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Love, Love Me Do

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach.  ~Elizabeth Barrett Browning

It's time to say, "Love, Love Me Do" to the ones you love and seal your affection with a Valentine's Day gift.

Send your love with these Valentine's Day cards:

Je t'aime cards by Sugar Paper for Goop come in pretty pastels in a set of ten.

You're My Lobster also by Sugar Paper is the way they say I love you in Rhode Island.

Sending You My Love by Rifle Paper Co is perfect for everyone on your mailing list.

Classroom Valentine's for the kids will add a personal touch that will bring lots of smiles. You can find a card to match every personality then add their photos. I couldn't have found better cards for my little construction worker and ballerina.

Valentine's for Her: 

Jennifer Zeuner's love necklace is made with rose gold...all you need is love! 

XO earrings make the perfect gift for your Valentine.  

Bando smooch bobbi and heart headband is what your Valentine needs to adorn her hair. 

Heart tights will add a sweetness to her outfit and her day. 

Eberjay camisole and tap pants are so romantic in pretty purple and scalloped in lace but made comfortable in jersey.

Lollia luminary is decorated in a romantic Chinoiserie style and smells of mandarin orange, tangerine, ripe peach, mango, creamy vanilla, and smooth musk.

Valentine's for Him:

Tumi earbuds are the ultimate in sound and comfort.

La Maison Du Chocolat Assorted Chocolates will tickle his taste buds with various samples of quality chocolate. 

Candy heart boxers are as much for you to enjoy as they are for him. 

Four cheese ravioli is what you should make for him. The way to your man's heart is through pasta!

Valentine's for the Children: 

Haba Doll Pram would make the sweetest Valentine for a little girl who loves her baby dolls. I love everything made by Haba. Wooden toys have a warmth that can't be beat. I also love this wooden top toy for my son. 

This heart apron is sure to inspire baking with love with your little one.

Three of my favorite Valentine's Day reads for children are The Day it Rained Hearts, the Love Me Bird and How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You.

A Charlie Brown Valentine is an absolute must to own. My children love to watch it even when it's not Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day pajamas make the perfect present for children. I love these by Hanna Anderson for girls and boys

My husband Derek recently had a dream that I was going to leave him for Robert Plant (singer for Led Zeppelin). In Derek's dream, Robert Plant told him, "Dude, you can't win! I can buy her all the shoes she wants!" Honey, I love you and out of all the shoes in the world you'll always be my perfect fit.

Derek bought these heart shoe clips for his favorite Valentine' for our daughter and red for me.  

It's true that flowers, chocolate and gifts are nice but "all you need is love" Happy Valentine's Day! xx 

Joffrey Ballet: Chicago's classy cutting-edge company

One of the top dance companies in the world, The Joffrey Ballet graced Dallas this past weekend for the first time in twenty years. The program in Dallas’ Winspear Opera House included Edwaard Liang’s, Age of Innocence (2008), Christopher Wheeldon’s, After the Rain (2005) and Vaslav Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps (1913). The three performances gave the audience a mix of emotion, romance, and history all in one night.
Edwaard Liang’s, Age of Innocence

Liang’s Age of Innocence left me spellbound and favorite piece of the evening. It was breathtakingly beautiful and I didn’t want it to end. Watching the dancers I felt like I could have floated down from the mezzanine and joined the Joffrey. The dancers took in the audience like the gravity of the moon takes in the tide. I could feel myself breathing with them, sliding with them…it’s how I imagine flying would be.

Age of Innocence was inspired by the novels of Jane Austen and Edith Wharton and captures the time of arranged marriages and the roles of women. Imagine the annual season of balls where daughters might be able to select a suitor. I loved the way Liang captured the romantic courtship and was reminded of the dance scene in Jane Austen’s Emma. It was dreamy and the dancers made everything looks so effortless as they lovingly melted into each other…truly beautiful! 
Christopher Wheeldon’s, After the Rain

Christopher Wheeldon’s After the Rain began as a pas de six with dancers dressed in steel gray. There were many memorable images but the dancers extensions were what left me gasping for air. There was a coquettishness that the steel gray woman possessed over the men as they manipulated them en pointe. The second part of After the Rain was a gentle and graceful pas de deux danced to Spiegel im Spiegel (Mirror in Mirror). It felt like an underwater Romeo and Juliet…so lovingly tender. There was an endless lyrical quality of Wheeldon’s adagio that was left you wanting to linger in the dancer’s timelessness. It was poetry in motion. Here is a version from the Australian Ballet. 
Vaslav Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps

One-hundred years ago at the premiere of Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) in Paris, a riot broke out in response to the violent fertility rite that Ballet Russes performed. There was no riot in Dallas as the Joffrey Ballet performed the re-creation of Vaslav Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps to Igor Stravinsky’s powerful score.

Nijinsky choreographed Le Sacre du Printemps on Ballet Russes in 1913 and rocked the dance world. The Paris audience was expecting tutus, tiaras and pointe shoes and instead got the primitive and shocking first modern ballet created. Nijinsky's ballet started a riot in the Theatre des Champs-Elysees with audience members hitting each other, stripping and being carried off by the police.

One-hundred years later, Le Sacre du Printemps may not be considered as avant-garde as it was then, but it is still stirring.
Vaslav Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps
In 1987, with no record of choreography, Millicent Hodson (dance historian) and the Joffrey Ballet reconstructed Nijinsky’s Le Sacre du Printemps using interviews, reviews, photographs and sketches to follow Nijinsky’s ideas.

Forty of the Joffrey Ballet dancers in vivid colors of native Russian tribes formed circular groups against a beautifully painted countryside. Ballet dancers that are usually turned out and en pointe were pigeon-toed and flat footed. Their feet were stomping, arms flinging, sharp angles were executed, long braids whipping…it was not at all what you imagine ballet to be.

Simple movements became more dramatic and primal as Stravinsky’s music builds. The main event was the sacrificing of the “Chosen One” who is to dance herself to death in order to make the sun return. Watching the “Chosen One” (Elizabeth Hansen) start to tremble with fear as the six men wearing bear skins continue to circle her, the audience is scared for her and you can imagine the scandal it caused in 1913. 

Little Sous Chefs

LAST weekend when my husband told our children that we were going to be making pizza, it sounded something like this, " YESSSS! I wanna help. Where's my apron? Can I pull up a chair to stand on? Can I snack on the cheese? I wanna put on the green olives!" 
The house was buzzing with excitement and we had not even begun to prep. 
My husband, Derek, is our pizza maker, we are his sous chefs. 
Derek has adapted a pizza dough recipe from Julia Child after I personally consulted Bobby Flay. It’s in the water and the cheese. You can read about the pizza conversation I had with Bobby here
Cooley Family Pizza Dough for two 16 inch disks
The yeast mixture:
1 package dry-active yeast
1 C tepid water
1/8 t sugar
Additions to the yeast mixture
¼ C cold milk
¼ C olive  oil
The dry ingredients:
3 C flour
1 ½ t salt

Whisk the yeast ingredients in a measure and let bubble up five minutes. Measure dry ingredients into a kitchen aid stand mixer with the dough hook and mix until the dough forms a ball. Let it rest five minutes and knead by hand. Then let the dough rise in a covered bowl until doubled in bulk (about 1 ½ hours). If you are not ready to bake, punch the dough down and set the covered bowl in a cooler place where it will keep safely for an hour or more.
If you think cooking with two children is fun, imagine one-hundred-twenty children. I had the pleasure of choreographing a science lab “dance” to go along with our lesson of how matter changes. We made muffins and created an irreversible change. 

I honestly think my own two children were louder than the one-hundred-twenty second graders because I said, "I'm only picking the most quiet children to help cook." They all really wanted to crack the eggs! Children love to break, squeeze and cut things…they’re not afraid to get messy. 

I notice with both my children and all the second graders that when they are responsible for preparing the meal, there five senses are more aware and they better appreciate the food because they helped make it. All the more reason children should be involved in the kitchen.  

Mrs. Cooley's Banana Muffins

3 C flour
1 t baking soda (mixed with 4 T sour cream)
1 t salt
½ t baking powder
½ t cinnamon
½ t nutmeg
2 C sugar
1C vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 T vanilla
4 ripe bananas, mashed

Line muffin cups with paper liners. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Whisk dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. In a separate bowl mix wet ingredients: start with sour cream mixed with baking soda, add three eggs and sugar, oil, and vanilla then fold in mashed bananas. Use an ice cream scoop to evenly divide batter in muffin cups. Bake on the middle rack until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick tester comes out clean (about 20 minutes). Transfer to a rack to cool.

Cooking with children is a lot like choreographing a dance. The choreographer has to be quick and interesting so they don’t lose a child’s attention.
My friend Craig Alderson, from Cooking with Class, is a chef and a dad, has the perfect and hilarious example of why you need to be quick in the kitchen with children. 
"There was this one time when I had my daughter Hannah, who was two at the time, on the kitchen counter one morning helping daddy cook. We were making eggs in the skillet, and we had a can of powdered carpet cleaner nearby. It was vanilla scented. She picked it up and shook all over the eggs thinking she was seasoning them! Smelled awful! We joke about till this day."
Be brave, be patient and have fun cooking with your children.Whether it is a cooking success or mishap, the experience makes for great lessons and the memories are priceless! When you share the kitchen with children, cooking is even more of a pleasure.  

Baby it's cold outside

What do you do on a snow day? Play in the snow of course but then what do you do to prevent cabin fever? How about watching an old movie, using your extra Christmas candy canes to make a cocktail and ice cream (most people have a burgeoning supply of candy canes after Christmas), and playing the game scavenger hunt.


Ashley’s Candy Cane Ice Cream
6 large eggs (separated)
6-8 crushed candy canes
1 ½ C egg nog
1 ½ C heavy cream
¾ sugar
1 t vanilla
Crush candy canes using a mallet (little boys are excellent helpers). Separate the eggs in a bowl, add egg nog, 1 cup of cream, and sugar to a saucepan. Add remaining ½ C cream to the bowl with the egg yolks (save the egg whites for breakfast). Whisk the yolks and cream. Temper the egg yolks (add about ¼ C of the hot egg nog mixture to the egg mixture so they don't scramble). Then add it all to the egg nog mixture. Stir on medium low heat until the back of a wooden spoon is coated. Strain custard into a separate bowl and add vanilla. Cool in the freezer or over ice, and then churn. Towards the end of the churning, add crushed candy canes. 


My sister and brother gave us two different Scavenger Hunt board games for Christmas and my children love them! It is the perfect game for a snow day because children search for objects in the house. It keeps kids moving and the good news is that a messy house is a precursor. 


Buck Privates 

Buck Privates is a 1941 musical with the Andrews Sisters that will make you smile and feel nostalgic. Bud Abbott and Lou Costello have enlisted in the army in order to escape being hauled off to jail for peddling ties on the street, and soon find themselves in boot camp. To their surprise, the company's drill instructor is none other than the cop who was about to put them in jail! Bud and Lou turn the military upside down...laughing all the way! There are hilarious bits and dreamy musical numbers by the Andrews Sisters (including Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy).  


Chocolate Candy Cane Cocktail

1 chocolate candy cane, crushed, for garnish (I used Hershey's chocolate candy canes) 

2 ounces chocolate vodka  

2 ounces of Bailey’s chocolate mint crème 

Small scoop of candy cane ice cream (see above)
Dash of chocolate syrup

Place crushed candy canes on a small plate or saucer. Wet the outside rim of a chilled martini glass with water. Holding the glass by the stem, rotate the rim to coat with candy.
      In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, Baileys, ice cream, and syrup; shake until well combined. Strain into prepared glass; serve immediately.

     Chocolate and peppermint are two of the most natural accompaniments made by God. ~Derek Cooley (my husband)


Glamorous Bottle Stoppers

These colorful jewels will make cocktails feel glamorous and girly and go perfectly while listening to the Andrews Sisters sing in Buck Privates.

Be prepared for your snow day. Keep your bar well stocked, eggs in the fridge and games and movies ready to play. I love snow days...probably because I live in Texas and we don't see them that often. Stay inside where it's warm because baby it's cold outside. You can find more ideas on snow days here