Friday, March 30, 2012

For the Love of Popcorn: Intimate Marriage Moment

This blog is usually rated G, but it's about to get PG.
Turn around, my modest friends.

One night I asked Mr. Branflake for belly rubs after consuming way too much popcorn in no amount of time. 
When people look up 'inhalation of food' in the dictionary, there is a picture of me in front of the television with a big bowl of popcorn.

Cut scene: 
Mr. Branflake reaches under my shirt to rub my belly, 
puts his hand on my skin, and says, 
"What is this?" 
in an absolutely confused voice.

A trillion thoughts go through my mind of all the embarrassing things that could be found on my belly. 
I'll spare you those blushing thoughts.

What does he find?

A piece of popcorn in my belly button.
I finished my popcorn at 8 pm. 
He came home at 10 pm 
It had been lodged in there for a good amount of time.

He laughed so hard and I was mortified. 
And laughing, as well.

When I eat, I eat hard.

I freakin' love popcorn.

Here's some popcorn to inspire your next intimate moment.
Salted Caramel Easter Popcorn by Two Peas and Their Pod

S'mores Popcorn by Thirty Hand Made Days

Cinnabun Popcorn by Get Off Your Butt and Bake

Cookies and Cream Popcorn by Sweet Treats and More

Spicy Caramel Bacon Popcorn by A Cozy Kitchen

I love just a little salt and butter,
but sometimes you need to sweeten things up a little.
Ya hear me?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Paris Wife and French Dresses

My friend, Stacy, is hosting a Parisian book club party and we are all reading 
The Paris Wife by Paula McClain.
I can't wait to read the book, attend the party 
(where French edibles and music will be had), and wear this dress. 
Why this dress?
Have you seen the cover? 

 Okay, the dress isn't exactly the same as the one on the cover, but I love how they both make me want to stroll down Le Champs Elysee and visit  le Jardin des Tuileries and perhaps pick up a bunch of flowers at a local market and a baguette from la boulangerie.

More than that, it makes me want to live at a time where writers like Gertrude Stein and F. Scott Fitzgerals hung outside Les Deux Magots and discussed art, politics, and people.

Have you read The Paris Wife?
What did you think?
Is this book going to make me want to pack my bags and live along the Seine?

photos by me
dress courtesy of eShakti 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dancing in the Crocker Art Museum

I performed last week at the Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento.
The museum has a special place in my heart because it's where Mr. Branflake took me on our first date.
The piece the company performed was based on an installation created by Gong Yueben.
He sculpted 204 terra cotta warriors which were on display in another part of the museum and we used some video photage of it as part of our piece.
We met him afterward and heard that he loved the performance.
(Whew! It would have been real awkward if he didn't!)

Photos from the show.
I'm in the red dress.

Dancers of the Lorelei Bayne Dance Project after the show.
The artist is on the left.

After the show, Mr. Branflake and I walked around the museum, together with my big ol' dance bag and crazy post show hair. I should really use a comb or something.
And I could not resist a pie photo from my favorite artist.

Thanks to all who came out to watch!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Coleslaw

Sunday night I cooked for twelve.
I was determined that no one leave hungry so I busted out my easiest yet most fulling meal I have in my arsenal:

Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Coleslaw

It's so easy- just slow cook a hunk of pork with some barbecue sauce for eight hours, make a batch of coleslaw, and put it all on top of your favorite bun.
Bonus: it's a great dinner for the sunnier weather.

Here were the sides:
~Hearty green salad
~Hummus with raw veggies and crackers
~Corn bread muffins
~Biscuits with jam and butter
~Crinkle cut French fries
~Brownies and popsicles for dessert

Pulled Pork 'Recipe'
1 pork butt (hee hee)
4 cups barbecue sauce
Place pork and 2 cups sauce in crock pot for 8 hours.
Shred when done.
Toss with rest of sauce.
(I had to double the recipe for my crew)

Coleslaw recipe:
1 bag coleslaw greens
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 tsp caraway or celery seeds
2 tbs vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Mix all ingredients together and chill for one hour.

Summertime is calling. 
In the form of pulled pork sandwiches.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tomatoes Roasted in Pesto with Lemon Pasta

Did you know that roasting grape tomatoes in pesto produces wonderful things?
I usually roast my tomatoes with olive oil and salt and pepper,
 but I had some leftover pesto and I thought,
"Seems kind of fatty to roast them in olive oil, AND THEN put pesto on the pasta. Why not just roast the tomatoes in the pesto?"

So I did and amazing things happened.

I tell you- my kitchen never smelled so good!
I then added some lemon zest and slices of Meyer lemon to the mix. 
Holy moly!
This dish instantly became a warm-weather fave.


Are you a pesto lover like me?
Does pesto remind you of spring picnics and summer dishes, also?

Friday, March 23, 2012

Gratitude: My Legs

One time this guy in high school, Steve, commented that I had thunder thighs. 
I was wearing a maxi skirt that was fairly loose but when I walked you could see the outline of my legs.

He said, "Whoa. Those are thunder thighs."
(He obviously had no game, nor any understanding of the awesomeness of dancer legs.)

I hate to admit it, but it took me years before I wore that skirt again.
(It's plain black, so in my opinion it never went out of style, haha!)

I just like my hair in this picture.
Love random gusts of wind.

On Wednesday, I tried on this pencil skirt at Forever 21 and I thought about Steve and that comment. 
I immediately said to myself, 
"Bring it, thighs! Bring it!"

Then I realized after taking these photos that pencil skirts totally highlight toned calves.
Another reason why I am an avid midi length type of gal.
Show a little, and you show a lot.

Hooray for muscles!
Feel free to tell me how awesome your legs are!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Shopping Freeze is Over: The Allure of Easy Breezy Dresses

Since I started my shopping freeze in September, I have saved hundreds of dollars, lost five pounds, and became less consumed with commercialization and learned to live on less.

Then I saw this dress on ASOS yesterday and I caved. 
You see, easy breezy dresses are my thing. 
They are perfect for mornings at the farmer's market, an afternoon of frolicking in a field of daisies, and an evening date with a hot man. 
But lately, all the dresses I've seen have been too short or way too sheer. 

But this dress... this dress was my perfect dress.
 So I added it to 'my cart' and clicked 'checkout.' 

Only, at checkout they told me that this dress was out of stock.


So I emailed them and told them this was my most favorite dress and they needed to email me when they got more. 

Then, to console my overly dramatic broken heart, I went shopping for a dress similar to it. But instead of finding another 'perfect dress,' I found stretchy pencil skirts at Forever 21 for seven dollars each. 

I was so upset that I just bought them, hence ending my 'no clothes buying hiatus'. 

It was a good six months. 

I am so weak.

What's your clothing weakness?
What else am I planning on buying?
Come on over to Cornflake Dreams where I've listed my Spring wishlist.
There are some amazing bloggers being featured (like Will! Eeek!) 
and I'm just tickled pink that I'm one of them.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Body Image: Will the Issues Ever End?

During rehearsal on Monday, the company I dance with tried on costumes for our next performance. 
Now, if you've been reading this blog for a while then you know the self-deprecating mess I have turned into before when it comes to costume time. But I made a promise (to you, myself, and Mr. Branflake) to stop that nonsense and appreciate the body I've been given.

Shockers of all shockers, Monday night I was actually very kind to myself. 
I didn't make one negative comment about my body. 
Even when I tried on a dress that was oh so not flattering at all, I was a big girl and just said, 
"This dress sucks." 
I told myself that my body was fine, it was the dress that had the issue.

photo of me taken by the lovely Susan of En Pointe Photography

I admire all of you who have healthy body images.
I'm also grateful for those who have opened up and shared their experiences on this blog.
As I tried on costumes on Monday I kept thinking of all those comments and emails that have helped me open my eyes about the beauty of a healthy body image.

So, yes, I've come a long way since I've made a goal to love my body.
I have many people to thank for it.
Mostly you.
Thanks for understanding and helping me see a greater light.
I'm not gonna lie, I still weigh myself daily and keep tight tabs on my measurements.
But my attitude about my body has greatly shifted since I started this blog.

So thank you.
You're awesome.
More body image posts and their amazing comments here.

If you're interested in seeing my perform, email me and I'll give you the details.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Andes Chocolate Cream Pie

I once had a coworker who loved to cook.
She would always stop by my desk 
(yes, I had a desk job once)
and we would talk about all the foods she cooked for her husband and two young daughters.
I was newly married and would ask for her cooking advice on a daily basis.

One day I was going crazy trying to find a perfect dessert for a barbecue we were holding at our apartment that weekend.
She gave me a recipe for a cream pie and my life was changed.
It was so easy and everyone loved it!

The basis is whipped cream, sour cream, and instant pudding.
I know it sounds strange, but it really is amazing.

1. Whip 1 cup whipping cream with two tablespoons of sugar and a dash of vanilla.
2. Add 1 cup sour cream
3. Stir in 1 3.5 oz packet any flavor pudding.
4. Pour into graham cracker crust.
5. Garnish with whipped cream, cookies, chocolate shavings, or whatever suits your fancy.
I made this for St. Patrick's Day so I chopped up some Andes mints and threw it in the filling as well as put it on top for garnish. I also put a dash of mint extract to enhance the mint flavor.

A year after she gave me this recipe, I found out her husband passed away unexpectedly. 
I never saw her again, nor did I ever get to tell her that every time I make this pie I think of her, her sweet family, and the husband she lovingly cooked for every night.

Thank, Janie, for passing along this recipe. 
Your love for cooking and your family has not been forgotten.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Green, Pink, and Chocolate Pies

Remember this coat?
It's the coat I found at H and M a year ago and said,
"I want to wear this coat in the British Isles."
So I bought a plane ticket to the UK and went a few months later, coat in hand.

That's why I thought this coat would be appropriate to wear to a St. Patrick's Day Dinner Party.
Can I say that St. Patrick's Day might be my new favorite holiday?
 To celebrate the Irish, we ate soda bread, lamb stew, corned beef and cabbage, and pies.

Coat H and M, dress Shabby Apple, bag Nine West

No, I wasn't awesome and I didn't make those potatoes.
But I did make a few pies and I'll be sharing one of the recipes in tomorrow's post.
It's super easy and the story that goes along with it still makes me a little emotional.

Happy Monday!
Hope you had a brilliant weekend!
I also call it this my Duchess Kate Coat because I really think if she saw it in H&M she would have squealed in delight like I did.
Can't you see her wearing this?

Friday, March 16, 2012

Adventures with Irish Soda Bread

In 8th grade I did my country report on Ireland. 
Part of my presentation was baking Irish Soda Bread for the entire class. 
I'm pretty sure I got a really bad grade on the presentation, 
BUT my teacher, Mrs. Newman,  (who was from England) said the bread was really good.

She then asked me why I chose Ireland for my country. 
I said it was really pretty and I liked the green hills. 
What I wanted to say was that I hoped one day I'd marry a hot Irish guy and I was preparing culturally for our marriage.

Fast forward many years later.
I am seven years into my marriage with said hot Irish guy and I have yet to make him Irish Soda Bread.

So this week, I made a loaf using this recipe from iVillage.
It had only six ingredients so I thought, "Eh, why not?"

I did it all by hand.
I felt like a pioneer woman.
Or a country Irish woman making bread for her family.
It was actually fun crumbling the butter into the flour and kneading dough.
At one point I thought:
"I can't wait to have little kids. We would make this together every Saint Patrick's Day."

Real talk:
It took me three times to get the soda bread right.
Turns out that the iVillage recipe wasn't the hottest girl at the party.
So I went with this one from All Recipes.
Much, much better.

I liked it. 
Hot Irish Husband liked it.
We slathered on some butter and seedless raspberry jam and really liked it.

 8th grade assignment = complete.
Mrs. Newman would be proud.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day, My Friends!
photos by Dancing Branflake

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Fun St. Patrick's Day Dessert

How stinkin' adorable are these St. Patrick's Day petit fours?
They look like potatoes but they are, in fact, 
cake covered in marzipan and coated in cocoa powder.

I'm going to a St. Patrick's Day Dinner Party this weekend and 
I'm in charge of the dessert. 
If I put on my big girl ambitious panties then maybe I'll be making these. 

And I love the presentation. 
Total fake out!

Do you have any good St. Patrick's Day desserts?
I'd love any suggestions in case I chicken out and don't make these 'potatoes.'

Thanks to Heather Baird of SprinkleBakes for the photos and recipe. 
You are amazing!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Visiting Castle Leod, Its Lord, and His Lady

One day while staying in the Scottish Highlands,  I hopped on a bus and headed for the small town of Strathpeffer to see Castle Leod, one of the many Scottish castles in the Highlands. 
It's a smaller castle and perhaps not as famous as Cawdor or Stirling castle, 
but its size allowed me to get a sneak peak into the life of a Lord and Lady.
The castle itself is tucked away, nestled among tall trees and rolling hills.
 Once entering the castle gates, you walk down a beautiful grove of trees until you are greeted by this delightful castle on a hill.

 You are also greeted by the Earl of Cromartie, who is also the chief of the clan Leod.
His family has owned this castle for centuries and he kindly spoke to me about its history and his life living in the castle. 
I also met his wife, who was absolutely charming.
 We had a very nice chat about her life as Lady Cromartie. 
She's a medicinal herbalist so we spoke a great deal about traditional Scottish herbs and remedies. 
She was so sweet and humble.

After my tour of the castle, I went on their 'tree walk.' 
The Earl is a lover of trees and plants them as a way to celebrate events of his clan. 
Since I was alone, I took my time meandering around this beautiful tree walk. 
At one point, a small flock of butterflies flew in circles around my feet.  
No matter how fast or slow I walked, they hovered around my ankles like charming cherubs in greeting.  

Yes, I was taking a walk around a castle and butterflies flew in circles around me. 
Definitely another one of those magical moments you dream about.

And, if I were to go back to visit the Lord and Lady,
 (because I'm sure they are expecting me, haha!),
this is what I would wear...
Satchel, necklace, dress, hat, earrings, wedges

Do you all love castles as much as I do?
Have you ever met castle owners?
What were they like?
I'd love to hear stories!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

From... Anonymous: Death

Have you ever lost someone close to you?
If so, how did you grieve?
What helped? What didn't?
What are your beliefs about life after death?
How does this belief change your views about mortality?

Comments can be left anonymously by clicking 'anonymous' in the comment box.
But, as per usual, they certainly don't have to be anonymous.
But, for those who really want to get personal without the trail,
anonymity is always an option.
photo from a weekend trip in Lake Tahoe

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sprinkles, Sweetness, and Springtime: Photos from the Weekend

Here are some snapshots from an incredible birthday weekend.
That little boy on the top right?
He's my nephew and shares the same bday as Mr. Branflake.
In fact, he was born just as Mr. Branflake was taking his DMV photo.
See? Life does turn out okay even when the wife makes a big boo-boo.

1. On Sunday morning it was slightly gloomy so I threw on my most wintry dress and coat.
The plaid and red combo is one of my favorites.
The sun came out five minutes later, but I got to show off my winter ensemble one last time.

2. Gryffindor socks.
If you want some maybe I'll hold a giveaway on the blog for them.

3. One of the three cakes we consumed this weekend.

4. A delicious pasta bake dish with sausage and tons of cheese,
made by my very talented FIL (he used to be a pro chef!)

5. After being sick for so long I've been craving fruit,
which is amazing because I usually hate fruit.
But who could deny a cutie?

6. Spring is coming!
The tight buds of promise are blooming at last!

Mr. Branflake and I got in some family photos in this weekend.
I little sneak peak of my new dress.
psst: there are some dipping poses- my favorite!

 Did you all have a fun weekend?
The fact that this is going up Monday morning is crazy.
I'm giving myself a small pat on the back because I've never composed a post so quickly.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Visiting the Isle of Skye

I stumbled upon these photos of the Isle of Skye by Matt Burke and my heart took off. 
I never got over to Skye while staying in the Highlands and that was one of my biggest 'darn it!' moments of the summer. 
And now, looking at these beautiful photos, I'm smitten all over with this beautiful country. 
Isolated beauty paired with untouched nature is exactly the type of getaway I yearn for.

Ummm.... not getaway, but life.

I wonder if the Isle of Skye is looking for a ballet teacher....
Thanks, Matt, for letting me share these. 
Visit his Flickr page for even more beautiful photos.
And, just as a side note, anytime you see purple in Scotland, it is more than likely heather. 
The third photo? All heather.