Steamy “Dirty Dancing” live in Seattle through February 1.

If you were a huge fan of the movie, get yourself to The Paramount in downtown Seattle to see the tour of  “Dirty Dancing!”  I nearly wore out my cassette tape of the soundtrack and still laugh relating to Baby’s awkwardness (“I carried the watermelon”).
dirty_dancing_horizontal_key_art_(photo)
I wasn’t sure if I would like this show. Why not just rewatch the movie, I thought. I almost didn’t go. But then I remembered how much (sexy) dancing happens throughout the story line and realized that combined with the fantastic soundtrack, this show actually had a lot of potential. I’m so glad I saw it instead of just rewatching the movie – the live singing and dancing created a perfect blend of nostalgic memories and in-the-moment heat as the story took life on stage. You’ll root for Baby all over again, laugh out loud, and hold your breath during some very steamy scenes.
Samuel Pergande (Johnny) and Jenny Winton (Penny). Photo by Matthew Murphy.
Samuel Pergande (Johnny) and Jenny Winton (Penny). Photo by Matthew Murphy.
If you were a fan of the movie like I was, you will love this show! The leads were well cast, the choreography is HOT and it does the movie justice. Special shout out to performers Jennlee Shallow and Doug Carpenter who’s velvety voices made me want to see a show written especially for them.
Jennlee Shallow (Elizabeth), Doug Carpenter (Billy) and the company of the North American tour of Dirty Dancing. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)
Jennlee Shallow (Elizabeth), Doug Carpenter (Billy) and the company of Dirty Dancing. (Photo by Matthew Murphy)
Do your past-self a favor and treat yourself (for a girls night out or date night) to tickets to this show. My inner-middle-schooler felt very loved. More info: http://seattle.broadway.com/
The watermelon line was always my favorite! Photo: Jillian Mueller (Baby) and Doug Carpenter (Billy) in Dirty Dancing. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
Photo: Jillian Mueller (Baby) and Doug Carpenter (Billy) in Dirty Dancing. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
Dirty Dancing on Tour plays The Paramount in downtown Seattle through 2/1/15.

GIVEAWAY: Seattle Wine and Food Experience is back February 22nd

​The Seattle Wine and Food Experience is back February 22nd, 2015 and what a delicious experience it is!
Here are some of my tips surrounding this exciting event:
SWFE2014-707
1. Bring a friend.  It’s great to attend this event with a partner-in-wine so you can taste and compare your thoughts together. Have a friend with a birthday in January – March? Make this your birthday gift to them! Also this makes a great Valentine’s Day gift. My birthday is just two days before, so this outing will be a birthday treat for me!
2. ​HYDRATE! This is SO important when wine tasting. Drink water to cleanse your palate between trying different wines, but mostly so you take good care of yourself and don’t end up with a headache after the event.
3. Charge your smartphone before you go. You’ll be juggling a lot with food and drink but as you’ll be discovering some incredible wines and more during this day, you’ll want to make note of what you liked to help jog your memory later. Snap photos of labels you loved to reference it later (or to share on twitter or instagram during the event). You can even use the voice recorder on your phone to save details of why you liked a certain wine or bite. If you share photos on Twitter or Instagram, use hashtag #SWFE.
4. Have fun doing a bit of research before. Take a look at the HUGE list of food and beverages that will be there. Make a list of places you want to hit – be sure to visit favorites you love but also include wineries, cideries and restaurants you’ve never tried before. You’ll leave finding new favorites!
5. Bring a large purse or bag. Many places offer samples or cards/flyers for free visits to tasting rooms or discounts at restaurants. You’ll need somewhere to stash these along with your water bottle while you carry your plate and glass.
6. Get your tickets early. This event is popular (now it it’s 7th year)!
7. It’s ok to pour out what’s in your glass! If you aren’t wild about the wine, it’s ok to dump the rest. Pour amount is provided so you can get an accurate sense of the color and smell, but if you taste what you need and don’t want more, don’t drink it!
8. Engage in conversation about the wine with the folks pouring, but step a bit to the side as you do so, so they can continue to pour for others.
9. Enjoy the “Wente Vineyards Aroma Experience” at the event where you can learn more about the aromas in wine. Can’t wait to check this out!
10. Love bubbly? Splurge and get the SWFE BIG tickets that includes tickets to Seattle Mag’s Pop! Bubbles and Seafood event.
Want to enter to win two tickets to Seattle Wine and Food Experience? First comment on this post with a wine or food you’re excited to try at the event, then click here to enter via my form! Giveaway ends 11:59pm Pacific Time 1/20/15.
SWFE2014-868 (1)

Dirty Dancing: The Classic Story on Stage (GIVEAWAY)

“Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage” will play at The Paramount Theatre in downtown Seattle January 20 – February 1!

Click here to enter a giveaway (ends at midnight tonight) for tickets to the show from Swink Style Bar.

I was a huge fan of this movie. I even had the soundtrack on cassette tape and still remember all the lyrics from the songs from heart. It will be lots of fun to see how it translates to stage! I’m not always a fan of movies-turn-musicals but I think this is perfect stage material. Photos, video and tickets, here.

dancing

Pick Pocket: Beaches, Budgets, Vonnegut and Detectives

Pick Pocket!

I have a great group of friends on Facebook. They are a  diverse, knowledgeable bunch and sometimes I pick their brains! Here’s this edition of Pick Pockets.

Apps to use to read Reddit (Alien Blue is the most popular)

beach vacation
Image via thecomputerdesign.com

Best Vacation Beaches (From Thailand to Hawaii to Mexico and beyond)

Best Online Budgeting Tools (Mint and You Need a Budget are favorites)

true

I really enjoyed the TV series “True Detective” so asked my friends what other shows they would recommend. I was impressed to see many shows I hadn’t heard of before (not always the case when asking for TV show tips). Note: True Detective and many shows on this list are not for the faint of heart!

vonnegut

I realized I had never read any Kurt Vonnegut books and needed to change that. Here’s what books of his my pals suggested I start with. 

Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts (feel free to add yours if you haven’t chimed in yet!

Books I read in 2014

I started reading early and quickly grew a voracious appetite for the hobby. Books provide us the ability to travel without leaving home, the opportunity to learn, the chance to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

Early 2014, I decided I needed to make the choice to turn off the TV more often and pick up a book. Here are the books I read in 2014:

  • Pretty Monsters – short stories by Kelly Link – gift from Paul and Erin
  • Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery. I loved this as a child – was such fun to revisit the adventures of Anne-with-an-e and Diana.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I have always been fascinated by stories from the holocaust. This novel gives a unique perspective through the eyes of a young German girl in Nazi Germany. Tragic and wonderful. A loan from mom (who I inherited my love of reading from).book
  • Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit. Another re-read from my childhood. I loved the magic in this story as a kid and it held up when reading it as an adult. I highly suggest you revisit the books you loved as a child! I re-read the Narnia series a few years back (I vividly remember looking in a mirror as a kid – probably around 8 – and making my future self promise to re-read these books as an adult. I had a strong feeling that it was IMPORTANT and that I would have a different experience with the books as an adult as I did as a kid. It was a lovely series to revisit and my least favorite book in the series, “Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” was one of my favorites as an adult.
  • Hollow City by Ransom Riggs. I didn’t enjoy this sequel as much as the original Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children.
  • Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery. Keeping up with the re-reading theme, I turned to the second book in this series. I’d thought I had read all the books as a child, but as Anne grows up the books appeal less to children, in my opinion. It turns out I never read past book two!
  • Bonk by Mary Roach. I love the theme of this book and the idea of blending humor with research, but the author’s sense of humor missed the mark for me a little too much. It did reawaken my interest in learning more about human sexuality though and had lots of interesting information.
  • The Bedwetter by Sarah Silverman. She’s a funny lady!bed
  • My Booky Wook by Russell Brand. He’s such an intriguing guy! In light of his recent declarations on the news and videos, I think I was expecting more from this book than I got, but still was a fun read to have on vacation
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. I was HOOKED the entire time. The type of book you don’t want to put down.
  • Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
  • Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery
  • Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery
  • Anne of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery. It was a little sad to see Anne grow up in these books. She became quite a bit more normal and lost quite a bit of her adventurous, imaginative ways as she fell into her role of wife and mother. Still I enjoyed this series quite a bit. anne
  • Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery
  • Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery. An interesting look at WWI from a Canadian family’s perspective.
  • The Fault in our Stars by John Green. Sometimes I read books when I hear they are going to become movies. Also, this came highly recommended to me by Alida and Erin. Really sweet, heartbreaking story and the young narrator’s voice is delightful.
  • The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen. Took me a while to get into it but really came to love the main character and her journey. Another Alida recommendation.
  • 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami. Ok, the trouble with reading books on kindle apps is unless you pay attention, you don’t get a sense of how LONG a book is as you do with a physical book. 925 pages isn’t my style, usually. Still, it was a very intriguing story. Last night, I mentioned to my friend Maren that I’ve been reading more and asked if I’d read any books by this author (one of her favorites). I’ll pick up more books by this Japanese author again, but probably will stick to shorter ones. This was originally published in 3 volumes. I found parts of the story to be wonderful but others a bit tedious.
  • What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty. My kind of book! A woman has head trauma and wakes up forgetting the last 10 years of her life. It’s a wonderful read and really made me think about how we change as people over the years. I want to read more books like this. Recommendation from Mom (thanks again!).alice
  • Orange is the New Black by Piper Chapman. Saw this in a recommendation list on the library app. Loved the show so gave it a go. I really enjoyed this quick read – many differences from the show, which is fun to compare, and really draws attention to some major issues in our prison system.
  • Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut. I realized I’ve never read a book by this acclaimed author so polled friends to see what I should read first. I didn’t love this one but will give other KV books a go. Recommended by Amanda, Bird and others.
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn. The author of Gone Girl doesn’t disappoint with her earlier mystery.
  • If I Stay by Gayle Forman. While I like YA novels, this one felt a little young for me (though is perfect for teens I imagine). That said, I got caught up in the story and will likely read the author’s other books. Recommended by Alida.
  • Ethics for a new Millenium by the Dalai Lama. Some chapters definitely resonated more than others with me. I really enjoyed reading his perspective on many subjects. A good reminder that the strongest happiness for ourselves can be found when we do our best to provide happiness for others. Thanks for the recommendation, Wendy!dal
  • The Fever by Megan Abbott. Enjoyed most the read (another teenager based plot -what’s with that theme this year?!) but the ending was disappointing. Recommended by @SPLBuzz (Seattle Public Library twitter).

Using the app and website goodreads I’m able to track books I’ve read, save a list of books I want to read and see what other friends who use the app are reading or recommend. A great app for anyone who likes to read! This year I discovered how to download ebooks and audiobooks for the Seattle Public Library. What a gift! Their social media folks even were able to recommend a book to me via their twitter account @SPLbuzz. Thanks, librarians! I’ve found audiobooks to be a great distraction when organizing or cleaning around the house. They were also a great way to read when outdoors on the roof or at the beach this summer, since it’s hard to read most tablets in the sunshine.

I love reading on my ipad. It gives me the opportunity to change the font to a size I like, it’s smaller than a lot of books (and I can pick up reading on my phone if I don’t have my ipad with me when I’m out and about). It doesn’t bother B as much as as a book light when he’s trying to sleep (I love the option for a black screen with white letters). It even lets me highlight a word to look up in the dictionary if I don’t know the word.

What books have you read that you’ve enjoyed! I would love to hear your recommendations in the comments below or on my Facebook post!

Looking back at 2014

Expressing gratitude on a daily basis has been a big theme for me this year. Looking back on all that’s happened, it’s clear I have a lot to be grateful for. I am most thankful for my incredibly supportive family and friends and the wonderful man I get to spend my life and everyday with. Many thanks to everyone who has been a part of my life this year!

Brandon and I rang in the new year at a unique apartment party (three friends who live in the same building each opened up their homes) surrounded by many close friends, including Molly & Ryan S who were in town visiting from New York! A few days later, we celebrated my oldest niece’s 11th birthday with a trip to the ice skating rink with the family.

Silly pose with silly friends
Silly pose with silly friends

In February, I celebrated my 34th birthday with a low key pajama party with a few friends. This year I definitely became more in touch with my introverted side and enjoying smaller group settings than in previous years.

In March, Brandon, Paul and Erin and I went to Napa to visit Morgan and Brian (who live in SF) for a relaxing weekend of wine tasting. It was so great to catch up with friends, eat delicious food and taste some remarkable wines in such a beautiful part of our country. We had the most fun in wineries in Sonoma – definitely want to go back.

With Brandon, Morgan, Brian, Erin and Paul in Napa
With Brandon, Morgan, Brian, Erin and Paul in Napa
Later that month, I took the bus to Portland to visit my sweetheart of a friend Billie P who was finishing up her Masters program. We got to visit some of my favorite used clothing shops and eat at some awesome Andy Ricker restaurants with Heather and Andrew.
Two muppets in Portland
Two muppets in Portland
In April, Brandon and I took our first overseas vacation together to visit Molly F in Spain! We had an incredible two weeks with Molly and Julio. First stop was Madrid, then we had a perfect beach vacation in Nerja and a few days at the end of the trip in Granada. So much food and wine!
The coast in Nerja, Spain
The coast in Nerja, Spain
In Granada, Spain with the Alhambra behind us
In Granada, Spain with the Alhambra behind us

In June, I headed to Eastern Washington to meet up with Molly S (visiting from NY) and her sister Meg. More wine tasting and a little horseback riding!

molly
In July we went to “Summer Camp” with a gaggle of friends and made many new ones. Go Team Red!
Summer Camp!
Summer Camp!
Later that month, Brandon flew his Mom, Gerry, out from Philly to visit us. We were happy to have such a remarkably warm summer and I took advantage of hitting Madison Park beach with a few friends quite a bit. Tom and Jill took us tubing down Cedar river and we went back again with our moms while Gerry was in town.
In August, Erin  and I hosted Alida’s bachelorette party, which was filled with laughs. Molly F came to stay with us for a bit while she was in town for a few weeks before she went back to Spain for another year of teaching english. At the end of the month, Brandon and I went to Burning Man for my 6th, his 7th, year and camped with fabulous friends.
Watching the Man burn
Watching the Man burn
In September, Brandon and I were in Alida and Will’s wedding party – one of the most fun days of the year! It was a wonderful ceremony – a perfect blend of sincerity and hilarity.
Alida and Will and their wedding party
Alida and Will and their wedding party
wedding girls
A day full of laughter and smiles
Later that month, Erin and Justin came to visit from the midwest and I got to introduce them to some of my favorite restaurants! We celebrated Brandon’s 37th birthday with a rooftop party on the last nice day of the summer, complete with a screening of Never Ending Story and sleepover on the roof. Brandon and I hopped on a plane to Florida at the end of the month, to spend a week of DisneyWorld and Universal Studios fun to celebrate his mom’s birthday with her and some of her gal friends and cousins.
Disneyworld!
Disneyworld!
Brandon and his wonderful mom
Brandon and his wonderful mom
In October, I achieved a dream of going to Disneyland with my nieces. My brother and sister in law and my parents also joined me and Brandon on this truly magical trip. Memories from those days are such a treasure!
The niece's first trip to Disneyland
The niece’s first trip to Disneyland
My youngest niece celebrated her 8th birthday in October (delightfully choosing a “EAT COBB – Cobb Salad party” as her friend party theme).
Brandon and I ended our very-Disney-fall by dressing up as Disney characters with many friends for Halloween. Brandon and I celebrated out 7th year together as Princess Jasmine and Abu from Disney’s Aladdin.
In November, Kathryn and I were judges for the Seattle International Comedy Competition and had a hilarious evening, as always. For thanksgiving, Brandon and my mom and dad reconnected with some of my cousins who I haven’t seen in years. It was great to visit with them after so long.
In December, Brian flew up to visit for a co-ed bachelor party weekend. We celebrated with good food, Santarchy, and putting down some tracks in a recording studio.
"He sees you when you're sleeping..."
“He sees you when you’re sleeping…”
Laying down a few songs at  a recording studio
Laying down a few songs at a recording studio
For Christmas, Brandon and I flew back east to visit his family in Philly and Jersey and got to meet his 8 month old twin cousins for the first time.
elf
Business is great. I love running my own company and working with my fantastic clients and account managers. I celebrated 5 years (4 years full time) this year – time flies!
 –
Other highlights from the year include: reading more (28 books this year!) burner costume parties, celebrating friends’ birthdays, girls nights, pj parties, dinner parties with planned topics, staycations at great Seattle area hotels, attending fun shows including The Atomic Bombshells, Teatro Zinzanni, Unexpected Productions and Beauty and the Beast (with the nieces just before our Disney trip), game nights, discovering the joy that is a sherpa blanket, bootie mashups, and house parties.
What I want to do more of in 2015: Take more photos (and learn how to take better photos on my iphone). Take more alone time to reflect, relax and grow. Spend more time with close friends in smaller groups or one on one. Continue to travel. Eat less, workout more (so cliche). Find new passions. Volunteer. Write more. Enjoy more game nights. Start working on a (for-secret-for-now) personal project. Continue to discover great books, travel and express gratitude every day.

Beauty and the Beast is a BLAST!

There is no magic quite like attending the theatre with the kids in your life, and Beauty and the Beast at The Paramount (now through October 26th) is a perfect excuse for a night of magic!

I brought my favorite little girls – my nieces ages 11 1/2 and 8 – to see this Disney classic that I grew up with. The setting is perfect – the gold and white interior of The Paramount feels like a place itself. Tip: when you attend, head up to one of the balcony lobbies to look down over the crowd during intermission – it’s so beautiful!

The show itself was delightful, with especially powerful performances from Belle, the Beast, Gaston and Lumiere.

Cameron Bond was perfect in his villainous role. Gaston is one of my favorite numbers in the movie and the live performance surpassed my expectations. The casting is perfect – Bond’s etched features and stature are a perfect fit as is his comic timing. He is absolutely delightful to watch and may be part cartoon.

The girls’ favorite number was Be Our Guest, which really sparkled! They were engaged during the whole performance but especially giggly in reaction to Lumiere’s and Beast’s humorous delivery. The girls are a bit tight lipped when asked to give detailed reviews (it’s sometimes tough to get kids to give you a review when put on the spot) but they really liked it and told me they thought anyone would have fun at the show.

The audience was definitely swept away by the production – during the overture before the second act, the audience joined in by clapping along. The enjoyment was palpable. I would recommend this production to anyone who is a Disney fan!

Tickets, here.

Be our guest!  Jillian Butterfield and the cast of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Matthew Murphy
Be our guest!
Jillian Butterfield and the cast of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Matthew Murphy
The cartoon-like, talented  Cameron Bond as Gaston and the cast of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
The cartoon-like, talented
Cameron Bond as Gaston and the cast of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Photo by Matthew Murphy.