Friday, September 19, 2014

A Reminder About Being Pretty

I have not been kind to my reflection lately. I know, I know... Get with it, Branflake, and get over yourself. There's more to life than looking good.

But sometimes I just get in this funk where I'm really critical of how I look. Mr. Branflake will say, "What is going on?" and I'll just shrug and say, "I don't know."

I love/hate Pinterest. It's full of the same looking woman with the same body type parading around the same type of clothing. But it's also dotted with people trying to make a difference with reminders like the ones above. The first and second quote especially made me realize, "Wow. People expect me to look pretty. Why do I let that happen?" And then the bottom quote made me realize the battle I'm facing isn't always internal.

And I love the thought about defining beauty. It's not vanity to want to define your own beauty, for then beauty doesn't have to be about looks or perfection. Better yet, each have the power to redefine beauty by simply being ourselves.


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fall is Officially in my Kitchen

The other night, Mr. Branflake and I went on a walk and I had to wear a sweater. I repeat: I had to wear a sweater. I was agitated. How did it get so cold so quickly? Why can't I wear my pretty sundresses another month? I still haven't gotten use out of my cute coral sandals. And for goodness sake, I still have tan lines needing to be fixed!

So, in the midst of this cold weather intrusion, I comforted myself with food. Pumpkin bread is always welcomed here. To have cloves, cinnamon, and that wonderfully distinct pumpkin smell wafting in my kitchen is all I need to help me grit my teeth, take a deep breath, and welcome a change in seasons.

How are you getting excited for the colder months? 
Can we just call it Winter? I'm going to call it Winter.
It's basically Winter.
Betty Crocker Pumpkin Bread Recipe found here.
Photos by me next to my little window.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Life Lately at the Washington Ballet

mah feet by Susan Yee

1. We are our starting our fourth week of classes and I can't believe how time has flown by. These students are progressing wonderfully and sometimes I just burst out in a huge smile during their exercises. In fact, they're progressing so quickly that when students miss just one class, it's quite obvious they're already behind.

2. Parents: don't ever think missing one class isn't a big deal. It is. There is no way a student can make up for a lost class and lost technique.

3. I'm restaging Giselle for our performing group and it's such an honor to be a part of these great group of kids. Their first performance is Tuesday and it's a great one; there are rumors that Rachael Ray and Misty Copeland will be there because they're being honored by The President. I don't know if that's true, but I'll keep you posted.

4. Yet another reason why I love being in DC.

5. My schedule changed and now I'm teaching every day but Sunday. I actually like the new hours because I'm at the studio less hours a day and I get to go home a little earlier than before. And I'm teaching some really fun classes including two all boys classes. Those are fun.

6. I'm also teaching an adult ballet class on Thursdays from 7:45 to 8:45 and I think you all should come!

7. Nutcracker auditions are coming up and I can't believe it's that time already. It always arrives too soon. Winter is coming too soon. The studios are getting colder and I might have to (gasp) break out my leg warmers.

8. I think I'll start twitching when I hear the music at the mall.

9. I'm not teaching any little ones this year and it's strange because I've taught them for the last seven years. The youngest I'm teaching are the six year olds, so I'm putting all my little kid energy into that one class and I think they think I'm a little crazy.

10. I can tell my teaching style is different than last year. I'm more strict about certain things and understanding about others. It's a conscious effort to make sure I'm being the most effective teacher I can be while making sure each class is efficient in its pace. 

11. Adorable story:
      Me to the class: "Raise your hand if you know you can be the best listener here."
      Student: "I think I can be because I can wiggle my ears." Proceeds to wiggles ears haha!

*Disclaimer: I am not a representative of The Washington Ballet. All ideas and opinions expressed are my own. I know you all know this, but I just wanted to make sure there isn't confusion about my role with the organization. I am a faculty member who has a personal blog and loves to share my love of dance with the world.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Life Lately

1. Burgers. I can't get enough of them. I love most burgers, but the one's Mr. Branflake makes are my favorite. Just perfectly seasoned and seared in a pan.

2. I've been loving the combo of mushrooms and pesto. So good with whole grain pasta, lemon, and some chopped spinach. So good.

3. Mr. B and I went berry picking. Turns out blackberries add some nice pizazz to a chocolate, raspberry, cream cheese frosting cake. 

4. Frozen custard. I don't think late night desserts with friends need much else.

5. For the last year, every Sunday we gather together at our friend's house for a roast, mashed potatoes, and corn. We've been spoiled. They also serve us Italian sodas with cream and fancy straws.

6. They've also spoiled us with s'mores cookies. They are so good I swore I would only eat one but I ate four. Worth every calorie.

7. I asked my students one day a really hard question. I said, "What's the purpose of doing rond de jambes?" I didn't think they would know, so I said, "I'll give you all homemade cookies if you guess." To my utter astonishment, one nine year old boy said, "To help turn out!" He got it right, so I happily made them a batch of cookies.

8. I think I eat a lot.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mom's Going to Germany!!

This is not Germany, it's actually a pic from the last time I was in San Francisco.
But it's the ocean and she'll be crossing it.

After careful consideration, my mom has decided to get treatment at the Marinus Clinic in Brannenburg near Munich. Thank you for all who gave information as the decision wasn't easy and traditional doctors were of little help. There's always a risk with every kind of treatment, but she believes this is the best one that could hopefully prolong her life. It's also an inpatient facility, so they don't have to worry about where they'll be staying.

I'm really happy for her and grateful she'll be getting top-notch care. And it's Germany. In October. I mean, who knows how well she'll be feeling after the treatment, but I have this vision of her getting eating everything with sauerkraut on it at Oktoberfest.

One thing she asked me to research (aka appeal to social media) is if anyone knows anything about medical insurance while traveling abroad. She has Kaiser, but it obviously doesn't cover international care if there's an emergency the clinic doesn't cover. So if you or someone you trust is familiar with traveling medical insurance, I would be so thrilled if you let me know.

Thank you all again for your love and support. It's a crazy journey and I'm grateful you're here for it.

Have you been to Germany?
Any tips for an American traveler?
Anyone know anything about medical traveler's insurance?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Before Facebook

When I was really young, I found two journals in my mom's nightstand. I asked her what they were and she said one journal was about me and the other about my sister. I asked if I could read it and she said no. So naturally I have always wanted to read them and assumed her deep dark secrets were inside (like how I'm really her favorite).

I have been thinking about them ever since.

While going through her things, I found those journals again and I was so excited to finally read them (with her permission, of course).

What deep dark secrets did we find?

We found out that when I was newborn, I ate constantly, slept ten to twelve hours a night, and would take three naps a day. We also found these cute little stories:

"As I write this book, Heather and Dale are sitting at the kitchen table doing alphabets. Sample of conversation:
Dale: You don't know what comes after R? You're four years old and you don't that?
Heather: I'm not four yet."

"Dale: How old are you, Heather? I can't remember. (joke)
Heather: How come? You live here, don't you?"

I love that my mom kept these journals. I love that she recorded them in a special place in her handwriting so I could hold these memories like she did. It makes me want to keep a journal for my children, too. It's one of those priceless things I fear are going by the wayside with the convenience of Facebook and blogging. Because, really, she didn't record these things for an audience, but solely for us to go back and read the moments that were special to her.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Fried Sauerkraut Cakes with Kielbahsa

Pigs in a Blanket Topped with Sauerkraut

German Sausages with Apples, Sauerkraut, and Onion

Open Faced Corned Beef Sandwiches


I have so many memories of going to Costco with my mom and eating a Polish dog topped with sauerkraut after buying a year's supply of toilet paper and hand soap. In fact, I remember the first time she introduced me to sauerkraut at Costco and I thought it was the most delicious thing in the world. 

She loves sauerkraut, which is kind of odd because she's not into bold flavors (my sister and I joke that she thinks ketchup is too spicy), but I think that's why this memory of her giving me half her polish dog stuck with me so well. Not many people love it as much as she does and whenever I eat it I can't help but think of her and that memory so long ago. 

I cannot vouch for any of these recipes, but oh my goodness don't they all look delicious? I think it's high time we all add a little more sauerkraut in our lives and prepare for all the goodness of Fall.

Do you love sauerkraut?
Are you all ready for Fall foods?