A Most Lovely Weekend

This weekend, our housemate finally moved out, leaving the house to the two of us! Ever since we made the decision to stay in the house, I’ve been looking forward to this weekend. And now the house seems… a bit empty. But that’s mostly because the housemate owned most of the furniture on the first floor of the house. So we have to move some things around and buy some new things, which we haven’t gotten around to.

After aerial class Saturday, I found myself just so exhausted (housemate literally left with a bang when he slammed the front door at 5:30 a.m. when he left for the last time) that after we got a delicious lunch, I passed out on the bed while watching my first episode of Agent Carter on my laptop. More on that later, but I’ve gone back and watched more and am enjoying what little I’ve seen. After waking from my nap and cleaning up, we went to a going-away party for a friend that was nice. It was good to reconnect with some friends I don’t talk to much anymore.

Saturday was dismal and pouring rain most of the day, so there wasn’t a lot of time to get outside, but the up side was that Sunday was beautiful. We went to the farmers market for lunch, took a nice long walk, and then worked in the garden. I managed to clear out another small bed in the back of the yard and plant some peppermint and lavender seeds. I’m hoping to see sprouts soon!

Other than that, we’ve mostly enjoyed the quiet of having the house to ourselves. We can cuddle in the loveseat left downstairs and just generally enjoy each other’s company more, I feel like. It’s going to be a lovely year.

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Danse en l’Air

So on Tuesday, I mentioned how competing forces are conspiring to keep me away from writing and taking pictures for this space. One of those forces is actually a new hobby I’ve picked up over the last month. About a month ago, while enjoying my first post-show week of no rehearsals, a friend convinced me to come up to a circus school nearby and take a class in aerial arts.

Now, most people know of aerial silks as what they do in Cirque du Soleil, where beautiful and strong dancer climb and play in fabric that drapes down from the ceiling. Yeah, that’s what I’ve taken up: climbing the curtains.

I’ve taken ballet for a few years now, and other forms of dance, so I knew I would be flexible and perhaps even graceful enough to do aerial arts, but I was very, very worried about my strength. Aerials requires pretty good strength in your arms, but also your core and your hands. So far, it seems like my hands are my biggest weakness.

But it’s still so fun. We start every class with some warm-ups, and then about fifteen minutes on the trapeze (not the flying trapeze), where we work on strength and maybe one or two tricks. Then, we move on to the fabric for a half an hour, learning a few new tricks and practicing ones we’ve learned before. Oh yeah, and as soon as we take the trapeze away and lower our fabric, our first task is to climb the fabric before we start any other tricks. Helps build strength.

I’ve been amazed at how easy some of the things are. Aerial tricks use a combination of strength and leverage so you’re not always using all your own body’s strength. And where you are using your strength, things are designed to help you use your strongest muscles where possible. For example, in climbing, you actually do very little with your arms; most of the upward work comes from your leg muscles. I don’t know about any of you, but my legs are much bigger and stronger than my arms!

Finally, even in the stumbling awkwardness of a beginner, I find aerials to be so graceful and fun. When I’ve gotten myself into a pose properly and can just arch and stretch and somewhat relax, supported by fabric, with the tails cascading down dramatically, it’s a beautiful feeling. It makes me feel like a ninja and a dancer at the same time.

So even though I tend to be left with sore hands and arms and legs the day after a class, it’s so so worth it!

Competing Forces

My life is a balance of the ebb and flow of my work life, personal life, and hobby life. It used to be that hobby life was a couple dance classes per week, and a quiet place to read or crochet. Or maybe watch some television (while I crochet). Then, theater entered my life and the balance became more delicate. Dance started to fall by the wayside. And the work/hobby balance got tougher. Personal life, which is my time with Boyfriend and my time spent doing personal necessities, became precious.

Work is a constant source of stress in my life these days. I never know what I’ll be doing in a month, six months, a year, so I worry a lot. And I find myself gravitating towards spending mental energy on my hobbies, rather than spending it on work. Work is tough, but not because the work is hard.

Hobby life is frustrating right now, but hopeful. I had a shock a couple weeks ago when I wasn’t cast in something I thought was a gimme. After that blew over, I found myself restless, wanting to get back on a stage or in front of a camera. So I applied for some film projects. I’ve gotten a response from one, and filming is fast approaching. After that, I have an audition for another period piece in about a month. After that, who knows?

I’m finding myself gazing wistfully at my crochet projects, but never quite finding the energy to pick one up. And I’m still trying to move more and eat healthier. Basically, I’m trying to better myself, professionally, physically, and emotionally, and it takes a lot of time and energy. Sadly, writing, which I suppose is a hobby that I most often neglect, has fallen out in the balance equation. So this space gets updated in fits and spurts. I have a few ideas for future posts that I haven’t yet gotten together. I need to post the lovely items I got from the Chronically Vintage Etsy store, but I never manage to take photos while the light is cooperating. But one of these days, I’ll go back to being a regular blogger and share my silly life with all of you.

Coming Back to a Cup of Tea

I’ve written a lot on this blog about cups of tea. And today, I shall write again about my love for a nice cuppa. The thing is, tea is a constant in my life, almost like a security blanket. I suppose I could have chosen a more self-destructive way to self-medicate. But I’m glad I didn’t.

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My cup of tea is my quiet place, particularly in these last few weeks of waiting for our house mate to move out. I recently picked up a book after a particularly hard week and weekend. It’s called The Highly Sensitive Person: How to Thrive When the World Overwhelms You. It’s very appropriate, particularly right now. This past weekend, our house mate had friends over (many of them mutual friends) for a going-away party, but after a wedding the weekend before, and a week on a business trip, I’d used up my tolerance for lots of people. Or any people.

So I closed myself off in my room like an invalid and Boyfriend sneaked me food from the party. It wasn’t exactly quiet or nice, but it was as close to what I needed as I was going to get. I’m finding myself frazzled by the noise of the world lately, and I think having my own house, where I can control the noise level, finally, will be a help. It’s been so long since I’ve had that, having lived in apartments or shared houses for so long. It sounds callous to say so, but I am almost glad that Boyfriend has had to work longer hours than I have lately because I enjoy having some time to myself.

Although right now, the closest I have to quiet time is to lose myself in a nice cup of tea.

A Glamorous 1920s Snow White Look

So the other weekend, I was a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding. It turns out, she’s probably one of the coolest brides ever because she not only let us choose our own dress styles (the only requirements were that it was knee-length and navy blue), but she also gave us utter freedom for our hair and makeup. I arrived bright and early for my hair appointment and was able to get a lovely 1920s-inspired look to go with my draped chiffon dress.

To start with, I wanted my hair put up. I finally have enough hair to put up, so I wanted the updo. Plus, I really hate having hair in my face and knew I would fuss with it if it were just blown out and styled. Because I told the hairdresser that I love vintage style, particularly the 1920s, she pinned my hair into a soft curled and twisted style at the nape of my neck, with the front parted and worn loosely over my ears to mimic a 1920s faux bob. The effect was very elegant, and just a little old-fashioned.

With such an old-fashioned hairstyle, the makeup artist took it to heart when I mentioned that one of my past costumiers nicknamed me “Snow White” and set about creating a Snow White-inspired makeup look, if Snow had been a 1920s society girl. I got a nice heavy line of black eyeliner and false eyelashes, but little eye contouring otherwise. A little flush on the cheeks offset my naturally pale skin. She finished it off with a dab of blood-red lipstick. All in all, the hair and makeup perfectly fit my vision and was very “me.”

Sadly, I don’t have any good photos of the look, and I’m rather shy about posting “selfies” to this space, so there is no photographic evidence. But perhaps in the future, I will try to somewhat recreate the look for photos.

A Short Break

As mentioned in my last post, I spent the week before last struggling with an illness. Just when I thought I was feeling better, and even had made it back to work, it hit me again. I only recovered in time to fulfill my duties as a bridesmaid in my best friend’s wedding that weekend. But from there, I practically got straight onto a plane to go on a trip for work.

So, worn from illness and the stress of a long day at the wedding, I immediately stressed my poor body further with travel, and then with the rigors of a conference, which often involves late nights and more to drink than I generally have. Of course, I’d used up any buffer of posts during my illness and did not have my computer or camera with me to post while I was away (which is a shame, as I encountered some beautiful pastries!).

But, I managed to keep myself up, perform my nightly skin care ritual, and swipe on my red lipstick at the conference. I found that my favorite wrap-front dresses were a godsend for traveling. I managed to travel in vintage-inspired style and made it home safely. So now I’m back, and I have some work to do getting myself fully healthy and rested and stress-free again. I hope all of you had a lovely week last week!

On the Importance of Beauty During Sickness

A short post today, just a quick musing. You see, I’ve been sick the last couple of days, and I’m not yet feeling 100%. I was hit rather suddenly Tuesday afternoon with body aches and later a bit of a fever. I suppose it was a kind of flu. I was able to drag myself into the office for an hour yesterday to take care of things that needed taking care of, but otherwise, I’ve spent most of the last day and a half on the couch, with lots of fluids and Advil.

Today, I am back at work. And because I still wasn’t feeling in tip-top shape, I’m dressed a bit nicely. I’m wearing one of my effortless Ellaina Boutique dresses and put a bit more makeup on than usual. Some days I skip blush and undereye concealer, but not today. And I’ve decided to go with pink lipstick rather than a red that makes me look porcelain on a good day, but wan on a bad.

Personally, I find that taking a shower and doing a little something with my appearance does me a world of good when I’m getting over an illness. It’s that in-between time, when you feel good because you feel so much better than you’ve been feeling, but you know you don’t feel like normal again. And I’ve generally found that when I feel like my normal self, I tend to look a little under the weather. Or as my coworker said yesterday, “Yeah, you still look a little green,” which I imagine was a metaphorical reference to my gills. But yes, I did likely look quite a bit off yesterday, but so far no one has noticed a difference today. Which helps me feel like I’ve gotten back to normal.

The other reason I like to look pretty on days when I don’t feel pretty is because having beautiful things around me makes me feel better. Looking in the mirror and seeing rose-pink lips and pearl earrings brightens me spirit on a day when I really need it. I chose one of my fantastic printed dresses so I can look down and feel uplifted by the blues and golds of the print when the work day seems to drag and I want to go home and curl up on the bed again.

What about you? Do you find yourself taking extra time to make yourself look good when you’ve been sick? Or do you like the excuse to go easy on the beauty for a day?

A New Addition to the Boudoir

As someone who loves vintage style, particularly the Victorian aesthetic, I’ve started wearing nightgowns to sleep instead of t-shirt and shorts. I had my favorite Etsy seller, Sue Bradbury at Ellaina Boutique make me a three-quarter-sleeved nightgown in a lightweight purple material with cream lace trim. It has served me well, but as the days grow longer and warmer and the nights no longer chill me, I found I was in need of something lighter still.
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So I contacted Sue and we discussed using some new lightweight printed material she had gotten in. She had three floral prints that just shouted my name. So I chose one and had her make me a summer nightgown. It arrived earlier this week, and I’ve been wearing it to sleep ever since. I may have to order a couple more soon.

The material is so soft and light and doesn’t hang awkwardly, but also doesn’t cling. While it is a loose design, and somewhat old-fashioned, I find the delicious fabric drapes around me in a way that is not entirely unenticing. And it feels lovely against my skin. I find myself sweating less. The cream lace around the neckline and the hemline give it the perfect touch of something extra, but Sue is careful to sew the lace in where it won’t get ragged from wear.

Anyone looking for new, comfy clothing for the summer should definitely give Sue’s shop a look! I don’t receive anything for free from Sue, but I’ve bought much of my wardrobe from her.

A Simple, Healthy Meal

This is not perhaps a summery post. This is perhaps a recipe I will revisit when the weather chills a bit and a drizzle of rain greys the sky, rather than the sudden, violent storms of late spring and summer. But for now, it served well as a light supper on a day with a late, hearty lunch. I based it on a cleansing recipe from the blog Deliciously Ella, but made it my own with some simple tweaks.
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Rather than focusing on detox or cleansing, I focused on the vibrant flavors in the fresh veggies. I added a leek to enrich the flavor, as I love the taste of leeks, and I augmented the water with some rich beef broth, despite the fact that this would no longer be considered vegetarian. But you are certainly welcome to keep this soup vegetarian. I imagine it would be delicious if you used the rich leftover liquid from soaking dried wild mushrooms.
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Green Leek Soup
(adapted from here)

1 bunch of broccoli, washed and broken into florets
1 leek, sliced and washed
1/2 bunch of kale, washed and torn
1 can of canellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 handful of parsley, washed
2-1/2 cups of liquid (water, broth, etc.)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for sauteing
2-3 tsp. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Heat some olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the leek and saute until it starts to soften, add the broccoli and a splash of water. Cover and steam for a few minutes, until the broccoli turns bright green and begins to become tender. Add the kale and wilt. Turn off the heat. In a blender, puree the beans, parsley, and 1/3 of the broth. Pour out into a large pot. Then, puree, half the vegetables with 1/3 of the liquid and add to the pot. Finally, puree the remaining vegetables with the remaining liquid, plus the garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Add to the pot. Bring to a simmer, taste and adjust seasoning. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice to brighten the flavor. Serves three, with crackers or bread for dipping.

Red Lipstick Challenge: Final Wrap-Up

This month has been interesting. I was tempted today to wear a light lip color (or no lipstick at all!) to see if anyone made a comment in the absence of red lipstick when they made no comment on its continued presence. But in the end, I chose to start June by keeping my new favorite as my daily wear.
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My new, go-to, every day red lipstick is 100% Pure’s Pomegranate Anti-Aging Lipstick in Poppy. It’s a lovely true red, dark enough to be striking, but softens when I’ve been wearing it for about a half an hour to a lovely, wearable red. I swear it changes shade slightly depending on what I’m wearing that day, looking cooler on days when I’m wearing blues and purples, and growing warmer when I wear warmer colors. One thing I do know is that it never looks magenta, even in cool fluorescent lighting at the office.

Oh, and it’s creamy. It’s a delightfully smooth, lightweight, but moisturizing lipstick. And because it’s tinted with fruit extracts and contains only natural ingredients, I feel no strangeness when I inevitably eat it along with my lunch. It stains enough that my lips remain vibrant through my many cups of tea, and even some snacks. That said, it is a pleasure to reapply from its adorable pink metal tube.

All-in-all, I would call this month’s experiment a success. I certainly figured out what I really want in a lipstick, and was able to purchase just one more for which I find myself reaching again and again. And I’ve totally overcome my fear that my red lips are too conspicuous.

Has anyone else thought of doing a red lipstick challenge, either to acclimate themselves to the look or to find a favorite?