Cry with Me

I cry. I am an empathetic person, and I’ve learned to keep my distance and cocoon myself for self-preservation. But often, I cry. From TV commercials, Disney music, fabulous theatre, kindergarteners singing, someone receiving $24,000 on “Ellen” or when reading an article in a magazine that renews my faith in humanity.

Sometimes crying embarrasses me. My kids look over to see if my eyes are welling up; they can now sense moments when it may happen. I warn people I’m sitting next to that I cry, and I carry tissues in my purse and camera bag

Here’s the thing. When I’m crying, I’m Present. I’m not rehashing the past, fretting about a future that hasn’t happened yet over which I have no control… there’s no wall or anxiety. I’m just here. It’s just me. And I’m usually really happy. Even when I’m crying over something sad, I’m usually able to find the peace in having at least connected with the moment.

You can offer me a tissue or a hug, or you can cry right along with me. I recommend the latter because then we’ll see each other’s silly tears and it will turns into peals of laughter.

I like laughing too. 🙂

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Musical “The King and I” is Touring Again

“The King and I” is a large-scale musical by one of my favorite teams: composer Richard Rodgers and dramatist Oscar Hammerstein II. If you’ve seen the Broadway version of “Cinderella” on stage or screen, that’s thanks to Rodgers and Hammerstein too. AND it’s topped with choreography by Jerome Robbins (“West Side Story,” “Peter Pan.”) The Broadway production is based on the novel “Anna and the King of Siam” which was based on the real-life memoirs of Anna Leonowens, governess to the children of King Mongkut of Siam.

Set in 1860’s Bangkok, the musical tells the story of the unconventional relationship that develops between the King of Siam and Anna Leonowens, a widowed schoolteacher whom the King hires to teach his many wives and even more children.

The King and I deals with huge issues through its drama and song, among them sexism, racism, slavery, polygamy, death and human trafficking; making the show timely and thought provoking – while still family-friendly and optimistic. (If you plan to take little ones to the show, there is an educational guide you can prep or follow up with.) This revival production of the show is directed by Tony Award winner Bartlett Sher and won four 2015 Tony Awards. The U.S. national tour of “The King and I” began in November 2016 and is currently in Tampa, Florida, at the Straz Center.

In this version the costumes are more period appropriate and simpler, all adopted from actual images of nineteenth century Siam. But don’t worry, Anna still floats about the stage in one of the largest ball gowns Broadway has ever seen in the musical number “Shall we Dance?” The acting and singing of the extraordinary cast captivates audiences. The set, though sparse, is interesting and innovative.

Though I remember my mom singing “Getting To Know You” and “Shall We Dance” when I was little, I never saw the stage production and only saw small clips of the movie. I was excited to be offered 2 complimentary tickets by Tampa Bay Bloggers for a date night to finally view the show in its entirety in exchange for this review. I enjoyed the pro-female sentiments and far-Eastern critique of the West trying to change their culture to better them, while both cultures saw each other as a bit backwards. My husband likened the show to “The Sound of Music,” another Rodgers and Hammerstein masterpiece, due to the many cute, singing children a woman is brought in to care for while having an increasingly confusing relationship with their father.

The show does make one wonder, however, how long we’ll continue viewing classic scripts full of prejudice before they are retired for tales with more modern themes. It is unfortunate that this show is still so relatable in 2017.

“The King and I” is in Tampa through May 7 and tickets start at $58. 

View more photos at https://www.instagram.com/kingandimusical/. 

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Mothers Day Meal at Datz Giveaway [closed]

I’m not sure where the time flew off to, but May is quickly approaching. And with May comes Mother’s Day!

To help you celebrate a special mother in your life – your own mom, a fantastic mom you know, or yourself – I have a Datz gift card valued at $100 to give away. Although the gift card is good for food, beverages and merchandise at Datz on any day of the year, I personally think Mother’s Day is a great time to celebrate! My winner, however, can decide that for herself/himself.

If you have not yet been to the restaurant Datz in Tampa, their atmosphere is trendy-casual and the space is large. The menu is unique, as are their crafted cocktails. They began years ago as a deli, but now offer a variety of comfort foods and astonishing flavors that you may have never tasted together. They have tacos, salads, nachos, burgers, as well as brunch and dinner plates.

They also own the bakery next door, Dough, so there is a wide variety of delectable desserts, ice cream and donuts to choose from!

If you’re super hungry, try The Cheesy Todd  (as seen on Good Morning America!) A 100% fresh ground chuck burger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickle. But instead of buns, it is served between two breaded and fried bacon-jalapeĂąo mac n’ cheese patties!

My daughter Alice loves cheese, and her favorite is the April in Paris vegetarian sandwich. It’s warm melted brie with tomato, arugula and basil pesto served on grilled sourdough bread.

While you are reading the menu and deciding what to order, you can start the table off with Buffalo Cauliflower. This appetizer is an entire head of roasted cauliflower lightly fried and tossed in buffalo sauce. It’s served with ranch dressing for dipping.

I’ve never had a bite I didn’t enjoy at Datz. And now you can try it for yourself with the first $100 paid for! To enter my Datz $100 gift card giveaway you need to have a Twitter account. Tweet to me @rafdarrow and let me know something from the Datz menu that you want to try. Be sure to tag @datz4foodies too! You have two weeks to enter. I’ll announce and tweet to one winner on the evening of Wed, May 10. All tweets through midnight EST on the 9th will be in the random drawing. 

As a member of Tampa Bay Bloggers I was given a gift card by Datz for National Cheat Day, and another to give away to one lucky winner. Good luck!

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The only mac and cheese recipe you need

You can make this. But you don’t have to. You can crawl inside it and stay cozy forever instead.

I’m just going to leave this recipe here for myself so I remember how I made it.

Ingredients

Serves 6

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 
2 1/2 cups 1% milk
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • about 8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • about 4 ounces grated alta badia cheese
  • 2 ounces grated Parm cheese
  • 16oz  trotolle pasta or elbow macaroni
  • 1/4 c breadcrumbs or crushed potato chips or a combo of both

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a casserole dish; set aside.
  2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Melt butter in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.
  4. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time to keep mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8 to 12 minutes.
  5. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in spices, cheese,Worcestershire; set sauce aside.
  6. Cover a large pot of salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook the pasta until the outside of pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the macaroni to a colander, rinse with cold water, drain well.
  7. Stir the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce.
  8. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top.
  9. Bake until golden brown, about 30 minutes until brown on top. Transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5 minutes; serve.
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3rd Annual Fantastic Ekphrastic in St. Pete

This weekend marks the 3rd Annual Fantastic Ekphrastic by Keep St. Pete Lit on  February 24 and 25, 2017.

If you go, you’ll be treated to live readings of Plays, Poetry and Prose inspired by Visual Art on display in the same space. Basically, 16 local fine artists (mainly photographers, painters and sculptors) created intriguing/pretty/wonderful things, and then local writers were asked to write about them. You get see actors perform those written works! “Ekphrastic” is from a Greek word that means a ‘written commentary on a visual work of art.’ The event will be held at Soft Water Studios with Bob Devin Jones directing. (He used to be my landlord.)

Keep St. Pete Lit’s Maureen McDole, my friend, explains the unique event. “There is nothing like seeing a writer’s work come to life, while also viewing the artwork that inspired it. It’s a totally visceral experience and every performance is different. I had a strong desire to merge the visual and literary arts in a collaborative environment. By adding the performance aspect, we create a dynamic interdisciplinary experience.”

Tickets are $25 and on sale at keepstpetelit.org. All proceeds help Keep St. Pete Lit promote the vibrant local literary arts community, including low-cost writing classes at the Morean Art Center, LitSpace Writers Residency program in April, SunLit Literary Festival, a used bookstore at Morean Art Center, an upcoming kids summer writing camp and much more. Find out more at keepstpetelit.org or see my post from last year’s event.

Each year when you go to Fantastic Ekphrastic, you can discover something new!

When: Friday, February 24 and Saturday, February 25
Two shows each night, at 5:30pm and 8pm
Doors open at 4:30pm so you can immerse yourself in the art before the performances begin.

Where: Soft Water Studios – 515 22nd St. S., St. Petersburg

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