Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mr. Branflake v.s. Mrs. Branflake: Clutter

My mother-in-law came by last night with a Dyson.  What?!  Yeah, you heard right.  She bought us a brand spanking new Dyson.  Now, although I think it's an amazing gift, Mr. Branflake nearly cried with happiness.  You see, he is a neat freak and I am not.  Although I hate germs I am not what you call organized or orderly. In fact, I am completely and utterly the opposite.  

image via Sunken Treasure
I know that in Mr. Branflake's heart, this photo is how he wants our home.  
But for some reason I cannot get myself to commit to this lifestyle.

We always joke that with his aversion to clutter and my fear of germs that we would have the cleanest house in the world.  But instead we just annoy each other.

For example, his bookshelves are perfectly in order.  Mine are a fat mess with papers and books laying about.  It looks more like a book graveyard than a bookcase while his resembles a library.  No, his is more organized than a library.  

I am trying everyday to be more organized but it's hard.  Give me a ten hour rehearsal on two hours of sleep and a a granola bar for dinner any day.  But to find a place for every thing that I own?  I count that as almost impossible and just frustrating.

Some consider my disorganized life a trademark of an artist.  Although I think it's a negative and superficial stereotype towards artists, in this case it's absolutely true.  My dance bag?  Chaos.  My side of the closet that is slowly creeping to his side?  It looks like Forever 21 on Black Friday.  Let's not get started on my night stand that holds everything from books to Christmas cards from 2009.

How about you?  
Are you organized and orderly?  
Or are you like me and have a constant rotating pile of clothes 
from the chair to the bed to the chair to the hamper?
True Story: 
In college I was at least ten minutes tardy to my 8 am French Class every single time.
My teacher's reaction?
She would get this wistful look in her eye and say,
Ah!  La Boheme! (The Artist!)
She knew I was a dancer and somehow that made my tardiness totally understandable.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Perfect Summer Photo

This photo combines everything I love:
dance, the ocean, cute clothes, and summer.

photography by Dane Shitagi for Ballerina Project

How fun would it be to be dancing on a pier in a chic striped stress with the ocean breeze in your hair?
One of the many reasons why I love summer.

What are you loving about summer?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

New Workout: The Results

I am halfway through the 30 Day Shred Series. 
I am on level two out of three and have Shredded everyday except Sundays.
The results thus far?

I'm really impressed! 
Although I haven't lost a ton of weight I am much stronger and toned than I was two weeks ago.
And the fact that it's only 20 minutes makes me sing it's praises all the more.

For the first time in my life my tranverse abdominis (my lower belly muscles) were incredibly sore and it felt good knowing they were being toned (finally).  My arms definitely have more definition and my ab muscles are remarkably harder and toned, something very rare with this Branflake.

My one complaint?
The stretching after is too short so I spend an extra ten minutes stretching out my quads, arms, and hip rotators and flexors.
Also, I haven't lost any weight yet so I'm a little bummed.
Maybe they will melt off soon?

image via

Are you a Shredder?
What was your experience?
Did you lose weight Shredding?
If so, did that happen in the beginning, middle, end, or throughout?
If you did Shred and now don't, why did you stop?

Monday, June 27, 2011

Outfit Post: Summery But Dressy

This is one of my favorite dresses.
When I first tried it on at H&M in San Francisco years ago, my sister took one look at me and said,
"Hmph.  Very June Cleaver of you."
(She never approved of my fashion sense.)

But I like it and I love how summery it is without being too casual.
We were at a French inspired dinner party that night (Thanks, Stacy!) and snuck out to take a few pictures.
The party was in a beautiful rural area of Sacramento that was surrounded by grape vines and the river.

It was a beautiful night.

How do you dress for summer without being too casual?
I know a nice pair of heels does wonders for a dress.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dancing Branflake Pool Party

Imagine this:
All your friends gathered around this pool.
Gourmet snacks and yummy goodies are being passed around.
There's a live band, some people dancing on the grass, and an endless supply of laughing.

Let the pool party begin!

image via Elle Decor

The Menu
Refreshing drinks, light but savory finger foods, and a refreshing of dessert.
Waiting 15 minutes before swimming is entirely optional.
Click on the links below for recipes and photo credits.

What I'm Wearing
Breezy top, fun skirt, and a whole lot of color.
Aren't those wedges adorable?
(links are below)

The Favor
When your guests arrive, let them choose their favorite color.
Then let them take it home with them as a favor.
Hey, it's less laundry for you!
towels from Garnet Hill via Real Simple

I hope you all have wonderful pool parties this summer!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Pink Day!

Betsey Johnson has declared today Pink Day!  
How are you celebrating?

I have some mad love for Betsey Johnson.  
When I interviewed one of her San Francisco store mangers, Alice Johnson, on the blog the CFO emailed the link to the ENTIRE company.  
They were so tickled "pink" that their employee was being interviewed on Dancing Branflakes.  
I wanted to be like, 
Wait!  You've got it all wrong!  I'm the one who's completely humbled that you even care!

But, of course, they cared because it concerned one of their very own.
She treats her employees like family and they are thoroughly supportive of one another.
Almost everyone one of her employees (and perhaps Betsey herself) visited the blog to read the interview.
 That's right... that day Dancing Branflakes got 600 extra readers.  
And I'm sure they were all wearing pink.
See the interview here.

I hope you get a chance to celebrate pink today!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Parisian Summer

I saw these photos on From Me, To You and immediately started longing for Paris.

Ah, Paris.
While I will be in England, my heart will be calling out to this beautiful city.
It has been sixteen years since I saw it last.

What's more, it'll be right across that dang channel, beckoning to me in all its romantically chic glory.

If I inhale deep enough, maybe I could smell its fresh baked crusty bread and expensive perfume.

If I look far enough perhaps I'll catch the lights on the Tour Eiffel and L'Arc de Triumphe.

I'll be thinking of La Seine with all the famous people who have walked along its iconic stone path.

I'll never forget my first night there at Hotel Rex. 
 The first breakfast of baguettes, jam, and hot chocolate. 
The first time I stepped in an actual castle and ate French vanilla ice cream

Oh, Paris.  
I have not forgotten and I never will.

all photography from the amazing blog, From Me to You.  
She is a phenomenal photographer with a Paris series that knocked my socks off. 
 And her commentary is absolutely superb.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Summer! May your days and nights be filled with:

Cozy chairs, tousled hair, and addicting books.
image via From Me To You

Beaches, swings, and kisses
photo by Marianne Wilson via Counting Graces

Flowing dresses, mini adventures, and plenty of water
photography by Richard Makhlouf

And, lastly, copious amounts of picture taking to capture it all.

Don't you just love the simple pleasures of summer?
How are you celebrating the first day of summer?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Beach Date Outfit

I saw this striped dress on Ruche and immediately thought of a date on the beach. 
More specifically I thought of walking on the boardwalk 
while holding hands with a handsome man and eating cotton candy.  

Then while the sun sets we'll stroll along the ocean's edge where,
of course, there would be a few kisses and stolen glances along the way.

What are you day dreaming about today?
Any fun beach dates lately?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Be Brave!

In the middle of class a few weeks ago a parent came into the studio and said that her daughter had to leave immediately because she had a doctor's appointment that they had forgotten about.  We were about to "ride our magical ponies" and I could tell my student was disappointed.  As she walked out one of her classmates simply yelled out to her "Be brave!"

photo by Peter Voerman via Art Knowledge News 

I thought it was the sweetest thing a six year old could say to another six year old about to leave her magical pony to go to the scary doctor's office.  Touched by this I considered those two words and how they might bolster a faltering ego or give strength to a friend in need.

Be brave.  I know life can be tough but my wish to you all is that you have courage in your heart.

Be Brave.
(This post is dedicated to my dear friend who lost her father Tuesday night and to my step-mother who lost her father Tuesday night also.)

ps... there were Branflakes everywhere this week:
See me flirting with sensuality on Fashion, Art and other Fancies
More of me "letting go" on Not Your Average Ordinary
See my travel tips on Unstitched

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Me in Glasses

If you head on over to Unstitched today you will see a Dancing Branflake feature.
And you will see me in my glasses.
This is a big deal, for I have never ever taken a photo with my glasses on.
I have enough issues with me in photos already, why torture myself with glasses?

Head on over to Unstitched and find out why.
Please, be nice.  It's for the greater good.
ps... I linked up the Frozen Yogurt Maker in yesterday's post.
The source is Cambria Cove.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Frozen Yogurt Maker

A huge thank you to Cafe Fashionista for changing my life.
I love her (she's been a Dancing Branflake reader from the beginning!)
and a few weeks ago she blogged about a frozen yogurt maker

"What?!" I exclaimed.  "This has changed my life!"  
You don't understand.
Mr. Branflake eats frozen yogurt so much the lady behind the counter knows him by name.
He in turns always asks about her kids and how soccer is going with her boys.

So Mr. Branflake, before I leave for a month here is a gift for you.

You're welcome.

Do you love frozen yogurt?
ps... it took all my will power to not get pink.
I fell in love with the color but I have a feeling Mr. Branflake would not appreciate it as much.

images via Cambria Cove

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hair of a Dancer

*Thank you for all your kind comments from yesterday's post.  Your words of love has made this experience complete. 

Even though the below photo is my favorite, I did not show it in yesterday's post because I wanted to talk a little bit about it in a separate format.

photo by Susan Yee of En Pointe Photography

My hair is long.  It's a great for dancing (hello easy buns!) and fairly low maintenance.  But I have to ask: when is hair too long?  Right now it reaches my mid back and it just occurred to me that I am borderline faux pas.

I love long hair.  It makes me feel feminine and, as Amy said to Jo in Little Women, it's my "one beauty!"  It's healthy and thick and I can't complain.  But how much is too much of a good thing?

What do you think?  
When does long hair go from 'beautiful!' to 'uhhh...'?
What's the longest you've ever had your hair?  

Monday, June 13, 2011

My Photo Shoot with En Pointe Photography

Oh dear.  Where do I begin?  This photo shoot was life changing.  It all began when photographer, Susan Yee of En Pointe Photography, contacted me and told me about her newest project The Soul of a Dancer.  She wanted to photograph dancers raw, asking me to forget about technique and just let go.  That's like asking a baker not to use measurements or telling a concert pianist to play blindfolded with one hand behind her back while singing Mary Had a Little Lamb.  

Haha, I kid.  But it was tough not thinking about extending through the foot, my turnout, or if my leg was fully straight.  And humbling.  Because dancing en pointe on grass is a lot harder than I anticipated.  On top of trying to keep my balance while bearing my soul I also did not want to end up looking chubby.  (Oh stop, Branflake. Just stop!)  Alas, that is the truth.

Here's what would happen:  I would play a song from a playlist I created.  Susan would ask me questions about the song and what it meant to me.  Then I started dancing to the music in whatever way the music spoke to me.  And Susan just started clicking.  Non stop.  There was no "hold that pose!" or "do that again!" Nothing here was staged.  She really wanted me to dig deep and express myself in a way I never had.

Some of the songs I chose were Warning by Incubus, In My Life by The Beatles, and Do What You Have to Do by Sarah McLaughlin.  Music has always been a large part of my life and these songs in particular connect me to someone or some time that makes my heart beat faster.

She would ask me questions like "Why did pick this song?" and "What does it remind you of?"  "Oh dear", I thought.  Those were quite intimate questions that I never before fully answered myself.  But it was cathartic to say "This song reminds me of a friendship that is no longer and I cannot think about it without being sad" or "There was once this guy..."

 So even if the shapes I created were not perfect technically, I hope you get to know me, as a dancer and a person, through these images.  And I hope it helps other see that what goes into dance is much greater than big jumps and high legs (although those are important).  Passion, love, sacrifice, and humility create the soul of a dancer and sharing that with you is the greatest blessing.

Thank you, Susan, for this beautiful experience.  
See the full photo shoot on Susan's blog at En Pointe Photography
Susan is also an incredible wedding and lifestyle photographer

Saturday, June 11, 2011

A Williams-Sonoma Potted Cake

I cannot get over the sweetness and fun of this
Imagine having the gals over for lemonade and gossip 
with these as the centerpieces- and dessert!
This just evokes the beauty and creativity of Spring gatherings.

Hope you have a beautiful Spring Day!
ps... I have something to show you on Monday.

image via Williams-Sonoma

Friday, June 10, 2011

Missing Him

Photo by my good friend and photographer, Susan Yee, from her iPhone.

Confession: I've left Mr. Branflake five times.  The first time was a month after he proposed.  Things were amazing and I was loving every minute of being engaged.  But one day I got a phone call from my mom which led me to flying back to California to take care of a sick grandparent for a month. Mr. Branflake was a saint and did not once murmur any complaint as I was two states away.

The next three times I left him for work three summers in a row.  Although I was on tour for only 6 weeks, it felt like eternity and each summer got harder and harder.

The fifth time was last summer.  It was only two weeks but toward the end I was missing him so much that I flew back a day early.  I really really needed that day to be with him.

This time I will not only be gone for an entire month but also an entire continent and an entire ocean.  Time away is hard, but distance seems to be the hardest.

Maybe I should stack the freezer with cookie dough.  He says my chocolate chip cookies are his favorite.

I love to travel and I love adventures.  Mr. Branflake always calls me a free spirit (I think he says that endearingly.  Right?  RIGHT?!)  But the truth is that I miss him horribly as soon as I sink into an empty bed in an unfamiliar place.  A tough situation for someone who has chosen this lifestyle.

So I'm thinking of ways to ease the pain of distance.  When I left for tour the first time, I packed the fridge with homemade lasagnas and my awesome spaghetti and meatballs.  It was a comfort to me that he was eating well and remembering me while doing so.  

How do you deal with being away from a loved one?  
(Any creative ideas? The time difference between California and Great Britain is 8 hours. Sigh.)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Art of Forgetting

A few months ago I saw this book on Amazon and immediately added it to my wishlist.  
The cover alone drew me and since it would not come out until June 2012 I eagerly awaited its debut .

Lucky for me the author contacted me and said "Hey!  My book is coming out.  Would you like to review it?"  Umm.... heck yes!

image from her Facebook Page 

I received this beautiful book and I must say that I proudly carried it wherever I went as the cover is gorgeous.  
I didn't carry it for long because I read it in two days.  
I would have read it in one (I was so addicted) but I wanted to pace myself and not let it go so soon.  
Don't you hate it when you finish a good book? 
I get real lonely afterward.

The book is about a ballerina who loses her memory.  
That's the short of it.  
But more than that it is a book about relationships, the memory of them, the memories we create from them, and the way we are haunted by them for the rest of our lives.  
It delves deep into the psyche of coping, what we chose (or do not chose) to remember,
 and dealing with the past in a new light.

I ask you all, my dear friends:
Is there something in your life you would rather forget?
The Art of Forgetting comes out today!
Visit Camille's blog
Visit her website

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Heart Beats Faster When...

Part of the choreographic process as a dancer with Dangerous Lorraines Dance Theater was considering and reconsidering what was in our hearts.  
It was a process.  

My heart nearly skipped a beat when it saw these beauties from Martha Stewart.

One of the ways we would undergo this process was a technique created by choreographer Liz Lerman.
  We would simply write down our reaction to the phrase my heart beats faster when...

As someone who seeks inspiration daily,
I thought I would share with you today's reaction.

My heart beats faster when...

~I see pretty sweets on a decorated table~
~I'm in the wings and about to go on stage~
~A certain song comes on the radio~
~There's a sale at Williams Sonoma~
~I see Mr. Branflake's car in the driveway~
~I see beautiful photography~
~Someone says something that touches my heart immediately~
~Prose comes to mind and I have only moments to write it down~
~I remember something (that usually means I forgot it at one time)~
~I think about the future and the adventures yet to happen~

What makes your heart beat faster?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Meet Chris Peddecord: Dancer and Photographer

I met Chris Peddecord last year while dancing with Repertory Dance Theatre for their Summer Workshop.
(He's a company member with RDT)
The first time I saw Chris dance in class I was completely blown away.
Not only is he flawless in his technique but there's a certain quality about him that is endearing and genuine.
Then last month I saw his photography and I knew I needed to know a little more about this talented man.

He is a real down to earth and goofy guy.  
I don't know if he remembers, but we had to partner for a section of a piece and I was laughing the entire time.

So I asked him to fill in the blanks.
Here are his answers.

Photography is distilling the quintessence of your subject between the four walls of a frame.

Dance is the hardest of lifestyles and the loftiest of the arts.

Life is a constant journey with an ever-changing destination.

Three things I cannot live without are good company, excellent food and artistic freedom.

Kindness, determination and passion are three words that describe my life.

My personal motto is Technique is an orphan.” You can take a normal subject and make it pop by the use of technique but I prefer to strip bare the subject and let it speak for itself. The less layers I can put between my final subject and the viewer of the photograph the better.

I was inspired today by the dancers I've worked with.  I get into a mood where I think my portfolio needs yet more work, yet more distillation and editing the photos of these dancers inspires me to constantly create something new that I've never seen before.

My daily routine is to not have one. Homogeneity breeds complacency and complacency is the death of artistry.  My passion is multi-faceted. I love dancing and choreographing very, very much and to combine the two disciplines in the medium of photography is fascinating. In photography you remove time as a component of dance and can create imagery that makes the viewer feel uneasy as though the image were alien and unworldly.  I like to leave the viewer wondering what happens before and after the exposure.  When a dancer looks like they're going to hit the ground they probably did but there's this brief moment of release and freedom in my photos that I always strive for.

I count Clara Cravey as one of my personal heroes. Clara was one of my primary teachers at Ben Stevenson's Houston Ballet Academy and her lessons in the dance studio reflect upon the lessons I've learned in the photography studio. She taught us as dancers to be human as much as she taught us to perform ballet. She's an incredible woman and her lessons have stood the test of time.

My goals are always changing. Today I've decided I want to work with my friends and acquaintances that dance for Houston Ballet. Tomorrow I might decide that's a bad idea. The day next I might decide no goal is out of my reach.

Thanks, Chris!
You are inspiring to us all.
Visit Chris' website.
Like his Facebook page.