Saturday, November 1, 2014

Adult Braces: Making the Decision

The decision took me over two years.  My first consultation with Dr. Hamid Omana was in March or April of 2012.

Let me give you some background.  When I was 17, I noticed my perfectly straight teeth starting to crowd/move.  I thought perhaps the impending doom of wisdom teeth was the cause, so I begged to get them removed Christmas of my Senior Year.  My teeth obviously didn't agree with me about the reason to move and kept shifting.  At 22, after I graduated from college, I asked a dentist at home in Ohio what he thought I should do and he responded, "Your teeth aren't very crooked.  If you get braces now, you'll just have to get them again later in life because your teeth will continue to shift your whole life."  I had no idea I should have been asking those questions of an Orthodontist, not my dentist.  

Flash forward to 2012.  I innocently thought Invisalign (clear retainers as an alternative to wires and brackets) would be the solution for my crooked-since-I-was-17 smile.  I was prepared for a financial investment of about $4,000 because adults don't get the same sweet insurance treatment as adolescents.

Then these words changed everything, "Your jaw is ."
Me: "What does that mean?"
Dr. Omana: "Invisalign will only temporarily straighten your top teeth.  We need to correct your bite to get and keep your teeth straight."
He proceeded to show me the type of braces and rigging I'd need, as well as letting me know the whole process would take two years.

I was single at the time and dating pretty frequently.  I worried braces would affect that.  Worst of all, what if I did happen to meet "the one" and had braces in wedding photos?  That was a thought I couldn't live with, so I decided to "wait until after I get married."  Which is kind of dumb considering I was almost 31 and in no rush to get married.  Sooner is always better than later.  Wouldn't you know it, I did end up meeting my Rob and getting married within that two-year time span.

After marriage, I faced all sorts of self-image doubts and medication weight fluctuations. I knew I needed braces to correct my crooked jaw/bite, but I didn't know if I could handle the potential self-esteem issues.  Notice I said "potential," not "definite."  I realized I was making an important medical decision off of something that "might" be.

Flash Forward to October of 2014.  Thirty-four year old Larissa drags her hubby to Dr. Omana's office so he can hear all of the medical jargon.  We took a week to mull over the decision.  My two other concerns were in regards to my career and my extra-curriculars.  At the time of my first consultation, I worked behind a desk, so that didn't matter.  Now, however, I work with high-end weddings and corporate events.  Outside of events, I perform with local theater groups.  Will any directors cast someone with braces?  Again, I can't make a life-changing decision based off of what "might" be.

Once the decision was made, over two years of worrying about this decision seemed stupid.  The process started immediately - there were so many things I wasn't ready for and yet I was entirely ready.

For all of you adults who may be contemplating the same question - "To get adult braces?" - I'll recount to you in the next post about the prep, application, and week after.

Yes, I have braces in this photo.  Hard to believe, right?  I'd had them for four whole days at this point.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Marvelous Wonderettes: Sandy City Arts

For the next two weekends you have the opportunity to come watch the absolutely delightful four-woman show from the eras of 1958 and 1968, The Marvelous Wonderettes.

I'm on stage the entire time. Needless to say, it's the hardest I've ever worked on a show in my life. If ever there were a show of mine you should see, it's this one - funny, intimate, colorful, should come!  I grew up listening to all of these songs and I about bust with excitement that I get to perform them for all of you with the absolute nicest ladies and production team around!

Marvelous Wonderettes:

  • October 10, 11, 13, 17, 18 @ 7:30 pm at Sandy City Hall Chamber Theater
  • Run time (including intermission): 2 hrs. 
  • Purchase tickets: 
    • Phone-801-568-ARTS (2787); M-F, 9 am – 4pm – by doing this you willavoid on-line convenience and handling fees. Leave a callback number if your call is not answered. They are good about returning calls.
    • Sandy City Hall, #310 – M-F, 9am – 4pm
    • Purchase at the door
    • – Convenience fees are charged for on line, so calling or buying at the door will be cheaper. 
  • Adult -$12, Seniors-$10, Students w/ID-$8

Additional Details:

Monday, June 16, 2014

Spring Awakening: Midvale Main Street Theatre

Winter is a dreary, lonely few months at the beginning of every year.  Sometimes we feel an ache, knowing there is more out there for us in the sunshine of spring.  Our senses are teased and titillated with the changing sights, smells, sounds, and sensations the change of seasons brings.  Take yourself back to the days of your adolescence around the time your body began to feel things it had never felt, your mind began to dream of things you didn't understand, and you started feeling desires to be in the companionship of a certain girl or boy in a way you didn't quite understand.  The winter of the body had turned into spring.

Spring Awakening, being produced at Midvale Main Street Theatre, is an aptly named rock musical based on the banned 1891 German play of the same title.  Child abuse, rape, suicide, incest, abortion, and homosexuality are all contributors to the banning of the play and the deep substance of the production.  Set in 19th-century Germany, one may think the time-period's approach to a sexual awakening of youth to be antiquated, but it is alarmingly frightening how true the show resonates with the youth of today.

For more of this review, please visit Front Row Reviewers.

Monday, June 9, 2014

New York White Pizza Recipe

I discovered white pizza on a random day in New York City.  We put in our names to eat at Serendipity, but given the hour-long wait, we decided to get some lunch across the street at Patsy's Pizzeria before our dessert.  My sister, Britney, and I both love cheese and decided to order something we'd never heard of, but appealed to us due to it's "all cheese, no sauce" nature - white pizza.

That day, dear friends, was the day I fell in love.  Every single trip we have taken to New York since has involved at least one trip to Patsy's for white pizza.  

I have been to over a half dozen pizzerias in Salt Lake City and none of them come close to replicating my Patsy's, not even the one that so kindly tried to replicate a recipe from online for us.  Naturally, I had to create my own.  Unfortunately, I have no coal oven and don't want the fuss of making hand-tossed dough, so regular ole store-bought dough will have to do.

I served this super easy recipe at my 2014 Tony Awards party to rave reviews - one guest even told me that my white pizza deserved a Tony.  

  • 1 thin-crust pizza dough (use the in-a-can kind at your grocery store or buy at local pizzeria)
  • Pre-minced garlic (dollar a jar, so worth not having to mince your own and lasts forever)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, little more if needed
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Oregano to taste (1 tsp - 1 tbsp)
  • hand-shredded into tiny pieces of fresh basil to your liking - 1-2 tablespoons or 2 sprigs of leaves should be enough
  • 1.5 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 3/4 - 1 cup ricotta
  • 3/4 - 1 cup parmigiano-reggiano 
  • Several Slices of fresh mozzarella or about 12 balls of fresh mozzarella - your choice - heck add a ton of cheese if you want, it's your pizza!  Just make sure there is some fresh mozz in every bite.

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  • Evenly spread olive oil over cookie sheet
  • Spread dough onto cookie sheet
  • Lightly dab minced garlic all over dough, be careful to not over-do it but also get it evenly distributed
  • Place dough in the oven for 5 minutes
  • Spread shredded mozz on dough over entire crust, leave no edges (continue covering entire crust when adding toppings)
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper over mozz & dough to your liking
  • Sprinkle oregano evenly
  • Dollop teaspoon sized mounds of ricotta all over dough, making sure to leave them in their dollop-mounds 
  • Sprinkle parmigiano-reggiano evenly 
  • Spread fresh mozz (slices or balls, whatever you chose) over entire pizza
  • Sprinkle hand-shredded tiny pieces of basil evenly
  • Bake for 10 minutes at 400
  • Cool at least five minutes on the sheet before eating, but if you want to burn your tongue, go for it sooner

I didn't take a picture, but I will post one next time I make this, which shouldn't be too long:-)  

Monday, May 12, 2014

Levain Bakery Copycat Dark Chocolate Chocolate Chip Recipe

One of my favorite bakeries in New York City is Levain.  Their dark chocolate chocolate chip cookie is the devil's own specially created 6-ounce temptation personalized for me. You might say this gooey delight is more like a cookie-brownie than your traditional cookie.

Upon return from my recent two-week sojourn in NYC, I knew I could not last another year without the glory of Levain blanketing my tastebuds with ecstasy.  I tried several great copycat recipes (here, here, and here), but either the texture or the taste was off, perhaps due to the high altitude of Utah.  Not to mention some of the dozens of recipes out there are rather intricate.  I know baking is a science, but...seriously?  I'm not one for over-complication. I took the parts of each recipe that I believed created the right taste or texture and created one of my own, only slightly different than the others I linked to, but in baking slight can make a big difference.  Success!

  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-2 tsp vanilla according to your taste preferences (Levain doesn't use vanilla, but it works for the copycat)
  • 1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (I use Hershey's special dark)
  • 1 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pkg semi-sweet chocolate chips (Use Trader Joe's semi-sweet or Scharffen-Berger Baking Chunks 62% Cacao if you can, if not, use Ghiardelli or Hershey special dark, do not use Nestle)

  • Mix butter and sugars together until fluffy and incorporated (over-mixing just melts butter, which you don't want)
  • Mix in Eggs and Vanilla just until incorporated
  • Mix in Dark Cocoa Powder until Incorporated
  • Add Bread Flour, mix until flour isn't creating dust as stirring
  • Add in All-Purpose Flour, Salt, and Baking Powder, mix until well incorporated and entire mix is dark and moist, no chunks
  • Make sure your hands are clean and knead in the entire package of chocolate chips, the dough will be moist and slightly sticky, but pliable with your hands.  Other recipes say the dough should be very dry, but I did not find this to be true. 
  • Divide dough into 12 3-4 ounce portions.  I used a 1/3 cup measuring cup filled with dough to divide since I didn't have the scale out.  Yes, they are huge.  Levain's are even bigger.
  • If you want a smooth "pretty" cookie, roll those portions into balls and place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.  If you want a jagged cookie for more crispy texture points like Levain, roll the cookie into a ball, then rip and half and join at the smooth ends, so the jagged ripped portions are exposed.  Place on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
  • Place the cookie dough sections in the freezer for one hour (longer is fine).
  • Bake cookies six at a time for 18 minutes at 350.
  • I simply slid the wax paper with the cookies off the cookie sheet onto the counter immediately after removal to let them cool.  
  • If you have any left the next day, they are delicious cool or taste fresh-baked with 10 seconds in the microwave.  

I hope you love these as much as I do! 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Shrek: The Empress Theatre

I recently reviewed Shrek the Musical at the Empress Theatre for Front Row Reviewers Utah.

Have you ever wished that someone would get to know you before judging you? Have you ever wished you had a chance to show someone who you are inside?  Shrek the Musical at The Empress Theatre in Magna is one of those stories that everyone can relate to – the exterior is exuberant characters and jokes, while the interior shows us that the very best parts of us are those that make us different.

If you'd like to read more, please do so here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Grace: Utah Repertory Theater Company

Grace is the story of, in the words of playwright Craig Wright, "A man who believes God is on his side coming face to face with the fact that that just isn't true.  Disastrous consequences ensue."  Throughout the performance, we clearly see how the male characters let their pasts define who they are and somehow feel restrictions - whether condemnation or elation, from a higher power, be that God or not.  We also see a theme of how we let man's damages leave their mark on us, viewing all the man-imposed standards of good as right.  But who is to say how God's true divinity in our lives really manifests?

Utah Repertory Theater Company's performance of Grace perfectly demonstrates everything that is wrong with Christianity in the character of Steve, performed with crazy-eyed furiosity by Johnny Hebda.   What are the two biggest things you think of when you think of Christianity gone wrong in the state of Utah?  Did pushy sales people and overzealous, relentlessly forced conversion tactics cross your mind?  I giggled a little when I wrote down, "Jesus freak," in my notes, only to have another character refer to him as that exact thing not even ten minutes later. 

In perfect contrast to Steve's warped view of his self-created divinity, Emilie Eileen Starr as Sara is a gentle example of what is truly divine through unconditional love.  Her motives are not purely based on trying to convert or sell something to anything that breathes.  Sara wants everyone to feel love in their lives, a theme a well-loved blockbuster musical has made familiar - "To love another person is to see the face of God."  She knows this and feels this.  Steve is as far removed from this reality as they come - only capable of loving those who believe exactly as he believes. 

Shortly after we are introduced to Steve and Sara, we meet elderly Karl, the exterminator at the apartment complex, played with crotchety vivaciousness by Jeffrey Owen.  I was shocked to see his photo and realize he is actually quite youthful.  His character brings humor, as well as that established feeling of an apartment complex with people from all walks of life - that history you want to feel well-rounded as a people. 

Jayc Stoddard as Sam, our scarred NASA employee, has a storyline that shows us how life can change in an instant, as well as his demeanor.  The audience sees how this gentle, loving, successful man before his accident, has turned into a scornful recluse.  His attitude often switches from viscious to remorseful in the snap of a finger, but the way Stoddard plays this character makes this make sense.  You see how he's let darkness into his life and always immediately realizes where there could be light.  Utah audiences need to know that Sam's exclamation of choice is the notorious "F word," which he begins to correct himself on throughout the show - another exemplification of how his life becomes more and more light through the influence of the good (Sara) around him. 

I previously mentioned the aging of Jeffrey Owen into elderly Karl. Kelly Donahue brings to life her wonderful makeup design. The scars on the face of Sam, the scene-by-scene spreading rashes of Steve, and the aging of Karl were all beautifully created.

Speaking of beautiful creations, the stage direction of the show really struck a chord with me.  Every actor occupies the same space on stage, representing several actual spaces.  In the Director's notes, we see this perfectly explained through one of Sara's lines, "We're here together.  The idea that we're not all in any way somehow here for each other but just somehow beside each other is just stupid."  We are all here together, occupying the same space.

Another creation in the stage direction I particularly enjoyed is the use of the "replay."  In life, we are always asking ourselves, "What if I could go back?"  But you can't go back in life, you can't change what has already happened.  The replays in this production demonstrate the inability to change the past.

In regards to the set and other technical aspects of the show, with a four-man show in a space that only seats 90, there isn't much required.  No microphones were used, which I always prefer, as the actors natural cantor and intonation is better than anything electronic and prevents the ridiculous feedback problems that plague Utah theater.  The background Christian music was a nice effect between scenes, as the scene changes felt long, but when you realize the actors were changing wardrobes, hair, and makeup within those 60-seconds, you quickly forgive the time.  I also loved the slight hum and sound of water running as background, making me feel as if I were near a coast in Florida - unfortunately I was duped because the show ended and I realized it was the hum of the utilities in the building, so I guess I can't give Utah Rep credit for that choice.

Grace is a show that will make you think.  There are no bright and happy musical numbers, no elaborate and colorful sets, but there are characters and themes that will encourage you to contemplate your situation in life and your choices for light and happiness therein.  I highly recommend this show, however, if you are even slightly offended by harsh language, I would suggest you stay away from this production.  For those who attend, you will be touched.

You can catch the final two performances of Grace for $15 at Sugar Space this Saturday May 10 at 2pm and 7:30pm.  You can purchase tickets here. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Friday, March 14, 2014

Twelve Angry Jurors: Midvale Arts Council

"...You've listened to a long and complex case, murder in the first degree. Premeditated murder is the most serious charge tried in our criminal courts. You've listened to the testimony, you've had the law read to you and interpreted as it applies in this case, it's now your duty to sit down and try to separate the facts from the fancy. One man is dead, another man's life is at stake, if there's a reasonable doubt in your minds as to the guilt of the accused... then you must bring me a verdict of "Not Guilty". If, however, there's no reasonable doubt, then you must, in good conscience, find the accused "Guilty". However you decide, your verdict must be unanimous. In the event that you find the accused "Guilty", the bench will not entertain a recommendation for mercy. The death sentence is mandatory in this case. You're faced with a grave responsibility, thank you, gentlemen."

 And so the audience is introduced to what they will witness in the following hour plus a few minutes of deliberation amongst twelve jurors.  This show is adapted from Twelve Angry Men to accommodate the inclusion of both men and women.  I've seen both versions and it bothers me that angry men are seen as passionate, while angry women are more often seen as wenches.  Throughout this production, you see that in spite of the stubbornness and preconceived notions of the jurors, they are all somewhat open-minded to possibilities that life exists beyond their prejudices.  

To read the remainder of this review, go here

Photo Courtesy of

Friday, March 7, 2014

What Surprises did I Face in the First Few Months of Marriage?

For those of you who have not yet seen my guest blog for The Cultural Hall, here is a little teaser.

Four months.
That’s how long I’ve had to figure out this whole marriage mystery – life with the blinders off as some would say.
Many have asked what has surprised me most about marriage.  Most of the answers that immediately start scrolling the news banner in my brain would either be of such saccharine mush that the askers would surely lose their recently consumed sugar that all the crap has been blessed out of, or be improprietous at best.
Thirty-Three Years.
That’s how long I’ve had to listen to all of the conversations and advice on all of the marital surprises or lack thereof.
So, what is most surprising?

Check out the post here to find out!