Dancer Diaries: Things I Learned from the Stage (part one)

dancer diaries

After my Valentine rush, brainstorming for a new post-series seemed a little lackluster without all of my hearts. Without being quite so literal though, I decided February 15th didn’t have to spell the end of all things hearts, so my new series is all about some of the things I “heart” and one big one is dance. After seventeen years of being a dancer, there’s quite a few life lessons you can take from the stage that surprisingly translate quite well into the everyday. I’m planning on sharing a few of mine and hopefully you’ll be seeing some fellow dancers guest-posting as well in the coming weeks.

dancer diaries one

Once your hair is tucked safely in a bun, suddenly the world seems so much more manageable. Perhaps it’s from years of being under the sharp eye of my childhood ballet director, where allowing a loose hair-wisp to fall from your bun was equivalent to plotting first-degree murder, but, she was right: with your hair out of the way, suddenly you can concentrate, see more clearly, and know you can take on the choreography of your looming dance day.



Images via

Messy or smooth, an up-do can instantly get me into the “watch out, my hair is up and I can do anything” mood. Its like switching from sneakers to heels, changing from yoga pants to a pencil skirt. An up-do means I mean business, I know what I’m doing, I am doing this, and things are under control. An up-do is instant head-organization. Once your hair-chaos is in order, suddenly your brain is too and it feels oh-so-good. When I was casted for a character that had to be danced with my hair down, I inwardly groaned because I knew it was yet another thing to stress about once I took my cue and took the stage. Waking up in the morning to start your day, don’t let your hair interfere: stick a pin in that monster, tame your tresses, and conquer your world.

(Don’t know how to use a bobby pin the “right” way? Check out this post for some tips)

– <3 A. 

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bridget bardot E.L.F. products  DIY facial  Brigitte Bardot Hair Tips               Makeup Tips                   At-Home Facials

No-Haircut Re-Style for the Holidays

bridget bardot

My hair isn’t the only thing that’s pretty much completely frazzled by December, but  hair is one of the biggest things that can make you look so not pulled together for whatever you’re facing this holiday-season. Brigitte Bardot always seemed to pull off the perfect amount of messy in her stylings, and I’m hoping these tips will help fix the frazzle just enough to resemble some Bardot-chic for this Christmas/New Years without committing to a last-minute-certain-mistake-haircut for a new “self” for the holidays.

Hair Tips for the Holidays

How to Look Expensive

Have I convinced you to be in love with How to Look Expensive yet? That’s where I got all my tips for some easy things to do to your tresses despite traveling, shopping, wrapping, baking, party-hosting, and toasting:

  • Spray a toothbrush with hair spray and brush front and top of hair (tip via Adir Abergel): Smooths fly-aways without making you look like a helmet head with too much hairspray.
  • Add product at the end instead of the beginning of hairstyling (tip via Adir Abergel): This way your hair doesn’t get too weighed down and greasy looking.
  • Use corn starch baby powder as dry shampoo (tip via Creighton Bowman): if you’re traveling for the holidays and don’t have time for your usual routine, this is a great way to keep your “do” looking new.
  • Re-moisturize hair by applying conditioner to dry hair and leaving in for fifteen minutes under a shower cap (tip via Oscar Blandi): don’t have time for a treatment at the salon? Do it yourself with your own conditioner and get shiny, healthy-looking hair for the holidays.

Keeping your blow-dry looking great:

There’s nothing worse than going through the trouble of making your hair look just-out-of-the-salon-fabulous for a party-night and then have it ruined by a steamy shower or a toss-and-turn night. Pomerantz offers these tips for making all that work on your hair worth it:

  1. Wrap your hair in a towel (not a shower cap!) when you shower. The cap lets hot air leak in and turn your sleek tresses into a frizz-mess.
  2. Sleep on a silk pillowcase or wrap your hair in a silk scarf to keep it smooth and static-free.
  3. Use dry shampoo to rid extra oil without having to shower and re-dry.
  4. Flip hair upside down to brush so you don’t flatten your volume.
  5. Don’t fight the blow-dry cycle: when it starts getting messy, add some curl to it or put it up into a sleek up-do or pony-tail.
source: How to look expensive, by Andrea Pomerantz lustig

Hopefully that helps ease the frazzle for your holidays…at least, your hair-frazzle. Pomerantz is quite the guru, and I’m pretty sure she can get you looking like a Bardot-bombshell with these tips. Happy hair-styling!

– <3 A. 

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        Nailed It          Skin-Care Secrets   Tips from a November Baby

Skin-Care Secrets, and a Kitchen-Chemical Peel

skin care

Winter can be a rather painful time for your skin. I’m pretty sure come December it’s wondering why you can’t hibernate. I know I wonder that every year. Cold, dry air is a quick killer for the lovely mien you’ve been working on all year, and add to that some Christmas stress and dark evenings and you’ve made a recipe for some not so pretty things.

All the Christmas movies and holiday ads show sparkling faces in cozy sweaters, but this is real-life people, and I don’t know about you but I definitely don’t look like a beautiful snow bunny…I barely have the time, or the motivation, to add some mascara to these orbs.

So, if you’re out of time, out of caring, and SO out of money to run off to a spa for a nice facial before Christmas photos begin, here’s some cheap, quick, fix-your-skin tips:

tips, tricks, and homemade skin-secrets (shhhhhh!)

How to Look ExpensiveWhile I was reading my new favorite beauty-book, How to Look ExpensiveI kept running across some really fantastic tips. I picked out the ones you don’t need to buy another product for to share with you. I know some products do work wonders, but **confession** I am THE ABSOLUTE WORST with products. I buy them, see them on my shelf, and more often than not, never use them. For some reason, I can’t muster up the 20 extra seconds I would need to make them part of my routine. It’s terrible, I know, but it’s the truth. So, Without giving too many away, here’s a few of my no-new-product faves:

  • Don’t forget your neck, chest, arms, and hands. (tip via Dr. David Colbert) So true! Whatever you do to your face (moisturize, exfoliate, sunscreen) with your current products, apply them to these problem spots as well. I think we’ve all seen the ladies with a near-perfect face, and then you glance down at their chest and hands expecting a similar smoothness and instead are greeted by wrinkle-town.
  • Use ice to shrink breakouts. (tip via Nerida Joy, facialist). This ensures no scarring when trying to minimize pesky breakouts.   
  • Apply Afrin Nasal Spray to sooth irritated skin. (tip via Dr. Bobby Buka) Apparently the  ingredients in this product also reduce redness. Squeeze a few drops on your finger and rub over problem spots. Genius!
  • Starbucks napkins to reduce shine. Talk about multi-tasking: a coffee-stop and a fresh-face. Lustig says the texture of these napkins makes them the perfect de-shine face blotters. Yet another excuse for a caffeine stop, yay!
  • Green tea ice cubes to reduce dark circles. (tip via Dr. Bobby Buka) Massage two cubes of frozen green tea underneath each eye to reduce darkness.
  • Drink, sleep, and run. Lustig says dermatologists always emphasize that staying hydrated, getting at least twenty minutes of exercise, and sleeping seven to nine hours for the majority of your week is the quickest way to liven up a dull complexion.

Kitchen-chemical peel:

Lustig offers this little recipe for a DIY facial per the suggestion of Stacy Cox, a supposed skin-care guru. I was a little dubious, but since none of the ingredients sounded like they would have some horrifying side-effect, I gave it a try:

skin-care secrets

skin care secrets

I was expecting the mixture to be a bit thicker but the book didn’t offer any additional mixing directions besides stirring them together so that’s all I did. I kept rubbing as much as I could onto my face and then let it sit for about 20 minutes. The egg tightens your skin and makes it feel pretty strange, but when I rinsed it off with some warm water my skin was fantastically smooth. So, what did it do?

Esthetician Answers

skin-care secretsThis girl says milk is a fabulous skin softner and great for hydrating during the winter months. She should know too, since she’s a licensed esthetician. Natural things like apple juice also are rich in vitamins that your skin loves. And the egg? Even though I was a bit grossed out by slapping it onto my face, it actually serves as a firming mask. Reagan says natural ingredients are always the best, so when you do go out in search of new products, stay away from the chemicals. She says sodium laurel sulfate is in many intense cleansers that are meant to get rid of acne, but actually, it often dries the skin out too much causing more build-up of dead skin cells and clogged pores: yuck!

If you’re wanting to stay in the kitchen for your skin-care, Reagan says an avocado mask is always a great idea for hydration, and for a scrub? mix cornmeal, honey, olive oil, yogurt, and any type of fruit. I’m always excited to try out something new, especially if I can just wander into my pantry and emerge with a new face! Happy new complexion everyone-

– <3 A.

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Tips from a November Baby                 Nailed It 

Nailed It

Happy Monday everyone! It’s finally December and I’m in full holiday-swing. The Christmas tree went up this weekend, my Brenda Lee holiday Pandora station has begun it’s nearly 24/7 serenade, and my coffee cups have been upgraded to coffee bowls. 

Since December seems to be the month of parties and pictures, there’s also lots of prepping to be done! If you don’t have time or the extra cash to run out for a new holiday wardrobe, you already think your locks are lovely, and you don’t get into the sudden makeup-glitter-obsession come the holidays, one thing you can do to cheer up your look is a little nail-love.
Vintage manicure photoOver the weekend, I saw a girl perhaps about twelve or thirteen eating lunch with her mum. My attention was first caught because they seemed to be having such a nice time chatting about nothing in particular and it was sweet. But then, I saw the ugliest set of acrylic nails in a neon, sparkly-blue parading itself across her fingers and my mood suddenly changed. First I was horrified that a girl of that age was wearing acrylic nails, then I was surprised and a little ashamed at how the effect of her unfortunate manicure instantly changed my attitude towards the poor girl.

I know it’s been written a thousand times, but it’s true, if your nails look good you feel better, and what you put on those tiny little guys can say a lot about you. So, in honor of my decision to finally get a manicure this week after many weeks of abuse, and in honor of this book…

How to Look Expensive

…here’s a few tips for your tips before you ruin a lovely holiday picture with a sudden, very bad decision to get a little crazy at the nail polish counter.

Shape Up:

Straight from the pages of How to Look Expensive, fashion guru Andrea Lustig says the only two shapes you should be filing your tips into are 1.) The almond, and    2.) The squoval ( a rounded tip with slightly squared edges). If you still can’t let go of the acrylics in favor of the new shellac manicures, at least forget the hardcore, inch-long, completely square, “look-at-me-I’m-completely-NOT-natural” tips and round them off.

Color me Right

Color: the most important decision; a very difficult decision; I’m almost paralyzed everytime I make this decision. On the shelves, almost every color is entrancing: the  brightest blue, an almost painfully-bright purple, a seaweed green. Shining in their bottles, and making rainbows of beauty, its a tough choice. Lustig narrows it down for us though if you’re a polish commit-a-phobe like I am though. If you want to look chic and expensive for this round of holiday pictures, stick to picking within these color families and you’re sure to color it right:

1.) Nudes / Pinks: Keeping it simple is usually not only a safe choice but also a quietly glamorous one: These colors go with anything, small chips are hard to notice and look better longer, and, Lustig says, just like nude heels trick the eye into making your legs look longer as your shoes fade into your legs, a nude finger or toe-nail makes some thicker appendages appear oh-so-chic.


Cafe Forgot

Tea and Crumpets

Tea and Crumpets

2.) Greys and light browns: You might think these are rather drab to color in a holiday-party nail. But this family never fails to look expensive, looks very winter-appropriate, and is the perfect little complement without overwhelming whatever sparkly-sweater or lace pencil-skirt you’ve picked out that morning:


3.) Reds: Potentially a scary option but this shade is very old-Hollywood (read “timeless”) and there’s lots of darker reds to choose from now that look ultra-modern. Lustig says blue-based reds are the easiest to pull off:

Downtown Brown

4.) Dark, Jewel tones. Probably the boldest choice and the trendiest. Lustig suggests if you’re feeling bold but still want to keep your wild side to yourself, put it on your toes instead of your fingers. Pick emeralds, amethysts,  sapphires, pewter, or even a black.

Velvet voyage


I’m tingling with excitement for my manicure. It’s almost ridiculous how it can boost a mood, but I’m all for mood-boosting, regardless of how insignificant it seems. Happy coloring! Hope this helps your Monday and any potential polish decisions you make this week.

– <3 A.