Category - 31 Days

Sacro Speco {Sacred Space} – Sunday

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Today’s Sacro Speco Soundtrack: Sunday by Billy Porter & the Broadway Inspirational Voices Choir

Its a cloudy, cold and dreary Saturday in Texas.

The perfect day to bring back to the blog a practice I started two years ago.

 

 

I like to share pictures, Scriptures and/or quotes that lead to rest, reflection, meditation and reverent quiet. {I am occasionally adding music to the mix as well}.

I call this practice Sacro Speco, which is Latin for ‘Sacred Space’. 

 

I am aspiring to return to the pursuit of Sacro Speco in my own life this year and look forward to building community here.

 

In the past I have done linkups so other bloggers can share their own Sacro Speco inspiration.  Let me know in the comments if that is something you’d like me to start doing again.

Grace, Peace & Rest to you friends.

Backstage Beauty {Day 2}

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For as long as I can remember, I have lived at the edge of these two universes we call “backstage”.  And before I lived there, I dreamed of it.

Because to take residence there is to breathe a most rarified air.   It is where every performer endeavors to live.  Once there, you stand on the precipice of magic and heightened reality.”

~Jason Alexander

 

I frantically put the last touch of finishing powder on my stage makeup as our friendly stage manager {and believe me, they are not always friendly} gives us our places call.  {“Places” technically means 2 minutes until the curtain goes up, but rest assured its code for ‘get your hiney to the stage.’}

As I ascend the three flights of stairs from the basement {the location of all of the dressing rooms in this particular theatre} with a few of my fellow castmates, I am in a state that can only be described as musical theatre euphoria.

This particular company of actors, technicians, producers, as well as our director & conductor are the creme of the crop, the creme de la creme.  Not only is every single person ridiculously talented at their particular job, they are kind, loving and fun people to spend time around.

{And truly, truly–THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE.  I can not stress that enough.}

As I open the stairwell door and my eyes adjust to the darkness of backstage, I find every member of the company hugging and wishing each other “Good Shows” and “Break A Legs”.  The energy is palpably electric while also being warm and nurturing.

The beginning of this show’s opening number has every member of the company joining hands and entering the stage in a long triumphant line of well known melody and choreography by Jerome Robbins. Amidst the revelry, I make my way to my place in line.  I’m surprisingly towards the front, between two principal actors I respect enormously.

The producer finishes his pre-show speech, and walks backstage, flashing his million watt smile to everyone in the wings.  He wishes us well as he hurriedly makes his way to the theatre.

I hear the sound of the orchestra tuning–the open fifth chords soothing my pre-show nerves.

The stage and auditorium go completely black, and a few seconds of silence resound through the air.

This is when it begins– the transition into another world.

Our stage manager Maggie begins to ‘call’ the show cues to the technicians backstage–hers is the only audible voice in the silence. We hear the rush of a large painted backdrop being lowered from the dizzying heights of the rafters to the stage floor. A musician onstage, atop a large house set piece, begins to play a familiar musical line known the world over,  that begins this particular show. {If you haven’t yet guessed, this is a production of Fiddler On The Roof}.

As the well known tune carries through the house on a lone violin’s strings, the actor playing the leading role of Tevye walks past us in character, stepping onto the stage to narrate the evening.

All of us in this theatre, whether on the stage, or in the audience, will have two and a half hours together in one space. We will connect with one another in ways we may not be able to fully comprehend, even after the curtain falls.

In musical theatre, the power of storytelling has its optimum medium. Words, music, movement, dance–all of these expressive components help tell the story at hand.

As our musical cue of forte percussion and strings resound, I step onto the stage, linked with my colleagues not only by hand, but in solidarity of artistic spirit.

Photo By & Property of Michael C. Foster
Photo By & Property of Michael C. Foster

 

We begin to sing our story, and everything else falls away.

I was made for this.

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This is Day 2 of a 31 Days series,  31 Days In A Musical Theatre Life.  Find the introduction post here.

 I hope you’ll continue joining me here–I ask for grace, as I have been a bit slow with my posts.  I’m currently in musical rehearsals for a show opening in a few short weeks! {Oh, the irony.}   Loving the 31 Days concept?   Find over 1200 other bloggers writing out their own 31 Days here.

Day 16…Health & Beauty Favorites

One thing I haven’t really discussed on this blog (except for the occasional mention in my favorite monthly ‘What I’m Into’ linkup posts) is my favorite health & beauty products.  Thanks to a request/suggestion from my new blogging friend Sarah,  I’m sharing my favorites today.    {Some of these links are affiliates – any compensation goes directly back into this blog – thanks!}

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1. Whole Foods 365 Lavender scented body wash:  I discovered this heavenly scented and affordably priced body wash on my last trip to Whole Foods.  It’s all natural, and doesn’t irritate my uber sensitive skin.

2. EO lavender natural hand sanitizer:  I first grabbed this as an impulse buy when in the grocery line at Whole Foods in NYC.  I needed a quick hand sanitizer, and it was right by the checkout counter.  I was happily surprised when I used it over and over on my trip, and fell in love with the lavender scent, the way it didn’t feel sticky like most santizers, and its all natural ingredients.  Unfortunately, its not cheap, but its definitely high quality.  I honestly don’t want to use regular hand sanitizer again.

Bare Minerals lipstick – 3. Buxom Lip Gloss in Dolly;  4. Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in ‘Stand Out’:  I’m a creature of habit, in general, when it comes to my makeup products.  A friend of mine let me use her ‘buxom’ lip color a few years ago, and I’ve been using this gloss ever since.  My favorite shade is ‘Dolly’.  I love the natural sheen, the cooling tingle when I apply it, and the fact that its quite moisturizing.  I found the lipstick shade ‘Stand Out’ at a local spa/nail salon.  Its a wee bit dark and matte, but looks great layered under or over lighter gloss, and stays put–its my new favorite fall shade.

5. Pressed Face Powder (Makeup Forever Duo-Mat):  I got this powder at Sephora, on the recommendation of an awesome sales associate, who understood the needs of my crazy skin. (After a few rounds of Accutane in my 20’s, my skin is quite sensitive and doesn’t react well to a lot of cosmetic lines).  This silky powder would provide all the coverage needed for someone with good skin, but I use it over a light layer of Bare Minerals powder foundation.  I love the coverage, and the fact that it covers the rosacea on my cheeks quite nicely and naturally.

6. Triple Action Cleansing Water Makeup Remover:   Confession time: for many years, I didn’t use makeup remover–just soap and water.  Usually makeup remover made my skin irritated, or dry or tight.  I discovered this ‘triple action cleansing water’ remover at Sephora, and love it.  I now consider this product a new permanent fixture in my skin care regime. 

7. Puressential Headache Roller Natural Oils:   I suffer from headaches pretty regularly.  Last year, when my husband and I were in Paris, I ducked into a pharmacy quickly to buy an over the counter pain reliever.  I thought I was buying a bottle of ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but quickly discovered a ‘happy accident’ because of the language barrier.  When I asked for a pain reliever for my headache, I was given a small natural oil headache roller.  (And it was cheap at under 8 euros!)  Its one of the best natural oil remedies I’ve ever used for a headache, and I’ve tried plenty.  It actually contains 9 different natural oils, whereas most products have one or two.   I carry it everywhere in my purse.  It most definitely takes the edge off of a migraine.   You can purchase it on Amazon–just watch out for the high overseas shipping. {If you suffer from headaches regularly, I think its worth it.}

(Not Pictured) Mygrastick  (headache) natural oil roller:  My friend found me another natural oil headache roller when I was out of my favorite one above – this one is a very close second – and a wonderful treatment if you don’t want to pay overseas shipping.  The main ingredient is peppermint oil, and it smells wonderful!

8. CeraVe Face Wash (for normal to oily skin):  I had the hardest time finding a face wash that wasn’t a gazillion bucks, and still made my skin happy.  My dermatologist recommended this one, and I love it.  {I was using Cetaphil for oily skin previously, and FYI:  my derm didn’t like the fact that it contained castor oil.}  You can find it at most grocery and drugstores, and the large size is under $15.

9. Natural Muscle Rub ‘What’s Hurting You’ – Organic Pain Relief:  This muscle rub lives regularly in my gym bag, and soothed my sore muscles and shin splints during multiple dance/tap classes last year.  I also use it regularly on my neck and shoulders when a headache strikes.  It’s made entirely of natural oils that help decrease inflammation, and is handmade in Texas.  If you are local to Dallas/Fort Worth, its available in a variety of stores, but otherwise, order it direct here.

10. Clinique Moisture Surge Gel Moisturizer:  I fell in love with the light and cooling feeling of this gel-like moisturizer when I first found it in my free Clinique freebies bag last year.  Its not cheap, but a normal sized jar lasts me almost a year.  If your skin is sensitive, and you want a light moisturizer, this one’s great.

11. Redken All Soft Argan Oil: My superstar hair stylist Sally turned me on to this hair product, and its now a staple in my hair care regime.    A little goes a long way – this bottle has lasted me over a year.  The oil used in the popular Moroccan oil products, it has a variety of good benefits to the hair.  Apply it to wet, clean hair to help it dry quicker, and keep your hair soft and nourished.  It’s a great styling tool to rub into your hair before flat ironing (I usually use a smaller amount when applying to dry hair).  It also gives your hair a lovely shine without weighing it down, and smells wonderful, too.  Sally has said if she was forced to only use ONE product on her hair, this one would be it.

12. Bare Minerals Foundation (Barely Light):  I have used Bare Minerals foundation for a good many years now–its one of my favorite makeup products.  I had terrible acne in my early 20’s, and in my early 30’s, struggled to find makeup that didn’t irritate my face.  I don’t know if it was serendipitous timing, or hormones, or what –but as soon as I started using this makeup in place of liquid foundation, my skin cleared up completely.  They have great colors to match various skin tones, and has an SPF.  Bare Escentuals claims the makeup is gentle enough to sleep in, and while I’m sure skin care experts would cry, “No! Don’t do it!”, I confess I have slept in it a time or two with no breakouts.  If you’re looking for a good mineral makeup, look no further.

13. Dolce & Gabbana – Light Blue Perfume:   I hesitated to put my perfume on this list, because I’m gonna be honest – it’s not cheap.  {And I am nothing, if not a thrifty beauty product girl.} My sweet husband has given me the larger size  as a Christmas gift, but I found a travel size priced at around $20 at Sephora.  I’m sharing this beauty product with you because it is hands down, my favorite perfume on the planet.  I have terrible allergies, and haven’t been able to use many wonderfully scented perfumes, but this one is light enough that it never bothers my allergies, but has the staying power to last a long while, and be used lightly.

I’d love to hear what you think if you try or use any of these products.

 

 What are some of your health and beauty favorites?

Let me know in the comments!

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Day 15…What Love Is All About – {An Interview & Giveaway With Reeve Coobs}

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I first discovered Reeve through her blog about a year or so ago.  I was thrilled to find a kindred in the online world who was a musician, and a beautiful, creative soul, who uses her online space to share her music and her life with the world.  She shared a fantastic playlist on my first guest post ever at All Manner of Inspiration.  She wrote one of my favorite 31 Days series last year about her music-filled life.   This year, she has been sharing another of my favorite series – What Love Is All About – reflections on her record and her music–with a giveaway every single day!

{If you haven’t heard Reeve’s music, here’s a recording of one of my favorite songs on the record.  You’re welcome.}

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I was thrilled to meet Reeve in real life last year at Allume, and our conversation about family and music around a conference dinner table for a few precious minutes was one of my favorite moments of connection I experienced that weekend.

This year, she has released her first full length album {and one of my favorite album releases this fall}

What Love Is All About.  

{Click the link above to purchase her record and fun merchandise–including t-shirts, keychains and more.}

I was honored and elated when Reeve obliged me and answered some interview questions about her musical influences and new record.  She’s a consummate musician, and I love how she always recommends such incredible music.   Hearing more of her story just makes me love her record all the more.  {Check out the rest of her ’31 Days’ series for insights into her new songs and some fantastic performance videos!}

 

An Interview with Reeve Coobs

Sarah: Have you lived in North Carolina all of your life?  How does where you live influence your music? (nature around you, community, friends, etc.)

 

Reeve: I have lived in North Carolina all but two years of my life. I moved to Tennessee in 2001 and loved my little life there, but I’m definitely a North Carolina girl through and through. I would say that the South in general influences me. My music has a subtle Southern sound. Sometimes people that aren’t from the South will immediately think I write “country” music. It always makes me giggle because in the South, we don’t necessarily consider steel guitar or a slight accent as “country”, it’s just music to us. But, I think that’s my home coming out through my music.

 

Sarah: What {or who} were the strongest musical influences for you on this album?

 

Reeve: Most definitely my electric guitarist/producer/musical soul-mate, Jeff Williams. He worked so very closely with me on this project. [He] always pushes me to become a better writer and gave me [the]constructive criticism I needed. Without him, this record would have NEVER been made.

 

Sarah:  Who are your Top 10 favorite musical artists?

 

Reeve:  In no particular order, cause I just can’t…

Gemma Hayes
The Beatles
Over the Rhine
Those Bastard Souls
Feist
gogoPilot
Jill Andrews
Patty Griffin
Ryan Adams/Whiskeytown
Sarah Harmer

 

Sarah:  Six word memoir that captures your life as an artist?

Reeve:  She turned her pain into beauty.

 

Sarah: Top 3 albums to bring to a desert island?

 

Reeve:

Gemma Hayes – Night on My Side
The Beatles – White Album
Those Bastard Souls – Debt and Departure tied with Over The Rhine – The Trumpet Child

 

Sarah: Favorite lyricist?

Reeve: Gemma Hayes

 

Sarah: Favorite guitarist?

Reeve: Gemma Hayes

 

Sarah: Favorite songwriter?

Reeve: Gemma Hayes (do you see a pattern yet?)

 

Sarah: Any plans in the works to  tour/perform in support of this album? (along with the CD release party November 1st?)  If so, when and where?

 

Reeve: I have hopes to,  but no shows outside of North Carolina/South Carolina area as of yet. If anyone wants to host a house concert in their home… I’m there!

 

Sarah: What is one of your favorite things about your album?

 

Reeve: The pedal steel guitar on Night Owl. It was played by my friend Rodney Lanier who passed away a few months after he recorded it. I love that I have this memory of him with me forever. And that I can just press play and feel like he’s sitting right next to me.

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{This giveaway is now closed.}

I’m giving away a copy of Reeve’s new album to one lucky reader!

{Simply leave a comment on this post, and tell me your favorite musician and album/song by that artist.  Be sure and leave me your email address, so I can contact you if you’re the winner.}

Good Luck!

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{Affiliate links used go directly back into the support of this blog.  All links to Reeve’s music are NOT affiliates, and go to her and her website directly – thanks!}

Day 14…My Favorite Soup Recipe

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It’s one of my favorite times of the year – fall in October.

We’re living in a part of the country where its cold when we wake up.  The leaves are beginning to turn, and the temperature doesn’t usually get warm enough anymore to be uncomfortable.  There are pumpkins decorating my house and the ones all up and down our block.  Friends are waxing poetic about their Pumpkin Spiced Lattes from Starbucks.  I feel like its  cool enough to finally breathe deep once again.

It’s also the time of year to begin making one of my favorite soup recipes. 

I first had this delicious soup when my best friend and I were still single, and got together on the weekends to make dinner.  I think we found this recipe in an old vegetarian cookbook.  I tweaked it to my particular tastes–like leaving out one of the only vegetables in the world I despise, celery.  I also started using fire-roasted tomatoes instead of plain to add more flavor, and added an extra can to give the soup more kick.   I used to call it Winter Lentil Soup, but then I realized I always made this soup in the fall.  I recently made it for an open house a few weeks ago, and my sweet friend Emily helped me re-name it appropriately,  Autumn Lentil Vegetable.

As the soup begins to simmer, your house begins to smell amazing.  Along with a garnish of parmesan cheese, or freshly chopped chives and yogurt or sour cream, I love to heat and serve small hunks  of bread to sop up all of the soup’s savory flavors.

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This soup has now become an autumn tradition for me.  I know once I’ve made it, the cool air has usually swept in, and the holidays will soon be right around the corner.  You can serve this soup at a casual gathering, or a more upscale party as an appetizer.  Its one of my favorite recipes, and I think once you make it, you’ll love it too.

 

Autumn Lentil Vegetable Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, diced

  • 2 leeks, chopped (white part only)

  • 4 garlic cloves

  • 1 tablespoon curry powder

  • 1 teaspoon ginger

  • 1 teaspoon cumin

  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes

  • 2 to 4 small carrots, peeled & diced

  • 1/2 cabbage, sliced

  • 2 cans fire roasted tomatoes

  • 4 cans (14.5 oz) vegetable broth (58 ounces total)

  • 1/2 cup dry sherry

  • 1 cup lentils

  • salt & pepper to taste

  • pinch of shredded parmesan cheese

Cooking Instructions: 

In a heavy soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, then sauté onions and leeks for 3 minutes.   Add in the spices and garlic, and sauté another minute or two.  Add in the cabbage and carrots, then stir and cook for 5 minutes. Next, stir in the tomatoes, broth, sherry, lentils, salt & pepper.   Break apart tomatoes with a wooden spoon.  Cover and simmer on low for 35-45 minutes.  Taste for seasoning adjustments and periodically check lentils for tenderness.  Continue simmering soup for 30 more minutes,  or until lentils are done.  Serve with a garnish – a pinch of parmesan cheese is my favorite–or freshly chopped chives and yogurt or sour cream.

Bon Appetit!

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  • What are some of your favorite fall recipes?
  • I’d love to hear about them in the comments!
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