A Daydreamer’s Guide to Natural Beauty

I absolutely love all things beautiful. Rose Gardens, Castles, Wildflowers in a meadow. Evening gowns and romance, tea parties and Parisian cafes. I adore beautiful artwork and intricate architecture, and the rugged beauty of a wild, Northern coastline. It is my mission in life to use what I’ve been given to the best of my ability. I’m not perfect, but here are some things I’ve found that make me feel lovely.

Make Up:

For Natural, Rosy matte lips, I absolutely adore Charlotte Tilbury’s “Pillow Talk” Lipstick (pictured above). I originally found it from a Blogger I follow, Lauryn Evarts Bosstick. I ordered it and immediately fell in love! It is a lovely “English Rose” tint for day-to-night, especially if “Natural” is your look, but still luxurious, feminine, and elegant!

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As far as other things go, I’m still figuring the whole make up thing. I go very minimal-to-none for my teaching days (students really freak out if you show up without makeup after wearing it all the time) and gym days (Kudos to the ladies who go to the gym made up, though. I don’t know how you do it.), and dress it up on an evening out with a bronze-y smokey eye, or a shimmery look. If any of you are make up experts and want to do a girls’ day make up class, let me know!

Skincare:

Pit Detoxes!!! I started detoxing my pits about once a month-ish (although it’s petered out a bit since my pits don’t ever stink!). The recipe I have been using comes from http://www.wellnessmama.com and consists of Bentonite Clay, Raw Apple Cider Vinegar, and a little water. Check out her website and search “armpit detox” for her recipe. Add armpit detoxes to your spa nights for a boost in health and freshness.

And then after you detox your pits, don’t put chemicals on them!! Your pits will be so squeaky clean that you won’t even need that antiperspirant! And we’re meant to sweat for a reason! I’ve tried lots of natural deodorants, but my favorite so far is from http://www.whiskeyinkandlace.com – their products are mainly for men (lots of beard oils and the like), but I get their “The Lady Natural Deodorant”. It goes on smooth, is light, and lasts FOREVER. I seriously can’t remember the last time I bought a stick! Major money saver right there!

GET A FACIAL! Go to your local privately owned salon. They’re not as expensive as you think. And the advice of a professional really helps. I was poking around in the dark for a long time, using products for problems I didn’t actually have. And although I am not immune to the occasional hormonal/stress/diet breakouts, my skin is in the best condition it ever has!

Dry Brush. Seriously. If you want baby’s butt soft skin, and to feel revitalized every day, dry brush before you shower or bathe. Look up how to use it, because you want to brush in different directions depending on which part of your body you are brushing. Mainly, your strokes to be in the direction of you heart.

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Moisturizer: Don’t spend a fortune on lotion. Use Coconut Oil. I keep a jar of it in my room, and it is the most amazing feeling to step out of a bath, freshly brushed, and apply some coconut oil.

Also, JET LAG MASK. This is a new product released about a month or so ago by Summer Fridays. It is available on their website, and through Sephora. I apply this mask when my skin needs a dose of hydration, and when I use it, I wake up with dewy, plump skin. Love it.

Hair Care:

One day a month, do a 24-hour coconut oil mask. Slather your hair with coconut oil, go about your business, and let the coconut oil do its magic. Don’t blow dry your hair all the time. I spent years blowdrying my hair every day, and my hair hated me for it! Find a nice little styling cream, or a leave-in spray. I like the suggestions my hairdresser gave me – Bumble and Bumble’s Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil UV Protectant Spray, and Don’t Blow It cream. Of course, I’ll blow dry and style my hair for a night out or a special event, or pay a visit to Drybar for a mimosa and a blowout, but there’s just no need to put your hair under so much stress every day 🙂

Baths:

A great way to wind down after a long day, or soothe sore muscles after a workout is through an Epsom Salt Bath! I like to add a few drops each of Bergamot, Lavender, and Frankincense Oil. Mess around with some of your own favorite essential oils. Add Lavender. Or a few bags of Green Tea or Chamomile Tea (another favorite of mine!). Light some candles, turn on some light music, and bring a good book with you. Lately my baths have been my only reading time. I have a stack sitting on my bathroom scale, and I’ll choose one based on my mood.

Embrace your natural beauty! Have fun with make up, take good care of your skin, eat well, get a sweat in every day, smile, and always remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are a treasure, a diamond in the rough! And you are capable of anything you put your heart to!

Also, I’m always on the search for natural beauty tips and tricks! What are some of yours?

 

 

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Protein Packed Breakfast Bake

I know, sometimes it can be ridiculously hard to get going in the morning! Starting the day off right can be challenging if you have to be out the door for work, or if you fit in your workouts in the morning. With my crazy schedule, I struggle enough trying to fit in everything I HAVE to do, let alone squeezing in some fun outings, hobbies, or social time! Which is why I’m so excited about recipes like these that can be made ahead and taken on-the-go!

I found this recipe for a make-ahead Breakfast Bake/Casserole from Dr. Beth Westie who is a Chiropractor and Women’s Health and Nutrition Expert. I originally discovered her through the Vibrant Happy Women Podcast, and loved her energy, excitement, and passion for helping women support their hormones. Her original recipe calls for ground turkey, but I went with ground pork to support the second half of my cycle, or my Progesterone phase. Dr. Beth Westie talks about using whole foods to support the Female cycle. I still have a lot to learn on this subject, but I’m excited to start experimenting!

So here’s the recipe…..

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp Coconut Oil (I didn’t need it because there was plenty of fat in the Ground Pork)

1 Lb Ground Turkey (Or Pork, etc.)

12 Large Eggs

1 small Sweet Potato peeled and sliced thin (I used a Japanese purple sweet potato because that’s what I had on hand!)

1 cup Baby Spinach

Salt and Pepper for Seasoning

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9×9 baking dish with coconut oil as well as heat the 1 Tbsp in a medium sized skillet set to medium-high heat (I did not need the coconut oil using ground pork). Add the ground meat and season with S&P. Continue to cook the meat until it begins to brown. While the meat is cooking, peel and slice the sweet potato. I used a Mandoline to make sure my slices were even and thin. Line the bottom of your greased baking dish with the sweet potato slices. Beat the eggs with a whisk and season with S&P (I added a little bit of Cayenne pepper to heat things up – Dr. Beth suggests adding spices during the Progesterone Phase which is Day 14-28 of your cycle). Top the sweet potatoes with the cooked ground meat, then pour the eggs on top, and layer with Spinach! My spinach got crispy, so I think I’ll sneak the spinach in with the ground meat next time! Place the dish in the oven and cook for 35-40 minutes or until the edges of the egg begin to brown and the casserole is firm throughout. I was able to get 6 fist-ish sized slices out of mine which means 6 breakfasts I don’t have to think about this week! Yay! Thanks Dr. Beth!!

Greased Baking Dish lined with Japanese Purple Sweet Potato Slices.

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Trader Joe’s Ground Pork.

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Eggs!

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Spinach!

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And done! Bon Appetit!

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Easy “Mounds/Almond Joy” Protein Balls!

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I have always loved Saturdays. Lately my saturday’s consist of my favorite Zumba class in the morning, a session with my personal trainer, my weekly grocery shopping trip, meal prep for the week, and maybe an outing or dinner with friends!

Today I decided to try a couple new recipes! One is a breakfast casserole which I’ll post in a bit, and the other is a recipe for protein balls! I’m not sure who created the original recipe, but I tweaked it a bit. You could do all sorts of tweaking for different flavors, but I love this Chocolate, Coconut, and Almond combo! Took me around 10 min. max to whip these up, and they only use one bowl!

Here it is!

Ingredients:

2 scoops of Chocolate protein powder (I used Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein that I get from Thrive Market)

1/3 c. Coconut Flour

1/3 c. unsweetened shredded Coconut

1/3 c. Creamy Raw Almond Butter

2 Tbsp. Coconut Butter, melted (I use Artisana Organics, also from Thrive Market)

1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. unsweetened Almond Milk

2 Tbsp. MCT Oil.

A couple drops of Almond Extract

Directions:

Mix all the ingredients together until it forms a sort of dough! I used one of those fancy little cookie dough scoopers so they were all the same size, but you could use just a regular spoon and roll them out. This recipe made 12 protein balls. I plugged this recipe into my nutrition tracking app, Cronometer, and it came out to 102.5 kcal per ball with 5.4 g protein, 2 g net carbs, and 7.6 g fat.

You could do all sorts of fun things with these to make different flavors! Enjoy!

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Just Eat the Cupcake Already!

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I’ve been sitting on this post for awhile. Mostly because I’ve had a hard time deciding exactly how much of the dirty details of my struggles I want to share with you, but also because I’m really not sure where I stand on this. This topic of moderation. Of making a commitment to yourself to eat healthy and exercise, but also of allowing yourself to enjoy a treat here and there. I’m still working on figuring out what works for me as I am working on getting my nutrition in order. There is so much out there about health and wellness which makes it really challenging to find truth.

In addition to wading through the muck of what to eat, when, how to prepare it, how much – GAHHHH! – there’s all that stuff about mindset and body image. All of the crud in the media about what a woman should look like, or what a woman should be. And what people don’t realize, is that no matter how much weight you lose, no matter how many hours a week you exercise, and no matter how “clean” you eat; until you master your mindset, there is an ongoing dialogue in your head of things people have said that have shaped how you see your body. And those seem to stick even harder than those “last 10 pounds”. The children who matter-of-factly told you, “you’re fat”. The ex-boyfriends who commented on how “you look much better than before”, and “it’d be a shame if you gained it all back”. The people who told you you could be fit and overweight when you expressed interest in a new physical activity, or the friend’s dad who asked if you were “making it” on a group hike. And then, sometimes, the positive comments, as well-intentioned as they are, are more poisonous than the negative ones because then it becomes a game. And if you reach a plateau (which you most likely will if you’re a woman and if you have even the tiniest bit of stress in your life) and the comments stop…..in rush the insecurities. These thoughts don’t go away no matter how much weight you lose because they stem from something much deeper. They stem from how you view yourself, your own self worth, your identity. I’m still working on this one, and I only now think about what I say to little girls because I know how much of an impact words have, however well they are intentioned.

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I know that there are so many girls and young women who battle this on a daily basis, and on a much more serious level than I ever have. I am grateful to have had a childhood in which the comments didn’t phase me. I’m grateful that I always had my violin, and that my extensive music studies kept me occupied and focused on something greater. I’m grateful that I face these battles as a grown up, and with a support system and a host of resources. But not every young girl or young woman is as lucky as I have been, and I truly feel this is a battle we can help young women fight, if only we are more careful of what we say to them.

Praise the young women in your life for their radiance. Their kindness. Comment on how amazing it is when they pursue what they love with passion. Tell her that she lights up the room when she smiles, and that she is respected for the way she carries herself with power and grace. Tell her she looks so healthy when she’s sweaty from the gym, with no make up, and a messy bun. Or when she’s flushed from mucking a barn or caring for her animals. Encourage her to pursue physical activity whether it’s dancing, lifting weights, running, or a team sport, because she’s given this one body, and using it to move and explore is a sign of gratitude. Encourage her to eat healthy nourishing foods, and enough to satisfy her, so she can be strong and vibrant. And tell her she is fearfully and wonderfully made. Because there’s no stopping a woman who is vibrant and supported, nourished and encouraged.

And for goodness’ sake, eat a friggin’ cupcake once in awhile!

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MMMmmmmmmMatcha Latte

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I’ll let you in on a little secret. I played hooky today for the first time in…….a long time. Well, I didn’t EXACTLY play hooky, I just rearranged the handful of students who decided to stick around during Spring Break. Which means I’ll have an extra long teaching day tomorrow, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for a whole day off today. I’ve spent most of the morning being lazy, working on my brand new website, and getting some business taken care of.

I’m currently in the process of writing a post about moderation and balance in a healthy lifestyle, but I’m working through some writer’s block, and deciding how many dirty little details I want to share with you about my personal battles.

I’m toying with the idea of giving up coffee for awhile to see if that will help with some inflammation and improve my sleep, but the coffee lover inside is very resistant. So, instead of having a second cup this afternoon, I opted for this light, sugar-free Matcha Latte! It is refreshing, flavorful, and you won’t be drinking a ton of calories. You can make it hot or cold, and with just about any kind of milk! I use unsweetened almond milk.

Ingredients:

1 tsp Matcha – I am toying with brands right now. Currently using Matcha Love Organic from Thrive Market, and I love it!

Hot Water

1 cup milk of choice

4 drops (or so) of organic Liquid Stevia

Directions:

Whisk the Matcha powder with a little bit of almost boiling water in a small bowl (I whisk with a fork, but you can get fancy schmancy and get one of those cute little bamboo whisks). Blend with your milk of choice and the stevia drops in a blender. Pour over ice, heat in the microwave, or steam with a steam wand! The blending step is not necessary, but I can’t stand clumps of Matcha at the bottom of my cup!

Enjoy!

 

 

Butterflies and Butternut Squash

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Happy Easter!

I absolutely love this season! I love the sunshine, budding trees, wildflowers, and the new beginnings the season brings. I love the birth of baby lambs and kids at the family farm, boughten chicks, Butterflies flitting, bees buzzing, and the excitement of Summer plans being made.

This has been a gloriously fun weekend so far – I spent all day yesterday running around San Francisco with Angela Nunnink Photography taking pictures for my business and my blog! I can’t wait to share with you the new and exciting ideas I have rolling around in my head, but everything in due time…..for now, I’d like to share with you some easy ways to get veggies in. I know it can be challenging for a busy lifestyle, and honestly, sometimes salads just don’t sit well.

Roasted Butternut Squash Zig Zags:

I make a big batch of these about once a week. I’ll probably get sick of them as we move out of winter, but right now they are heavenly to me. And though I used to look down on people who bought pre-cut veggies, I am so beyond that now. My life is crazy, and I welcome time savers with open arms.

Ingredients:

4 containers of Butternut Squash Zig Zags from Trader Joe’s

A drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Himalayan Pink Sea Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

Ground Cayenne Pepper (I like mine spicy!)

Directions:

Spread the Zig Zags evenly on a large, lipped(?) baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil (you could also try coconut oil, or avocado oil). Sprinkle with your desired amount of Salt, Pepper, and Cayenne. Roast in an oven set to 400 degrees Convection Bake. Don’t go far. They’ll cook pretty fast, and you’ll want to mix them up a few times! This gives me about four and a half or five fist-sized portions which I split up throughout the week.

Note: you can do this with any kind of veggie! I tried Acorn Squash, Peppers and Onions (throw some cut up sausage on there for a one-pan meal!), Broccoli, Sweet Potatoes, Cauliflower, etc.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes:

I absolutely LOVE roasted sweet potatoes! Although I usually stick to my protein/fat/greens meals in the morning and afternoon, I like to add a sweet potato or some of the above Butternut Squash to my dinners. The healthy carbs help me to feel satisfied and ready to rest without making me feel bloated or “too full”. I like regular orange sweet potatoes, but my absolute favorites are Japanese Purple sweet potatoes. You can find them in the Organic section at Trader Joe’s – can you tell I love this place?! – they don’t always have the purple sweet potatoes, so I grab them when I can.

Wash your desired amount of sweet potatoes. Roast whole in a 400 degree oven set to Convection Bake. Keep an eye on them. They’re done when you can poke them easily with a fork. Baking time will vary depending on the size of the sweet potato. Serve the orange sweet potatoes with a dab of butter and cinnamon for a yummy dessert, or just wrap them with tin foil and pop them in your lunch box. Try to pair them with a little bit of fat and a lean protein so you don’t spike your blood sugar.

Take an afternoon to listen to some music or a podcast, dance around your kitchen, and just cook a whole bunch up so you have enough to last you the week! It makes eating healthy much easier when you have good, yummy options on hand, and you’ll save a bunch of money not eating out or grabbing take out!

 

 

 

Pretty Little Paleo Cake

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There has always been something lovely about Palm Sunday, and today was no exception. In addition to beautiful sunshine and clear skies (although we did have a little sprinkle), I got to spend the day in the company of friends – out in nature, hiking at Hidden Falls Regional Park, and noshing on charcuterie and homemade jalapeño poppers, planning and plotting all the parties and gatherings we’re going to have, and sharing our travel adventures.

But, I also got the itch to bake, and since I steer clear of refined sugar and flour (aside from the occasional wedding or birthday cake), I decided to experiment with making a Paleo cake! I have been exploring what it is like to eat foods that could be gathered, foraged, or hunted, as well as working on some functional training with my personal trainer (kettlebell swings, rope smashes, bodyweight exercises…..)

This little cake seemed to be well received at the gathering I hosted this evening, and I promised to share the recipe, so here it is:

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For the cake…..

Ingredients:

  • 1 C. Blanched Almond Flour
  • 1/2 C. Raw Almond Butter
  • 1 Large Egg
  • 3 TBSP Organic Maple Syrup
  • 1/2 C. Mashed Sweet Potato (the original recipe called for pureed Pumpkin, but Sweet Potatoes are my favorite! Just bake whole sweet potatoes in an oven set to 400 degrees on Convection Bake until they’re soft inside, then peel, and mash)
  • 1/4 C. Raw Cacao Powder
  • 1 TSP Baking Soda
  • 1 TSP Vanilla Extract
  • 1/8 TSP Salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Using parchment paper, line an 8″ cast iron skillet (I used my little 9″ by 3″ cake tin because I wanted to make it fancy pantsy).
  3. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl, and using an electric mixer, mix for several minutes until well mixed (I had to smash the almond flour lumps with a wooden spoon).
  4. Pour batter into prepared cast iron skillet or cake tin, and smooth the batter.
  5. Bake for 25-27 min. (I think mine went in for about 30)
  6. Cool completely before icing/frosting.

 

For the Chocolate Ganache…..I doubled this recipe to make it extra ganache-y! Mmmmmm

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 C. Dark Chocolate Chips (I used half Lily’s Stevia Sweetened, and half something that was lying around the house from Whole Foods)
  • 6 TBSP Cream (I used Organic Cream, but you can use Coconut Cream to make this non-dairy!)
  • 1/4 TSP Vanilla Extract

Directions:

  1. Place ingredients in a double boiler, or in a heat-safe bowl over a pot of hot water.
  2. Mix gently over medium heat until all of the chocolate is melted. It should have a somewhat thick consistency.

 

Once my cake was cooled, I cut it in half (I have this little cake slicing tool that works wonders – I think it’s from Wilton). I ladled about 1/3rd or so of the ganache onto the first layer, placed the second layer on top, and spread the rest of the ganache over the top and sides of the cake. I didn’t mind a rustic look, so I just smoothed it with a butter knife. I topped my little cake with raw walnuts to dress it up, but you could serve yours with warm berries and fresh whipped cream or adorn it with candied violets or rose petals (if you’re not so worried about the sugar). I was able to cut the cake into 14 small slices, but for cake lovers, I would suggest you eat two.

Enjoy!

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Bloom Where You Are Planted

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For those of you who follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you might have seen this adorable little Desk Calendar in my stories! I keep mine on my gorgeous little 1920’s vanity that my dad got me for my 17th birthday, and I absolutely adore starting my mornings with beautiful and inspiring words! Plus, it’s revolving, so no need to get a new one for each year!

You can get your own here:

Bloom Desk Calendar

Afternoon Tea at the Casebolt House

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What a day! There’s always something about Saturdays. Maybe it’s the play and excitement in the air, the relaxation the weekend brings for week-workers, or the time and space to explore and have adventures. I know it’s Saturdays like these that I’ll look back on with Gratitude, and look forward to with excitement!

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On top of glorious weather, I got to spend the day in the city with some of the most talented and passionate women I know, sharing afternoon tea and fun. One of the ladies in our society opened up her home to us (San Francisco’s historic Casebolt House), and graciously served and doted on us. She was a beautiful example of someone who uses their gifts and talents to bless others.

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Our day began with a social hour, then on to a program prepared for us by another member of our ladies’ society,who is a retired law enforcement officer. She talked about learning to be Miss Congeniality, dealing with difficult people and difficult situations, and changing cortisol levels/boosting confidence through assuming a “superhero stance”. We also received uplifting words from Madam State Regent, encouraging us to take the future.

Our brunch was a lovely array of tea sandwiches (my favorite being a homemade mango chicken curry encrusted in sliced almonds), homemade deviled eggs, stuffed endive, cups of broccoli salad or veggies and dip, crostini with blue cheese, sliced cucumber with cream cheese and smoked salmon, lots of lovely scones with Devonshire cream and lemon curd, and delicate petit fours.I stuck with mainly vegetables and protein, but I did have a little sandwich, and I decided I wanted to try a mini lemon bar, and a petit four. I went in to today knowing that sweets don’t make me feel great, but if there was something that really appealed to me, I would try it, but buffer it with protein, healthy fats, and fresh vegetables. And I am thankful that I have moved out of the place of feeling like I am a slave to treats.

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The rest of the afternoon we spent lazing about on the purple velvet sofa, soaking up the sun, and giggling over paging mishaps and panties.

On my plate: Endive with a sort of cream cheese spread, cucumber slices with a cream cheese and horseradish spread and smoked salmon, a mango chicken curry tea sandwich, 1 whole deviled egg, broccoli salad, veggies and dip (in my teacup!), a mini lemon bar, and an almond petit four.Processed With Darkroom

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My afternoon ended with a search for the perfect birthday cake for my dad. I decided to walk to the new Ginger Elizabeth location with the hopes of finding a cake there. They didn’t have one made, but I did some of my Valentine’s Day shopping, and ogled the pink La Marzocco espresso machine ♥️
Cakeless, I decided to head over to Tartine Bakery, one of our family’s favorites. I shared a Lyft with a couple other girls, but once the other two were dropped off, it became apparent that my driver was a bit too desperate for a Valentine, so I decided to take Uber back to the Casebolt House after I found the cake 😬 I decided on Tartine Bakery’s Dark Valrhona Chocolate Soufflé Cake. I’ve tried it before, so I know it’s decadent and just perfect.

Ginger Elizabeth’s pink La Marzocco! And Rose Hot Chocolate?! I have yet to try it!Processed With Darkroom

Although it sounds like I had an indulgent day, I started it out with a homemade no-fruit smoothie packed with protein, fiber, greens, and healthy fats, stuck to mainly protein and vegetables at lunch with a couple bites worth of indulgence, and finished the evening with a salad I picked up in Davis on my way back – mixed greens, steak, beets, squash, mushrooms, broccoli, tomatoes, and instead of dressing, I asked them to toss it with a little EVOO ☺️ So yummy, and it made a great, quick dinner while I babysat my little cousins!

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“Happiness is a thing to be practiced”

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Disclaimer: unless you are a string musician, a nerd, or so bored out of your gourd with nothing else to read,  this may not interest you!

Well, it was time. After years of outdoor summer festivals, and a few of my youngster years not knowing how to best care for it, it’s time for a Violin Cleaning. Also, as this is a new age for me, of working towards my goals, shedding the bashful girl inside, pushing my own boundaries, and expanding myself as a musician and teacher, it is fitting that my violin should have a makeover, too! 🎻

A friend and colleague highly recommended Anthony Lane Violins (www.laneviolins.com) in Petaluma, and since I’d always rather go with a privately owned business, I decided to give him a call! I told him I was desperate and needed to get in ASAP, and he was able to fit me in right away!

A little bit about my violin: I searched far and wide for my instrument. I tried nearly 100 Violins from large shops, privately owned shops, as well as from Bay Area makers. I even tried a violin in Paris, but none of them sang for me. When I was performing in the Emerging Artists Program of the Mendocino Music Festival in 2007, I met and played with a Violist who happened to work at Heaney Violins in Mountain View. I told him about my search for a violin, and I told him exactly what I was looking for. An instrument with a rich, deep, vibrant tone. Something that sounded like chocolate. He told me he had a couple Violins at the shop that I should try. I don’t know if I’ll ever forget the day I found my violin. My mom and I took a day trip over to Mountain View, and I got started trying out violins, but none of them sparked anything in me until this one was brought out. I picked it up and played it……and cried…….I knew it was the one for me by the way it sang for me (maybe that’s what it’s like to find your soulmate).
I think I remember someone once saying that our instruments are not a part of our history, but we’re a part of theirs. Sometimes I wonder what stories my violin would tell if it could speak. From the time of its making in France in the mid-1700’s till now. Had it been passed down in gypsy families? Maybe it was the prized possession of a lonely aristocrat? Or maybe it belonged to normal people like me through the ages, offering its history and beauty everywhere it goes. In all the years it has been mine, this realization didn’t hit me until now. It may not be a Guarneri or a Stradivarius, but it is my responsibility to preserve and care for it to the best of my ability, so that generations after me can enjoy all it has to offer.

Before:

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Rosin caked up on the fingerboard and the body. Gross. Tony said the back was in really good condition. Also, my fingerboard was worn down from the years of playing. This is a thing that happens, and it needs to be leveled out from time to time. Tony checked the seams to make sure there were no openings, and said he would fine tune my bridge, although he said it looked like it was in good condition. He also suggested that we replace the tail gut, and the E string fine tuner. I had no idea that these things impact the sound, but apparently they do! Strings I was using: Evah Pirazzi G, D, and A, and Pirastro Oliv Gold E.

After:

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I KNOW RIGHT?! I could not sleep a wink the night before picking it up! Which didn’t serve me well when I had to actually get up and go. And believe me, I did everything I possibly could to speed up the falling asleep process – a bubble bath, hot tea, my Audrey Hepburn inspired silk sleep mask, you name it! I ended up having a marvelous day, though, despite the lack of sleep, and plenty of coffee kept me going.

Tony spent a good hour with me getting my violin ready to play. He taught me how to correctly string the instrument, and warmed each string up by rubbing and pulling the strings to accelerate their settling time. We both took turns playing it with our different bows, and Tony experimented with three different E strings in order to choose one that fit my instrument. We tried the Pirastro Evah Pirazzi Gold that I brought (it came with the set that I ordered), and he also tried a Jargar E, made in Denmark, and a Pirastro Eudoxa E. We decided on the Eudoxa which really seemed to open up my sound. Tony also spent some time adjusting the sound post which he said is really solid. I was so happy to hear how impressed he was with the solidity of my instrument, and how it has been so reliable all these years. He taught me a bit about how cracks in instruments are patched up and showed me where mine has been repaired in the past. We listened to some Western Swing, and talked about teaching and the joys and challenges it brings. I left a happy girl with an instrument I am so excited to practice (I can actually play Perfect 5ths somewhat in tune now haha). It took some time to coax my sound back out – I think my violin was a little bit miffed that I put it through all that – but once it came back out for me, it was sweeter than ever 🙂

I grabbed coffee at my favorite, Acre Coffee in Petaluma, and Lamb with Asparagus and an arugula salad for lunch at Sugo Trattoria. I will need to go back within the next few months to have my Bridge replaced, so if any of you are up for a day trip, let me know!

And one of my all-time favorite quotes:

“Happiness is a thing to be practiced, like the violin” – John Lubbock