Thursday, November 28, 2013

Be Thankful for your Body

Thanks for being pretty awesome, body!

When it comes to body love, I often talk the talk without walking the walk. I'll post empowering articles and I'll encourage other ladies, but then I look at my own body and I'm like "Teeth, why you gotta be so sticky-outy? Belly, why you gotta be so fat?* Hips, why are you so TIGHT?"

So I have to be honest, I haven't been dancing this week. Part of it is natural laziness, and we don't have bellydance class this week, but it was easy to make excuses because my right hip was so. damn. sore. And it has been for about a week. I don't know what I did to it, but I am guessing at some point I stretched too far, or forced a stretch when I wasn't warm enough, and I messed things up. I mean, it's not unusual for me to have a little pain in my right hip after a really hard class, but this was a lot of pain and in different areas of my hip, and it sucked. And I honestly think I made it worse by using the pain as an excuse to not go do some ballet or what-have-you, because then I sat home and didn't get warm and spent too much time sitting on the couch with 20+ lbs of dog pinning my hip into position. I'd think to myself "I should warm up and stretch this bad girl out while I watch this DVD" but then I'd sit down and someone would get into my lap and that would be it.

This was a good reminder to be kinder to my body, in my actions and my words. To honor my limits from day to day, to have patience with the sloooow progress of stretching and not try to force my hips to be more like other dancers' hips. And besides, my body gets a lot of other things right. It's given me long, flowing hair, strong fingernails, elegant limbs, pretty eyes, and skin that takes ink well. I don't have any major health problems, I don't have to wear glasses, and I don't have allergies. Good job, body! You're pretty awesome.

Take a moment and thank your own body for the stuff it gets right. After all, it's the only body you're going to get, until we perfect either cloning technology or android bodies.

*Ok, that's my own damn fault. I eat cookies every day. Cookies are amazing. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Shop Onyx Friday!

We interrupt your regularly scheduled dance opinion and cosmetics reviews for a shameless plug! I am participating in Onyx Friday which is an awesome on-line "Black Friday" sale featuring handmade items from small businesses! Not only will I have more than 15 items of one of a kind jewelry in this sale, but there's also a lot of other great items from other sellers! This is an especially great sale to shop for gifts for the bellydancers in your life, as there's some gorgeous Taureg jewelry, awesome yoga pants, and beautiful henna-inspired artwork among other things. But there's also plenty for the non-dancers too, like sandblasted pint glasses in all sorts of designs, beaded jewelry, and lovely scarves.

But don't just take my word for it, here's the official description:

Onyx Friday: a black friday alternative

Handpicked Artisans • Easy Online Shopping • Huge Discounts • November 29th • Special Sale on Everything!

Join us for the sale the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 29th, 2013!

Onyx Friday is an incredible, online-only sale comprised of hand picked artisans as an alternative to the traditional "Black Friday". No waiting in lines, no fighting for parking spots, just happy, easy purchasing of beautiful, hand-crafted items from an amazing array of artists who will all have DEEP discounts for Onyx Friday ONLY!!

Sale items will be listed on our Pinterest board here:

And on our Facebook Page here:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Kat Von D Spellbinding Eyeshadow Book

Are you guys ready to meet my new favorite palette? I am so in love with this thing. I love the colors, I love the cover art, I love the concept, I love how big it is and how much eyeshadow there is in it. It's the Kat Von D Spellbinding Eyeshadow Book! It's also sold out on Sephora's website, so I can't link you to it. If you want to get your hands on this gorgeous baby, I suggest you call your local Sephora and see if they've got it in stock, because this is a whole lotta eyeshadow for $55.
 Look at all of those colors! There's a great mix of brights, darks and neutrals, so you can basically get any sort of look you want out of one palette. Notice how they're all paired up? Each pair of colors looks great together, and you can layer them over each other for cool color-shift looks. Of course you can mix and match, too, but I think this is a great concept for helping people who are new to makeup or stuck in a rut and need some inspiration for how to punch up their look. It's also good when you're in a hurry. No more deciding "Which colors do I combine today?" just flip open this bad girl and pick the pair that you're feeling that day.
For Desert Shakedown I combined Bird Cage and Gunner for this beautiful green look. All I added was a bit of ivory shadow under my brows, then some black and green eye liner. It was so easy! For another show, I did Holy Bible and Oddfellow, which looked great with my black troupe costume. Anyway, Gunner is my new favorite eye shadow because it's a lovely true green with lots of glitter. It looks like dragonscales or something equally magical.

So far, the colors have really good pigmentation and are easy to blend and layer, and I didn't get much glitter fallout. However, I did notice that they seemed to have worn off in a couple of spots at the end of the night. Both times that I applied them I was in a bit of a hurry, and I didn't use makeup setting spray, so I'm going to experiment to see if I can make them last longer.

Would you like to see more of the colors from this palette? Comment with which pair you'd like me to try next! I'll do the most popular request next week, and maybe others too if I have the time. I'll even provide hand-swatches, which I forgot to do today.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It's time for another talk about bras

Let's talk about bras, shall we? Over a year ago I wrote this post about my love-hate relationship with bras. But I'm not here today to discuss whether or not bras should remain part of the bellydance costuming wardrobe (I have a feeling they're hear to stay, you can't fight decades of tradition), but instead to talk about how if you're going to do something, you should do it right.

I spend a lot of time on Pinterest and Etsy, and that means I have seen a lot of downright lousy bellydance bras up for sale. I'm willing to forgive a newbie for performing in a crappy-looking bra, because we all had to start somewhere and heavens know my first two tribal bras were nothing to be proud of but at the time I thought they were amazing. But if you're going to try to sell your handiwork, you should take the time and effort to make sure that you're offering up a good product. Here's a list of DOs and DON'Ts:

-DO use a good bra with sturdy, structured cups.

-DON'T use a cheap, floppy bra or a bathing suit top.

-DO replace the existing straps with something attractive, strong and adjustable.

-DON'T leave the original straps in place. Note: If you only have photos of the front of the bra, with the straps tucked inside the cups, I'm going to automatically assume that you're doing this to hide the fact that you used the original straps and didn't cover the back strap.

-DON'T use something flimsy for the straps like thin ribbon, shoe laces or puny elastic.

-DO cover the bra with beautiful fabrics like stretch velvet, embroidered brocades and vintage assuit.

-DON'T cover the bra with t-shirt material or that really cheap, nasty panne velvet from JoAnn's.

-DO drape the fabric nicely or get really professional and actually do it right by cutting out a proper pattern for covering a bra.

-DON'T just drape it every-which way, with weird darts at random places.

-DO embellish it with an exciting variety of real coins, vintage lace, cool charms, textured chains and other awesome finds.

-DON'T use nothing but beads and charms from Michael's. Sure, every now and then you can sneak in a cool piece you found at the craft store, but you've got to have some high-quality things around it.

-DON'T use those cheap Mardi Gras beads. Gross.

-DON'T make embellishments that look like nipples.

-DO provide accurate sizing information.

-DO line it, preferably with something that can be easily removed and replaced when it gets gross.

-DON'T glue everything together. Use a needle and thread like a grown-up seamstress.

-DON'T make the mistake of thinking you can use your sewing machine.

Are there any points you'd like to add to this list? Any exceptions you think should be made?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Shakedown Rundown!

Photo courtesy of The Fantom Fotog/Santa Joe.

The title of this post is doubly accurate, because I'm going to give you a rundown of what happened at the Shakedown, but also I am feeling rundown from the Shakedown (seriously, what did I DO to my shoulders? You'd think those fan veils were made of of lead with how sore I am).

I got there bright and early for the Spanish skirt workshop with Rajani. I was happy to see that even though it was held at 9am, there was a nice crowd and we all had a good time learning a whole ton of moves and some historic/cultural context. My troupemate Melanie was there too, so hopefully there's some skirt work in Fire & Gold's future. Rajani provided us with a really good handout that should help me actually remember what I learned.

After that it was off to lunch with my BFF Jen, and then she let me take over her bathroom to put my face on, and she didn't even steal my new Kat Von D palette, so you know she's a good friend (stay tuned for a review of said palette on Friday, it's a goodie).

For my solo, I performed with my stunningly beautiful fan veils, to "Desert Dance" by Children of Paradise. I think I did a pretty good job, I'll have to wait to get the video to see how well it actually went, but I got a lot of compliments and not all of them were on my costume and fans. I feel like the painted background makes for nice photos, good job on dressing the stage, AZMECDA!

Then it was shopping time! I was finally able to get my hands on a really pretty new 25 yard skirt that I had ordered back at the Bisbee retreat (no big deal on the delay since Yasmina didn't ask for a deposit), and I also bought a cool barrette and some yummy tea. I had to restrain myself from buying more things, but I really should start saving up for the shopping bonanza that is Tribal Fest. Still, it's important to support your local dance vendors!

Soon my troupemates showed up, so we wandered around together, watched some performances, shopped, and got ready to dance. Jolie did a beautiful solo and then we had an 8 minute set with two of our favorite choreos and a mini drum solo from Brandye. The crowd enjoyed it and we got some nice photos. Success!

We finished out our night at Cracker Barrel. In true bellydancer form, we were wearing normal clothes but still had on our sparkly stage makeup, some jewelry and bindis. Probably more glamour than Cracker Barrel is really meant to handle. It was nice to sit down for a meal together, though, to chat and plan for the future and daydream about costumes and workshops.

I'm feeling really inspired by the wonderful dancers I saw at the Shakedown, and I'm looking forward to hitting my training hard this week, even if the first couple days may have to be focused on some yoga for my poor shoulders! 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Formula X: Sephora's New Nail Line

 A few months ago Sephora cleared out all of their Sephora by OPI brand nail polishes, which left me pretty curious about what they were going to replace them with. Well, the answer is here: Formula X for Sephora. The name makes me think of car racing or comic books (I read a lot of X-Men as a teen, OK?), but I guess it's pretty good for nail polish too.

Anyway, because I am such a good and dedicated beauty blogger, I broke my "no new nail polish" rule and picked up "The System" which is a set that includes a nail cleanser, a base coat/primer, your choice of nail color and a top coat. Breaking away from my normal trend of all green nail polish, all the time, I decided to nab "Cosmic" which is an awesome shiny purple (the website describes it as "plum pearl").

At first I was a little disappointed in this polish, because it started wearing away at the tips within a day. However, after that initial wearing I didn't get any chips until almost a week of wear. I feel like if I take a little more care with coating my tips next time, this polish could wear really well. Also, I got a nice, even application with just one coat, although it looked a little thin in sunlight so I might go with two coats next time.

This photo was taken after a week of wear! Not bad, not bad.

 The base coat not only created a good surface to apply the polish to, but it also protected my nails from being stained by the dark polish, so that's a plus. I found this color pretty easy to remove.

A word about the packaging: I think that the rectangular bottles show the color pretty well, and mean they'll nestle together nicely when being stored. The squared caps have to be removed to open the bottle and seem superficial, unless they allow for stacking in storage. I will have to test this idea.

Although this polish is pretty good, I feel like $10.50 a bottle is a bit much, especially since a lot of the colors are well, pretty boring. They do have some amazing options in the Effects lines, but those are $12.50 a bottle. I have a feeling I'll slowly but surely invest in the Effects, but mainly use "The System" with other, more affordable nail polishes sandwiched between the good base and top coats.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Desert Shakedown on Saturday!

Ok, let's take a break from angsting about change and focus on something fun! This weekend I will be performing at the Desert Shakedown in Tempe Arizona! I will be getting onstage at approximately 2:05pm for my solo performance, and I will also be joining Skirt Full of Fire/Fire & Gold for a group performance sometime later in the day (around 5pm I think).

This will be my first time performing at Shakedown as a soloist, and also my first time not vending. I am looking forward to not being tied down to a booth, so I can wander around as much as I want, shop, spend time with my friends and troupemates, leave for food, watch performances, and generally relax when I am not on stage or getting ready to dance.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

So.... what now?

Yeah, this is my thinking face. I always look this fabulous when I am deep in thought.
So even before I found out I was losing my awesome teacher, I was feeling a little frustrated about dance. Not about dancing itself, but about feeling like I had hit a plateau and there was no change in sight. There were small technique victories, but I didn't feel like I was going anywhere. I had recently fallen into a funk and was slacking off on ballet class, home practice, and costuming.
There were two ways I could have gone: I could have taken this sudden change as an excuse to quit dance (or at least take a hiatus), or I could double down. Since I am not a quitter by nature, I am doubling down.
What exactly does that mean? It means that in 2014, I am going to treat dancing like a full-time job. Now obviously, I am not going to dance 8 hours a day, because I am not a teenager anymore and I also didn't start dancing as a kid, so I really just don't have the physical conditioning to even try that. But I am going to spend 3-4 hours a day dancing and working out, and then the rest of my 8 hour work day will be spent on costuming, research, web presence and other things related to my dance.
Jolie's a smart cookie, and she told me to think of 2014 as my cocoon. Instead of stressing about the future (or even about the present), I am going to focus fully on my own development. At the end of the year, I can see how far I've gone and decide what to do next.
The next month and a half is going to be all about getting ready to take that big step. I have to get things in my house in order so that I can easily stay on top of the cleaning while working full-time. I need to decide what I'll be doing for my training. I need to set a schedule for myself. I need to pick out some costuming projects to work on and make sure I have all the supplies I need. I need to have at least one more private lesson with Jolie to get her feedback on things to work on for the first couple months of 2014. I need to organize my calender for 2014 to make sure I'm not double-booked (I've already committed to a lot of workshops and events). And I need to coordinate with my husband to make sure that our schedules mesh well enough that we get to see each other every now and then.
I'm nervous and excited! I'll post more about my plans as I iron them out.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Change is coming. I hate change.

Road trip buddies for life! Me, Jolie, Lecia and Brandye in my car.

I got hit with a bit of a bombshell on Wednesday. My teacher/mentor/troupe director/road trip buddy for life Jolie is moving away. We have a little over a month of classes and troupe practices left before she has to start transitioning into her new life. She'll eventually be landing in San Francisco.

I've mentioned that I hate change, right? I especially hate when my friends move away, although living in AZ I've had to get used to that (AZ: Great Schools, Lousy Job Market. How's that for a catchy state slogan?). I spent Wednesday night in a morass of "everything sucks, what am I going to do, waaaaaaa" but luckily I already had a private lesson scheduled with Jolie on Thursday and she helped me get my head back on straight (see, this is why I need her around).

Really, I can't stay too upset because when Jolie first moved here, she said she was only going to be around for 6 months. I got about 1.5 more years with her than I planned, and I've become a better dancer and even a better person for it. Plus I am really happy for her, she has some great things happening in her life and I think she'll be a lot happier in SF than here. AND I'll get to see her at Tribal Fest, and SF is a place I could feasibly go for a vacation. And we live in the future, so I can get video dance lessons when I feel the need for some brain-breaking layers. So it's not like she's completely vanishing from my life, I just won't get those 3x a week dance classes and fun drives to Phoenix for dance events.

Tomorrow I'll get into what this means for my personal dance journey, but today I'd like to reassure any local friends/fans that the current plan is for SFOF/F&G to continue to perform together (we already have some shows planned for 2014!), and we WILL still be hosting Open Stage at Sky Bar because we all love it and there are at least 3 of us ready and able to run it. We have a lot of work and love put into our troupe and we want to keep it together.

So over all, I'm a bit concerned about this change, but I'm confident that everything is going to be great in the end, I just have to get through this awkward transition period without embarrassing myself by clinging to Jolie's leg and crying "DON'T LEAVE US!" (although if I could convince everyone else in SFOF/F&G to join me, it would make a great photo opp).

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A Raging Case of the Wants

I want this vest by Kathleen Crowley, among other things. Lots of other things.

Here's a normal exchange between my husband and I while running errands:
Me: "Anyplace else we should go while we're out?"
Him: "No, there's nothing I really need or want."

I just don't understand that. I mean yeah, my needs are pretty well-met, I have everything necessary to lead a cozy life and all I have to do is go out to replace things as they get used up or worn out. But wants? Man oh man, there's always something I want. Many things that I want, actually.

That vest up there is just one piece of costuming that I want. Never mind that most of my performances are with Fire & Gold Bellydance, so I have to wear my troupe costumes. There's always a new pair of dance pants or a new skirt catching my eye, causing me to daydream about what I would wear it with. Sometimes it wouldn't even go with anything I already have.

And then there's makeup. I can't go into Sephora or Ulta without seeing some new palette or color of lip tar that I want. Even walking by the cosmetics department at Target causes me to hone in on new colors of nail polish, despite the fact that I haven't even worn most of the colors I already have.

Supplies? Well, let's see, I've been doing beadwork for over 15 years. I have a decade and a half worth of indulgences piled up in my collection, beads I HAD to have and still haven't figured out a use for. Before I even started sewing, I'd go out for fabric to cover a bra and buy things for future sewing projects.

Jewelry is a big downfall. If I added up all the money I spent on cheap bangles, rings and earrings in my first couple of years as a dancer, it would definitely be enough to have purchased a couple of high-quality pieces instead. Now most of it goes unworn because it looks tawdry against my more professional costumes.

Lately I've been trying to keep myself under control. No more nail polish until I throw out some of my old stuff. No cheap jewelry unless it's something I'll actually wear in normal life. No beads until gem show in February. No fabric unless I need it for a troupe costume. But that doesn't stop me from wanting. And it doesn't stop me from buying things that aren't on the forbidden list (hello, new eye palettes and sweaters).

I'm not greedy, by the way. My list of wants includes things that I want to buy for other people. I always see things and think "Oh, that would be perfect for so-and-so." I start bookmarking things well in advance of birthdays and holidays, so that when the time comes I can choose between them and then use the rest as recommendations for people who come to me for ideas.

How about you? Are you content with what you have, or do you have an Etsy favorites list a mile long, just waiting for the day you win the lottery?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Already excited for Tribal Fest 14!

Yes, it's time to start talking about Tribal Fest 14! Classes went up for sale on the 1st and I grabbed mine up! There's still plenty of classes left if you want to come, too. Visit the Tribal Fest 14 website to see what is available and make your purchases.

Reasons why I am already excited:

1. I'll be staying at a studio apartment in downtown Sebastopol, within walking distance of the event, Whole Foods, after parties and anything else I need or want. It's all the convenience of the hotel I stayed at last year, but with a full kitchen, more privacy, and less expensive.

2. My best friend Jen is coming to TF for the first time and we're going to be roommates! The only sad part about last year (other than going back home after) was not having a buddy along to share the fun. I'm super excited because not only is Jen an awesome friend, but we've traveled together before and know that we are super compatible as roomies.

3. I am taking workshops from Rose Harden, Alexis Southall, Steven Eggers, Paige Lawrence, Dusty Paik and Brandie Franks. I've only studied with two of these people before, and this year Dusty is teaching dance instead of costuming, so basically there's only one person on that list that I've learned dance stuff from before. I LOVE trying new-to-me teachers!

4. I'm not taking any workshops Saturday or Sunday so I'll have lots of time to watch shows and see any friends who are only coming in for the weekend.

5. This year I'm going to be brave enough to apply to perform!

6. I plan to drive, which means I can pop over to Cotati to visit my friend's beadstore, Out on a Whim! Plus since I'll be in a car, I can buy as much as I want without worrying about getting it on a plane. And given all the wineries and breweries and such in the area, that means boozy souvenirs for my loved ones in AZ ;)

7. The money that I am saving on taking a few less workshops, staying someplace more affordable, and driving means MORE SHOPPING! Aw yeah!

The only thing I'm not excited about is the fact that I have to wait until MAY! *sigh*

Friday, November 1, 2013

More Lip Tar!

 Last night I did some really quick and dirty skeleton makeup for my dance class costume, and since I didn't have the supplies or time to draw teeth over my lips, I instead decided to give myself bloody red lips as if I had just feasted on some mortal flesh. I achieved this gory color with some Black Dahlia lip tar from the new Sephora Exclusive All-Star Mini set of OCC Lip Tars which I picked up in NY.

For a full review of OCC Lip Tar, see this post. Today I'm just going to look at the mini set and also talk about clear lip tar.

 This picture is upside down because Blogger is dumb. Anyway, the set comes in a zipper pouch similar in design to what the full-size tars come in, but with little pockets for each color and a pocket for the brush, which is slightly smaller than the usual brush. I checked and there is enough room in the pouch to squeeze in a full-sized tube as well, so if you want to carry your clear with the colors, you can! You could also put in some extra brushes, or maybe a tiny lip liner pencil. The pouch feels sturdy enough to hold up to a bit of wear and tear, and the tubes themselves should hold enough product to last a while, given how little you use for each application. This would either make a great starter set, a good way to try a few colors, or a good travel set. at $20, it's a great deal, only a little more than one full-size tube!
The included colors are Memento (pink/plum neutral), NSFW (true, balanced red), Anime (vibrant neon pink), and Black Dahlia (blackened red). A pretty good range for a performer to have at hand. You've got your neutral look, your femme fatale red, your playful pink and your gothy wine. So far Black Dahlia is the only one I've worn on my lips, as shown in the skeleton photo. I really like how dark and luscious it is! I did notice some color bleed-out at the edges after dance class, so I think you should definitely line your lips when you wear this one.

As for the clear, I've worn it a couple of times under dark lip tar colors (I recently wore Black Metal Dahlia which is similar to plain ol' Black Dahlia but with the addition of glitter), and it does stop the color from collecting in little nooks and crannies much like a normal primer. It also comes with a brush, which you don't need since you apply it with your finger, so you'll have an extra brush for your colors.