Sunday, December 30, 2012

Best of Dancing Branflake 2012: Holler Up, You Newbies!

I tried to pick a photo that best represented the year.
This is what I came up with.
For those who are new in these parts (and for others who want to see just how crazy this year has been) I made a list by month of the most popular posts and the posts that I felt represented Dancing Branflakes and her ever faithful and always loving readers the best.

Basically, loads of amazing things happened in 2012 and I'm grateful I had this blog to document it all and share it with you.

Photo by Susan Yee of En Pointe Photography
~I shared with you my first memory. It involved food (duh). 
~We also talked about finding your blogging voice.

~I went to Disneyland and confronted my fear of roller coasters head on (except it didn't go so well)
~I also shared a crazy adventure I had in Scotland that made Mr. Branflake say in his protective man voice, "You are never traveling alone ever again."

~There was that a tmi intimate marriage moment involving popcorn.

~I made smiling Nutella banana bread (oh my yumness!)
~And Mr. Branflake made these tortillas that got pinned way more than anything else on this blog.

~Mr. Branflake graduated from law school!!!!! 
(And my fancy pants got groped. What?!)
~And then I threw the bombest ice cream social ever.

~I spoke at the Dance/USA conference about blogging and dance. 
It was an incredible and life changing experience.
~I had a photoshoot in a box (it was crazy!)
~I revealed something I had been keeping under wraps for a while.
~I then shared a writing sample from one of my manuscripts.

~A discussion was sparked about our goals as parents 
(not goals for our children).
~I gave out my best blogging tips.

~I went in an hot air balloon
~And told you my new exercise routine.

Photo by Tony Nguyen
~I shared with you one of my biggest blogging epiphanies.
~I had a photoshoot with bats. Urgh.

~I discovered the art of being attractive.
~I told you about my mother's illness.
~And then I was in a commercial.

Photo by Tom Huynh
~And managed to talk about Jude Law one last time in 2012.

As I went through the posts from the last year, the thing that stood out to me the most were your comments. I am humbled that you keep coming back to give your input, advice, encouragement, and plain and simple love. This blog would be a very different platform if it were not for you, so I'm forever grateful for those who speak out and share the comment love. 

You're all amazing. Thank you for a fantastic year.

Cheers to 2013!
I have a great feeling about this one!

*All photos by me unless stated

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Crepes, Nutella, and a Pregnant Belly. Oh my!

So good. So good. So good.

 Thursday morning was crepe morning. I haven't had homemade crepes in years and I forgot what a perfect and easy breakfast these French delights are. My favorite toppings? Lemon juice, strawberries, Nutella, and whipped cream with a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

Lemon is an unexpected 'twist' to add flavor to your sweet crepes. And they're pretty.

My sister-in-law in action. There's a glimpse of her baby belly. So cute!
I'm convinced Nutella was invented to be put on crepes. Oh my gosh... there's nothing like it!
The end product. Confession: This was my third one.

 What are your favorite crepe toppings?
My brother-in-law made these and used this crepe mix and this crepe pan from Williams Sonoma..
It was the first time he used a mix and I think they were actually pretty good!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Blogging Around the Holidays

Breakfast on Christmas Morning.
That's a sour cream, chive, and feta scone in front. Yep.

I hope everyone had a beautiful Christmas. I'll be honest, blogging around the holidays is strange. I usually write what's in my heart, but around this time my soul is so full and happy, pinning it down in words is like asking me to describe what salt tastes like. Impossible, right?

There are no adequate words or photos to express or capture the beauty of spending time with family, constantly eating glorious food, and realizing how blessed I am. Does anyone feel the same? Or has the blogging world just "poof" up and started again?

What's your blogging schedule like around the holidays? 
Up and running again like usual or do you have a (happy) emotional hangover like me?

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Red and Gold Christmas Dinner Party

I've lost count of how many dinner parties I've done on this blog, but one thing's for sure: Christmas is my favorite one to curate. There's something magical about creating the perfect dinner party for my friends and family on the most precious night of the year. 

The Decor
Nothing says Christmas trimmings like popping red and shimmering gold.
Photo by Timothy K Lee Photography via Style Me Pretty

The Menu
Prime rib and a show stopping dessert are holiday staples in my heart.
Wait, that sounds kind of morbid... but you get the idea.
*click on links for recipes
Rolled Beef Rib Roast with Horseradish Cream, Carrot Soup with Bacon and Chestnut Cream, Asparagus with Orange Hollandaise Sauce, Crispy Smashed Potatoes, Crunchy Bread Dressing with Bacon and Leeks, Jam-Filled Cake with Chocolate Glaze

What I'm Wearing
A little Victorian and a little sweet with pops of red and gold to complement the decor.
necklace, tights, dress, gloves, shoes

The Playlist
I swear, no one does Christmas music like Sandi Patty
My favorite? Bethlehem Morning. The song might make you tear up a bit. 
It's not on this particular album, but if you look it up on iTunes, you will not be disappointed.

The Favor
Little pockets of these gingerbread caramels will bring a sweet smile to your guests.
via Martha Stewart

Merry Christmas, my good friends!
And for those who are trying to get into the season, I highly recommend this video. It's the story behind the hymn, Silent Night. Very powerful and will get you into the spirit right away.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Purging, Starting Fresh, and Jude Law

I found this on Pinterest. I have no original source.
I know I know... bad Branflake.

I have a lot of clothes. Three closets full of clothes to be exact. Despite this, I have a goal to only have two suitcases for my clothes when I move to Virginia. I know. I'm cray cray. But I also want a wardrobe overhaul and I don't want to be weighed down by needless baggage full of old clothes I don't wear anymore.

As my good friend, Caitlin, pointed out, this move across country gives me an opportunity to have a do-over, start anew, and dress how I want to dress. I love that thought because I feel like I have things just to have them and I can't wait to live well but with less.

Therefore, the clothes I'm taking with me must fit this criteria:
~It has to make me smile instantly when I try it on.
~It must be something I would wear on vacation where lots of pictures would be taken.
~If I ever happen to run into Jude Law, I'd be happy I was wearing it.

I want to be kidding about the last bit, but when I saw Jude Law in Scotland, I got really self-conscious when I realized how unstylish I was compared to the other fab British ladies in Edinburgh (because, you  know, Jude Law cares so much about what I wear). I know it sounds silly, but if it's not good enough for a random celebrity sighting, then why have it?

Basically, this is just me trying to live on less, but to the extreme. Watch out, Goodwill... you're getting a fattie drop off in the next few days!

Have you ever done a wardrobe overhaul?
Any advice for me or others wanting to do the same?

Lover's Point: My Heart Will Always Face West

A few shots of Monday's adventure at Lover's Point in Monterey California.

I saved this photo for last because it's my favorite.
I fell in love with that rock.

 Lover's Point in Monterey, California 
One of the few places on the West Coast where the sun rises over the sea.
Like all oceans, you can smell it before you see it; and it's comforting.
Even over craggy cliffs and slippery rocks where the man next to you holds your hand and forbids you to inch any further toward the enticing edge, you feel comforted by the familiar smell, sounds, and sight of the ocean you grew up loving.

I think I might cry when I finally leave it- the Pacific, I mean. Funny how we become attached to certain things overtime. An ocean's an ocean, right? They're all magnificent, am I correct? Still, it's odd to me there aren't ocean sunsets on the East Coast. It was an unexpected and oddly alarming realization that came over me a few days ago.

Fortunately, there will be ocean sunrises and I have a feeling those will be just as spectacular.

But still... my heart will always face West.

Monday, December 17, 2012

California Living: Breakfast in Monterey

Mr. Branflake and I spent another weekend in Monterey with our awesome brother and sister-in-law.
You know you're well loved when a breakfast like this is waiting for you when you wake up. 

Famous California citrus. Super sweet. I ate it.
I know. Let's all gasp. *GASP!*

Those apple fritters were divine. DIVINE!

Fruit is really pretty to photograph. Too bad I hate to eat it.
Especially fresh mangoes. Nothing is worse than fresh mangoes.
Well, maybe watermelon. Blech!

Crispy potatoes and maple bacon apple organic chicken sausage.
(Whew! Say that ten times fast!)

A perfect breakfast.

Cheers to happy bellies and full hearts!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I Want Your Jumping Photos!!!!

Remember waaaay back in the day when I featured your  jumping photos on the blog? Well, guess what? It's happening again!

For those unfamiliar with how we roll over here, here's what's going on:

~You email me a photo of you jumping at dancingbranflake at
~I respond and let you know when it's going to be posted so you can brag to all your family, friends, and followers about your awesome jumping pic.
~In the post, I'll include whatever links you leave me, be it your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram... 
~Then, "Bam!" You and your jumping self are featured here on Dancing Branflakes.

It's a fun way to  promote you, your blog, and the fun that is inherently in jumping around and having fun. Because, let's be honest, isn't that what dancing is all about?

Need inspiration? Here are some of my most recent jumping pics. Random surfer guy photo bombing included. 

And then random surfer guy came back. REALLY?!!!

I'm not looking for pros here (although you all are encouraged to get on this). I just want fun, happy, people jumping. It can be anywhere, anytime (someone once was jumping on their bed), and with any kind of photo bombers you want.

Send me your jumping photos! 
Or else!!!! 
Hee hee

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Best Burger I Ever Ate

After our morning jaunt to the Fisherman's Wharf at Monterey, we walked down a path that led to Cannery Row. At 10:30 am, my sister-in-law (and obvious kindred spirit), announced she was craving a big, fat, juicy burger. My response? "I am always craving a big, fat, juicy burger."

I got the Cowboy Burger: Thick bacon, yummy barbecue sauce, a substantial amount of cheese, and onion rings bigger than my face. This is the food of my people.

 We took a gamble and ended up at the Cannery Row Brewing Company. I'm going to just be a tad over-dramatic (shocker) and say the CRBC changed my life. It was hands down the best burger I ever ate. Juice, flavorful meat, a sturdy yet supple bun, and toppings that almost (almost) out-did the beauty of the patty.

And the ranch? It was the best ranch I've ever had. I asked for the recipe but they were unfortunately mum about that.

I loved the ambiance. The view off the patio is amazing with a nice shot of this iconic building.

Our waiter was awesome, down to earth, and was willing to joke with us as we asked him question after question about the restaurant, food, and area. He even offered to bring me straw when he saw me inhaling my cup of ranch.

Pre-inhale. Ah! Naive girl... you don't even know how your life is about to change.
Great food plus the ocean? I'm in heaven.

Thanks, Cannery Row Brewing Company!
I have not been compensated for this post, but if the CRBC wants to give me a free burger as a way to say thank you, I won't be ashamed to ask for dessert, also.