Friday, July 29, 2011

Ballet Class in London

While dancing at the Laban University in London for the two week intensive, 
I met some incredible dancers from Korea.
In ballet class I would sometimes look at them and laugh-
It was just unbelievable how good they were!

I liked my ballet class but it was hard to feel good about successfully completing a triple pirouette when there were other dancers doing way more amazing things.  
But that's why intensives are so good for dancers- 
you are constantly inspired to push yourself to be better. 

all photos by Dancing Branflake

Here's to rising to the challenge!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Bruises and Something Boys Think is Cute

I woke up Friday morning and found this sucker on my knee.  
I have no clue how I did it but it has to be from dancing.  
And if you know modern dance you know that bruises are a no no.
Bruises mean that you are landing on your legs incorrectly when doing floorwork.

On a much less painful note, I am guest posting over at So about what I said...,
Melissa Blake's fabulous and famous blog.
I wrote about something that boys think is cute on a girl-
something you would have never guessed!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Walked the Highlands Alone

Read post below on how I got to Aviemore.

I decided to explore Aviemore, Scotland, on foot and found myself in a secluded area with not a soul in sight. 
It was surreal to think that at one point clansmen traveled and sought protection in the same clearings that I was standing on.
And to be there alone made the experience much more intimate.

Traveling alone has given me a wonderful opportunity to immerse myself in solitude.
Solitude is something I value dearly.
When it is a choice, solitude is balm for the soul.
When it is not, it takes on a whole different meaning.

So what's a girl to do to celebrate her solitude in such a magnificent place?
Dance, of course!

Do you enjoy being alone?
(ps... I am a total extrovert. I just highly value my alone time.)

all photos taken by me and a very convenient self timer.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Once in a Lifetime Car Ride

On Sunday I went to Church in Inverness, Scotland and met a man who was visiting from Aberdeen but was on holiday in Aviemore, a town thirty minutes away. At one point in our conversation he asked me if I wanted a lift to Aviemore so I could see the sights out there. 

Me after Church. Thank goodness I brought my camera.
You never know when an adventure is afoot! (or a leg)

Sure, why not? I said.

Now, I know hopping in a car with a complete stranger is a big no-no but I could tell he was simply a nice older gentleman who wanted me to see more of Scotland. So I hopped in his car and we took off.

 I told him that it was my first time in a British car and he told me that the car was as British as they came: an Aston Martin to be exact. The same car that James Bond drove. 

Words escaped me.

Two in one: James Bond in a kilt. image via Stylelist

Then we got to talking about ourselves and he told me that he was kilt maker. In fact, he designed and made the Scottish National Kilt and all the kilts for the Braveheart movie. (You've got to be kidding me.). He invited me to visit him in Aberdeen one day so I could meet his family and get a tour of the town. 

I just might do that.

I love Scotland!
(ps... I am not endorsing you to hop into a stranger's car. Well, maybe if it was James Bond) 

Monday, July 25, 2011

Man in Kilt Sighting

I'm in Scotland! 
 I spotted this guy while walking along the river in Inverness.  
I meant to be sly but unfortunately he looked up right as I was taking the photo.  
I love the facial expression- absolutely priceless.

Here are some highlights of Scotland thus far (and I've only been here ten hours!):
~I woke up in the middle of my 11 hour train ride from London to the most beautifully lush scenery complete with rolling hills and a bunny rabbit hopping in a stream.
~I went to the Inverness Highland Games and saw crazy buff men in kilts throwing random objects.
~The bed and breakfast I am staying in looks like a cottage.
~Inverness is beautiful! There's a flowing river in the middle of the city with a castle on the side.
~Lounge Bar with free Wi-Fi and the best kid's menu (it's a three course meal.)

I have so many things to share with you, including some gorgeous dance photos and the most amazing story that involves me and an incredible car ride.

I really wanted to ask that guy for his picture but got shy.
Do you ask strangers for their pictures?
If so, how do you approach them?
Do they react kindly?

Friday, July 22, 2011


I got this email from Chris a few days and it made me gooey inside and a little weepy on the outside:

Hey love,

I went to Google Maps yesterday and typed in directions from Sacramento to London.  Google told me it couldn't calculate it.

It made me sad.

image via For the Home via John Mutrux

Isn't he a cutie? 

The Laban Dance Intensive is over so I'm off to Scotland tonight. 
It's a twelve hour train journey and I am crazy excited!
(But also crazy missing my other Branflake.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cat-Calling and Pick-Ups

In the last post I told you that I have befriended three dancers, two Americans and a Scot.  
One of the Americans is a model while the other one looks like Marilyn Monroe.  
Every time we go out we always get so many cat calls from English men it's becoming a little ridiculous. 
My birthday night was by far the most ridiculous of them all.

The girls and I were sitting in a restaurant waiting for Paul the Scot so there was an empty chair next to me. 
A guy came up and asked if he could sit next to me. 
I told him no. 
He then sat at the table next to ours and started to ask me odd questions about my life,
 which I politely deflected. 
Then he began rambling about how much he wanted to marry an Asian woman, 
particularly from Japan, and that he had been looking everywhere in England for one.

I told him he should look at a woman with respect and not based on her race. 
He didn't get the hint. 
I told him about Mr. Branflake and how is the perfect man and he still didn't get the hint. 
Finally after ten whole minutes of blatantly and awkwardly pursuing me, 
Paul the Scot showed up and told the man he was very creepy and asked him to go away. 

Really, men? I know it's not just England where this happens- it's all over. 
When I have a son I am definitely going to inculcate in his mind about respecting women 
and the proper way to tell them you are interested. 
That includes never ever cat calling one. 

How do you feel about cat-calls? 
How do you handle unwanted advances?
 Ps... thank you all for the birthday wishes! 
I am incredibly shy about my birthday but you guys always make me feel so good.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My First Week in London (and an injury)

A few of the things that happened my first week in England:

I seriously hurt my big right toe on the first day of classes. 
 I thought it was just a sprain but when I woke the next morning the entire toe was black and blue and incredibly painful. 
I'm going to get it x-rayed once the intensive is over to see what treatment should be done. 
 Until then, I'm dancing through the pain and feel quite blessed that I can do so.

Although the program is filled with people from all over the world, 
I have befriended two Americans and a Scot. 
We are having fun exploring London and eating out almost every night. 
I am so lazy I cannot bring myself to microwave a dinner.

Me in front of the Royal Ballet School during one of our nighttime excursions.

The shopping in London is insane and I bought my first pair of skinny skinny jeans for fourteen pounds. 
One of the Americans, who is a model, told me they are not skinny enough. 
I laughed at that.

A phone booth on Drury Lane in Covent Garden.
You know, where the Muffin Man lives.

As I was walking to the dance building on Thursday, 
a guy in a van pulled up to me and asked where I was going. 
He then demanded I give him my number.
Paul, the Scot, is now insistent that he walk me to class.
Thank goodness.

More crazy English men stories tomorrow.  
This one's a doozie!

Monday, July 18, 2011

What's Your Birthday Food?

My mom once told me that while she was pregnant with me she felt her first contraction while eating fish. 
It wasn't until a few months ago that she told me that she was actually eating fish and chips.
 That explains so much!

I love all fried food but I have never ordered fish and chips from a restaurant.
I always have thought they were too decadent and should be saved for a special occasion. 
I think I knew subconsciously that fish and chips were to be eaten on my birthday.
I mean, I obviously wanted them when my mom was eating them on July 17, 198-.

 On my way to my birthday fish and chips.
 And the skirt?Totally made by my mother.

So yesterday while in London, I ordered my first batch of fish and chips. 
That seemed like the most appropriate occasion.
I'm now calling fish and chips my birthday food.

  Do you have a birthday food?
ps... thank you for all the birthday wishes on Facebook. I am quite humbled.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Last Night Was Kind of Life Changing

Where it all began: the old studio where the likes of Margot Fonteyn once studied.

After class last night a fellow dance student, Paul from Scotland, said to me "Hey, I'm going to Sadler's Wells to see Hofesh Shechter, want to come?"  Hofesh who? I asked. 

I know what Sadler's Wells is.  It was the home to some of the greatest ballerinas of all time and although the theater is now much more contemporary, I knew I could not pass up an opportunity to see this iconic place.

One train ride and a few Tube tranfers later we arrived at Sadler's Wells and got standing tickets to the dance performance.

The result?  It was the most incredible performance I have ever seen. It actually was so powerful I got a little emotional. I can't explain why but it affected (effected?) me in a way nothing else has before. I've seen many dance performances yet nothing has come close to this performance.

The modern theater. It was beautiful!

And the music? There were placed musicians above the dancers. Eight drummers, ten strings, and four electric guitars.  Since I was standing I could feel every vibration of the cellists and every beat of the drummers, creating a beautifully visceral experience.

After the performance I saw the choreographer and I wanted to tell him how much I loved the performance.  He was young, not much older than me, and I hate to admit it but I kind of chickened out when I saw how many people wanted to talk to him. Blah! Maybe I'll tweet him later.

Have you had any life changing experiences lately?  
Do share!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Summer According to: Sandy a la Mode

I'm sure you all know Sandy from Sandy a la Mode.
She is the queen of crafts and blogging.
You want to talk about networking, building a successful blog, or selling your goods on Etsy?
Sandy has all the answers.
She also has all the style so I've asked her to share her thoughts about summer to add a dose of inspiration.
A la mode. 

Summer is my favorite season of the year, as long as it's not too humid and hot!
My favorite summer memory is going on our honeymoon in Hawaii! :)
A summer menu would consist of roasted garlic on french bread as an appetizer, a fruit salad as a starter course, grilled hot dogs or hamburgers as main course, and watermelon for dessert!

Summer romance is having a picnic in the park.
My favorite summer activity is going to the beach or pool.
This summer I am wearing maxi dresses and sandals.

Summer mornings are great for reading a book on a hammock.
Summer nights are perfect for watching fireworks.

Thanks, Sandy, for sharing your thoughts on summer.
Reading a book in a hammock sounds pretty amazing right now.
Visit Sandy a la Mode here.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

When Ballet and Fashion Come Together

Thank you to Diana and Pretty Pretty Paper for introducing me to this article!

The English National Ballet asked some of the world's top fashion designers to design their own tutus. 
Brilliant, I say.  
Harper's Bazaar covered the story and had these lovely photos to share on their website

A tutu with a tee?
I love it! (No more corset, haha!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Dear Diary: Today I Love...

This photo taken on the train from the airport to Greenwich.
Ideas kept coming at me and I could barely write them down fast enough.

Dear Diary,


i love the smell of
the purple flowers that seem to be everywhere here in London.

i love the sound of
these wonderful British accents all around me.
I could listen to them speak all day.

i love the taste of
ice cream.
When it's summertime it's all I crave.
Cold, creamy, smooth ice cream.

i love the sight of
This place is taken straight out of a movie with little shops and bakeries everywhere.

i love the feel of
my body moving.
It's sore and it's getting older but the more I move it the better it feels.

What do you love today?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer According To... City of Dionne

This new series called Summer According To... features my favorite bloggers.
First up: City of Dionne!

I absolutely adore Dionne from City of Dionne.  
She creates these magical posts with her fabulous illustrations and incredible photos. 
It's actually a little ridiculous how talented she is. 
 For this feature, I sent her some sentences and asked her to fill in the blanks.
Her answers, along with her photography, has to be one of my favorite posts yet.

Without further adieu, here is:
Summer According to... City of Dionne
(all images by the lovely Dionne)

Summer is outdoor social time!  I love the active, social aspect to summer.  Everything is bright and cheery, and people seem to always be smiling.

My favorite summer activity is outdoor eating with friends.  Whether they come to our place and I cook them a meal to be eaten outside, or meeting up at an outdoor bistro - anything involving eating and outside is a favorite.

My favorite summer memory is meeting my husband at Laguna Beach in California.  I recruited him to build a sandcastle with me that day, not realizing how much he'd change my life.

A summer menu must definitely include a fresh fruit sorbet for dessert (I often plan my desserts first, and then work the rest of the meal around it).  I think a nice lunch to precede it would be some fresh tacos with homemade tortillas and loads of fresh ingredients.

Summer romance is salsa dancing.  Not that I get to do it often or am great at it, but I like the idea of salsa dancing at some outdoor party.  Hot, fun, playful - hmmm... I am going to talk to my husband about this - it's been too long!

Summer mornings is waking up early with my husband and going to the Summer Farmer's Markets.  We eat a breakfast of fresh bread from our local bakers there, and then explore what produce this Summer season has to offer.  Simple, yes - but we love it!

Summer nights is at the Miller Outdoor Theatre.  There's an outdoor theatre here in Houston that has free musicals and plays and other performances on a big outdoor stage.  People just come and set up their picnic blankets and watch theatre under the stars.  Lovely.

My summer outfit is anything with shorts.  I live in shorts over the summer.   Even when I am going out at night.  I just dress them up with heels and a fancy belt.  I even went to a cocktail party in shorts - some sequiny shorts and wore a girly button up top and a skinny tie with heels to glam it up.

Thanks, Dionne!
Your posts always brighten my day!
visit her blog here.
Stay tuned for more Summer According To... posts by my favorite bloggers.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Little Black Book

Photograph by Lindsey Fast via Julia. 

While traveling my thoughts tend to wander.  Sometimes it's mindless chatter in my brain and sometimes there are gems that I know I'll want to remember forever.  People who say that if they cannot remember something then it must not be important baffle me.  They have either an impeccable memory and remember everything or don't know what it's like to live a creative life.

I must remember.  It makes the difference between inspired choreography and a mediocre dance move.  Or a thoughtful insight versus a trite saying.  I honestly view all inspirations as divinely given and not to be taken lightly.

Hence the little black book and all its gems inside.  I would not start an adventure without one.

When inspiration comes, how do you record it?
Have a wonderful weekend!
The next time you'll see me I'll be in London!!!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

I Tried It: $1 Make-Up by E.L.F.

Last night I took a trip to Target for the last minute Europe essentials (socks, candy, random things on sale ) when I came across something amazing and I for sure thought it was a typo.  I saw a whole line of make-up for $1.  But it wasn't a typo, it was a new (to me) line called E.L.F (Eyes, Lips, Face) and I quickly picked up $1 lip glosses, eye shadow brushes, and a travel mirror.

They also have a cool thing that's not online but at Target where you can custom make your own four color eye shadow pallet.  Which is perfect for me who always loves two out of the four shades in manufactured pallets.

They have other things that are more "expensive."
I also got this blush for $3 and I love the color on my skin.
It's definitely coming with me to Europe.
I typically am skeptical with cheap make-up but in my head I thought "well, it's only $1."  
I am happy thus far with my purchases and I am especially in love with the Glossy Gloss 
(that one is not on the website but at Target).  
I applied it right before going out with a friend and it stayed on through 
Dark Chocolate Fudge Cold Stone Ice Cream and one hour of dress shopping.  

Have you tried E.L.F.?  
What were the results?
What make-up things do you refuse to be cheap about?
ps... I danced with this girl who always had the most amazing eye make-up.
I asked her if she used MAC. 
She said: "No.Wet 'n' Wild."
There you go.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Camille Noe Pagan Fills in the Blanks

I love writers. 
They are some of the most expressive and articulate people in the world.   
They have spent their lives thinking about life and the lives of those around them. 
They see the world differently and share it beautifully.

This is why I am so thrilled that Camille Noe Pagan, author of the beautiful book, The Art of Forgetting, has filled in the blanks and given us her thoughts on writing, her career, and the success of her newest book.

The tutu images were taken by me at my students' performances.
Since one of the main characters in The Art of Forgetting is a ballerina I thought it would be nice to get some behind the scene shots as we are getting some behind the scenes words from the author.

From Camille:

Writing is something I feel compelled to do on a daily basis. 

Reading is water for my parched soul. Reading is my version of therapy. It gives me the chance to get out of my head and relax

My daily routine varies very little, thanks to my two children, ages 3 and 6 months. 

My past is instructive. No regrets, only reflection. 

My future is beautiful. As Emily Dickinson says, "I dwell in possibility." It's hope that gets us out of bed in the morning. 

I love to feel  inspired. Sometimes it's the poppy blooming in my backyard; sometimes learning that a friend has accomplished something amazing, like hitting the NYT bestseller list. I like to surround myself by people and things that light up my mind. 

Sometimes I yearn for more time to write fiction. Because I work as a journalist during the day and spend the late afternoon/early evening with my kids, the only time I have to work on my second novel is at night. I'm brainstorming about how to switch my schedule so fiction makes up the better part of my workday.

The Art of Forgetting is a book that I would pick up at the bookstore. It's not perfect, but I set out to write something I would enjoy reading. I accomplished that, and that makes me happy!

I wish I could forget how tired I am. Now that I'm in my early thirties, I realize how important sleep really is, but I have less time than ever for it ... especially good, uninterrupted sleep. 

My life is a blessing! Every day on this planet is a good day. 

image via Camille's Facebook Page

Thanks, Camille!
I highly recommend Camille's book, The Art of Forgetting.
It has just the right amount of love, humor, girl power, and thoughtfulness to make it a perfect summer read.
Buy it here.
Visit Camille's Website here.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

British FAQ's

Ladies and gents, the time is almost here.  
A new adventure is about to start and I am a mixed bag of emotions.  
(I'm a bundle of nerves wrapped in chocolate cake.)
Here are a few of the frequently asked questions I've been getting that I am happy to answer.

illustration by Andrea Laliberte via Pinterest 

When do you leave? 
I leave on July 9th (eek!).

When do you come back? 
I come back August 10th.

Where are you going?  
I will be in London, England and then Inverness and Edinburgh, Scotland.  

What will you be doing in England?   
In London I will be dancing at the Laban University for a two week intensive.
I will be dancing five days a week from 9-5 then sight seeing the rest of the time. 

image via Pinterest via Goodreads

What will you be doing in Scotland?  
In Edinburgh I will be attending the Fringe Festival (a huge series of performances throughout the entire month of August) and I will be taking dance classes at Dance Base with some of the performing companies.
In Inverness, I will be mostly sight seeing, taking pictures, and meeting new people.
If you know of any dancers in the Highlands let me know.  I would love to take class up there also.

What dance classes will you be taking?
At Laban, I start the day off with ballet class.  Then I have a Graham class followed by a Limon class (both are classical modern techniques ).  I will end the day with a choreography class.
In Edinburgh I will be taking both ballet and modern dance classes.

Are you ready? 
Haha! No. Maybe in the sense that I have everything I need to go, but in no way am I emotionally prepared to spend 4 weeks away from Mr. Branflake.

Do you know anyone in England or Scotland?  
I know a few bloggers in England and my second cousin lives in London, but I personally do not know anyone in Scotland.

illustration by  Bella Pilar via LifeStyling  via Pinterest

Where are you staying?  
In England I will be staying at the dorms at the University (I have my own room and bathroom).
In Scotland I will be staying in a few bed and breakfasts.

Will you be blogging while you're gone?
Or course!  Not only will I be blogging but I will also have a few surprises along the way.
Blogging is a source of comfort so I know if I get homesick all I'll have to do is visit your wonderful blogs and be uplifted.

Can I get a postcard?  
Sure!  Email me your address at dancingbranflake at gmail dot com and I will gladly send you a postcard.  

More questions? Suggestions for my trip? Let me know!
I'd love to hear it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

4th of July Dancing Branflake Dinner Party

Happy 4th of July Weekend, America and friends!
I love this holiday and everything it represents.
This party is a very Martha Stewart heavy party, 
for I think she does 4th of July best.
From the decor to the food to the fun favor, this dinner party exudes a preppy East Coast feel.
A tribute, really, to the part of our nation where this all started.

The Decor
I love how Martha Stewart curated this table.
Just like the rest of the dinner party, it is casual with a touch of elegance.

The Menu
(click on the links below for recipes.  All photos and recipes are from Martha Stewart.)

What I'm Wearing
I wanted to go a little Americana; a tribute to the preppy East Coast and chic Jackie O.

The Favor
I'd love to make these Martha Stewart Pretzel Sparklers and wrap them up in some pretty packaging. 
I think edible favors are the best favors.

Have a fun and safe Independence Day weekend, my friends!
(and to England: sorry 'bout it.)