Enjoy a Starry Night at an Outside Summer Concert

A few weeks ago, my friend Jen mentioned that we needed a girl’s night out. “Let’s go have tapas, laugh and drink wine!” That’s exactly what we did… and it was fabulous! We said, “Bonjour summer” with a relaxing night of tapas and ballet under the stars.

This got me thinking, “why don't we do this more often?” As long as you bring along bug spray, being outside on a summers evening is a pleasure.

Summer is in full swing; on a perfect evening under a starry night there are so many opportunities to dine al fresco while watching an outside performance. The song of the cicadas', beckons us to get outside and enjoy summer with friends and family.

Bring your grandmother’s cozy quilt, a picnic basket full of fresh summer foods, and a bottle of rosé …you’ll be all set to make musical memories and get into the spirit of summer. Stepping outside a formal theatre to see a ballet performance in the open air was refreshing. Jen and I enjoyed Ballet Concerto in Fort Worth’s beautiful Trinity Park Pavilion.

After such a lovely evening, I am inspired to enjoy more outdoor summer concerts. Here in Texas, it is very likely that we will reach the triple digits during the day so and evening event sounds like the best plan.
Here are some summer ideas for those who live in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. If you’re not, be sure to look up were you can soak up summer’s beautiful evenings in your neck of the woods.

June 28: Professor D- Variety Disco
July 3: Infantry Division Band-US Military Band
July 10: Asleep at the Wheel- Kings of Texas Swings
July 12: Good Question Band- Variety
July 17: Kildares- Celtic rock
July 19: Molly Ringwalds- 80’s
July 24: Blaze of Glory- Bon Jovi tribute
July 26: Brave Combo- Polka
July 31: Spazmatics- 80’s
                                             ‘Til Midnight at the NasherEnjoy live outdoor concerts and a movie screening in the garden as the sun sets over Dallas.
July 20: Mon Julien (music concert) 7:00PM The Artist (movie) 9:00PM
August 17: Smile Smile (music concert) Midnight in Paris (movie)
                                                              Concerts on the LakeAll concerts are free and shows begin at 7:30 at the harbor. Enjoy great music and a beautiful view of Lake Ray Hubbord at sunset.
June 28: Escape – Journey Tribute
July 5: Random Axis - Variety
July 12: Live 80 – 80’s
July 19: The Rub – Urban Blues
July 26: Voodoo Blue – Steve Ray Vaughn Tribute

Shows start at 8:15. The 22nd annual Concerts in the Garden have been described as "Fort Worth's best seasonal outing!" The Fort Worth Botanic Garden concerts are a great bargain for families. Children 10 and under are admitted free on the lawn if accompanied by an adult, and children's table tickets are available at more than half off the adult price in select areas.

June 29: Tito Puente Jr.- classics
June 30: Classical Mystery Tour- Beatles tribute
July 2,3,4: Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra

Enjoy free family friendly rock concert from 7-9:00.

June 28 - Hard Night's Day (Beatle's Tribute)
Enjoy a pleasant evening of free music under the stars in Arlington.
June 28: The Elders- Magic and mayhem with a Celtic twist
June 29: Burning Hotels- Indie rock
June 30: Dale Watson- classic country
July 1: Big Sam’s Funky Nation- funk-charged rock
July 3: Light Up Arlington with Pure Prairie League

Chihuly at the Dallas Arboretum: a must see and see again

Glass is just so special—it’s a combination of heat and fire, all natural things, and it’s one of the few materials you can see through in a large canvas,” says Dale Chihuly.
Chihuly’s “Garden Cycle” is inspired by nature. The Dallas Arboretum is so lucky to enjoy the beautiful Chihuly glass installations until November 5th.  People in the Dallas area should go at least twice…take your children during the day and then go again at night for a romantic “Chihuly Nights” (concerts in the garden showcasing Chihuly’s sculptures illuminated beneath the moon).
Just as plants grow and change with the seasons, the Chihuly exhibit changes its appearance in day and night. Again…go more than once!  
Last week, Dallas had a major hail storm and one of the pieces suffered some damage. Chihuly had known there would be a chance of hail in Dallas during his exhibit here but had said, “Well, we’ve withstood hurricanes in Miami. Glass is sturdier than it looks.” Thankfully, the damage was minimal and has already been repaired.
Glass sculptures are not usually displayed outdoors. Chihuly’s pieces seem so fragile; with that fragility comes a soft freshness that compliments nature…the sun, plants and especially the water. Art is in nature just as the poets Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman agreed on. “This world is but a canvas to our imagination.” ~Thoreau
My favorite exhibit is overlooking Dallas’ White Rock Lake, with two wooden boats floating in an infinity pool. One boat is filled with different size glass balls and the other has bright colored branches. It has a very Zen-like quality.

Chihuly’s glass installations are so well suited around ponds, plants, and waterfalls. His work is organic and it seems to flow seamlessly with the outdoors.
He gained an appreciation for plants and flowers from his mother’s garden in Tacoma, Washington.  
Dale Chihuly and his wife Leslie

Chihuly isn’t a gallery kind of artist, he thinks outside the museum box. With the loss of one eye (from a car accident in England), he changed his work method and began to question why glass objects needed to be symmetrical.
Chihuly’s exhibit is an educational and cultural experience for all ages. It was a sight to see my young children running around searching for butterflies and bunnies (which we saw plenty of) while being surrounded by art.
Jane Austen said, “To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.” She was so right…visiting The Dallas Arboretum was like a cool glass of lemonade for the soul.  Chihuly’s art is refreshing to the eyes; viewing brilliant colors with a child-like newness.
I read that Vincent Van Gogh’s colorful paintings were inspirational to Chihuly. Seeing Chihuly’s colors, I can see the similarities. Van Gogh’s swirly brush strokes are very similar to Chihuly’s ribbon-like coils of glass. I imagine Van Gogh would have painted a second Starry Night, had he seen “Chihuly Nights” at the Dallas Arboretum.
Seeing Chihuly at the Dallas Arboretum was a joyful experience that I’m sure I will remember forever.  It was like seeing picturesque poetry of Chihuly’s dreams. The display is likely to add smiles to the sweet dreams of all who have the opportunity to see it.

Happy Birthday Mom!!

Happy Birthday Mom!
Dancer, Maid of Cotton and Girl Next Door.
My mom is my role-model. She is talented in so many things and inspires me every day. She is the most wonderful mother and grandmother! She can always tell me if there is a recall on spinach, give me dinner ideas, fix a head-ache...Isn't she gorgeous! Just imagine her dancing to Three Dog Night (her favorite band). She's a lot like Mary Poppins the way she has a magical touch with my children who adore her. My mom's grandmother name is Coco and it suits her perfectly!
My mom was my dad's best catch!
My mom's favorite movie is The Bells of St. Mary's. Bing Crosby said as Father Chuck O'Malley, “I shall pass this way but once, if there’s any good I can do for anyone, let me do it now and not put it off for I shall not pass this way again.” This is my mom...always doing good for everyone. She's the perfect mother! I love these pictures of my mom and dad right before and after they were married in 1973.
My mom did my hair for my wedding. I still love for her to do my hair. She has the most gentle touch. Don't you love looking at old family photos? My favorite is the one of four generations all sitting together. My brother and sister and I are so lucky to have such a wonderful mother.
I love you Mom!
Many Happy Returns!

First Position: a beautiful, feel-good ballet documentary

Not everyone has an appreciation for the talent, resolve, and effort required for a person to become a professional dancer. Ballet looks effortless and graceful with its artistry and embellishment of shapes but it is as complex as learning a new language.
First Position, a Sundance documentary by Bess Kargman, focuses on seven children who are preparing for the Youth American Grand Prix finals in New York (one of the world’s premier competitions). The Grand Prix starts with 5,000 entrants and ends with 300 contestants. These seven featured dancers train so hard for just five minutes onstage to prove why they deserve a scholarship to a world-renowned ballet conservatory and a contract with a professional ballet company. Winning can make or break their careers.

Even if you are not a dancer, watching First Position will give you a view of a dancer's life you may not have had before. Dancers train more hours a day than a professional athlete. Watching them makes it easier to recognize all the hard work and endless hours put into their craft.
Young dancers give up a lot of their childhood. They are usually home-schooled to allow more time for training. They must have tremendous support from their family. Many dancers’ families move or travel far to be where the ballet training is best. Dancing is a commitment of time, emotion and money. On top of that, dancers endure physical pain making their bodies do unnatural things. The fierce competition and stress don’t stop these seven dancers and their families from trying to achieve their dreams…it’s inspiring!
Ballet dreams are harder to achieve today because of the economic environment…companies are having to let dancers go. There are fewer openings for positions and this makes today’s young dancers work even harder to try to achieve what seems impossible. Scholarships are hard to come by and dancers need them because along with the training, tutus and pointe shoes are so expensive.
The hunger and the need to dance for these seven can be seen on stage and is breathtakingly gorgeous. That’s what judges are looking for…that star quality that will make the audience so engaged that they’ll pay for many more performances in the future.

Aran and Gaya, both age 11
I love ballet so much it’s hard to explain,” says eleven-year-old American Aran Bell. Aran is one of the seven dancers followed in the documentary. He lives in Italy with his military family (who are extremely supportive). His father willingly took a tour of duty in Kuwait to keep Aran with his teachers in Naples, Italy. It's easy to fall in love with him because he’s tries so hard and has a very likable personality. I think Israeli dancer, Gaya Bommer Yemini, who is also eleven feels the same way…she has a sweet crush on Aran.

Aran’s French teacher tells him, “You’re not jumping, you’re flying!” Aran says sometimes ballet is painful (speaking about his teacher's corrections of slapping his belly and pulling his head up).

Michaela, 14
Michaela DePrince, fourteen-year-old war orphan from Sierra Leone was adopted by a Jewish family in New Jersey. Michaela doesn’t fit the stereotype for a ballerina…with a muscular athletic body and impetigo she proves that black girls can be light and graceful ballerinas. Michaela’s story is the most heart wrenching...with her hopeful heart and painful past she overcomes what seems impossible.
Miko, 12
Miko Fogarty, a twelve-year-old from Northern California is talented and has more hunger to dance than her ten-year-old brother Jules who doesn’t seem to have the heart his mother wished he did.
Joan, 16
Joan Sebastian Samora, left his family in Colombia to train in New York. He wants to be able to support his family back in Colombia, where he knows there are no opportunities for his future.

Rebecca, 17
Rebecca Houseknect, seems to be the most “normal” child. She was a cheerleader in a suburban high school, likes all things pink and being called a princess.
As the Grand Prix begins, the audience is rooting for all of them. These seven dancers are so young to be so serious; it’s their determination that keeps you on the edge of your seat and reminds you of what it’s like to have a dream. It's always enjoyable to recognize and appreciate youthful exuberance and inspiration as they combine with great effort toward an honorable goal.  

See the trailer here.

Read, sip, eat, see, wear, listen, and pin...everything summer!

June is the perfect time…summer is young and welcomed by the birds singing, children playing, and the pool is just so inviting! Heighten your senses for this delicious warm season with some très étérecommendations to read, sip, eat, see, wear, listen, and pin everything summer.

Read: Paris in Love and Love in a Warm Climate
Paris in Love: Eloisa James took a leap that many people dream about: she sold her house, took a sabbatical from her job as a Shakespeare professor, and moved her family to Paris. Paris in Love chronicles her joyful year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Love in a Warm Climate: What do you do if you find a bra in your husband's luggage that isn't yours? Or even his! This is the dilemma facing mother-of-three Sophie Reed, shortly after she moves to France with her family to start a new life. As they are unpacking her husband admits to having an affair with a French woman called Cecile. Sophie thinks about throwing him out with the bra. But then what? Should she move back to England? Her inner French woman tells her otherwise.

Sip: Searching for the perfect refreshing wine for warm summer evenings? I love the pretty pink color of rosé . Try sipping these summer wines.
Bottega Vinaia Pinot Grigio, a limited-production, estate-bottled wine from northern Italy’s Trentino region, is setting a new standard for premium Italian white wines. Exceptionally fragrant, Bottega Vinaia exudes an alluring floral perfume of an intensity and persistence uncommon in a Pinot Grigio.
Marques de Caceres rosé has an beautiful ruby color. Expressive bouquet with notes of raspberries, bilberries and cherries, enlivened by a touch of spice and a depth of vanilla. Charming fruit in the mouth with good structure that highlights concentrated flavors and fleshy tannins. Nice complexity on the tasting resulting in good length.

The titles of Bremer's works are each a line of the famous poem, "Ode to Joy," and it is very fitting for this series, where the colored dots of paint could be compared to bubbles of champagne or child-like balloons of bright colors...c'est magique!

Wear: Italian designer, Guia La Bruna’s bikini says summer fun at the pool. The feminine fabric makes this suit coquettish and girly.  
The girl from Ipanema probably wore a suit like this. The Camilla and Marc one-piece is eye-catching with its color blocking and playful polka dots.

Listen: The Peach Kings, my sister’s band, has a song Fisherman that needs to be on everyone’s summer play list!

Pin: Follow these lovely ladies on Pinterest for summer inspiration.
You can follow me too! http://pinterest.com/ashleyecooley

Eat: Marinated Shrimp and Artichokes: This recipe can double as a side dish or appetizer. Feta cheese, fresh herbs, and a garlic-and-herb marinade give the shrimp and artichokes outstanding flavor. It's the perfect appetizer for your summer pool party.

Savor the summer...read, sip, eat, see, wear, listen, and pin until your heart's content.