Friday, April 29, 2011

A Dancing Branflake Anniversary Dinner Party

This weekend Mr. Branflake and I will be celebrating our 7th wedding anniversary.  
I cooked up a virtual dinner party in honor of the best 7 years any woman could hope for.

The Decor
Mr. Branflake loves natural lighting and
his dream home would have big windows like these.
He also loves fresh flowers and hardwood floors.
image via Elle Decor


The Menu
My husband is a total meat and potatoes kind of guy.
He likes salad, just not salad with lettuce in it.
I introduced him to Filet Mignon a few months ago and he fell in love instantly.
He is also a major choco-holic.
All photos and recipes by Williams-Sonoma.



What I'm Wearing
Mr. Branflake LOVES the 1960's.
He is obsessed with skinny ties, The Beatles, and vintage Vespas.
All pieces are from ModCloth, a perfect place for all things 60's Mod.





The Playlist
True story: while driving the 12 hour drive to Utah, 
the eject button on my CD player broke.
Yes, it was 12 hours of straight Rubber Soul.
It's "our album" for sure.
image via Wiki




The Gift
Mr. Branflake looks amazing in a suit. 
I have been giving him ties and cuff links 
since the day we were married and I never intend to stop.
tie and cuff links from Banana Republic

 Happy Annivesary, Mr. Branflake!
For more about Mr. Branflake:



ps... Happy Birthday to my big sister!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Second Chances: A Night of Karaoke

Monday night I learned an important lesson about second chances.  
You need to take them.  
Without question.  


My friends and I had a karaoke Girls Night Out.  
All four of them knocked it out of the park. 
 I mean, they really were the best ones there and sang amazing songs that got the crowd pumping.  
One even rapped Eminem's "Lose Yourself" from 8 Mile.  
Another friend was offered a drink by a man who fell in love with her amazing singing abilities.


After a bunch of poking and prodding I reluctantly went up and sang.  
Horribly.  
I didn't know the song very well and it was way harder than I thought it would be.  
I sat back down to a lukewarm applause and tiny pats on the back.




 I knew I would kick myself if I didn't get back up there and sing again.  
An hour or so later I got up again and chose a song that even though wasn't very exciting,
 it was one I was comfortable with.  
And you know what happened?




I sang my heart out and people loved it.
They cheered, they sang along, and they got so into it I felt like I was at a concert 
(that's a little bit of an exaggeration but it was so fun!).  
Two girls even started recording me on their iPhones.  
Okay, that was a little weird.  But I guess flattering?




So, lesson learned.  
When you have a second chance, take it.  
It might not turn out very good or it might rock your world.  
You might as well take the chance to have your world rocked.
ps... the song I sang was "You Were Meant For Me" by Jewel.  
There was a table of six guys in front of me who sang it louder than everyone else.  
Who knew it would be such a great Karaoke song?



all images from Wikipedia
yep, I said Wiki.  Not a primary source, I know.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

L.L. Bean Summer Dresses

Thank you for all your kind words and advice about my trip to England and Scotland.  
I've been scouring the internet for the perfect accommodations, flights, trains, etc.  
But do you want to know what's been on the forefront of my mind?  


What I'm wearing!  
I don't want to get to the UK looking like a dowdy American, but at the same time I need clothes that I can walk forever in and that will be able to function in all sorts of weather at any given time.


I love easy breezy dresses like these.
Especially when paired with my cute camera bag and adorable Oxfords.
Perfect for gallivanting through the Scottish countryside.




I cannot believe I have before never visited L.L. Bean's Signature website.
With all these cute dresses I am in summer style heaven.
Thank you to Aspiring Kennedy's blog for the introduction to L.L. Bean Signature Collection..


I hope you have an easy breezy day!
(ps... the winner of the House 09 Giveaway will be announced shortly. 
 I chose someone at random but they have not returned my email yet.  
If she does not respond then I'll have to pick another one!)



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Meet Magazine Writer and Published Author, Sarah Jio



I first blogged about magazine writer and novelist Sarah Jio last year during this post when she inspired me to write about Love Our Bodies Week (see the post on Glamour.com here).  Since then I have thought to myself countless times, "She's such an inspiring person.  Wouldn't she be an incredible person to interview?"  And then she wrote a book and was kind enough to send me an early copy.  I read it and fell in love with her all over again. 

Today is a very special day for her because her long anticipated novel, The Violets of March, debuts to the public.   She was kind enough to answer some questions about her writing career, how she cracked into the publishing business, and how she balances her hectic schedule (she recently did a telephone interview with THE Gwyneth Paltrow while breast feeding her newborn son.)


Dancing Branflake:  Your life seems surreal.  You are married with three beautiful children, you are the Health and Fitness blogger for Glamour.com, you just published your first novel, and you already wrote your second.  Do you ever wake up in the mornings and think "Is this really my life?" 
Sarah Jio: I feel so grateful for this life, and yet, your question reminded me that I’m not grateful enough, sometimes. I get to do what I love and raise my boys, which is all I can ask for in life, really. But, I’ll be honest, I grumble a lot. Whether it’s about fussy kids, work deadlines, the messy house, or a dog who attempted to chew up the 2-year-old’s teddy bear—again—it’s easy to forget how lovely things are and focus on the negative stuff. So, thank you for reminding me of that. I’ve just hit the reset button on my attitude!



DB:  There are many bloggers aspiring to be published authors but it's a hard industry to crack into. You often hear stories of writers submitting their works to publishers, only to be rejected time and again.  What was your experience submitting your novel to publishers?
SJ:  I am fortunate to have an amazing literary agent who did all the heavy lifting for me. Well, I still had to write the book, but she submitted to publishers, handled the auction of the book, and continues to have my back. As tough as the industry is to break into, I still think that editors and publishers are still hungry for good stories, and if you have a dream of being published, don’t give up on it. I wrote my books while pregnant or tending to new babies. It wasn’t ideal, but I got my butt in my chair each night and worked hard, and eventually, I had a novel, then two, and now, almost, three! 



DB:  How did you start working for Glamour.com?
SJ: I had written for the print magazine for several years when an editor there called me to say they were looking for a health blogger for their newly revamped Web site. She asked me to submit a few sample posts and I did, nervously awaiting her response. I desperately wanted the gig, but I was worried too—if I got it, it would mean a daily, rain-or-shine, sick-or-not, deadline of 5 to 7 posts per day. Yep, I got the job, and three years later, I can say it was one of the best things I ever signed on to do. I get to write about topics that energize and excite me (I love health and fitness news!), and get to interact with women all around the world who are actively striving, like me, to live healthier lives. And, my editors at Glamour (both print and online) are just amazing. Kind. Understanding. Supportive. Not an ounce of diva-dom. 



DB:  What sacrifices did you have to make to get to where you are now and were they worth it?  
SJ:  A great question, because you are so right: It takes work! I have joked for the past few years that I don’t have a life. That’s partially true. I don’t go out a lot (which is mostly due to the fact that I have small children), but even before that, I’d often opt for a quiet night in working on a magazine article or a book project than meet the girls out for dinner. I’ve also made it my thing to avoid TV (though I do get sucked in by “The Bachelor” when it’s on, and I’ve developed a scary fascination with the “Real Housewives” shows on Bravo—eeks).


DB:  What three books have influenced you the most?
A: Such a tough one to answer, but here’s the list of the moment:  1.) The Little House on the Prairie Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, which really were the first chapter books I began reading as a youngster—these cemented my love of reading, 2.) Tara Road and a million other titles by Maeve Binchy—when reading her books, I hoped to be a writer with an ounce of the same story-telling talent that she has, 3.) Sarah’s Key—this newish book grabbed me so intensely I actually had to set it down for a while and take a break for a few nights. This book reminded me of how important it is, for an author, to grab a reader emotionally. 



DB:  What book are you reading right now?
SJ: My friend Katie over at Being Five actually dropped off Caroline Kennedy’s new book, She Walks in Beauty, for me (she knew I couldn’t make the reading so she brought me a signed copy. How amazing is that?!), and I’ve just cracked the spine. 




(The German cover for The Violets of March)




DB: To write a novel you have to have an incredible amount of self discipline.  What is your writing schedule?  Any tips on how to stay on task?
SJ: I am very strict about writing every night, even if it’s just a little bit. I do much of my magazine and blog work during the day, and I save fiction for the night, when the kids are in bed and when there is peace in the house. (Even better if it’s rainy outside and I can crack my window open and listen to the rain falling outside!). It’s really amazing what you can get done in the evenings if you set your mind to it and avoid the couch/remote control (which I do fall victim to now and again!).  


DB:  Your novel reveals an intricate web of secrets and heartache yet you seem so carefree and mellow. Is this novel a reflection of your life in any way?  
SJ: I wish my life was that interesting! I think I made up this story to entertain myself because my family life is so vanilla! Well, that’s not entirely true—every family has their stories! But the truth is that I just had a lot of fun creating the mystery in my novel. I didn’t set out to write a book that had a mysterious element or even darker sub-plots, but the story just came to me so vividly. It sounds so weird, but sometimes I think about the characters in VIOLETS as if they are real people. I spent so much time with them in my head, it seems only natural to wonder about them now and then. I’d love to meet Bee, in particular.  


DB:  What is your personal motto?
SJ: I really love the little saying, “keep calm and carry on.” It’s not really my motto, per se, but I come back to this statement a lot, especially when life is so hectic. AND, I recently saw the most lovely tweet on twitter. It said something like, “In everything you do, try to do it with just a little bit more kindness.” Loved that!


DB.  What three words would you use to describe your life right now?
SJ: Caffeinated. Creative. Hopeful.


DB  What three words do you hope to describe your life in ten years?
SJ: Healthy. Rested. Fulfilled. 


Thanks, Sarah!  
You are an inspiration to so many of us!


Visit Sarah's blog.
Order her book on Amazon.com.
Like Sarah Jio, Author on Facebook

Monday, April 25, 2011

What I'll Be Wearing This Summer: Exciting News!

There are so many things ahead that I'm just bursting at the seams.  So many things I really really really want to tell you but I have to be patient (not something I'm good at) and just let things happen the way I planned for them to happen.  For now, an outfit post explaining my first big news of the season.

  I wanted to show you what I'll be wearing this summer: flowing skirts, a light rain jacket, and my new H and M camera bag. Why am I wearing a rain jacket, you ask? Because I know I'll be needing it this summer when I travel to...

The United Kingdom! 


 Yep!  I am heading out to London for two weeks to dance at the Laban University.
Then I'm heading up to Scotland to tour the Highlands and run around in all the beautiful lush, green fields.

My new foldable rain jacket from Target, my new traveling bag from H and M, comfy flats, and a carefree skirt by Banana Republic for frolicking in the countryside.


Then I'm heading back down to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival.
Maybe.  If I can find cheap housing.  So if you know anyone in Scotland who has a cheap (or free) room let me know!





And if you are a blogger who wants to get together then let's make it happen!
I will be in London, Inverness, Beauly, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh.
If you think I should go anywhere else in England or Scotland I'd love to hear your thoughts.
I leave for London July 9th and will be heading back to the States sometime in August.





If you have any tips for an American traveler going to the UK, please impart all your knowledge to me!  
I have never been to Scotland or England so I'm eager to know all I can before I leave.





I am so excited!  But I do really need your help.  I know there are many UK bloggers out there and you best believe I'll be emailing and Twittering you for advice.  My blogging friends always give the best advice.

Have you ever been to the UK before?
What is the most important thing a traveler (any traveler) should remember?


Friday, April 22, 2011

An Easter Dancing Branflake Dinner Party

Easter:
The most feminine holiday.
Filled with pinks and cremes,
sweet desserts and flowers,
Easter calls for the most ladylike dinner party.


The Decor
is filled with warm tones, fresh flowers, and an elegant chandelier.
image via Elle Decor


The Menu
is all provided by the lovely Martha Stewart.
No one does Easter better.



What I'm Wearing


The Favor
I am in love with these sweet Spring Shower Almond Petit Fours by Martha Stewart.
Guests would feel so special leaving with a beautiful box of them.



There are many celebrations happening this weekend.
I hope yours are filled with love, family, 
and many many desserts.
Don't forget!
Enter to win a free professional blog banner or header from House 09.
ps... I have way exciting news next week.
I'm kind of bursting inside with excitement!
pss... I just got news that I am featured over at this incredible blog.  Love them!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Easter Dresses

Growing up I thought it was strange that my friends always bought Easter dresses.  
It was a tradition my family never took part in (probably because we never really celebrated Easter).  
But now, I making up for lost time.  
I love the concept of buying a dress that purposely represents the beauty of Spring, rebirth, and nature.

























Did you buy an Easter dress growing up?
Do you continue that tradition with yourself or your daughters?
Don't forget to enter the House 09 Giveaway!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Fit and Lean Meal

 I have created a basic soup that is so good and healthy you will be surprised at how easy it is to make.  
It's light and I like to eat it before a performance or intense rehearsal.

Easy Lentil Soup:

Dice one onion, a few celery stalks, and a few carrot sticks.
Saute in olive oil and salt and pepper until soft.


Add 1 tsp or so of dried thyme and a few bay leaves.


Add one pound of lentils.
Add carton of chicken broth (not stock!) and 4 cups of water.
 Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer until lentils are soft (about 45 minutes)




To serve, I often garnish with Italian Parsley or a nice helping of Parmesan.




This soup may not be hot weather material, but I feel healthy and light eating it.
It's a perfect meal before a run, a Shred session, or a performance.


What do you like to eat before you workout?
Don't forget to enter to win a new blog header by House 09.
ps... Let me clarify from the giveaway- NO ONE needs a face lift.
You are perfect the way God made you. 

photos by Dancing Branflake

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Do You Need A Face Lift?

Thais of house 09 is offering you a chance to win a blog header design, valued at $40.  With Spring here and change just around the corner, why not give your blog a little "face lift" and upgrade your header?  Custom made headers give a wonderful first impression and set you apart from the rest. 

Here are a few samples from their blog design page:







 A professional header will polish off your blog but also signal to your readers that you are refined, creative, and unique.   Who wouldn't want that?

To enter this giveaway:
~Leave a comment below~

I will randomly pick the winner on Monday night, April 25th.



Monday, April 18, 2011

A Pink Lemonade Cupcake Outfit Post


I am trying my hardest to wear more pink and lighter colors.
I found this top tucked away in my closet, forgotten and almost sent away to the Salvation Army years ago.
I am glad I kept it because it is exactly the kind of top I was talking about in this post.



This outfit is a great weekend outfit.
Perfect for shopping, going to the bookstore, and eating at the new crepe shop down the street.  
Nothing too strenuous!



I've been preparing for a few upcoming photo shoots by increasing the incline on the treadmill.
The results are minimal except for an insane increase in the definition on my calves.
I joke that my calves are bigger than all my male dancing friends.
It is sadly true.




 I also have been having an intense craving for pink frosting.  
I zested some lemons in the cupcake batter so
I'm calling them Pink Lemonade Cupcakes.  
Very deserving after those intense treadmill sessions.





Full disclosure?  
This post almost didn't go up today.  Let's just say it was a bad face day.  But I couldn't deny the cupcakes their debut to the blogging world, right?  And what's the fun in wearing amazing shoes and not showing  them to all your friends?  Again, shoes and sweets win!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Surprise Flowers

Yesterday I stumbled across these beauties in my backyard.  From the looks of it they've been growing for the last two weeks.  Who knew?!  It comes to show you that maybe I need to take time to stop and smell the, uh, flowers, because I didn't even know they were there.  

But it was a lovely surprise nonetheless.



I found this lonely stem of the same flower in a beautiful berry color.
I wonder what these two flowers did to be so special.
I'd like to be that special, too.


There are surprises all around.



I hope you find a few this weekend.
(And if anyone could tell me what flowers these are it would be most appreciated.)
By the way, thank you all so much for the wonderful suggestions from yesterday.
I'll be posting a few of them.
I knew I could count on you!