Opera Roanoke Presents Handel’s Julius Caesar

March is Women’s History Month—a time when we celebrate the accomplishments of amazing women who have inspired us to do great things.  Locally, you will be able to see talented women come together at Opera Roanoke for a fantastic performance of Handel’s Julius Caesar.  Amy Cofield Williamson, Teresa Buchholz, Carla Dirlikov, and Toby Newman will be joined by a female cast to tell the story of Caesar’s campaign in Egypt.  It features dramatic scenes for each of the principal characters performed by artists who are not only gifted, but also passionate about our community.

Buchholz will play the role of Julius Caesar—something that many men would likely find challenging.  “There is really no room for anything remotely feminine in his character,” she explains. “That has to be conveyed both physically and through my singing.”  It is a challenge that she looks forward to undertaking, but she realizes her masculine portrayal will require strength and creativity.  “Acting comes from within.  It’s not something you should layer on externally.  It comes out of the music,” she says, “[Great] singers act with their voices, not just their bodies.”

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Teresa Buchholz

Much like her colleagues, she is dedicated to giving her best to this production.  Their admiration for Handel and each other, as artists, will likely be evident in their performance.  For some of them it will be the first time they have crossed paths.  Others have been with Opera Roanoke for many years.  Regardless, they have spent months preparing for their roles and learning about their characters.  They do not make light of their responsibility to tell a story to the audience.

Newman also believes that her voice will be one of her strongest assets.  She describes it as a viable connection to those watching, and adds, “You have to sing and convey emotions that [they] can feel.  Your voice is an actor.”  The production will give the cast ample opportunity to make those connections.

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Toby Newman

Playing the role of Cleopatra, Williamson is excited to share Handel’s work with the Roanoke audience because she feels as though she has already connected with her character.  “I have so enjoyed preparing for this role,” she says, “mostly because of the beautiful music [he] wrote.  Of course, who wouldn’t love having the opportunity to perform the role of Cleopatra?  I can’t wait for Opera Roanoke to bring this beautiful music and history to life!”  Her respect for the production is contagious, and every cast member is committed to making the experience both enjoyable and educational.

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Amy Cofield Williamson

Phenomenal talent and passion for the stage is not all that makes these women unique.  Each one took a different path that led them to Opera Roanoke, and all of them display inspiring strength.  They stress the importance of having a mentor that brings out the best in you.  Many of them found mentors when they were very young, and almost all of them were inspired by strong women.  Dirlikov’s was her teacher and a famous African American opera singer, Shirley Verrett.  “She insisted that I strive for excellence,” she recalls. “She faced so much adversity in her career and never gave up.  I was fortunate to have her guidance.”

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Carla Dirlikov

We, as a community and an audience, will be the fortunate ones to see these ladies in action on stage.  Bella encourages everyone to celebrate Women’s History month by supporting the women you know who are doing great things in our community. Don’t forget to visit the Jefferson Center on March 21st or March 23rd to support this talented cast in their performance of Handel’s Julius Caesar.  For more information, go to Opera Roanoke’s website, www.operaroanoke.org.

Cooking for Beginners

Written by Kacee Eddinger

Success in the kitchen is not always guaranteed.  If this is your first time cooking, or if you avoid it as much as possible because of past failures, here are some tips to improve your experience:

Eliminate Distractions
An ever important thing to remember while cooking is that it requires your attention. I’m not saying you can’t jam out to Pandora while you cook, but it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the food so that it doesn’t over cook or make a mess. If you have kids, spouses or friends who want to talk while you’re cooking, just ask them to help you keep an eye on the food.  If a recipe does tell you to let something simmer, or that you can leave a meal alone for a while, remember to check back periodically.

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Timers
When I was first cooking for myself, I realized the absolute necessity of timing my food. The more you cook, the less you need a timer, but if you live in a distracting environment and need to step away from the food (it needs to cook unattended for a few minutes, something else needs your immediate attention but will only take a minute, etc) just set a timer so that you remember to come back and check on the food.

Read a recipe twice (and then follow along as you go)
This is a trick my mom taught me when I was first learning how to cook, and it’s something I tell all of my friends. When first learning a new recipe, reading it multiple times gives you the general order of how to add ingredients, and what to do next. I find it also relaxes me, because since I have a better idea of what to do, less will go wrong. Make sure to have a copy of the recipe readily available to check occasionally.

Cooking is an art, baking is a science
As you begin to grow more confident with your abilities around the stove and oven, you might want to try new things with old recipes. Just remember: cooking is an art, baking is a science. You can vary recipes, but things that you bake, especially with sweets, are often best left less varied. When you put something into the oven to bake, you often don’t know how it’s going to turn out until it has finished, because you can’t see what it’s doing. Whereas, when you cook something on your stovetop, it becomes much easier to notice when the food is cooked. You can even do a taste check to see if a recipe needs something else.cooking

Have Fun and Practice
It may be a touch cliché, but here’s the fact of the matter: you probably aren’t going to burn down your kitchen. Even if you’re a nervous cook, you will probably come out of a cooking experience with something edible and notes for next time. Don’t stress over cooking. Grab a friend, your spouse, or even your kids and have a fun experience together. Also, the more you cook, the better you’ll get. You’ll learn from the recipe books, but also from experience. So keep trying, and you’ll do great.

To get started, try these simple recipes:

salmon

Salmon Patties
I’ve been making Salmon patties since I was kid. They’re also one of my favorite foods, and since I’ve started living on my own, I’ve made them a lot. I don’t have a particular reference for this, except for my mom. Thanks, mom.

 Ingredients:
Oil or Crisco for frying
1 can of pink Alaskan salmon
2 eggs
1-1 ½ cup bread crumbs

Optional:
Lemon powder or zest
Pepper
Chopped Onion
Garlic
Rosemary
Mustard
Cheddar cheese

Directions:
I. Heat skillet on the stove at medium heat. Add oil or Crisco to pan while it is still cool. You need at least enough to cover the bottom of the pan, but you can go up to an inch high of oil or Crisco (the oil is better for you than Crisco, but the Crisco gives the patties an nicer golden brown finish).
II. Open and drain canned salmon. You can either dump it into the bowl how it is, or clean out the bones and skin. Mom always said the bones and the skin were good for me, and you really cannot tell the difference. The bones are also soft enough to mash up, or chew through.
III. Once salmon is in the bowl, add eggs and mix together with a wooden spoon or your clean hands. If you have kids they might enjoy squishing the egg together with the salmon.

IV. Gradually add bread crumbs. Every batch of salmon patties is different, so you’ll always need a different amount. Start with about a half cup and add gradually from there, mixing well each time.
V. After about a cup of bread crumbs stop and make patty. If you’ve never made one, scoop up some salmon mix with your hands, and roll it into a ball. Then press it between your hands—the patty should be about the size of your palm. If a lot of the mix sticks to your hands, then it’s still too wet, but if there are a lot of cracks around the edge of the patty or it doesn’t hold its shape, then it’s too dry. Add a little mayo to break it up. A patty that will hold its shape, doesn’t have too many cracks or isn’t too sticky will be just right for frying.
VI. At this time, you can add any extras that you like. I typically put in a little mustard, lemon powder, pepper and garlic just to give the patty a little extra flavor. You can put a little slice of cheese in the middle of patty, and it will melt as it fries. But they’re your patties so use whatever you want! Just remember not to add salt to the patties—the packaged fish is salted to keep it fresh, and you’ll want to throw a little salt on it after it’s done frying to help drain off the oil.
VII. Test oil with a small bit of salmon to see if it fries. If the oil is hot enough, slide the patties on to the pan. You can usually cook two to three at a time without much trouble. Fry until brown on one side and then flip. If it’s not brown enough, you can always flip them over again. When both sides are brown, lay patties out on a double layer of paper towels. Salt lightly, or you can use powered parmesan cheese in place of the salt.

cookies

Cookie Dough
                I’ve made so many batches of chocolate chip cookies in my life, I’ve lost count. This dough is based on a recipe you’ll find on the back of every bag of Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chips, but I’ve made adjustments over the years for a perfect dough.

You Need:
1 cup / 2 sticks of butter, soft but not melted
1 cup of brown sugar
½ cup of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
2 eggs
2 ½ cups of flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda

Add ins:
Chocolate Chips
Nuts
Dried fruit
Oatmeal
M&Ms
Other goodies

Directions:
I. In a medium to large bowl, mix together softened butter, brown sugar, sugar and vanilla. Make sure the butter is soft, but not runny or melty. If the butter is runny your cookies will be too.
II. Add in one egg and beat until incorporated. Add second egg and beat until incorporated.

III. In a separate bowl, add together flour, salt and baking soda. You may sift if you like, but it’s not a big deal if you don’t.

IV. Slowly add flower mixture to the butter mixture. The dough should start to thicken.

V. When flour mix is fully incorporated with the butter mix, you should have your dough! Add in chocolate chips, nuts, fruit or anything else you would like. Almost anything tastes great with this dough.

VI. From here you can bake them at 375°F for 8-12 minutes, until the cookies are brown, chill for a day to make the dough easier to work with, or freeze to bake another time. Dough will last 6-12 months in the freezer.

 

Winter Blues

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room—the one that only you can see. If you are experiencing any type of mood disorder, you may feel as though you have very few options to pursue. It is important to remember that you are not alone. Many people live with seasonal depression, borderline personality disorder, postpartum depression, anxiety disorders, and more.
You may be surprised at the number of successful women who live with these problems. For years, we have been taught to hide our illness like dirty laundry. This is despite the fact that medical science has proven them to be the result of a chemical imbalance in our brains. Like many of you, I live with an anxiety disorder. It is made worse by the thought that I have to hide it from everyone that I meet. Over the years, I have learned a few tricks to control it.

happywoman
Surround yourself with positive reinforcement. It sounds cliché, but you will see yourself handling stress much better. Search for websites like Go Woman Go to find other women experiencing similar problems. You may discover that their empowering stories, like that of founder Lashinda Demus, will inspire you to keep going. Chances are, they will also remind you to be optimistic, instead of anticipating the worst possible outcome of every situation.
Try a sun lamp. It benefits those experiencing seasonal and nonseasonal depression, among other disorders. Eliminating harmful ultraviolet radiation, it brings the short wavelengths of sun light indoors. Consult your physician to make sure the treatment is right for you, especially if you are taking any medications. I have recently purchased one, and I am already noticing an improvement. My energy levels have increased, and I am almost as energetic as any other twenty-something. Additionally, I find myself waking up earlier without an alarm.  You can find one on Amazon.

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Most importantly, please remember that having a personality or mood disorder is not something of which you should be ashamed. There is no reason you should be unsuccessful as a result. It may take some time, and more than one visit with your doctor, but you will find a course of treatment that makes you feel better. Until that time, seek out those facing similar issues. Build your support system. There is nothing more comforting than someone who understands that although your illness is invisible, it is very real.

The Plus Size Problem: Revisited

Written By Kacee Eddinger

February is Body Awareness Month. To celebrate, I want to build off of one of our previous articles, “The Plus Size Problem.” Both the plus size problem and the Body Positivity Movement both go back further in time than you may realize.

The Body Positive Movement began fifty years ago, alongside second wave feminism, as the Fat Acceptance Movement. It started as an effort to combat social and legal inequalities surrounding those who do not conform to a slimmer body type. This movement led to the promotion of healthy ideals regarding different body types.  Societies like the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) and Health at Every Size(HAES) were formed.

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Since then, designers have created fashion lines dedicated to plus size clothing.  Despite setbacks due to the diet and exercise culture of the 1980s, the Fat Acceptance movement did not disappear. In fact, a new group, The Body Positive, was created.

Seeking to teach everyone to cherish their bodies regardless of size, the group has added the term, “Body Positivity” to our vocabulary. Although “Fat Acceptance” is still an important movement, this group encourages everyone, including skinny individuals, to value their appearance.  It advocates against the pursuit of an ideal that cannot be achieved instead of asking the general public to attempt to conform to it.bpm3

Still, there is a misunderstanding in our culture regarding body acceptance.  In a recent interview with Barbara Walters, Jennifer Lawrence said, “I just think it should be illegal to call someone fat on TV. I mean if we’re regulating things like sex and cigarettes and cuss words, because of the effect it has on our younger generation, why aren’t we regulating things like calling people fat?”

Much was said about Lawrence’s quote, from news stations, to blog posts, and many lauded the movie star for speaking out against fat shaming.

I didn’t hear about Jennifer Lawrence’s talk with Barbara Walters until the media storm around it had died down.  However, in a discussion with my friend regarding body positivity, I realized that Lawrence’s statement just missed the mark. My friend told me she thought my body was beautiful. “And it’s so nice to cuddle with people who have an extra layer to them!” she added. She was paying me a compliment, which I took, but I could hear dancing around something with her word choice.

“You know,” I said. “You can call me fat. It’s just an adjective. For me, it’s the same as saying I’m tall, I have brown hair and blue eyes. I am fat.”

For a long time, this was not so. From a young age, I was called fat as an insult. Fat people on TV and in movies were invisible or made out to be jokes. Nobody outright said it, but diet infomercials told me being fat was wrong. Everyone in them said they were so much happier now that they were skinny. My mother never called me fat, but has encouraged me to diet since I was nine.

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Being fat has never been easy. Since discovering body positivity, I have learned to love myself for who I am AND for how I look. I have found encouragement from those who told me I was both beautiful and fat– the two did not have to be separate ideas. Now, being fat is very much a part of my identity. That’s where Ms. Lawrence’s words fell a little short for me.
While Lawrence was trying to speak out on bullying and name-calling, she still implies in her quote that being fat is shameful and equates it with cancer-causing cigarettes. The truth is that identifying someone as “fat” should not be illegal, but fat shaming should be. Fat people should not be ridiculed for being fat, no more than a person with blonde hair should be ridiculed for being blonde. However, too often people are humiliated by others because of their appearance.  Instead, they should be encouraged to love their bodies; regardless of race, size, hair

color, etc.  It is important to emphasize this to young women—so they spend their lifetime loving themselves, rather than trying to conform to a standard that no one can achieve. It is up to each individual to stand up for body positivity and end “fat shaming.” Our responsibility, as women, is to support one another for who we are– not for who society tells us we should be.

 

 

 

 

 

DIY: Love it or List it?

Written By Beth Herman

I’m obsessed with home renovation. HGTV’s Love it or List it is among my favorite TV shows. It’s fun to sit in your living room watching Susan, Dennis and their two kids eat dinner in their Racine Wisconsin garage, while their kitchen gets torn apart and rebuilt. Then, decision time: will they stay in the newly renovated house, or sell and buy a new home?

Sometimes life imitates art—or at least television. When we bought our house in 2004, it desperately needed updating.  Hoping to sell in 2012, we took the plunge. Under the guidance of our realtor Denise, we brought in a kitchen company and contractor, who renovated the master bath and replaced everything in the kitchen except the windows and floors. Eliminating the wall between dining room and kitchen provided clear ‘site lines.’ (Who wants to be in the kitchen cooking when all the fun is in the dining room?)  The estimate was three to four weeks.  It took seven.

kitchen
Before

The Reico rep said it was one of the most dramatic renovations she had seen, and she wasn’t exaggerating. In place of white Formica, we got sleek granite countertops, ‘espresso’ cabinets, and two times the storage. The master bath, two dark small rooms of 1980’s vintage, became one huge bright space (my husband calls it the Halls of Congress) with a window, skylight and large seamless shower.

After washing dishes in the guest bathroom, storing boxes of pots, dishes and dry goods in the living room, or hiking down to the guest bath in the middle of the night for seven weeks, the carpet still had to be ripped out and replaced. Seven days later, the house was finally completed.

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After

We were thrilled, exhausted, and suddenly facing our own Love it or List it moment. Finally, a home with serene spa-like master bath and a kitchen/dining room space worth showing off.  Our first dinner guests arrived with champagne, an hour after the last workman drove away.

In the end, we decided to love it. I dreaded telling Denise, but thankfully, she was more than gracious.  “There’s always next year, she said, “and in the meantime enjoy!”

When I called her this January to her say, “we’re ready,” she was thrilled.  But alas, there was more work to be done. The master bedroom needed repainting, and the maroon shipbuilding wall paper had to come out of the first floor laundry room.

More renovations? I thought wearily. But I couldn’t argue.Years ago, I painted the bedroom myself. Harvest gold, the color choice of the previous owners, was covered with aqua; walls, trim and doors, creating an underwater effect.

This year, instead of a team, we used one guy. Ron, who had done tree work for us. He estimated three days. It took six. Sometimes his 19-year-old daughter came to help. The bedroom, now a soothing white trimmed in screen grey, matches the rest of the house. My dark little laundry room has a new floor, soft grey walls, a new toilet and vanity.

This time, we chose to list. I hope our house sells quickly when it goes on the market, but not too soon. I want to enjoy my new laundry room. At least for a little while.

Beth Herman is a writer and artist based in Charlottesville. She would love to hear your renovation stories, scary or smooth.

Lapis Blue: The NEW Color of Valentine’s Day

Written by Breckenridge Charapich

Special holidays often make us wonder, “What on earth should I wear?”  February is the month of romance and love, which includes all things pink and red.   People expect you to dress head to toe in one or both of these colors on Valentine’s Day.  Whether you are styling your date night outfit or a fabulous look for a night on the town with the girls, you want to stand out in a crowd. This year, surprise everyone with a unique outfit combination that is far from expected. For a look that is sure to be remembered, try wearing the color lapis blue. A few shades different from royal blue, it compliments every skin tone and hair color. Although it is eye catching, it is not over the top. Paired correctly, your Valentine’s outfit will look as it should– sexy and put together.  

 lapisblueshirt

Instead of adding a red statement piece, try some not so subtle red lips with a lapis blue dress and gorgeous gold heels. The red lips will make heads turn and the blue and gold will cause all eyes to gaze in your direction. Because the color works for everyone, it’s the fit of the top, skirt, or dress that should be the focus. Use subtle detailing to draw attention when the light hits you.  Find a piece with a bit of peplum or even some beading in silver or white. The little details can make any outfit stand out in a crowd.

dress

If by chance you aren’t able to find something with some extra detailing, a statement necklace is always the way to go. Be fearless.  Try something with a little bit more color, like a fun neon necklace, to add some contrast to the outfit. Neon is an unexpected addition to the blue, but will enhance the look you have created. Now that you have some ideas for the perfect outfit, go search your closet.  Better yet, treat yourself to a little shopping trip. Get ready to look fabulous and have fun on Valentine’s Day, no matter what you have planned!

Posh Pad: Wild Illumination

Written By Caitlin Cheatham

I have been hoarding away this massive hull of a tree trunk for three years.  The wood is beautiful, heavy, and richly textured.  I have been carefully assessing it, and trying to figure out what to do with it because it is too beautiful to throw out.  I acquired it when I worked at Anthropolgie in visual merchandising.  At the end of every installment, the “found” materials were always discarded.  I was surprised when I was the only one that jumped at the opportunity to snag this log. Ha!wildillum1

It really is beautiful enough to be hung alone, but I thought that, with a little candle light, it could be even more enchanting.  Candle light is an easy way to upgrade a room from ordinary to sultry and soothing.  My next step was to find the vessels to hold the candles and figure out how to suspend them.  Naturally, I went to the one place that makes all projects make sense–the hardware store.

With a little help from the sales associate, I found some brass wire and brass colored screws.  He had a lot of great ideas that hadn’t even crossed my mind.  He suggested that instead of mounting the handle holders right up against the wood, maybe I should dangle them and show the brass wire.  That way, it would appear more whimsical and not so “placed.”  I took his advice and bought a couple packs of brass wire and eight brass screws. 

Next, I was off to JoAnn Fabric’s, the one place that has almost everything.  I found votive candle holders in a set for around $8.00 and some votive candles.  The materials errands were finished and now it was time to put them to the test. The hard part.

I cut my wire into the desired lengths with wire cutters and wrapped each votive, securing them by twisting the wire on either side.  The twists also created loops for easy hanging.  Then, I evenly spaced my screws with a drill and hung each votive. wildillum3

Wallah!

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.  The hardest part is finding the perfect place to mount it. 

 

Product Spotlight: 800razors.com

Ladies, let’s be honest: shaving is not fun.  In the short term, it is less expensive than waxing or laser hair removal.  Of course, once the hair is gone, most of us feel better.  For whatever reason, smooth legs give us the confidence to rock a gorgeous skirt at the office or on a first date.  That doesn’t change the fact that every step leading up to the finished product is often a chore.

I have always believed that shopping for razors is a lot like buying hair dye in a box.  The women on the packaging look so happy and beautiful that you convince yourself the experience will be nothing but pleasant.  Then you get home, and after attempting to use it, you discover you are allergic to the chemicals in the hair dye.  Your scalp is itchy, and your hair is more orange carrot than blonde bombshell.

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I have never been good at buying razors, and I am often surprised at how many times you can succeed in accidentally wounding yourself with one.  Additionally, like many women, I have very sensitive skin.  So, my pretty little bare legs are often subject to razor burn—which is not pleasant, nor is it pretty.  All of these factors make that moment of buying a razor incredibly stressful.  I wander through the aisle with other bewildered women reminding myself, “This is a necessary evil.”

Recently, I stumbled upon 800razors.com, and I’m going to be completely honest with you—I was skeptical.  They advertise a razor and 12 replacement cartridges for $19.95, with free shipping no less!  The description claimed the razor was comparable to a Venus razor.  That was the hook for me.  If it was that cheap and could compare in any way to the only razor that had ever made the act of shaving remotely bearable, then I had to give it a try. 

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It only took a few days for my first order to arrive.  I typically put off shaving for as long as I can.  However, I had to try it out as soon as I got home.  I was excited to discover that my initial skepticism was incorrect.  The razor is phenomenal.  There is a little strip around the razor that has aloe in it, so your shave does not even require soap!  Seriously, even for people like me with sensitive skin.  After my shower, I had nice pretty bare legs without razor burn.  

Needless to say, I am done going to the store for my razors.  So, if any of you bewildered women in the razor aisle wish to escape with me, go to www.800razors.com and sign up for your first delivery today.  Let me know if you like them as much as I did, or if you have any go to beauty products that have changed the way you get ready in the morning! 

Email editorial@beckmediagroup.com or comment below!

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