The Nutcracker Tradition with Ohio Dance Theater (Giveaway!)

Disclosure: I was invited to a social media night, including a preview of the upcoming Ohio Dance Theater production of The Nutcracker but I was not compensated for this post. I was given tickets to a performance I am unable to attend, so I am giving away those tickets to one of you. As always, my thoughts are 100% my own. I only share events that my family plans to attend or has attended in the past, so I know they are worth the visit. 

I grew up going to The Nutcracker every year and it’s a tradition I’ve carried on with Matilda (when he’s a little older, Madman will join us). I just love the splendor of going to the theater during the holiday season. Not to mention that The Nutcracker is, in my opinion, a great introduction to ballet for kids – it’s got an easy to follow storyline, fantastic action scenes and a magical set. So when Ohio Dance Theater¬†(ODT) and the¬†Niche Parent Network¬†invited me to attend a preview night, I jumped at the chance to get a behind the scenes peek of my favorite ballet.

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I’m going to be honest: before I was contacted to attend this event I had never heard of ODT, mostly because I had limited my searches for shows to the downtown Cleveland area. Forgetting about the strong commitment to the arts in the college town of Oberlin was dumb move on my part because that’s where the critically-acclaimed¬†ODT has been since 1992. And it’s less than an hour away from my house…duh! Having a chance to see what they were all about was an exciting prospect. They have been putting on The Nutcracker for years and this year’s¬†lavish production includes a cast of 20 professional dancers, two trainees, two apprentices and¬†New York City Ballet Principal Dancer, Daniel Ulbricht will be a guest artist. We had such a great time at the preview – seeing a few dances, examining the costumes up close and meeting the professional dancers.

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Matilda and Life in Cleveland’s daughter were inspired to start dancing as soon as the ballerinas were done

Anyway, now I know better and will broaden my search for performances of The Nutcracker in the future, and I’m looking forward to attending other productions put on by this local professional dance company. The good news for you is this…I was given¬†two complementary tickets to attend any Nutcracker performance between¬†December¬†20-22nd¬†at the¬†Stocker Arts Center¬†and I want to pass them on to one of you!

To win the tickets all you have to do is¬†tell me in comments what your is your favorite scene in the Nutcracker or, if you’ve never seen a performance, tell me your favorite holiday tradition.¬†Bonus entry: tweet the following phrase and leave a comment letting me know you tweeted:¬†I want to see @OhioDance perform the¬†#ClevelandNutcracker¬†thanks to @kakaty. ¬†

One comment and one tweet per person (two total possible entries) winner will be randomly selected from comments on this post at noon eastern, Monday, December 16. Good luck!

If you want to see the Nutcracker with Ohio Dance Theatre performances run from Dec 20-22.  You can purchase tickets here.

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The Nutcracker is one of our favorite Christmas traditions. Thanks, Ohio Dance Theater!

We are never ever ever painting again*

THE LIVING ROOM IS PAINTED. It is DONE. I know…. you’re as relieved as I am after all the complaining I’ve done on social media. Sorry about that.

This post is here to counteract all the DIY home improvement blog posts about how painting is so quick and easy and “we got it knocked out during naptime” because NOPE. Not in an old house.

As I mentioned before, these walls are bare, never painted plaster that were wallpapered so long ago it was before the days of pre-pasted paper. So. They were kind of a mess. And since our living room has a wood-burning fireplace that has been used the walls had some soot and years of dirt/grime on them. You can kind of see in the background of this picture how they looked mottled and patchy.

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With family Christmas happening in 2 weeks at our house, I was determined not to have those walls as the backdrop in the photos. And, it’s not like we weren’t planning in this. We bought the paint at a major sale several months ago. All we needed was the motivation (see family visit comment above) and the time (ha!).

3 (4?)weeks ago I tackled scrubbing the stubborn remnants of wall paper glue off the entryway walls. I’m sure if you’ve ever removed wallpaper you’re scoffing at me because it’s not all that difficult. But this wasn’t modern paper. All of the wallpaper and backing was gone, leaving behind a sandpaper-like thin residue of decades old paste on the walls. This involved 13¬†ScotchBrite Heavy Duty Scour Pads (no, generics do not work as well – believe me we’ve tried them all), very hot water, vinegar and tons of elbow grease. Every inch had to be scoured hard, then wiped with a clean rag. The corners and edges near the trim was the worst. Our tiny entry way took me about 3.5 hours just to clean. We still had over 250 square feet of living room to tackle.

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note how awful the baseboards are in the entry

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prying off the plastic corner shields the previous owners had on all the corners. You can see what the wallpaper looked like here.

We hired Michelle’s daughter to play with the kids and keep them out of our way for 3 hours on a Saturday while Mark and I took on the living room. We got about 85% of it done, later figuring out that adding a bit of washing soda to the water helped loosen the glue. By the time we finished just scrubbing and cleaning the walls we had logged about 15 man hours of time already.

On to the paint! We decided early on that we wouldn’t even try to get the trim painted this go-round – with 3 windows with muntins, a bookcase and french doors there was just no time. That will have to wait until after Christmas. But, since we were priming anyway we decided to prime the baseboards and crown moulding along with the ceiling so they were at least uniformly white. We used a stain/odor blocking Sherwin Williams primer on everything. While we could be sloppy with most of the application, where the baseboard meets the hardwoods and the ceiling took forever. But, over the course of a weekend I managed to get everything primed and ready for the color.

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child labor

Now, as I said we had the pain already. We had purchased 2 gallons of¬†Spalding Gray¬†for the living room and 2 gallons of¬†Popular Gray for the adjoining landing and stairway. We had already pilfered some of the Spalding for the upstairs bathroom but we figured we had enough left to get us through the living room. But I panicked and decided we needed another gallon because the walls were soaking up the paint. I grabbed a gallon of paint from the shelf in the basement to take to the Sherwin-Williams store for shaking/mixing and while I was there asked them to mix another gallon for me. When I got home I panicked. The color I had taken and had another expensive gallon made was Popular Gray – the lighter color for the hallway. I freaked out on twitter when someone suggested I take the paint back and have it tinted to the darker color. Duh! I went back and they tinted it to Spalding Gray – BUT, of course that can’t be the end of it. Popular Gray is mixed into a bright white base. Spalding Gray is mixed into a deep base. So my new gallon was still a bit lighter than the other gallon and a half we had at home. So, we decided to use the lighter version as a first coat, hoping a top coat of the true Spalding Gray would work out.

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Cutting in Рthe biggest time stuck ever. 

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You can see here the difference between the paint mixed into a bright white base and mixed in a deep base

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This stubby brush? A new discovery for me and it became my best friend when cutting in.

We plugged along with the color, with me cutting in and Mark later doing the roller work. Another afternoon of hiring a babysitter to corral the kids, a few hours of the kids going feral while closed in upstairs, a couple of very late nights and FOUR COATS OF PAINT LATER (1 primer, 1 base color, 2 final color) the room is done. DONE DONE DONE. (well, at least until I decide to tackle painting all the trim).

And I love it.

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someday I’ll post better, daylight photos

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Christmas mantle 2012

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MUCH better in 2013

*this title is likely a lie, but there is a reason painting projects only happen about once every 3 years around here. And sorry about the TSwift earworm.