Though an art historian by training, dance has always been my first love. I began studying ballet at age 4 and practiced my pirouettes, jetés, and pas de bourées until the end of high school. For reasons that I can't exactly remember (I think at the urging of my orthopedic surgeon), I stopped dancing abruptly in college. I have missed ballet every day since.
Last night, my passion for ballet was reawakened. Thoughtful hubby treated me to an evening with the Bolshoi Ballet's production of Don Quixote. Admittedly, I knew little of this ballet. But, as the red curtain was drawn up, and the dancers entered the stage, I was reminded why I adore this art. The beauty of ballet is that you do not need to know the story, the dancers, or the music---it is wordless art that requires no prior knowledge, no formal education. It simply requires awareness and openness.
Ballet pulls me in like a vortex. I warned my husband that ballet triggers an almost trance-like state in me, and last night was no different. While the entire production was perfectly suited to each note of music, while each costume elegantly and artfully suited the movements, Act II was especially transformative. I was brought to tears by something sublimely beautiful (and I am NOT a tear-gusher kind of gal). The red and black Spanish dresses swirled across the stage like a bullfighter's cape, the dancers having as much control over their costumes as they did their bodies. Each pause, outstretched arm, pointed foot matched every precise note. For me, attempting to verbalize the scene almost takes away from the intrinsic beauty of it all.
What do you love? What inspires you visually to the point of tears? Remind yourself and treat yourself to this little pleasure. Take a moment to nurture your soul and surround yourself with beauty.
My go-to relaxation technique is a hot bubble bath (perhaps with a little glass of vino). A few years ago, Oprah, as she tends to do, was raving about Lollia bubble bath. I immediately found a bottle of the luxuriously-scented bathtime treat. The bottle was elegant and chic while the bubble bath itself smelled of a delicate floral vanilla. After filling my tiny tub on a few occasions, I (and my AmEx) grew weary of the price tag and became determined to find a bubbly substitute. The result was part recycling, part re-purposing. After emptying one of my favorite bottles of Bonnie Doon Riesling (a tough job but someone had to do it), I rinsed it out and filled it with an inexpensive bubble bath. Target brand baby nighttime bath will fill the entire wine bottle and smells of subtle lavender. Top the wine bottle with a cork, and voilà, fanciness!
One of the great pleasures of living in California is the abundance of year-round, locally-grown produce. Just down the street from our apartment is an itsy-bitsy plot of land that has been devoted to organic farming. On the corner of the lot, the farmers sell their fresh fruits and veggies to the locals. The avocados and strawberries are especially delectable. This afternoon, rather than filling up a cart of partially-hydrogenated this and thats at the chain store next door, I happily ventured to our little farm stand. My kitchen now smells of fresh, delicious strawberries. I see strawberries and cream in my near future....
I make more quesadillas than your average cheese-loving gal. These gooey cheesy concoctions tend to be my "oh, no, I forgot to eat breakfast and now I'm ravenous" go-to lunch. Personally, I keep my quesadillas simple. Good flour tortillas (I love Guerrero), a sprinkling of Monterrey Jack a dollop of medium salsa...cooked with a touch of Pam in my sauté pan. I savor each bite with a nice slice of avocado (so that my lunch isn't entirely green-free).
Enough dreaming about cheese and get to the point already....!!! Well, my must-have gadget is my Zyliss, palm-held pizza slicer. This do-dad comes in handy in all sorts of unexpected ways. A quick panini or a loaf of foccacia, this gadget zips across most anything, making kitchen time oh so quick and oh so fun.
This morning was not pleasant. For no discernible reason, I woke up in a BAD mood...definitely a case of the wrong side of the bed. Things only went downhill from 6:08 am on. My wrong side of the bed moment evolved into a bad-hair day which progressed into a shlumpy outfit and finally into my 8am class where I felt like I was about as articulate as Wendy Williams or a cast member from The Hills (for those of you who don't watch as much tele-filth as I do...that would mean I was very inarticulate, borderline incoherent).
After a morning of crankitude, I ventured off to the market to pick up a few essentials (in our house, that's half & half and Yoplait whipped vanilla yogurt and quesadilla fixins').
While stewing in my funk, I walked up to the front of the store to collect a shopping cart. From around a corner, the Albertson's cart guy, approached me, wearing a grin, ear to ear. This man, came nearer and in the most sincere and gracious manner, told me that I had a nice smile and "to have a beautiful day." Kindness, especially from total strangers, is a rarity in our modern lives. So, I must admit I was taken aback by this man's generous words and evanescent spirit.
Lesson learned, be nice. Be unexpectedly and unabashedly nice to the people who don't see it coming. Pay the toll for the car behind you. Give a cold bottle of water to the man begging on the corner. Just offer a smile to someone who looks like they could use it. There are enough jerks in the world (I assure you, I live in "the OC")---so, go out there and be nice, America.
Often, when attempting to get my brother and me to try some "new" food item, my Dad would bill it as a "taste treat." Far too often these taste treats would in fact be neither tasty nor a treat. Sorry, Dad, brussel sprouts were not enticing to a 9 year old. But, as we all do, I've become my parents and started adopting his little dad-isms.
This morning, as with every morning in recent memory, I was sipping on my freshly ground cup of French roast and thinking to myself that this is a true "taste treat." When Monday mornings trudge along and seem so inherently crappy, a hot mug of joe certainly does wake up my mind and body. I must say though, coffee-making didn't come instantly to me. The absolute key to my coffee-brewing success is my Cuisinart machine. Ah, sweet nectar of the gods! That machine magically measures the beans, grinds them, and makes a strong and vivacious cup of coffee.
I have always been one of those girls who stumbled through the rites of womanhood. I could never figure out how some of my peers in high school or college could just sweep on some eyeshadow and have a glorious smokey eye or dab on lip gloss and appear so dewy and lovely (they must have had older sisters!).
I have had so so so many beauty mishaps. One rainy and oh so humid afternoon in Tennessee, I discovered that the clear mascara I had applied to my eyebrows (to keep them neatly contained) was turning into a gooey gelatinous mess all over my forehead. More times than not, I've purchased the wrong color of foundation and/or concealer....yes, I know, ladies, "quelle horreur!" At these moments, I feel like I'd be better suited having my face done by the makeup artist for an off-Broadway production of Cats. Oy!
Suffice it to say, when I find some new goody that I adore, I want to share it with all my gal pals. So, without further adieu, my fave of the moment: Benefit's boi-oing!
This magic little palette is billed as "industrial strength concealer," and it lives up to this claim. When I look "tired" or "sick" or "the same way I do every morning," this wondrous stuff, with a swipe of my index finger makes me look refreshed (and way less grumpy.)
Call me crazy (you wouldn't be the first), but I just love cleaning my apartment. Perhaps it's my self-proclaimed OCD, but something about organizing, sorting, dusting and swiffering makes everything seem right with the world. For the past fews years I've enjoyed the luxury of not working on Fridays. So, I have always used my afternoons sans hubby, to tidy up. This is not a ritual that I dread, but one that I eagerly await. Perhaps my pink grapefruit scented Method counter-top spray is just chemically altering my brain....or maybe the hum of my Dyson is putting out subliminal messages...but really, I think it's the freshness and newness that appeals to me. No matter how my week may have gone awry, putting things in their place makes the chaos of the world seem to vanish.
This holiday season, as with so many holiday season's past, I enjoyed Christmas at my parents' home. My mother, the woman who first taught me to savor life's goodies, always filled our home with fantastic trinkets and sweet treats and carefully coordinated visual details. This Christmas, one of my favorite quiet moments was sitting by the fireside, listening to the crackle of the wood, and sipping on a tart and tasty glass of Prosecco. Ah, delicious solitude!
Ever since I was a wee little blondie, I have always found much joy in the little things. A stray seashell on the white sand of the Gulf or a gorgeous shade of blue in a Chagall painting or a delightfully crisp apple...those found objects and delicious details always captivated my imagination and brought me sustained happiness.
Later, as a college student, I watched Amélie for the first time and became enchanted by the title character's similar purview. As Amélie cracked the thin sugar coating to her crème brûlée or adorned her fingertips with perfectly pink raspberries, I identified with her. I wanted to live IN the movie. I wanted to be a customer at Amélie's café. I wanted to learn from her as she sucked in the sweetness in life. (Thank goodness I didn't cut my hair into a black bob!)
I now try to fill my daily rituals with an appreciation for objects of inherent beauty and pleasure.... the little pleasures...les petits plaisirs.
Like Amélie Poulain, my life is all about the littlest pleasures: the freshest, pinkest raspberries; the deep blue of a Vermeer painting; the perfect crispness of a glass of Prosecco; the divine simplicity of an afternoon at the beach; the heavenly scent of a vanilla bean. Here I blog to celebrate the good life, la dolce vita, la belle vie. Cherish life's petits plaisirs and enrich your daily existence.
You should know that I take liberties with grammar, punctuation, & diction. Do not fear! I assure you I've been educated about the woes of abundant comma usage or the impropriety of ending a sentence with a preposition. Here, as this is not my dissertation, I write as I talk. I also make up words on occasion.
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