Monday, November 17, 2014

Getting Colorful

What a crazy week last week was! After eight straight days of music and theater tasks, I was so happy to get to Friday, and a rare evening free! Of course, I spent the evening catching up on laundry and trying desperately to be able to see, since I had endured my vision exam at the optometrist that afternoon, and he had insisted on dilating my eyes. Eye phobias + doctor induced near-blindness is a recipe for disaster!

Fortunately, on Saturday I knew I was in for a treat. The Color Run came to Baltimore, and for the third time in a year, I was there to throw myself into the full spirit of "The Happiest 5K on the Planet!"

Mari & Kelly, after the last Color Zone.
*Photo courtesy of Donna Smith
OK, for those of you unfamiliar with The Color Run, it's an untimed 5K (approximately 3.2 miles) race that you can either walk or run. Most people, at least in Baltimore, tend to walk it, as the course is narrow in a few places that makes it difficult to bypass slower folk in front of you or parents with baby strollers. You'd be amazed at how many strollers there are.

The catch is, you pass through "Color Zones", where volunteers pelt you with colored cornstarch. Hence, the "color" in "The Color Run". My understanding is that most cities have 4 color zones. Baltimore somehow rates a 5th color zone, since the course goes around both Camden Yards, our ballpark, and M&T Bank Stadium, our football stadium, where we get the special Purple zone.

The Color Run also partners with The Cool Kids Campaign, which is a charity for pediatric cancer patients. Every year, they have one zone where the volunteers are all cancer survivors and oncological staff. It definitely puts a positive spin on supporting a worthy cause!

This was my third Color Run, and by far the coldest. When I got in my car to pick up my teammates, the thermometer read 25 degrees! Plus, we had our first snow of the year on Thursday, so there was no escaping the cold! Although I'm originally from the chilly state of Montana and used to love the winter cold, the further into adulthood that I venture, the less enamored I am of the white stuff.

Donna, Kelly, & "ninja" Mari, bundled up and ready to go!
*Photo courtesy of Donna Smith
Due to unforeseen personal circumstances beyond my control, I went with a different group of friends than the past 2 outings, but it was no less fun. Mari, who grew up primarily in the Middle East, doesn't handle the cold well, and was wrapped up like a ninja. Somewhat ironically, I kept losing track of her, even when she was standing right next to me! Donna, was similarly bundled up, and kept wanting to take pictures with her phone despite being hampered by her giant mittens.

Side note - I often get envious of Mari & Donna, both of whom I adore and look forward to spending time with. Since they live next door to one another, they have a lot of random shared experiences that I only get to hear about secondhand. Like last week, when their husbands got together to build trebuchets for launching pumpkins as part of a project for Scott's Boy Scout troop. I want to live on the same street as the cool kids!
At the finish line!
*Photo courtesy of Donna Smith

Anywho, you start the run all pristine and white, and cross the finish line coated in blue and pink and purple and orange and yellow, with cloud puffs rolling off of you with each step. Plastic baggies of MORE color (I got green this time!) are handed to you at the finish line, and then the chaos begins. As you move closer to the stage area where "The Color Festival" is held, the MC counts down from ten to a color toss, where those who have finished toss the powder from their baggies in the air, on each other, and at total strangers.

Our tradition is to go to lunch afterward. Even though I come prepared every time (no color smudges are going to happen in my car!), it's never possible to get ALL of the color off of your skin short of scrubbing in the shower - the blue is the worst. It's kind of fun to go to some of Baltimore's hot spots afterward and be able to pick out your fellow Color Runners.

The three of us headed over to Canton, to Dangerously Delicious Pies. It had been almost 10 years since I've been there, but the name is still apt. Seriously, being reminded how close this is to my turf is a dangerous thing ... to my waistline. We each got a savory pie slice for lunch, and a dessert pie for, well, dessert. The Sausage Tomato Fennel pie was absolutely divine, and the bite I had of Donna's Crab & Cheddar Quiche was eyes-rolling-back-in-my-head fabulous. The Mobtown Brown pie, which is basically pecan pie with an enormous layer of Swiss chocolate and caramel on top, undoubtedly undid all of the good that the exercise of the run did earlier, but was well worth it. It's also fun to watch the staff preparing all of the mini pies that they sell. I've been thinking about getting a second job when I'm not in show-mode, but I think this would be a dangerous place to work!
Sausage, Tomato, & Fennel Pie
at Dangerously Delicious Pies in Canton.
To die for!

All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Spinach and Mozzarella Quiche

Bet you thought I forgot about you, huh?


Last Monday, my Internet was down for the better part of the day. (This would not be a problem if I could get my act together and write my blogs on Sunday evenings, but, well, if I didn't stall, then I wouldn't be me.) By the time I was reconnected to the rest of the universe, I was already caught up in other things. Like, I don't know, my job.

But what about Friday, you ask? Well, by Friday, I was just feeling lazy about writing, since so many other things were happening that day. I had some fires to put out at work (a couple of them are still smoldering in the background, just waiting for me to relax before flaring up again). I was getting ready to record a Christmas CD with the choir. And I had a first date.

You don't really want to hear about any of that, though.

Starting this week, I'm throwing myself whole-heartedly into a crazy schedule. On top of the normal round of show rehearsals and choir rehearsals, I have multiple auditions. One is really close to home; the other is really close to my parents' home (which is not all that close to MY home).

One thing I always try to do leading up to an audition is to eat healthier. I really should have started sooner than the day before auditions start, but, hey, procrastinator on board (see above)! For one thing, no one wants to see a bloated diva on stage. While there's no camera to add 10 pounds, there's still a panel of people scrutinizing you, and I carry enough self-consciousness about the rest of my performance to wonder if my belly is jiggling while I dance.

The other reason I eat healthier in the days leading up to auditions is that it gives me more energy, and directors like energy, or so I've been told. So I'm cutting back on carbs and red meat (although I'm not completely eliminating either from my diet), and focusing instead on lean protein and produce.

I made this quiche a few days ago for dinner, and I'm really liking how it feels like a power food. The leftovers make for a really nice and quick power breakfast!

Spinach and Mozzarella Quiche (Crustless)


1 T olive oil
2/3 cup onions, diced
10 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed
6 eggs
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Spray a 9-inch glass pie plate with non-stick cooking spray.

  2. Slowly heat oil in a medium skillet. Add onions and sauté at medium heat until softened. Add spinach and cook until excess moisture is gone.

  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add cheese, salt, and pepper; stir until thoroughly mixed. Fold in spinach mixture until blended. Spoon into prepared pie plate.

  4. Bake at 350° F for 20-25 minutes, or until eggs have set (the quiche will show light browning around the edges). Serve warm.

All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Spooky Friday!

It's Friday, it's Friday!

Cat-in-a-hat-o-lantern 2013
When I was a kid, the weekend was the Holy Grail, what we endured a whole week of school to get to (although I secretly enjoyed the lessons, if not the social dynamics, of school). As a young adult just starting out in my career, it was a chance to cut loose and relax - no shoes, no alarm clock, no responsibilities other than to clean my house.

Now, however, my weekends look very much like my week days. That is to say, chaotic! Because of early rehearsals and church services (at which I have to sing), there have to be shoes and alarm clocks and responsibilities. There are schedules to follow, work to be done, and bills to pay.

Being grown up isn't all it's cracked up to be!

For the third year in a row, I won't be passing out Halloween candy in my neighborhood. Now, before you break out the egg cartons, let me explain. For the last 2 years, I've had tech week during everyone's favorite spook fest. For those of you new to theater speak, this is also known as "Hell Week." It's a week of dress rehearsals that includes a lot of starting and stopping thanks to the addition of the "tech" - lights, sound, sets, props, orchestra, etc. But we're still in costume - that counts, right?

Darn skippy, it does.

This year, I'm blissfully free from Tech for another 5 weeks, but am going to see friends performing in The Rocky Horror Show. Quite appropriate, n'est pas? And this is not one of those movie screenings where people dress up and get super inappropriate. My college had a few of those, until they got so obscene that the administration had to ban it. No, this is the stage show, where ACTORS dress up and get super inappropriate. Totally different!

Side note - a few years ago, I auditioned for a production of Rocky Horror and was called back (i.e. shortlisted) for the role of Janet. I didn't get the part, and ended up not doing the show. This ended up being a blessing in disguise, since the guy they cast as Brad was one of my former students from my year of teaching. Talk about narrow misses of awkward situations!

So, to the 300+ kids who come through my neighborhood each year, my light will be off, there will be no candy, and stay the hell out of my flower beds! That goes double for you parents who cut through yards because you're too lazy to walk down to the sidewalk!

As I prepare for a weekend of costume parties, rehearsals and voice lessons, I'll leave you with sage words that my aunt shares with me as often as she can: Have fun, be safe, and don't pee on the slide (or on the sidewalk).

From l-r: Wicked Witch, Carmen Sandiego (not a German
Olympian, as one co-worker guessed!), Disco Bling King,
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones, Peacock
 All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mom's Potato Soup

We're only 4 days away from Halloween and the end of October, and it's finally starting to cool off outside. Not to say that it's been hot here, but the mild weather has definitely confused everything - including my crepe myrtle bushes in front of the house. They never decided if they wanted to bloom or not (usually they explode in a profusion of fuschia in early September), and now they can't decide if they want to go dormant. All of this is throwing off my winter garden prep schedule!

I'm too busy these days to deal with yard work anyway. Or cooking. Or dusting, vacuuming, mopping, or the eight million other chores that need to be done around the house. I really need that T-shirt that says, "I can't, I have rehearsal"! In addition to my normal round of church rehearsals and services, I have rehearsals for my current production, which goes up in December, a showcase performance for said production, a weekend of CD recording sessions, 3-4 auditions, a couple of concert performances as a featured soloist, a 5K, hosting Thanksgiving...and I know I'm forgetting a few things. That gets me through mid-December. Some days, I think it would be nice to be married, just to have someone else to help me with life's necessities. Like laundry. Or medicating the cat. Or winterizing the house.

One of the best things about the weather starting to turn cooler is that I can break out the soup section of my cookbook! One of my favorite go-to cold weather recipes is my mom's potato soup. She made up the recipe when I was a teenager, and it quickly became a family favorite (for once, a meal that we could all agree on!). I even made it in bulk in college when cooking for my starving friends.

I have no idea what the caloric content is for this soup, but it's not for acolytes of the carb-free craze. This is comfort food at it's finest, and it's one of my favorite things to make when I'm snowed in or just feel like I need to be warmed from the inside out! Even better - it's pretty easy to make!

Mom's Potato Soup
Serves 6


  • 6 large baking potatoes
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 stick margarine or butter
  • 1/2 c all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp instant onions
  • 4 c milk
  • Pepper
  • 1 ham slice (about 1 lb)

  1. Peel and quarter potatoes and place in a large dutch oven. Cover with water. Add celery. Bring to a boil and boil until potatoes are tender. Drain and cool.

  2. In the same dutch oven, melt butter. Add flour, salt, onions, milk, and a couple of dashes of pepper. Over medium high heat, whisk until smooth. Continue stirring until mixture thickens and comes to a boil. Lower heat to low or warm.

  3. Cube cooked potatoes and ham slice. Add potatoes, celery, and ham to the dutch oven and stir until thoroughly heated.

  4. Remove from heat and serve!

All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Wine, Sushi, and the best thing I've ever put in my mouth

Birthday week continued over the weekend. Of course it did! What's birthday week without weekend festivities?

Friday, my friend and co-worker Eva insisted on taking me out to dinner. We settled on sushi (since we both love it and don't eat nearly enough of it), then going to Black Ankle Vineyards to listen to music, taste wine, and chill in front of the fire.

Black Ankle is one of the few estate wineries in Maryland - meaning that the grapes for their wines come entirely from their own vineyard (many wineries will import grapes from other areas, like California or Argentina, so that they can incorporate varietals that don't grow particularly well in their region). Usually, in Maryland, this means sweeter wines, with the cooler and wetter climate here causing increased sugar levels in the grapes. (Yes, I am slightly a wine nerd. In fairness, I worked for a winery for a while, and went from knowing pretty much nothing about wine, to knowing slightly more than nothing but able to talk like I know what's what!)

Eva and Kelly after a bottle of wine,
too much sushi, and lots of laughs.
But the wines we tried at Black Ankle were lovely dry reds (they are sold out of whites for the season). We bought a bottle of their Slate II, which is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Cabernet Franc, and Petit Verdot. I think my favorite, though, was the Passeggiata VI, which was the first wine we tasted. Dry but not heavy, with a bit of spice - this is my ideal type of wine!

Once our bottle had been uncorked, we settled inside (it was crowded around the fire pits outside, and we kind of wanted to see the sushi we were eating) with our food, our wine, and conversation, of which there is never a shortage with us!

Before we knew it, it was closing time, but we still had dessert to enjoy. Eva had insisted that we get the Tempura Cheesecake, and even though they were cooled, OMG. Seriously, the most incredibly awesome thing that has ever entered my mouth. Okay, that didn't sound right, but I don't care. I'm asking Tempura Cheesecake out on a date, because it seriously doesn't get better than that!

The next day, I reluctantly got out of bed to go to rehearsal (I don't get hangovers, but it had been a late night, and Saturdays used to be my only day not to wake up with an alarm. But that's not the case as long as this show is happening). But then it was time for Family Birthday time!

My brother offered to host, which is new, so Mom brought food, we all brought presents, and we settled in to be spoiled rotten. Since my brother is recently single, he has many practical needs. Believe me when I say I've never seen a man so excited to receive silverware as he was! I wish I had gotten a picture of him hugging his new Crockpot!

I was also pretty proud of the "creative" gift I had made for him. In keeping with the dining theme, I made a binder of some of his favorite recipes, and added dividers and page protectors so that he can continue to build his own personal cookbook. I had forgotten to make a cover page on the computer, so I had hand-drawn (with old Crayola markers I found in basement that, surprisingly, hadn't dried up) a cover declaring the book to be "Shawn's BIG Binder of Good Eating". Cheese-tastic, I know, but that's just how we roll in our family.

My family was entirely too generous to me, but I love that they care that much. One of my favorite gifts was the soundtrack to "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder". When I saw this cast perform at the Tony Awards in June (and they most deservedly won the Best Musical award), I fell instantly in love with the show. I'd love to go to New York to see it. I'd love to DO the show. But I have a feeling it's going to keep running on Broadway for quite a while yet, because it's amazing. More operetta than musical, it's the story of a poor man who starts bumping off the members of the family standing between him and an aristocratic title (all of whom are played by the same actor). It's witty, well-written, and undoubtedly unique.

I promise that next week I'll get back to DIY awesomeness, but the last week has been too busy and full of distractions to focus on creating. Plus, my kitchen is a mess, the piano tuner is coming tomorrow, and Georgia keeps insisting on knocking over my plants (I'm starting to think it's deliberate).

All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Five Things I Love About Birthday Week

So, I had a birthday this week.

No matter how old (or rather, closer to middle-aged) I get, I still look forward to my birthday every year. In so many ways, I've been the serious, responsible girl since I was a young girl. But when it comes to my birthday, I'm downright giddy and as excited as a little kid!

It doesn't hurt that since I was six years old, we've kind of treated birthdays as a multi-day or week-long event. With my brother's birthday landing the day before my own, it would have made sense for my parents to combine the celebration into a single party, but they never wanted us to feel shortchanged. So instead of a joint party, we'd have massive sleepover parties that lasted for an entire weekend and were packed with outings, games, entirely too much sugary food, and lots of friends. Mom ate it up - she loved having a houseful of kids running around having fun. I'm pretty sure Dad hid outside and did yard work to escape most of the chaos!

Now that we're older and busier, birthdays have extended to full weeks (mostly due to scheduling demands). For the last two years, I've even had show rehearsals on my birthday. This year, it was a choir rehearsal. So the fun gets strung out in drips and drabs, but that just makes the celebration last!

Here are my favorite things about Birthday Week:
  1. The baked goods. In case you haven't figured it out from previous posts, I love baked goods. Pretty much all baked goods work for me, although I'm rather partial to pie. This year, one of my young castmates baked me cookies, my co-worker Stacy made Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat Bars for the office, and Mom is providing a pie for our birthday dinner tomorrow. And undoubtedly, Mari, who is an expert baker, will come up with some amazing surprise when I celebrate with her and Dave next week. Not to mention the fact that years ago, I traded in birthday cake for something much more delicious and season-appropriate -  Apple Dumplings. I have a feeling I'm going to be treating myself sometime very soon!

  2. The greetings. I've never been a big one for greeting cards for any occasion - I think it's an unnecessary gimmick that we're now guilted into spending money on. But every year, I love hearing from people on my birthday. Say what you will about Facebook, but the flood of posts and private messages on my birthday (and in the new version of Facebook, there is fireworks animation!) always gives me a warm buzz. (And I can always count on the immensely talented and truly delightful Anna Campbell to be the first "Happy Birthday" I get, since Australia is well ahead of us in time zones!) Add to that the texts, phone calls, in-person well wishes, emails, and endless renditions of "Happy Birthday", and I am well-reminded that I am loved by a group of truly wonderful individuals!
  3. The disturbing picture that my Aunt created and posted on Facebook.
    She's a little bit warped, but I adore her anyway.

  4. My brother. What? Yes, I mean it. My brother and I have pretty much always been close, and I think part of that stems from the fact that we very nearly share a birthday. I actually have a very clear recollection of the first time I ever laid eyes on my kid brother - after dropping the neighborhood kids off following my McDonalds birthday party (remember when that was a thing?), my dad and grandparents drove me to the hospital to see my mom. Dad pointed through the window into the nursery and said, "That's your brother." At just over 24 hours old, he wasn't that impressive to look at, at least, not to a six year old. But since then, I've definitely come to realize he was the best birthday present I ever got.

  5. The season. Really, October is a grand time to have a birthday. Sure, it's not pool party weather, but I've never had a pool, and I don't like to be hot. There's just this incredible crispness to the air that screams fall. The leaves are changing colors. Apples and pumpkins are in season. Christmas is still far enough away that it hasn't stolen the show yet. It's really the best month there is.

  6. The food freebies. I am officially signed up for so many birthday freebies that my inbox is flooded every October. From free burgers at Red Robin to free ice cream from Cold Stone Creamery, it's definitely a glut-fest. Every year, I get more coupons than I can possibly use in the 2-4 weeks that they're valid, and not end up looking like Jabba the Hutt. Thank goodness my free pastry at Panera Bread is available until December...
What are your favorite birthday traditions?

All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Soft Pretzel Bites

Last weekend, it was sunny and gorgeous outside, and I stayed holed up on the couch, coughing until I had no voice (amongst other lovely side effects).

This weekend, the weather was gray, drizzly, and just generally unpleasant. My two favorite baseball teams squared off in the ALCS championship here in Baltimore, and my Orioles just couldn't pull it off (seriously, what was up with our pitching?), but my extended family out in KC are all doing the happy dance. And I was off-the-wall busy this weekend! After cooking dinner for my brother, who has the flu, and watching the O's lose on Friday, I dashed off to the homestead on Saturday for a sewing day with my mother followed by watching a family friend make his stage debut at the theater I got my start in. I've known the kid since I was taller than him, and now he's playing Lurch in "The Addams Family"!

But on Sunday, I got down to business. October business, that is.

Georgia played dead.

All around the web, people have been posting pumpkin spiced this, and apple caramel that. And that's all well and good. But to me, October is about all kinds of baking. Whether it's apple dumplings for my birthday (I'm so looking forward to these this week!) or Mexican cornbread or peanut butter oatmeal muffins, I am inevitably bitten by the baking bug as soon as the crisp autumn air swoops through the region.

This year, I decided to try something new. As a kid, I was fascinated by soft pretzels and always wanted to learn how to make them. My mom insisted that they were too much work. Now I have my own kitchen, so I thought I'd (finally) give it a try. They are a bit of work, but so incredibly worth it!

I found quite a few recipes online, each varying just a tiny bit. A work colleague suggested using this recipe, and since Alton Brown is The Man, this was the recipe I went with (you just have to appreciate a man who understands the science behind his art!). Boy was it the right choice! These soft pretzels were amazing! I made them into bites - cutting each of the 24-inch dough ropes into 1-inch pieces instead of the the traditional pretzel shape. I wanted to be able to ration them out a bit more than for just 8 pretzels, which is what the recipe makes. But they're so delicious that they may not last as long as I hoped!

One of the things that surprised me as I was teaching myself how to do this is that the dough, once shaped, has to be briefly boiled in water and baking soda. This struck me as a bit strange, but as I was doing that step, I noticed that it visibly changes the consistency of the dough, which is pretty nifty. Science at work!

Tonight, I'm hoping to mix up a beer-cheese sauce to dip them in, but they're so delicious, they don't really need any embellishment. Last night, I was popping them into my mouth without any extras, and they were mouth-wateringly wonderful!

All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Egg Drop Soup

October has always been my favorite month. It's not just that it's my birthday month, although I'm sure that was a contributing factor when I was a kid. It's because this is when autumn, my favorite season, really kicks into full gear.

Growing up on the East Coast, in the woods, fall always meant raking leaves and then jumping into the leaf mountains (we had so many trees in the yard that there were no mere leaf piles for us!). It meant Dad wheeling us around the yard in the wheelbarrow. It meant that special crispness in the air that you can almost taste.

October was also the month that meant great things on the food front. We learned to make apple cider from apples we had picked ourselves. Mom taught me how to make apple dumplings (which I still make in lieu of birthday cake) with pastry crust so thick and flaky you just can't get enough of it. We toasted the pumpkin seeds we scraped out before making jack-o-lanterns, then ate them like popcorn. Hayrides and bonfires and marshmallows toasted in the great outdoors - this is the legacy of growing up in the country.

This October, I looked forward to all of this and more. Unfortunately, I started the month off with the head cold from hell. I'm a big snotty, coughing mess right now, so I can't even enjoy the smell of fall in the air.

When I was a kid, my mom always made me chicken broth to drink out of a cup by straining the noodles and chicken out of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup (don't ask me why, but it worked). As an adult, the sheer saltiness of condensed soup actually has the opposite effect on me. I vastly prefer to go buy a jug (aka, a quart) of egg drop soup from my neighbor's restaurant. Yesterday, that's all I could think about - drowning myself in the smooth egg-y splendor (and breathing, but that wasn't going to happen).

Except, I'm not eating out these days. Darn those New Year's resolutions!

So, the dilemma: violate my principles and just buy the stupid soup, or come up with an alternate solution.

The answer: You know, I bet I could make my own egg drop soup.

Even when sick, I'm determined to have a little adventure...

Egg Drop Soup

4 cups chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ginger
2 Tbsp green onions, chopped (about 2-3)
2 eggs
3 tsp cornstarch
  1. In a medium saucepot, combine 3 1/4 cups of the broth, salt, and ginger. Bring to a rolling boil. Add the onions.
  2. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 3/4 cup broth and the cornstarch. Pour into the boiling soup mixture.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs til thoroughly beaten. Using the whisk or a fork, drizzle the egg mixture into the boiling soup mixture. Eggs should cook instantly.
  4. Spoon into bowls and serve while hot.
**Lessons learned: I added the cornstarch mixture last, because that's what the recipe I was using as a guide called for. However, this left the texture a bit chunky, rather than smooth like I'm used to in restaurants. After doing a bit more research, many people suggested adding the cornstarch BEFORE the eggs, so I've altered this recipe accordingly. Let me know how yours turns out!

All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.

Monday, September 29, 2014


I'm back after an insane work week where I was all but sleeping at the office. When the real world intrudes, there is sadly no time left over for the blogosphere or fabulousness. There are only hours til deadlines that pass entirely too quickly, endless documents to edit and format, and copious amounts of caffeine - which, since I don't drink coffee, meant that I consumed more Coke Zero last week than my body wants to deal with in an entire season.

Squire Andy talks about
Colonial Annapolis
Before things got particularly crazy, I got together with my friends Dave and Mari (of the hiking expedition this summer - you'll see them referenced a lot, as they are some of my best friends), who had decided to have one last hoorah before the season took off. Like me, they are performers (that's actually how we met), and with Mari's show opening this past weekend, Dave's in November, and mine in December, we wanted to get in one last weekend of fun before we had to turn ourselves over to our respective stage obligations.

Fortunately, this involved no planning and very little decision making on my part. This made it an even better vacation than I could have hoped for!

We drove down to Annapolis in the morning for a walking tour of historic Annapolis. Now, I had done this (maybe even this exact tour) when I was in the 4th grade, as does every 9 year old in the state of Maryland, since that's when they teach us all about Maryland History. But since that was more years ago than I care to admit to, it was a nice refresher.

A Colonial inn on Church Circle,
complete with flower vendor on the sidewalk
The tour included St. Anne's Episcopal Church (one of the oldest in the state), the state house, and the U.S. Naval Academy.

Chambers for the House of Delegates
The Chapel at the U.S. Naval Academy
I think the biggest shocker for me was going onto the campus of the Naval Academy. I remember a time when going to Annapolis meant drooling over the handsome cadets looking all polished in their white uniforms.

Now they all look painfully young...

The tomb of John Paul Jones beneath
the chapel at the U.S. Naval Academy

At the end of the tour, we were all starving and thirsty, so we ducked into the general store along the main drag and asked for a restaurant recommendation. I always prefer to ask the locals where they go to eat, and avoid the touristy spots - you inevitably get better food with less hype. We were steered across the bridge to Davis' Pub (which was actually featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives) and sat outside to an amazing lunch of BLT Deviled Eggs and Chipotle Habanero Pulled Pork Sandwiches - very messy, but worth every bite!

We had to walk off everything that we'd eaten, so we made our way back to thank the man at the candy counter of the general store for his recommendation, where I couldn't resist buying a giant turtle pecan cluster. So yummy!

The boaters took advantage of the gorgeous sunny day
And, of course, us being us, we had to stop in The Spice & Tea Exchange, since Dave & Mari are both incredible cooks who like to experiment with spices and even grow their own herbs. And I couldn't resist buying more tea, even though I haven't made it through my stash from the last time I went to their Georgetown location! But honestly, how is a girl to pass up Coconut Oolong tea?

Then we bolted up to Baltimore, because Dave had signed us up for the Fells Point Wicked History Pub Crawl. Our guide, Cliff, was a riot, and even though I've been to Fells Point many times, there were definitely some revelations from our tour! Our first stop was Sticky Rice, which in its earlier incarnation as a brothel was where Billie Holiday got her start singing!
Once upon a time, this was a bordello
where Billie Holiday used to sing
Next up was One Eyed Mike's, a Grand Marnier Bar. We couldn't believe how quickly the cost of a shot skyrocketed between the bottom shelf GM and the next step up!

Who knew there were so many kinds of Grand Marnier?
Then we were off to The Horse You Came In On, known for its connection to Edgar Allan Poe. You can get completely lost in the hilarious sayings and posters on every wall. While we were there, I tagged us all on Facebook. Minutes later, we turned around to find a big group of our theater buddies had snuck up behind us - they were having dinner a few doors down before going to see a show in the neighborhood. That's Baltimore for you - a big small town.
A favorite (and final) haunt of Edgar Allan Poe

Do the flags give away that
this is an Irish pub?
Our final stop was The Cat's Eye Pub, which at one time allegedly had IRA connections. Whether it was the deafening music we could hear from the street, or the fact that I come from a long line of Irish Protestants, we opted to skip this one, and went back to Sticky Rice for some Japanese cuisine! Delicious!

Entirely too much food, a day full of walking and history - it was a great way to kick off the autumn season!

All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Five Breakfast-y Dreams

What a week it's been! And now Scotland has voted to remain part of the UK in a peaceful and democratic move. It's a great reminder that history is unfolding in front of our eyes every single day.

In other news, it has turned chilly here, and I can tell we're right on the cusp of my favorite season, autumn! But with the cooler days comes a greater reluctance to drag myself out of the warmth and comfort of my bed.

It doesn't help that this has been a bear of a week, and I find myself short on both sleep and energy.

All week long, I've been trying to finish off the skimmings from my peach and blackberry jam-making projects (I'm down to half a tea cup of Blackberry Port Jam) by eating it on whole wheat toast for breakfast. But this morning, my unwillingness to face the day meant that I was running late, and so I justified not packing my breakfast and just grabbing a 90-calorie granola bar by reminding myself that I'm only working until lunchtime today.

Still, as I sit at my computer and write this, I find that I really don't want that granola bar. There's breakfast, and then there's Breakfast.

I went through many years of not starting out the day with a meal - I even prided myself on my ability to go without. But now it's become a regular part of my morning ritual, and I find myself not looking forward to tearing open that wrapper.

Five Things I'd Rather Eat for Breakfast

  1. Peanut Butter Oatmeal - Regular oatmeal was never good enough for my mother. Too plain, too boring, too bland. So she created a simple recipe for Peanut Butter Oatmeal (until I was in college, this was the only way I remembered eating oatmeal). Just combine in a medium pot 2 cups milk, 1 cup instant oats, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. The oatmeal thickens very quickly, so once it's in a bowl, I like to pour some more milk over it. It's not the healthiest way to start the day, but it sure warms you up on a cold morning!

  2. Ring-a-lings - My mom only made these a few times when I was a kid, but I loved them and always begged her to make them. The recipe is courtesy of Pillsbury.

  3. Monkey Bread - When I was little, my mom had a microwave monkey bread recipe that she did in a glass pie plate. I would get so excited that I would yell, "Boy, oh boy!" And so for years, that's what we called it - Boy Oh Boy. I've never made the microwave version myself, but whenever it's my turn to bring in breakfast for the office, I skip the Dunkin' Donuts and the Panera bagels and usually make some version of Monkey Bread. There's so many ways to do it - the classic recipe, the savory version, as an appetizer, or really, any way you can think of! Right now, I'm thinking that the Pumpkin Cheesecake Monkey Bread sounds appropriately fall-ish!

  4. Southwest Omelet - Surely you didn't think this was strictly a carb-loaded list! I go through phases with eggs - sometimes I just can't get enough eggs in my diet, and other times, I don't want to see, smell, or taste an egg. But right now, a nice warm omelet filled with garlic, tomatoes, bell peppers, and onions and seasoned with a little cumin and chili powder sounds marvelous.

  5. Mimosas - Yes, I know I said things I'd rather eat for breakfast, but who doesn't love champagne for breakfast? I actually don't care for the stuff on its own, but mixed with equal parts OJ, you just can't go wrong. I made mimosas for a Craft Day I hosted several months ago, and let's just say that we were a very happy group of ladies!

What breakfast are you fantasizing about right now?

All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Casual Diva Takes the Stage

What a busy weekend it was! I know, I know, when is it not? But it was a big weekend for Baltimore, and it seemed like everyone pulled out the stops. From the Star Spangled Spectacular (to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the writing of the Star Spangled Banner) to our winning Orioles, the town was hopping!

On Friday, our building management had a cookout on the roof, so we hung out in the sunshine (getting a little crispy around the edges at the same time) and watched the Blue Angels practice for their big show the following night. If you've never seen them, you're missing out on quite the airshow by some of our Navy's most talented pilots.

We'd also been watching the clipper ships come in and out of the Harbor all week.

We braved the traffic to get across town (because the President had come to town for the celebration, so no one was really going anywhere at 4pm) for Happy Hour in Federal Hill before heading over to Camden Yards to watch our beloved Orioles take down the Yankees for the second time that day!

Saturday morning dawned gray and rainy, which, combined with the strain of having yelled to much at the baseball game, did not bode well for my morning audition. I got through it, and even did passably well. But I had ignored some of my tried and true tenants of auditioning. It was sheer luck (and a poor turnout at the auditions) that let me shine.

Wait! What? There are rules for auditioning?

Of course there are!

I've been doing musical theater for almost 30 years (I was really young when I started!!!), and there are absolutely must-do and should-do items on the list. For example:

  • Do your research. Into the show, into the theater company, even into your fellow actors (it never hurts to know who else is going to be going for the same roles as you). I'm always amazed when I see someone audition who doesn't know what the show is about, or what style of music the show uses. If you aren't at least marginally familiar with the show, how do you know it's something you'll enjoy doing? This is something you're going to be dedicating a lot of time and energy to over several months - make sure you know what you're getting in to!

  • Dress comfortably. This is crucial. You don't have to be slovenly, but you definitely need to wear something that you feel at ease in. Often, you'll be asked to dance, but even beyond that, if you're more concerned with staying balanced on your 5-inch heels (I've seen it happen), you're going to be distracted while you're singing or acting, and not showing the director the full degree of what you can do. I usually go for a t-shirt and yoga pants, or a skirt and tights. I still look feminine, but I don't have to think about flashing anyone (I've see that happen too!).

  • Be prepared. This kind of goes hand in hand with my first point, but even more so. If it's a musical, rehearse your audition song so that you know it well enough not to be thrown off. Inevitably, something will go awry - the accompanist will take the tempo too fast or too slow, or miss notes, or not have an amp for their keyboard so that you can't hear them. The director may cut you off before you get to your favorite part. You may be asked to sing something completely different, or in a different style or accent, or kneeling on the stage. These are all things that have happened to me, and no matter how frustrated or shaken you feel, it helps to show directors that you can roll with the punches.

  • Be okay with rejection. I've given some auditions where I felt like I blew them away and that I was a solid contender for a leading role, and then not gotten cast even in the ensemble. I've had other auditions where I felt I gave a mediocre performance, and then was offered the lead with gushing praise from the director. When I was a kid, not getting the part I wanted felt like a crushing blow - I'd cry, I'd beg my mother to explain why they didn't like me, I'd argue that it was all so unfair. But I survived the rejection. Now, when I don't get cast, or don't get offered the part I want, I'm still disappointed, but I recognize that directors all have their own reasoning. Sometimes you get offered a different part that may not be as glamorous, but it more challenging or more fun anyway. Sometimes, no matter how right you are for the part, there's simply someone who is better. And sometimes, it just wasn't meant to be.

  • Be respectful. Don't argue with the director. Don't make fun of people who mess up their auditions. Don't talk through other auditioners' cold reads or songs. Remember, if you get cast, you're going to be spending a huge amount of time with these same people - start off on the right foot.

  • Have fun! Remember, it's theater, not the pursuit for a cure for cancer. We do it because we love it - the music, the costumes, the make-believe. If it stops being fun, it's time to find a new hobby.

All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Five Things That Make Me Go Mmmmm

Does anyone else remember that song from some time in the '90s with the chorus line, "Things that make you go mmm, mmm"? Was that C&C Music Factory? Sadly, I'm not a walking encyclopedia of music knowledge the way my brother is - he can tell you who the studio drummer on Winger's second album was and how long he played with the band and why he stopped, without even blinking an eye. I'm lucky if I know who performed that song on the radio that I like to sing along with.

Anyway....for some reason, as I sat down this morning to write, that song popped into my head. I'm not sure if the song was supposed to have a different meaning,  and so your Friday Five is all about things that spark my curiosity, and make me go, "Mmm?"

Five Things That Make Me Go Mmmmm
  1. Why are Peanut M&Ms so addictive? I can resist any other kind of M&M. Any kind of candy, for that matter. One of my coworkers keeps different candy stocked in her office at all times, although it's been years since she had a single sweet (that's willpower for you!), and I'm usually able to resist the temptation to pop a chocolate, or a Skittle, or a Reese's Cup into my mouth. But every once in a while, she'll have a supply of Fun Size Peanut M&M packets that she'll pull out just for me, and my resolve crumbles. Those little bite fulls of chocolatey, peanutty goodness are my Kryptonite - but I have no idea why. There's plenty of better tasting junk food out there...

  2. Realty TV - why is it still around, and so popular? I'm not talking about the competitions - I do absolutely love So You Think You Can Dance, because those kids are wildly talented - but rather the reality shows that just follow "normal" people around in their "normal" lives. Are we really so hard up for entertainment that mocking others is the most appealing option? Give me scripted TV (and granted, some of it isn't that well written) or better yet, a book, any day over celebutantes, screaming dance moms, or Duck Dynasty.

  3. Why don't the blooms on my lilies last longer? Seriously, I get maybe two weeks of glorious pink perfumed gorgeousness every July, and then they're gone, leaving just waxy green leaves and 4-foot stalks for the aphids to suck on. Sigh. I love them so much. I just can't understand why they have to pass so fleetingly through my year.

  4. Why am I incapable of opening a can of anything without nicking my finger? I have two can openers - one is just a basic cheap one that I've had since college and works just fine, and the other is a heavy-duty KitchenAid red can opener that I could use to defend myself in the event of a zombie apocalypse. But regardless of which one I use, there's always that tiny little piece that sticks up where the lid breaks off, and it never fails but I cut myself. These hands have had enough!

  5. Why is this giant Praying Mantis on my desk? I seriously just noticed this! I looked up and noticed it on my team trophy from this year's office Fitness Challenge. Ack! It just jumped off and is staring at me over my computer monitor! I'm not typically squeamish about insects - I grew up in the woods after all - and I'm not one of those girls who jumps up on her chair and screams at the sight of a spider. But this is a very LARGE insect, and it is not keeping its distance! Where on earth did this thing come from?!?! Eva tells me they are supposed to be good luck - with everything that's happened in the past month and an audition tomorrow, I could certainly use it!

That's what's circling in this mind today. Have a great weekend - I'm off to release a Praying Mantis into the wild (or at least into the shrubs outside the office entrance).

All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Hidden Treasures

I hope everyone had a gorgeous weekend!  I always look forward to the weekend, not because it means not being in the office, but because it's a chance for me to catch up on all of the things I've let slide at home over the course of the week. I can leisurely fold laundry while watching episodes of Criminal Minds on Netflix. It's not unheard of for me to dance around the kitchen to the tunes on my iPod while drying dishes. I'm sure I keep my neighbors entertained (or slightly scared) by holding conversations with Georgia through the storm door as I week the flower beds.

And it means that I'm not in the office.

Whatever my weekend plans are, they always end up changing. I never end up getting the big stuff accomplished. Sometimes, it's because of the opportunity to sleep in, and then take a nap on the sofa. After all, a girl has to catch up from the week, right? Sometimes it's because a friend calls with a better offer for how to spend the day - last week it was mattress shopping with my brother.

This weekend, I was determined to be productive. I cooked. I folded laundry that, I am somewhat ashamed to admit, has been in the laundry basked for more than a week. I cleaned. I organized. I turned down an offer from my friends to go to the Renaissance Faire (I really wanted to go, and with these particular friends, but I had to resist because of what follows...).

A while back, I had been a victim of a home invasion of the four-legged rodent variety. This was the first mouse I'd seen in the house in the 5 years I've lived here. Georgia, of course, was of no help other than alerting me with her neurotic behavior to the fact that a mouse was running around the kitchen. Once the little devil was caught, I thought I had done a good job cleaning up after him (her? I didn't bother to check.). But here we are, weeks later and still finding little surprises all over the pantry.

So I decided enough was enough! I was going to take back control of my pantry!

The first step was to empty everything out of the pantry which, for a townhouse, is not very small.

I didn't realize until I started running out of space on the dining room table just how much I had in the pantry. As you can see, not only was the table fully loaded, but a chair and the kitchen island as well, with the heavier items stashed under the table. If I had to move next week, the local food pantry would hit the motherload, because there is no way I could pack all of this up!

Not only did I pull everything out, but I had to wipe all of it down. Some of my lesser-used bakeware is also stored in the pantry, and it all went into the stack of dishes to be washed.

Now, when my friends texted me about going to the Renn Faire, I was tempted. I mean, REALLY tempted. But not only was I not feeling 100% due to some mouth issues I'm getting checked out later this week (I'm sure my mother would say that it's not possible for a doctor to cure all of my mouth issues!), I knew my downstairs looked like this. It was reloading day, and my undiagnosed OCD was up for the challenge!
I actually loved the opportunity to reorganize, condense, and sort. I'm either super easy to entertain, or slightly crazy!

I didn't notice so much as I was pulling items out and wiping them off, but as I attempted to put everything back into the pantry in some semblance of order, I found a few really cool things that I had forgotten I had, some of which I still haven't figured out what to do with yet.

One of my friends from Europe gave me this chocolate sauce, so you know it's the good stuff. I always figured I'd save it for when I was entertaining, but always forgot to put it out. I have a little fondue-sized crockpot - I'm thinking dipping sauce for strawberries and pound cake at my next craft day!

For some reason, I have four giant cans of pumpkin, each one big enough for two pies, or two large loaves of pumpkin bread. I'm not really sure why I have these - my best guess is that I got a little paranoid about the reported pumpkin shortage a few years ago and bought it when I could. Thank goodness the fall baking season is almost here!

Couscous! For a while, I was on a real couscous kick - I'm the only member of my family who seems to like it. The craze has kind of worn off - I like it, but don't obsess about it now, and this package is the only remnant of those wild months!

I found this intriguing item last year at my local produce market, and could resist buying it. Combining two of my favorite spreads - apple butter and barbeque sauce - how fascinating! And it's a locally made product! Unfortunately, I'm still at a loss for what to eat with it (chicken? pork?), and every attempt to find a recipe that would use it just gives me a recipe for - you guessed it - apple butter.

My four-and-a-half years in South Carolina didn't change my diet astronomically - I resisted attempts to become an acolyte of all things chicken-fried - but it did give me a love of grits for breakfast. While on vacation in Georgia, my parents picked up this bag of stone milled grits as a gift for me, but It got wedged in an unseen corner of the pantry, and I've never gotten around to using it. I'm thinking there may be some variation of shrimp and grits in my immediate future!
As a reward for all of my hard work this weekend, I then baked these amazing Blackberry Cheesecake Bars from The Pioneer Woman to bring to the office. I couldn't resist having some for breakfast (don't judge!), and they are amazing! A satisfying weekend, indeed.

So your question for today is, what odd or interesting items do you have lurking in your pantry, waiting patiently for you to rediscover them?

All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Five Things You May Not Know About Me

Two post in one week? What is the world coming to?

This week, I've decided to do something new. Since I am a champ at list making, I've decided to do a (short) list each Friday on a different subject. Maybe this will help us get to know each other better, or at least understand a little more about why I'm weird (fabulous, but weird). Feel free to contribute to each list in the comments!

Five Things You May Not Know About Me
  1. I have overcome many of my childhood food aversions, but to this day, I still do not like beans of any kind. Really, I don't get along with most members of the legume family (including peanuts, which I love, but which make me break out horribly). My aversion to beans has been a source of much amusement to my family over the years, including my many schemes (some extreme) to dispose of beans at dinner rather than eating them - many a green bean was sacrificed to porcelain throne.

  2. When I was searching for a house five years ago, I looked at more than 120 houses (that was the point at which my real estate agents stopped counting) in a 6 month period. Some people would call that being picky. I prefer to think of it as getting it right the first time.

  3. I love to bake. I mean, really love it. It's one of my go-to stress relief outlets. I think it's the process of following the steps of a recipe that helps me decompress - it helps me get out of my head and just work out my frustrations. Plus, it makes my house smell heavenly, and quite frankly, like a home.

  4. I have studied 4 foreign languages, and am considered fluent in German (at least, I hope I'm considered fluent, otherwise that bachelor's degree is a waste!). I even taught high school German for a brief period of time, in what I now refer to as "The Dark Months". *shudder* Seriously, my freshman were lucky to survive the experience.

  5. Don't tell the Monty Python guys, but I genuinely don't have a favorite color. If asked on any given day, I might tell you that I love purple - there are so many amazing shades of purple in nature. Or I might say that I prefer green - my bedroom is painted green. I also love blue. And orange. I look fantastic in red. And who doesn't love yellow - such a friendly color! Do I really have to pick just one?
So that's it, my list of random factoids about myself. What would be on your list?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

It's All About the Little Things

I've been struggling for a few days, trying to decide what to write about for this week's blog. It's not that I haven't been busy, or that I've put my projects and pursuit of fabulousness on the back burner - that's not it at all! In fact, I've rarely been busier! I think it's that I have so many things going on, a lot of which require a great deal of energy, that I am having difficulty putting it all into words.

And then there are some things that I'm still struggling to define my feelings about.

So in the meantime, I'm going to leave you with a funny anecdote from Labor Day weekend.

Several weeks ago, I decided that I was going to start my holiday weekend a little early, and drive out on Friday to visit my parents, who live a little over an hour away. I knew that Mom would be at work for part of the time, but Dad is retired, and this girl never passes up a chance to hang out with her Daddy! I had some vaguely nebulous ideas about what we'd do, centering around creating furniture for Georgia (so that she'd stop climbing my armchairs), but mostly was just looking for an excuse to spend time with the ones I love.

Sometime after lunch and a jaunt in Dad's garden to pick tomatoes and "albino" cucumbers, we settled onto the porch swing that has hung on the deck since I was a teenager. Surrounded by sunshine, blooming flowers in every color, and sleeping cats, it seemed like a little slice of heaven as we rocked and chatted.

Pearl cucumbers from Dad's garden. They kind of looked
like giant weevils, but were actually quite delicious!

Then there was a creak. And then a groan. And then we were tipped backward to face the sky.

Then the back of the porch swing gave way, and I saw my dad's legs fly up over his head!

I thought I was hanging on, but once Dad's counterweight was gone, the swing decided to spit me out as well. I somehow flipped so that my head was under the swing and my feet were on the deck railing.

Once we could both catch our breath and determined that there were no major injuries that required First Aid or a doctor, we started laughing and couldn't stop. Through gasps of merriment, I kept insisting that it wasn't funny, but Dad was adamant that it was as he shook with laughter. Even recounting it to Mom hours later, we couldn't control ourselves and had tears streaming down our faces in the retelling.

I'm pretty sure she thought we'd knocked a few screws loose.

All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Banana Avocado Facial

I was all prepared to give you MORE jam recipes, since I jammed and made pie filling out of the 1/2 bushel of peaches I picked last weekend, but I didn't want to bore anyone, so I thought I'd mix it up a bit.

I've always struggled with my skin. In fact, I'm not sure I've had 100% clear skin on a single day since I was about 11 years old. As I've gotten older, I take more and more steps to try to mitigate any damage already done, and keep more from happening. I've tried over-the-counter washes, prescription topical treatments, mail-order programs like Proactiv, and none of it seems to do any good.

But I've finally gotten to a point where I can identify what the source of the problems are. I no longer eat peanuts, since they make me break out. I wear sunscreen anytime I'm going to be outside for more than 5 minutes. I moisturize religiously, both before I apply makeup (powdered, rather than liquid) and before I go to bed.

Every once in a while, I like to treat myself to a little something extra. It's always amazed me how smearing some kind of gray-green goop on my face can make me feel not just soothed and refreshed, but even more feminine and lovely (and I assure you, I don't look lovely walking around with a green face). I found a "volcanic mud mask" once that made my skin feel like satin, but was heavily perfumed, and showed no evidence of actually containing mud from a volcanic area. And I've never been able to find it again anyway.

After much searching through stores and coming up with bupkiss, I finally caved and decided to make my own face masks. And oh, I'm so glad I did! This mask leaves my skin feeling smooth as butter and twice as enervated! The avocado is full of those wonderful anti-oxidants that are so important to our skin. Bananas are also rife with anti-oxidants, as well as healing potassium (any time I got a foot cramp growing up, my dad told me to eat a banana!) and vitamins. The olive oil acts as a moisturizer, and the yogurt contributes calcium and protein to the mix.

**Normally, I would use my blender to mix this face mask to get a nice smooth blend, but I need to order a replacement part, so I used a mixer, hence the lumpier than usual images.

Banana Avocado Facial
1 ripe banana
1 ripe avocado
4 Tbsp plain full fat yogurt
1 tsp olive oil

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate or freeze until ready to
use. Apply to face and neck, and allow to set for 15-30 minutes. Rinse off with warm water.

I hope you feel as decadent and luxurious as I do when I indulge in this!

All content and images are ©The Casual Diva, except where otherwise noted. Content may not be republished without prior consent of the author.