into the sauce, whisking continually. 
  5. Bring the sauce to a simmer; cook, stirring regularly, until the sauce has thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Use immediately or refrigerate.
I was amused that the directions were listed as one instruction on the website (I've broken it down for you here for convenience and clarity). As usual I didn't include all of the ingredients (I didn't have garlic cloves or dried parsley). I will admit that I did not mix things quite as thoroughly or as slowly as I probably should have, nor did I constantly stir the sauce. So I ended up with a saucepan full of what looked like mashed potatoes.

But once the "sauce" was added to hot pasta, ground turkey, and steamed spinach that I had made, it melted quite nicely. I then sprinkled some bacon on top (I had cooked it, let it cool, and then snipped it into tiny pieces with scissors). YUM!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Concert: Thomas Rhett and Kelsea Ballerini in Baltimore

Last week I went to a country music concert at Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. The two openers were Russell Dickerson and Ryan Hurd (neither of whom I had heard of before), and then Kelsea Ballerini came on stage before the headliner, Thomas Rhett. I thought the concert was very good: we had pretty good seats (row AA!), and everything ran so smoothly in between acts that the time flew by (AND the concert actually started on time)! Here are some songs we heard from these artists:

Russell Dickerson (looks like the love child of Parenthood's young Keanu Reeves and Dead Poets Society's Josh Charles; definitely needs a hair cut because it was floppin' all over the place!)

Image found here
I really liked his music! I'm not sure how he slipped under my radar. I could definitely see him climbing the charts in the future. And even though I had never heard of him before, anyone who can sing Whitney Houston's "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" is good in my book! Here are two songs he performed that night:

Blue Tacoma (my personal favorite of the night)

Yours (I think this is his biggest hit; the crowd loved it!)

Ryan Hurd was up next. I didn't like him as much, but I still enjoyed the music. Here are some of his videos I found on YouTube:

Love in a Bar

City Girl

Hold You Back

Notice her romper is about the size of a one-piece bathing suit. Why do guys get to wear real clothes, but female stars have to be practically naked to be considered true artists? #FeministRant
Kelsea Ballerini was next, and she has great energy! She was so appreciative of the crowd, and even said that this was the largest crowd she'd ever played to! I liked that she sang some more pop/rock songs, like "Closer" and "Apologize," but she has a lot of her own great hits:

Yeah Boy

Peter Pan (my new anthem. See my previous blog post)

Love Me Like You Mean It




The First Time

I guess when you're famous you can put your face on the big screen...
Thomas Rhett was the headliner for the event. He was also as appreciative as Kelsea was, and I would definitely see him perform again. Here are some of his big hits:

It Goes Like This

 Die a Happy Man

Star of the Show


Make Me Wanna

American Spirit (I hadn't heard this one before, but I really like it! Very patriotic!)

Rhett also plays the drums, so he and his drummer were dueling it out at one point!
They played short bits of several songs acoustically; that was neat!
He played some home videos of him singing when he was really little, which was pretty cute. He started singing and writing early! But, there were a few parts of his show that I didn't like. I practically gagged when he talked about how beautiful his pregnant wife is. And mid-way through his show, he and his band weren't even performing one of is songs; I didn't even know what was going on! There was a lot of counting numbers, clapping, and then Rhett somehow ended up laying on the stage while people threw baby clothes at him. Yeah...all of that I could have done without.

That being said, all in all I had a really good time at the concert. So much good music!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Why I'm No Longer Online Dating: The Men of 2016

As a young, pretty, smart, fun-loving woman, I'll admit I'm not used to rejection when it comes to dating. Of course if it's mutual it doesn't feel like rejection; it feels like you both dodged a bullet. But after spending a year of [mostly online] dating hoping to meet someone I liked, and when I thought I might have met someone nice he turns out not to like me that much, then what? It happened too often for me to handle anymore, so I decided to delete my online dating accounts in 2017. Keep in mind none of these were serious relationships; at most we went out for several weeks, and I didn't have sex with any of them (I'm old-school that way). Here are my dating woes (mostly chronological):

1. This Navy guy ended things with me because I didn't curse like a sailor. He actually said I wasn't vulgar enough! I guess he was upset when I told him that I didn't like the word "tits." Dirty talk must be a big priority for him...

2+. Yes, I went out with a married couple (just a few dates). I thought we hit it off, but later I learned they wanted an exclusive girlfriend; they didn't like that I was online dating and seeing other people, even if nothing physical was happening with those guys. I thought that was unfair of them, seeing as they're already married, and at some point I'd like to get married, too; I couldn't marry either of them because they were already taken! So they stopped seeing me because I wouldn't be their exclusive "unicorn." Hmpf.

3. This was the one and only guy I ever met from eHarmony (the site is total rubbish; don't bother). This was one of those experiences where the first date went great. I was thinking, "Wow, we are totally clicking!" But every date after that there was less of a connection, and I started to think he wasn't interested, but then he'd ask me for another date, so I'd go. But each time he would put less effort into it, to the point that he wanted me to come over to his place for a late dinner, but I couldn't spend the night because he had a race the next day (i.e. his invitation meant "I'm hoping to have sex with you, but I don't want to travel to get it, and I don't want to cuddle afterward."). I called him out on it, saying he didn't seem that interested in me except physically, and he blew up at me and said we should just "call it quits." Yeah...definitely some issues there, and I'm actually pretty glad it didn't work out.

4. This guy is a teacher and a real estate agent who actually doesn't like either of those jobs. So that wasn't a particularly good sign, since I want to be with someone who's happy with where he's at in life. We hung out a few times, and I didn't think he was that interested. So when I tried to set him up with a friend of mine, he seemed surprised saying, "I really liked you. It just seemed like you could only hang out once a week." I was thinking, "1. You didn't act like you were that into me and 2. With our locations geographically, it was impossible to hang out more often than that." So it was almost like he was clingy but not really? Confusing.

5. This one had lived in the DC area for about six months, which he equated to as "new." I guess this meant he was incapable of using Google to plan dates. So I had to plan several of our dates; I don't mind doing that when I've known someone for a while, but when you're not even making an effort to impress me from the get-go? But, that wasn't why we stopped seeing each other. He started getting really negative (if I asked him a question, he'd say, "I don't fuckin' know"), and when I mentioned it to him, he said, "Well, I'm starting to doubt our compatibility. For example, I like to scuba dive, and you don't." WOW. I did not know scuba diving was a deal breaker, but clearly he did not see me as marriage-material due to my lack of scuba-ing abilities...

6. This middle-aged man actually had the nerve to tell me that, after several weeks of dating (AND we were friends first before that), he wanted to "keep things casual." I guess he doesn't understand that this line only works if you have the upper-hand in the relationship, and he didn't. So his plan backfired: instead of me agreeing to continue to hang out with him (and then some), I stopped seeing him entirely. He has VERY little experience with women, so I think he also doesn't realize that "I want to keep things casual" is a euphemism for, "You're not worth the time, effort, or commitment to make you my girlfriend, but you're okay for keeping in my bed." He's actually a really sweet man, so I was surprised that he ended up being one of those guys who was thinking, "I don't want to be in a relationship, but I'm not going to tell you that from the start so that we can still hang out and I can get some action in the meantime." Quite disappointing.

7. The next one wasn't so bad. But I had the sneaking suspicion that he was a smoker. His teeth were significantly yellowed, he carried a lighter with him, and he chewed gum almost incessantly. I never bothered asking because he didn't seem that interested anyway, so I wasn't really too sad when he started to cancel on me on a somewhat regular basis.

8. I will admit that we actually went out in 2017. We started chatting on OkCupid at the end of 2016, and because of my New Year's resolution, we exchanged emails to stay in touch. We chatted back and forth, but couldn't find a date to meet; we finally found a date, then he cancelled because he was sick (true? still unclear); then I was on vacation. We finally did meet, and went out twice. They were good dates: the kind that last for hours but it doesn't feel like it; we had lots in common and plenty to talk about. He then went on vacation, and POOF! Ghosted me. In my heart of hearts I knew I wouldn't hear from him after he returned from his trip. I was just hoping he'd prove me wrong, but clearly, he's just like every other guy. We even talked about how ghosting is common for online dating and how rude it is; I guess he can talk the talk, but obviously doesn't walk the walk.

And that's just the guys who I went out with for more than one date. We haven't even gotten to the one-off dates! There was "The Intellectual" (he grew up in multiple countries and speaks several languages, so very smart) who made me go dutch on a first date, and then never contacted me until months later to wish me a happy new year; I guess he's still single and was sad to be starting off the new year alone. Then there was the historian who also made me pay on a first date, even though he picked a fancy place and encouraged us to order wine AND dessert; we sort of planned a second date for drinks, for which he stood me up...yeah. Then there was one day I had two dates: I met up with a man who was 20 minutes late and spent most of the time talking about how much higher quality VCR tapes and music cassettes are compared to discs (; later that night I had dinner with a guy who talked about wanting kids, even though I clearly stated on my profile that I didn't want any (He messaged me later saying he thought we were a good fit except for that, and I'm like, "That's why I put that in my profile, so we don't have to waste our times with people we're never going to work out with..."). What about the 35-year-old divorced music teacher with an earring who just moved into a group (i.e. party) house? And the vegan who doesn't want kids but never called for a second date?

Now some of my friends think, "Wow, you get to go on so many dates! You're so lucky!" But I think we can all agree that when it comes to dating, quality is more important than quantity. And my stories show the large quantity of low-quality men there are. Hence why I've stopped online dating and dating in general. Think of the hours I've wasted, all the time I could have spent improving myself or hanging out with my friends or focusing on my faith...and instead I spent a year of my life dealing with these men who meant nothing and clearly want nothing to do with me. Hindsight is 20-20, am I right?

So here I am, alone again. Naturally.

alone love actually colin firth forever alone

Monday, March 13, 2017

Recipe: Simple Hamburger Stroganoff

Image found here
If a recipe has the word "easy" or "simple" in it, I'm game to try it. I totally agree with the creator of this recipe: "I've always loved the taste of a good Stroganoff, but I hated the expense and preparation of beef tips or steak or roast beef to make it. So I created my own creamy Stroganoff." This recipe on uses ground beef instead, which is super-easy!


  • 1 (16 ounce) package egg noodles
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 (.75 ounce) packet dry brown gravy mix
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
  • 1 (6 ounce) can chopped mushrooms, with liquid
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 (8 ounce) container sour cream
  • 2 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of mushroom soup
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add egg noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain.
  2. In a skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef until no pink shows, about 5 minutes; drain fat.
  3. Mix brown gravy, cream cheese, and mushrooms with hamburger, stirring until cream cheese melts. Add milk, sour cream, and mushroom soup to cooked pasta. Blend hamburger mixture with pasta.
I used a lot of store brand items, like the gravy mix, the canned mushrooms, and the cream of mushroom soup. They are cheaper but just as yummy! I also just happened to have a coupon from Safeway's Monopoly game for a free sour cream, so I made this recipe just in time to use it! I'd recommend leaving the cream cheese out of the fridge while you're cooking the pasta and browning the beef so it warms up a little; it will be easier to melt it into a sauce that way!

All Recipes even provides a video for this recipe! Click here to watch it.