Friday, September 30, 2011

Dancing Branflake Dinner Party: Fall is Glamorous

I love Fall. I love the colors, the food, and the promises of many gatherings and celebrations. I love that the parties during the colder months call for fancier dresses and upswept hairstyles. One could say that Fall is the introduction to the more glamorous months of the year.

It was around this time last year that I started this dinner party series and I am so glad I did. I guess you can say Fall inspires the social/creative/fantasy/hungry side of me. Click on the links for image sources and recipes.


The Decor 
is filled with reds, oranges, and cozy browns.

image via Elle Decor


The Menu



What I'm Wearing
Vintage, glam, and inspired by nature's colors.


The Favor
Some light reading for you guests for the train ride home.
A book by those who introduced glamour to the world through the publishing industry.

image from Amazon.com



I hope you have a fabulously glamorous Fall weekend ahead.



Thursday, September 29, 2011

Balance



Sometimes when I think of balance I assume it means trying to delicately and almost tediously handle multiple things at once. But the truth is balance is not trying to carry as much as you can without falling over it's carrying anything with a solid foundation.

One of the basic principles I teach my students is to have a solid foundation when they stand. I teach this so that when they start to jump, turn and be all kinds of fabulous on stage their bodies will have a solid foundation wherever they go and whatever they do.

It's that solid foundation that takes all of us out of the world of uncertainty and into the world of success, whatever success means to you. Yes, a solid foundation means you will be able to handle multiple things at once (like a triple pirouette into the splits) but it also means you can stand beautifully and gracefully on your own.

What does having a solid foundation mean to you?


photo by Chris Peddecord.
Like his Facebook page and see all sorts of goodness.
Read my interview with Chris here.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Apple Pie with a Twist



How adorable is this? A beautiful lattice pie crust cookie over a piping mug of apple cider.
Truth be told, I don't like apple pie but I love apple pie crust and I love apple cider. 
Putting them together is definitely the bee's knees to me.


What exciting things are you baking this season?
photo by Not Martha. She even gives a tutorial on how to make it. Win!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Dress to Bike Ride In

I just love this Ruche dress.
I wore it on Sunday to a housewarming party for my friend, Stacy.
I got her the below cookie jar at Pier 1 and filled it with these freshly made chocolate chip cookies.
Then I thought, "Well I might as well go all out with the stripes" and I threw on this dress.


The fabric is light and breezy.
I also wore it while riding my bike to another's friends dinner party and it just felt wonderful billowing in the wind behind me.
(No worries- I wore a cream slip underneath!)
I vowed to wear more dresses while riding bikes.



This was actually the dress I wore when I had my run-in with that farmer in Scotland.
(shudder)
But I don't hold that against the dress. 
I guess random men like stripes as much as bloggers.




Do you ride bikes in dresses?
Don't you love how it feels?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Train Rides

One of the things I couldn't wait to do in the UK was ride on a train.
I had heard it was the best way to see the countryside and I have to say that going from London to the Scottish Highlands did not disappoint.
True story: At one of our stops I woke up in the wee hours of the morning and saw a bunny rabbit hopping casually in a stream before eating some foliage. It was like a dream





I felt a little silly taking so many pictures at 5 am but I just couldn't stop.
Seeing the sun rise over the Highland mountains is almost life changing.







Here I tried to capture the anticipation of seeing what was just around the river bend.
We often went from total seclusion to glorious scenery.





When you go to the Highlands
(which you will all do and tell me all about it)
spend a few extra pounds and take the train. 
You will never forget it.


Have ever had any memorable train rides?


Friday, September 23, 2011

A Country Inspired Dancing Branflake Dinner Party

Sometimes dinner parties are about glamour and glitz.
But this time we are headed to the country where exposed wood and humble elegance reign.
Sitting next to a cozy fireplace and stacks of wood has inspired this casual Autumn dinner party.
Branflake Style.
*click on the links for recipes and whatnot

The Decor
image via Elle Decor


The Menu



What I'm Wearing



The Favor
Country baking at its best.
from Bakerella


I hope you all have a wonderful Fall weekend!
(If it's in the country I'd love to hear about it.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

For the Love of Horses


I don't know if I have mentioned this on the blog but I used to ride horses. Big horses. English style. I had the riding hat and riding boots and everything. Even had my own whip and spurs (getting spurs was a big deal and I remember buying them with my dad thinking "This is it! I've graduated to spurs!").

Here is a list of random horse facts, according to Dancing Branflake.


 image from via from the Wuthering Heights movie.


Dancing Branflake Horse Facts:

~I love that horses have bangs.


~When I was young and we would drive by horses I always dreamed of hoping on one
 and galloping along the freeway.

~I used to ride three horses: Moondrop (a grey pony), Tutti Frutti (a big jerk who flung me off once), and Freemont (a huge Thoroughbred with the kindest soul).

~I love their soft noses. Nothing in the world is as soft as the tip of a horse's nose.

Photo taken in Scotland. See that soft nose and those side swept bangs? Pure Joy.

~Cleaning the horse's hooves is oddly very therapeutic. 
You have to get thisclose to their massive legs. The amount of trust between you and the horse is incredible.

~I used to obsessively collect horse figurines and display them proudly on a glass shelving unit. 
I had every color and breed.

~My intense affinity toward riding boots is directly linked to my love for riding horses.

Anthropologie riding boots. Swoon!


~You must always feed a horse with a flat palm or else they will unknowingly bite your finger.
I tell my Magical Ballerinas this when we feed our pretend ponies after riding in our pretend field of flowers.

~Me on a Horse + Fog + Green Fields in the Scottish Highlands = (unrequited) Dream Come True


photo by Michelle at Bonjour Hello




Are you a horse lover?
 I could wax poetry about horses forever so you'll probably see more horse posts in the future.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Antique Book Stores



photo by Boccacino

You know when you are at a place so magical and perfect you forget to take pictures?
After dance class this summer in Edinburgh I stumbled across an antique book store in the
 Grass Market and that's exactly what happened.

I walked in and the heady aroma of old books sent me straight to the classics where I found Iliad and The Odyssey in Latin and Greek,
 I silently cursed myself for not retaining more of my Latin. 


image via pinterest via the Bettmann Archive
side note: 1920's copyright laws are so interesting. Google it if you get a chance.



I spent forever in there reading and searching and picking out the right books for my loved ones. 
The older the better. 
I asked the owner of the store so many questions about every book I thought he would get annoyed. 
But he loved it and showed me everything he had in the "special case" behind him.


One stood out in particular. It was a French Bible dated 1777
Every part of me wanted to buy it. It was only 30 pounds, why not? 
But then I calculated how much 30 pounds would be in dollars and then I realized my French, 
although adequate, would never get me through Isaiah or James, or Genesis for that matter.



photo by Rick Zhuang


So I left it. And I left the store, completely forgetting to take any photos of that magnificent place. 



I guess I'll have to go back next year. And hope that the Bible is still there.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blogger Advice: Long Distance Relationships

******For this series I ask your advice, you give it via comments section or email, and I post it for all to enjoy. Click here for your advice about grad school.



Pillow from In Between Laundry. She even gives a tutorial on how to make them.
And the story about why she made it is incredibly sweet.


Yesterday I told you about how I decided not to be in a long distance relationship with Mr. Branflake but now I'm curious about all of you who were or are currently in one. 


What is your advice to anyone in a long distance relationship 
or contemplating one?
Leave your comment below or email me your advice to dancingbranflake at gmail.com
Your response may be published in the follow-up post.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Love Story: Packing Up and Moving Out



Photographer: Matt Clayton 


8 years ago Mr. Branflake and I started dating in the summer knowing that come Fall he would go back to school two states away in Utah. As summer came to an end we had to decide: break up and carry on with our lives, have me move out to Utah and follow him, have him transfer to a school in California, or try a long distance relationship. In his eyes, if we went the long distance route our relationship's chances of surviving were slim (he is the most pragmatic and logical person on earth). In my eyes, there was no one else I wanted to marry but him.

By this point we had only been dating for, um, maybe two months. I knew I wanted to marry Mr. Branflake. He, as boys typically are, was a little unsure although he knew he loved me and was the first to tell me so.

So I picked up all my bags and moved to Utah. I left behind an awesome job as a behavior therapist, my family, my friends, and my schooling. But I didn't mind because I knew he was the man for me.

I know what you're thinking: This does not sound like the smart, independent, sassy pants Branflake we all know. And you're right- I am a totally different person than I was eight years ago. I moved away without even a ring on my finger or a promise of marriage. Heck, I didn't even have a job lined up for me in Utah. But I did have an apartment lined up (thank goodness).

It could have easily turned out very badly.

But I told him "Don't worry. If it doesn't pan out between us then I'll just move back to California or find me another man out in Utah." I, at least, did have a plan b and c.

I viewed this as an adventure and just like any adventure there would be highs and lows and unexpected encounters. Looking back, one might have thought my life was horrible. I was juggling four part time low paying jobs, my roommates were crazy (CRAZY!) and most nights I didn't see Mr. Branflake until about ten at night after his classes were done. But I was happy, really happy. I have no explanation other than that I loved an adventure and I knew one day I would look back and just laugh at the absurdity of it all.

Okay, that's not entirely true. I was also convinced that if I stayed long enough I'd eventually get a proposal. I did (obviously) but I cringe to think I was that girl who gave up everything for love. I don't know if it's romantic or weak (or maybe both) but it is what it is and it turned out wonderfully. He is the epitome of the perfect guy.

Seriously, if you don't think Mr. Branflake is the sweetest guy ever you need to read this and this and this and this.


Have you ever given up everything for love? 
How did it turn out?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Sunsets in Lake Tahoe

A few weekends ago my family packed up a few bags and headed off to Lake Tahoe.
It was an impromptu trip that included fun walks, shopping, a crazy all you can buffet at Harrah's 
(where I had seven plates of food), and a nice stroll to the lake.



We got to the lake just as the sun was setting and I could not stop snapping away.
It was special to be there with my family as we rarely get to all spend time together.




There's something magical about large bodies of water.
Especially when a flock of birds announce their decent and you happen to catch them gliding over the water.





Or when you see someone appreciating it's beauty just as much as you do.





I'm a city girl but I think that's changing rapidly.
Maybe one day we'll live in a place where beautiful sunsets are simply a part of everyday life.
No light pollution or big buildings blocking the view.
Just us, nature, and the descending sun. 




How are your sunsets?

all photos by Dancing Branflake. 
If you want to use them... well, I have no clue why you would want to use them so never mind.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Going to Grad School? Bloggers Give Their Advice


This advice series asks bloggers for advice on a certain topic and I post the responses for all to read. Last week I asked you all to give your advice to those in graduate school or thinking about going to grad school and/or those with spouses in graduate school. The response was wonderful with insightful, smart, and at times hilarious answers. Thank you to all who contributed. With so many people going back to school it's nice to be able to have other bloggers to relate to and garner advice from.

*To read the full comments, click here for the original post. 


Advice from bloggers about grad school:



Wife of a grad student, Kate, from {be merry} Kate said:
The biggest thing I have learned is that despite the fact that J is in school, he is working. Treating his (school) as an actual job where he needs to work, uninterrupted, has been key. Also, flexibility. You can't have a set schedule with dinner at 6 every day with a grad student. There are evening classes, reading groups and countless other things that don't fit on the 9-5 working schedule. 



Michelle, an MBA grad, from twentynine said:
I finished my MBA a few years ago and everyone asks me if it was harder than undergrad. Here's my honest opinion. The work wasn't harder but life was. As an undergrad, you just had to make it to class and make time for homework. As an adult, you have to juggle class, homework, group meetings, extra reading, etc, along with a 40 hour work week, possibly kids, in my case a puppy, and plenty of other adult distractions you didn't have as a 20 year old kid. I'm glad I did it but it is tough. But when you're done, you can appreciate your free time so much more. 






La Petite Coquine, who someday wants to get her PhD after her husband is done with grad school, knows all too well the challenges of marriage and school yet does it anyway:
My biggest, best best of advice for us geeks (oops, I meant academics) is to try to take turns. John and I are both self-proclaimed school nerds, and after John finishes his Masters he'll go back for a Post Grad. Then I'll finally get my chance to do my PhD, and John may start his DMA while I'm working on my thesis-oh boy! But having John's support, both emotional and financial, while I was doing my Masters was so crucial, and I know it's a huge relief to him that I can take care of all that for him now. Oh, and remember that grad school is a job. Because sometimes I forget that, or tell John to suck it up and stop complaining that his piano teacher is such a pain in the you know what since he goes to music camp, and no one likes that.




Lisa, from The Sentimentalist, firmly believes in getting ahead (she should know since she works at a Univeristy):
On being a grad student: Do your work on time. Work ahead if possible.. This may seem impossible, but make it happen because it will only pile on. Take advantage of skill development sessions put on for free from the grad school. Attend lectures on campus that are also free. In fact, do every free concert, speech, seminar possible because all of those things will cost money when you are no longer a student. Be nice to the people in your classes. 
You will see them again. And they may become your boss. Or you could be their boss. Read ahead. Read ahead.




Jayni from Bonjour J, who met her husband in law school, knows how to keep her marriage happy (and frugal):
I was myself a law student, and that's where I met my husband! I have to say, it was nice to be in grad school at the same time, to be able to blend our schedules together so well. We would carpool to class and study together at night. It was actually three of the happiest years of my life. Worth it? Yes. I also chose my school very carefully and tried to graduate with as little debt as possible. Those were not big shopping years.




Elie, from the Punctuation Mark, believes it's the person and not the school that makes the difference:
I'm a believer that even though there are some fantastic schools out there no one should get into ridiculous debt to be in this or that school... it's the person that is good not the school!




Ren-Lady of the Arts raised a family as her husband went through the tough years of medical school. She offers some great practical advice:
Support during Grad School is the same that I do now that he is practicing. I make dinner, take care of the house and try to wait at least ten minutes after he gets home before telling him any 'bad news'.
Sure of course it's worth it- following your dreams always is- and student loans are not bad debts.




I admire BonBon Rose Girls Kristen's level of patience:
As an MBA widow, my tip is to try not to take things personally. My hubs is under so much stress with working and going to school full time, so I have to cut him some slack when he's crabby!




DJ from Just D and Y encourages a grad spouse to be independent: 
Have your own life, because he will certainly have his own. Be supportive - bring him food when he's at the library late studying, don't complain when you don't see him for more than 12 hours in a row (use that time for yourself! Eat a carton of ice cream and smelly food that he hates (sushi for me), watch Notting Hill for the 400th time, enjoy having your dog's attention all to yourself.



Kate from Daffodil's has a long but happy road ahead: 
I am the wife of an active duty Army Officer and we thought grad school would be a nice 'break' from the regular Army. With a move from east to west coast, a two year old and a 3 month old, we are quickly learning that school is just as much as a job as my husband's normal job. My best advice is to be patient, know that there will be a lot of studying/study groups outside of the school day and hope that the future jobs granted by the master's will make it all worth it. We also chose to move to California for it because we figured it was a great chance to take a temporary adventure!




Sarah (and my friend) says that family comes first:
As a law graduate who had a baby in my second year and was pregnant half my third year, my biggest piece of advice is that no matter what, family is first. Sure, there will be missed dinners here and late study nights there, but when it 
REALLY counts, never sacrifice family for school or career. You can't get that back.




I love what Katie from The Little Toil of Love says about choosing what degree to get and why (she's a smart cookie!):
Basically, you have to go to school to study what you love and what you feel you can do with your life. If you let the job market or a certain salary level dictate what you want to do, you will not only be frustrated with your job, but you won't even gain any job certainty. The market is always changing and a job that's here and big today might not be when you graduate in four (or so) years. You have to do what you want to do and something you can care about.



Kimbirdy from Fill Your Well has the sweetest husband and the sweetest personality:
... i do know that the best thing dannon did for me when I was in grad school was to give me plenty of space without me having to ask for it. I wanted to spend a lot more time with him than I was able to, so it was really hard for me to ask him to give me the time I needed for school. He was able to recognize my need for more alone time though and told me to take all the time I needed for school during those years. That was such a selfless act and meant the world the me! So my advice would be to step outside of yourself and your desires, and really recognize what your partner needs from you during those busy, stressful grad school years. Don't take it personally if your partner needs to be alone more or needs you to develop more of an independent lifestyle. Instead, give your spouse permission to be a student and remove the stress for them to try to juggle priorities. Delivering flowers or favorite food to their study room once in a while is probably not a bad idea either.




I read Allison's advice and went "Yes! So true!" Allison, do you have a blog? Because I would totally read it! 
 I think the experience is different for everyone, but I do remember feeling perpetually stupid, as though I should be assembling a puzzle for Ages 5+ and not writing a novel length thesis about Canadian history. All I can say to other grad students is this: you aren't stupid. You are there for a reason, just keep telling yourself that!




Teasingly Diverse blogger Amanda has some no nonsense advice.   
- Do not, I repeat, DO NOT go to graduate school to delay the "real world" after you finish college. Every person I've encountered that has regretted it for one reason or another. Go because you really need that graduate degree to end up where you want to be in life.- Student loans are not free money. I know it seems like I shouldn't have to say that, but grad school isn't just about the joy of learning. Most programs are very expensive, both in tuition costs and lost income while you're in school (if you aren't working). Is it worth the cost? Will it be worth it in 10 years if you are still paying your loans?


Min Min from Up and Down balanced religion and studies while being a pastor's wife:
From Friday sunset to Saturday sunset I'd keep the Sabbath(I'm a Seventh-Day Adventist and I go to church on Saturday). I don't work nor study. Taking time out of work and study is very important. Furthermore, church activities help me to pay attention to others instead of my own problems.

Attitude is another thing - since I've made the choice to get married, study, and work, I have to accept whatever that comes a long. I tried not to complain. Whenever I felt overwhelmed I'd pray and read my Bible. In fact, that's the first thing I'd do when I reached my office.




The Blonde @ Stylish 3 says that prioritizing is key:
One of the most important things I learned in law school was the importance of time management. My then-fiancee (now husband) and I learned to cut out activities that weren't meaningful or special so that we used our spare time only on things that were important to us. Basically, we figured out that to stay connected to each other we had to make the most of our free time and really make an effort to do things together. Prioritization is key!



And Brandi from Not Your Average Ordinary just graduated with her MA and is my personal hero for teaching me all about her organizational skills.
- Keep a calendar and a to-do list. And use them all the time. Planning your time out will help you feel like you're in control of your life.
- Take time for yourself. It's really easy to find yourself working and thinking about school 24/7, but you need to take time for family and friends and things you enjoy.
- Find days to take off. You'll really need it. Consider it time to recharge and remind yourself why you're on the path you're on.

- (Be) able to walk away if you realize at some point that your path has changed.




Thanks for participating!
The next part of the series is all about LOVE.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Prayer



Last Thursday I was feeling pretty discouraged. I just kept thinking "what the heck is going on with my life?" and on my way to rehearsal I found myself thinking of all the different career paths I could have chosen and why the heck I decided on dance. There is a reason why there is the stereotypical insane artist and I was experiencing that in full force. I even thought, "Well, if I quit now I still have time to go back to school to be ___ or ___ or even ____." Yeah, it was a bad day. Not for any reason other than my own frustrations and insecurities.

But as I drove to rehearsal I decided to say a prayer. To make a long story short my prayer basically said, "Help me figure out my life."

When I got to rehearsal the director of the company I choreograph for gave me a song on a CD and said "just see what you get with this song." I put it in, pressed play, and listened.

Within minutes ideas came to me left and right and I started teaching the dancers all the choreography that flowed out of me like water.  It was insane. Every time I created more movement it just magically fit and before I knew it I had choreographed the first third of the song in less than a half hour.

I don't talk a lot about my faith on this blog- this is a dancing blog about two Branflakes in love. But I thought I would share this experience with you because I felt I would be ungrateful if I did not recognize the gifts and blessings in my life. That night was an answer to a prayer and I cannot deny that.



We all need confirmation that the paths we are taking are the right ones. Sometimes these confirmations are few and far between and that's a trying and at times scary place to be in your life. But I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that we all have a reason to be on this earth and that there is a plan for us. It's a great plan riddled with happiness.

I know I have shown these photos before but I can't help but appreciate the symbolism of me dancing and a light overhead telling me "Hey, Branflake, don't worry. Everything will be okay." photos by Susan Yee of En Pointe Photography