Alabama Shakes at the Tennessee Theatre

A few weeks ago we headed to Knoxville, Tennessee to see the band Alabama Shakes.

I was equally excited to see the Tennessee Theatre! We bought the tickets far in advance and started following the Tennessee Theatre on Instagram and Facebook. They share information about the upcoming acts and the architecture of the theatre. This You Tube video gave a great overview of the theatre. The theatre was built in 1927 and opened to the public in October 1928. There is a great historical timeline on their website, including a page called Memories of the Theatre. I love the story of the women who  in 1946 sat beside a returning WWII soldier, who offered her a piece of gum. Making it even more romantic is they eventually married. 

The main lobby is massive and opulent. There are red carpeted stairways to the upper levels and some of the grandest chandeliers I have ever seen. We spoke with a very friendly usher who told us they are original and when the theatre was renovated they were taken apart for repairs and painstakingly put back together. There are curtains everywhere, giant gold tassels and mirrors lining the walls making the room feel even larger. 

The ceiling was even more impressive than the lobby! It has this beautiful glow that just can't be captured in a photo (although this picture did turn out quite nicely). 

There are 1,631 seats in the Tennessee Theatre and they are comfortable. Beautiful, plush velvet chairs with enough room to rest your elbow, provided your neighbour is mindful of others. Once Alabama Shakes came on stage there was no sitting, everyone jumped out of their seats and remained there the entire show. 

We were only a few rows from the front and had a great view of the band. The acoustics of the theatre were great, frankly you could have been a few streets over and still heard Brittany Howard! 

Photo from the Tennessee Theatre Facebook page 

The band played a number of songs from their new album Sound & Color, available April 20th, and a few from their first album, Boys & Girls. They didn't play their first hit Hold On but I honestly don't think anyone noticed. Brittany has such an amazing stage presence and energy, she commands the stage and takes you along on her musical journey. Everyone was signing along, dancing in the aisles and for a time just let go of the world outside and was fully entranced by the band. After the concert there were people walking all over Knoxville, just trying to come down from the raw power we had all witnessed. 

I always recommend their first album to friends and I have tried to characterize their music as southern rock, heavy on the blues, with updated popular music and a little Janis Joplin thrown in there for good measure. 

Alabama Shakes played this venue as preparation for their upcoming tour. If you have the chance to see them, take it. Maybe I will see you there!

Turkey Tips

I am known the world over for my turkey. Alright so I exaggerate just a little, but in my circle I am known for my mastering of poultry. It's not uncommon for me to make 7 turkeys in a year, my hubby loves turkey, Thanksgiving is my favourite holiday (I celebrate both Canadian and American) and turkey really does feed a crowd. I spent many years watching cooking shows (Martha) and reading about the best ways to cook a turkey. Since I made one for Easter, I thought I would share my tips for cooking your own turkey!  

First things first (I'm the realest, thank you Iggy) you need to thaw your turkey completely. I leave mine in the sink during the day for two days before cooking and then I put in the fridge at night. On the day of cooking I take it out of the fridge about 2 hours before I am ready to prepare. I preheat my oven to 325 degrees and I remove and discard anything inside the turkey. Using kitchen scissors I remove anything I do not need, like the tail if still attached. Then I rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Do not skip drying with paper towels. You want that turkey very dry before you put anything on it. 

Optional is having an overgrown puppy watch your every move. Having a Bernese Mountain Dog is like having your own audience.  

Next you are ready to melt your butter. I never shy away from using butter on my poultry, Miss Paula Deen taught me that butter is always a good idea. I melt about a 1/4 cup of butter in the microwave for roughly 30 seconds. 

After you stuff your turkey (I used plain old boxed stuffing) coat the entire surface in the melted butter. This is a great job for kids, they love this part! I have raised two boys on lots of turkey and they are always willing to baste for me. It's a great way to start teaching your youngsters about cooking. 

After the turkey is completely coated in butter, generously sprinkle with salt and fresh ground pepper. I love my Windsor Pepper Grinder. Place in the over, covered for 30 minutes. 

After 30 minutes, you want to baste for the first time. Basting helps to keep the turkey moist and with so much butter it ensures the skin will brown and crisp during the last stage of cooking. The secret to my turkey is that I cook covered for at least a few hours. This turkey was 11 lbs and according to the package would take 3 1/2 hours, stuffed, to cook. I always cover my turkey until the last half hour, then I remove the lid and let the skin brown. My other secret is that after the first half hour, I baste every 15-20 mins. It's a very hands on process, but another good reason to teach the kids to do it. My boys love basting. 

After 3 1/2 hours I remove from the oven promptly. You never want to leave a turkey in too long as they can dry out very easily. The butter browns the skin nicely and makes for a nice base in the bottom of the pan for homemade gravy. Yes those are little Colonel Sanders plastic characters in the kitchen, we have been collecting these for years. 

Carving the turkey you can see it is cooked to perfection all the way through! We enjoyed our turkey last night with all the fixings; Stuffing, corn bread, carrots, mashed potatoes, corn, cranberry sauce, Pillsbury dinner rolls, homemade gravy and lots of delicious The Show Cab wine!

My Turkey Tips

Rinse and dry your turkey
Coat in melted butter
Sprinkle salt & pepper
Cook covered (uncovered for only the last 30 mins)
First baste after 30 mins, every 15-20 mins thereafter
Cook according to directions, remove promptly.

And there you have it, my famous turkey tips. My turkey is always moist and loved by all and now yours will be too! 

Weekend Look - Hilary MacMillan

During Toronto Fashion Week I stopped by Pandora, a sponsor of #WMCFW, and took part in their photo booth. 

If you are following me on Instagram this will look familiar, a little teaser of my outfit for the Hilary MacMillan fashion show.  

Arial view while waiting for the show!

Dress C/O Hilary MacMillan, Watch - Michael Kors, Bracelets and necklaces - borrowed, shoes -Ralph Lauren pumps, Make up - Maybelline Canada. 

A special thank you to Hilary MacMillan and team for the allowing me to wear this beautiful dress to the show! 

Have children and/or pets? You need this

Bissell Little Green - I purchased mine at Lowe's Canada for $99 Can.

I replaced the carpeting in my home with beautiful Martha Stewart carpet that I love. My mom recommended that I buy the Bissell Little Green as she has used hers for years and just loves it. 

I am anticipating lots of muddy paw prints this Spring and decided to finally purchase one for myself. It's a great machine, light weight and portable. The suction is impressive and it's quite satisfying to see the container fill up with such dirty water. 

I bought mine just in time as my boy became very sick and it unfortunately ended up on the carpet, I know TMI. This little machine came out right away and cleaned up the mess. 

If you have children or pets buy one right away! You can also use it to clean your cars seats, couch, chairs and anything else made of fabric.

WOW Wednesday with Crystal Reia



Since I spoke on the importance of strength training for women last week, I thought today I would share one of my personal favourite ways to train! Once you have some basic exercises down, a great way to make the most of your strength training workout is to combine upper and lower body movements. You will utilize more muscle groups at once, raise your heart rate, provide more of a challenge to your muscles and improve your co-ordination and burn more calories.

Here is a simple example of two exercises that can be combined for maximum effect using a Regular Squat as your base. It's good to pick exercises that complement one another in flow and movement.


Start Position: Stand with your feet hip width apart and your arms at your sides holding a pair of dumbbells. Beginners can start with 8 lbs and more advanced can use 10+lbs. Remember: As you perform these movements below ensure that both upper and lower body move together in a smooth fluid motion.

Movement: As you begin to squat down, curl your arms up making a bicep curl (Regular bicep curl, palms will turn and face inwards towards you. Hammer curl, keep palms facing each other). Both curls are great and will utilize slightly different muscle groups. For beginners try counting to 4 as you lower down, and then backwards from 4 as your rise back up; to practice form and technique slowly, feeling all of the muscle groups working.

Beginners: Try a set of 8-10 reps. Rest for 30-60 seconds and then try another set (2-3 sets total is great! You should be fairly tired by your last rep. Work up your strength gradually).

Squat Tips: Posture! Ensure shoulders are back and down and chest is lifted throughout the squat. Keep spine elongated and engage your abdominals pulling them inward towards your spine to help support your lower back. Weight must go back into the heels as you reach the bottom of your squat (Almost as if you were to sit down on a low chair). A good test to see where your weight is, is to wiggle your toes at the bottom of your squat to ensure your weight is back far enough. If you can’t wiggle them, chances are you still have too much weight into the front portion of your feet. As you rise slowly back to the start position, really squeeze and engage your glute muscles to make the most out of your squat.

Curl Tips: Ensure you keep elbows in close to your sides and as you bend the elbows up squeeze your bicep muscles tight. If you are doing regular curls, ensure that you gradually turn your palms inward so that they face you at the top of the curl. And then gradually turn as you lower them back to the start position. If you are doing hammer curls, keep the palms facing one another the whole time.

Bonus Tips: To change up this movement try changing the counts. Above we did 4:4. You can do 2:2 making them a little faster. You can do 3:1, slowing down the eccentric part of the movement (highly recommend!) You can also try tiny pulses at the bottom before rising 3:1 or 7:1 (keep them smooth and controlled). And finally at the end of your reps, you can add a “hold” (isometric contraction) at the bottom of the contraction for 10+ seconds to really make those muscles burn.

If this exercise was too easy for you, then consider increasing your weight by a couple of pounds. You want to be tired by the end of your second or third set; depending on how many you have planned to do. Personally I prefer to go heavier and only do 2 sets, so I can get plenty of other exercises into my hour workout. But before you go heavy, you must ensure that you have proper form and technique.

If you have any questions at all about the above exercise or fitness in general, please feel free to contact me! Have a “fitabulous” week everyone!

Crystal Reia
Your Health-Your Choice