Sunday, July 29, 2012

Summer of Leisure

I don't ever remember a past summer in my adult life where I have had a summer of leisure.
I decided to take this summer off from classes and work since I have been working so hard without a break for the last few years.

It's been a very indulgent summer filled with dance parties, leisurely lunches with friends, antiquing and thrifting.  And of course, extra dancing!

I'm looking forward to the beginning of the new semester, returning to my teaching assistantship and my classes.  It's going to get crazy.  I will also be competing in three competitions as long as my classes aren't too overwhelming.  I look forward to slightly cooler temperatures, fall wardrobes (fall dressing is so much more interesting) and fun fall activities.

This weekend has been busy....I attended two dance parties (just like last weekend) which is rare for me.  I attended my family reunion (and helped plan it) and went to friend's fabulous birthday party.

Here's what I wore......

Dress, New York and Company, $16.50 on clearance;  Shoes, Nine West 
Friday night dance party

J.C. Penney dress
Saturday; the family reunion with my little guy.....

Jumpsuit, T.J. Maxx
Saturday night dance party and the birthday party before that....

It was fun to dance in this very comfortable jumpsuit; but bathroom trips were not so fun!  Had to undo a little button in the back of the neck....not so easy when your hair is wild and sweaty from dancing and gets caught in the button!

I am grateful for all the leisurely pleasures I've had the good fortune to experience this summer.  I am also grateful that this indulgence is not something that I will experience every day.  I'm eager to back to my normal schedule; the long hours studying and grading papers and competing.  Yes, I'm eager to get back to the hard work.

Friday, July 27, 2012

My Ballroom Fantasy.......

I have always loved ballroom dance and as a young girl I dreamed of floating across the dance floor in the arms of my prince wearing a beautiful sweeping gown.  
All of my life I've always been involved with some kind of amateur dance or dance related activity, but other than gymnastics and ballet lessons as a young girl and belly dance lessons as an adult (and later, teaching belly dance) I had no extensive formal training. 
In high school and for several years after, I danced and acted (BUT NO SINGING!) in theater department/group musicals.
I really wanted to study ballroom dance but my parents didn't believe it was practical.   I was a very petite girl and was subject to some antagonization by junior high and high school bullies, so my parents wanted me to study Karate.  I did for two years.  Karate was a big confidence booster and I LOVED it, but it never replaced my love of dance.  
Years of raising children (mostly as a single parent), going to school and becoming a paramedic delayed my pursuit of dance.  I did continue belly dance, which I enjoyed immensely, but it was not the deepest desire of my heart.
Being single also kept me from ballroom dancing; I didn't have a partner, so I thought I was excluded.
I was wrong.
In 2007, I finally begged, cajoled and persuaded my husband to take an introductory ballroom class.  I was so happy, I couldn't wait for Tuesday nights to roll around each week because we were dancing.
My husband was OK with it mainly because he knew at least ONE night a week I would be looking up  at his face and smiling at him.  
Then my husband's job required him to do an intense project that required 21 days on and 1 day off for about 6 months.  I thought I was not going to be able to continue.  
My instructor gave me the joyful news that I didn't need a partner and my passion for dance accelerated.  Oh was I a happy girl.
I haven't looked back since. 
I have since left the high pressure chain studios and moved onto an independent instructor (the highly regarded Marcel, who I mention often.  As you know, I compete regularly on the pro-am circuit with my instructor.  I practice often, study hard and am trying to be the best dancer in my category and level.

The video below is a pretty slideshow that I have made of some of my ballroom pictures and set to music.  I intend to change the music soon, but this is what I have for now.  I'm really proud of this slideshow!

Yesterday....I got the idea to make this ballroom slide show after I had made a slideshow for a friend of mine.  My lifelong friend D has wanted to do a pinup/budoir photo for her husband for some time.  It's out of her budget right now so she asked me to do it for her.
I agreed...what girly fun!
I chose most of her outfits and styled them, did her hair and her makeup and styled the poses.  I edited the pictures and set them to music (Dangerous Mood--a bluesy seduction song) and made a slide show with the same theme as the one above...using her pictures.
D did agree to allow me to share two of the more sedate photos here.......

This is D.  I've known here since we were 13.  

We were going for a retro 40's style.

I'm pretty proud of my work!  It was a fun day....and I'm sure her hubby will be pleased with his anniversary surprise.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

My thrifted, girlie pretties

Dear readers, by now you have probably figured out that I adore wearing dresses.  I have only been able to satisfy my dress cravings by thrifting. I could never afford to own so many pretty dresses if I were buying them retail.  I seem to find a pretty dress every time I set foot in a thrift shop.  Some of the dresses I have found still have tags on them!

This is probably my favorite thrifted dress (not counting the formals).  It has a very feminine, romantic look.  The dress is not a designer dress, but I don't looks very much like a 'Luisa Beccaria' dress.

A couple of years ago, I fell in love with the Italian designer's dresses, which are floaty, ethereal and delicate.  They look like they should be worn in a meadow of flowers, or while carrying a market basket full of roses on a cobbled street in an old European town.  I cannot afford an LB dress...but I can be very happy wearing this reminiscent dress.

This dress is also thrifted from Goodwill.  It's an Evan Piccone dress and still had tags.  I didn't find this dress when I looked in the dress section, but as I walked past the section of the store where clothing that is being restocked hangs out, I spotted it.  Yep, I knew it was coming home with me.

Another non-designer dress.  Again, I don't mind that at all.  This dress is adorable on.  The picture does not do it justice; but I am looking forward to wearing it when temperatures return to normal!

This pretty little Vera Wang was $3.00.  But.......

I didn't notice in the store (and I always do a thorough look over) that the dress had a tear on the seam.  My husband noticed it when I modeled it for him.  "Honey, I'm seeing some underwear right at the seam on your butt". I thought he was teasing me until he gave me a little poke to prove it!  I'm very disappointed because this is such a pretty dress.  Despite my abundant booty, I swear I didn't rip it!  It doesn't fit that snugly!  The repair may complicated; the fabric is a bit shredded at the seam.  I hope that seam binding will remedy this, but I'm not a very good seamstress.  I love this dress and I want to try and save it. 

I adore the animal print in this unconventional blue.
Okay...I have a confession.....I have a secret fascination with QVC's designer Susan Graver's clothing. The show is my guilty pleasure.  I watch every show that is aired.  I love many of her designs, but I've never purchased any of them (and won't get sucked up into the QVC habit).  I have my TV set up to DVR all of her shows. I love everything about the show, from the bubbly personalities of the hosts and designer to the stylized outfits to the models.  I never feel tempted to buy, but I did hope to find a piece at a thrift.  I first heard of SG from my mom who also has a fascination with the clothes.  My mom's entire wardrobe is SG. Mom doesn't get around very well and doesn't venture from the house often.  I really like having common ground with her.  We gossip on the phone like a couple of teenage girls when the show is on and share our thoughts and observations of the outfits and models. 
 I found this trench coat at the Goodwill for $7.00.  It's in pristine condition and I really love the way it looks on me.  I'm pretty happy that I now have a Susan Graver piece that is thrifted.  

This is a really flattering dress.  Love the bracelet sleeves.  Love the pattern.  I love everything about it.  Thrifted.

I also love vintage and modern lingerie.  I wear it to bed almost every night.  Silky lingerie skims the body and is the most comfortable thing to wear to bed.  Hot flashes?  Tolerable in a light, silky slip or chemise!

The lace on the top is super soft.

Oh, the button detail!
This is my most treasured Goodwill find.  $3.00.  It's a Lily of France Rosa Puleo-Szule robe.  It's a vintage piece, probably from the 1970's or possibly the 80's.  Rosa Puleo-Szule was the elite designer for Lily of France during that time period.  She was also a strong feminist.  Her pieces are very sought after and I've seen them on the internet from around $75.00 to several hundred dollars.  I am simply in love with this.  It is in perfect condition.  When I saw it, I gasped because it was so beautiful.

Pretty ribbon and lace
The lace is gorgeous.

I need to measure the sweep of the's grand.

I'm not sure how to describe the full sleeves with the cuffed wrist.  Is this a Bishop sleeve?  The picture does not do the piece justice.  I can't believe its mine! For a mere three George Washingtons.

My July thrift was very productive.  I love every piece and can't wait to wear them.
If anyone has any suggestions on the repair of the Vera Wang dress, please share with me.  I really want to save it.

I'm sending some major thrift Mojo out to all of you....
Hope you find some lovelies that tickle you as much as these girly pretties tickle me!  There is no more satisfying shopping therapy than a productive thrift shop!

Monday, July 23, 2012

A green dress and a special dance coaching

Every two months or so, I schedule a special dance coaching with a professional coach/competition judge.  My favorite coach is John Swick.  John has a long history as a dancer/studio owner/competitor/judge/coach to the professionals and is the most articulate coach I have ever worked with. He was also a trained Opera singer, stage actor and ballet dancer.
When John teaches, he draws a picture with his words that helps the dancer effectively produce the desired movement.  A less articulate coach might say "stay left" (while explaining a particular movement).  John would say "dance your foot and your head to your partner's left elbow while keeping your head over your spine and your chest lifted".  John understands how to clearly express how movement and posture are interdependent and how a particular muscle action will cause a particular motion.  He understands the kinesiology of dance; the mechanics of movement and how to create the greatest aesthetic in dance. To a dancer, this high level of communication skill creates a much clearer picture of what "stay left", or any other particular dance command really means.  As far as coaching goes; I'm infatuated.  John puts me at ease and still demands the best of me.  My dancing has come a long way since my first competition.
Jones New York dress, thrifted.  It matches the leaves on the tree!
The picture below (black dress) was taken at my first competition in 2009.  My posture was terrible.  My neck is "short" instead of being elongated, my shoulders are hunched up and there is no space between my partner and I.  I had a great time at that first comp and fell in love with competing but I had a lot to learn.  I didn't place in any of my dances.  
My ballroom "look" was not yet developed. The dress was just a simple black top and ballroom practice skirt that I embellished a little bit.  My hair was not ballroom professional with the loose bangs and little tendrils on the side of my face.  I have since learned to create a well groomed ballroom appearance, but then, for my first comp, it was all a learning experience.  The "rules" are more relaxed for newcomers.
BAD POSTURE at my first comp in 2009!!!!

Good Posture  :)
This is my 2012 Indiana Challenge photo.  Can you see the difference in my posture?  See the space created between my teacher and me? We are joined at the rib cage, but my chested is lifted off of him without the hunched shoulders.  This space is what gives ballroom dance that beautiful dynamic look.  I worked very hard to create this "top line" and it is my strongest ability.  I cannot tell you how hard it is to grasp this concept, apply it and maintain it.  Marcel, my instructor and John Swick, the coach have helped me to understand how to do this.

This is today's coaching with John.

I'm so pleased with the gains I have made in my dancing.  I feel like a contender.

It's so exciting to learn to dance at a new level of competency
This is me with Marcel, applying John's lesson to a Waltz.  At the end of the lesson, my body felt like I had been through a personal training at a gym.  Dancers make it look so easy to dance gracefully.  Most people are surprised to learn that the fluid, flowing motion in dance requires a great deal of strength and control that is virtually invisible to the viewer.

I love dance.  I love social dance, I love competitive dance.  I am so captivated by dancers at much higher skill levels than I am..and I'm willing to work very hard to achieve something close to their movement.  I have a long way to go...but I have come a long way.

Brighton chain; Da Vinci charm.  

I love the little ruching  detail on the side of this dress.   Ruching is very flattering on curvy figures.

I hope you enjoy my dance posts.  I have more dance posts planned.  I would like to do a post about ballroom dresses and why formal dresses don't work for dancing; and I would to do an educational post on the different styles and dances in ballroom at some point in the future.

Hope you are all gearing up for a great week.  Thank you for reading.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Running Tired in a Mischievous Little Red Dress

Friday night's party and after party left me feeling REALLY tired today. The after party ended around 2 and when I arrived home, I had to read for a little bit to prepare for sleep.  I just can't HANG like I used to!  I don't drink, smoke or drink coffee....but I felt like I had a hangover.  I did;  I call it a DANCE HANGOVER.  That's the overtired, low energy, dehydrated feeling I sometimes get the day after a dance if I don't drink enough water or eat well BEFORE the night begins.  Dance parties are busy events and sometimes ladies will be asked to dance one dance after another without a water break; this can lead to slight dehydration, especially if you are dancing hard and sweating.
It's a sweet dance hangover as far as those things go...but I don't enjoy the dragging energy.
All day today, I experienced the requisite dance hangover but had another dance party to go to tonight, so I needed to banish that feeling quickly.

To perk up before the party, I downed a beef, cheddar and bacon sandwich from Arby's. I don't usually eat read meant...but my body was craving it.  It was worth it to restore my dance energy. All I needed to recharge was that protein and carbs and some dance music.

I think my overtired state of the day and little red dress caused my little streak of mischievousness to appear.  By the time I was dancing, there was no more dance hangover and I was on a naughty roll.

Bear in mind, that when I say naughty and mischievous, I'm not referring to behavior that disrespects anyone......I'm just a little bad--encouraging other dancers to be a little crazy on the dance floor....shouting cat calls at my dancer pals.  And of course...Marcel's favorite, de-wedging on the dance floor.  You know..there is a special little discreet wedgie dance you do to release your booty to freedom from the wedgie bunched undies.  Marcel hates this.  So if we are preparing dancing on the floor...I sometimes do a little exaggerated wedgie dance as we step onto the floor.  And of course, the wedgie dance can be exaggerated;)

I was in fine form tonight.  I blame it on the mischievous red dress.  It was a fun party.

By the way... I wasn't exaggerating about the dangerous curves....
This is it...the mischievous little red dress.
Merona: Target fishnets
Shoes: Galena by Sofft
And my favorite peep toe shoes and fishnets.  I love fishnets; they add color and shapeliness and provide a barrier inside the shoe.  Many fishnets hurt to wear; they can dig into your toes and flesh and leave the fishnet patter imprinted on your legs.  Not these; they are super soft and very durable.  I love them.

Goodnight lovelies...I'm off to bed to dream about dance.  By the WAS the red dress!

Black Tie Dance Party

Tonight, I went to the anniversary party of dance studio that I used to take my lessons at.  The invitation read "formal attire strongly encouraged, black tie optional".  The theme of the party was "Hollywood", so I decided to try an old Hollywood glamour look.

This is supposed to be 'old Hollywood glamour' make up.  I watched a you tube video to accomplish this.  I'm pretty happy with it, but I don't think it screams "40's screen star".  I did like it though!

I also watched a your tube video on how to achieve long finger waves ala "1940's silver screen" hair.  In this picture; Its pinned up after the big the curls hold their shape. I waited until I was dressed to take the pins out and place the curls.

This is the final look.  This dress, by the way was a thrifted dress....

it's the one I tried on backwards, but bought anyway, thinking I could fix the super plunging neckline.  See how it plunges in the back? I thought that was the front....until I washed it and saw the darts when I hung it!  You can see the lovely tie which I though would be in the front.  I am glad I figured it looks much better the right way.

Arm party!

Brighton necklace

Earrings; J.B. Robinson Jewelers
Tiny rhinestone balls.....

Do you notice how my pup is staring at me...he constantly stares at me.  My oldest son is  working out in the hallway.  He wasn't supposed to be in the picture.
Oh, by the way...this is what I wore to bum around the house and get ready for the party.  My hair has been curled and is up in pins until I'm ready to get dressed.  Peyton, my 7 year old son/photographer said he will quite taking pictures if I don't start letting him take some funny pictures.

The party was a blast!  Lots of dancing and joy happening.  There was also a fun after party at the club next door to the studio.  
Don't you love this butt lineup picture of the guys?
A couple of the guys were lined up at the table like this and I jokingly said I should get a butt shot pic for my blog.  I pulled out my camera..NOT intending to take a pic...but then four of the other guys jumped right in front of my camera.....I had to do the butt shot.  
Hats off to you, boys!

Hope its a great weekend for everyone....

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Old Hollywood Glamour

As you all know, I love evening wear and glitzy, blingy, sparkly glamorous things.  I would love to find an affordable replica of this dress to wear to watch some of the ballroom shows I go to.  Even more, I would love to find a Ballroom dress similar to this style and color to wear at competition.  I think this would stand out on the floor, don't you?  It's not a common color at the that's a plus!

I may have explained in a previous post that street dresses don't work for ballroom, but I could have something similar to this dress made.

On August 30, I am competing in the Windy City Ballroom competition in Chicago.  One of my favorite designers will be there and I will be looking for my next competition dress.  I will be sure to post some pictures of my choices and ask all of you to help me choose!

Until then...I'm going to be dreaming about dresses.....and this color is the star of my dreams right now!
Old Hollywood Glamour

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Surprise Award Nomination!

When I was looking at the blogs I follow I opened up Adrienne's blog
and found that she had nominated me for an award!

To my great surprise she has nominated me for The Very Inspiring Bloggers Award!


This is my very first blogger award and I'm so excited!

In turn...I am to nominate 7 others who's blogs inspire me....and here they are:

Sheila at Ephemera because she is always stylish and beautiful

Terri at Rags Against the Machine because she is a warrior for thrifting and individuality

The always creative and talented Antionetta at My Vintage Curves

Melissa at A Working Mom's Closet; one of the first blogs I ever read and because she is sweet, down to earth and encouraging

Emilie at Live Eat Smile for her inspiring, healthy and delicious food posts and her commitments to healthy living; and her sweetness

Bella Q at The Citizen Rosebud for being a champion of women over 40 + and maintaining the over 40 + blog roll

Patti at Not Dead Yet Style for bringing visibility to women over 40, 50 and more...

It's difficult to limit my nominations to just 7 as I believe all of the bloggers I follow each offer their own unique contributions to the world of blogging women and the world at large.

I understand the rules of accepting this nomination are as follows:   thank the person nominating you, link back to this blog, nominate 7 other inspiring bloggers, comment on the nominees blogs to let them know they have been nominated and share 7 things about yourself.

Here are my 7 things to share:

1.  I watch Dancing with the Stars religiously;  It's not really representative of the true ballroom competition world, but it's fun and sparkly and I love it.  No surprise there, right?

2.  I used to be a volunteer firefighter; it wasn't really my thing...but as an EMT and a paramedic, I wanted to have the whole EMS experience.

3.  I'm a horse lover and I grew up as a weekend farm girl; my Grandparents had a 400 acre farm and we spent every weekend there.  Baling, milking chasing cows, exploring.  I love the smell of a long as it's kept in the barn.

4.  I can still do the splits.

5.  I love to hula hoop. It's easy once you get the hang of it. I promise!

6.  I wore Invisalign braces and it was one of the best things I ever did for myself.  I should probably do a before/after post some day.  I was 48  when I got them.  It's never to late to follow the desires of your heart.

7.  I love bacon.  I'm obsessed with bacon.  I crave bacon.  I believe that bacon makes most things better...temporarily.  Bacon is my chocolate; but I rarely eat it...because eating bacon every day would cause too much trouble

Thank you again Adrienne for nominating me!  It made my day!