hygge

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Hey. Hi. Hello. It’s been a while!

Please excuse the absence around here, as you can see things have been…busy. I am usually a Thanksgiving fanatic, but something strange is happening this season. Don’t get me wrong- I had a fabulous time with the stuffing and pie, but this year jingle bells are just ringing a bit louder for me.

It’s not even December yet (but can you believe it will be this weekend?!) and I’m diving head first into the holly jolly. I’ve already watched most of my prerequisite Christmas movies (Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, Charlie Brown’s Christmas and It’s a Wonderful Life, I’m looking at you), the crafting has begun, and you guys, I even decorated my tiny tree. I know.

This quick week off from work was refreshing and productive, filled with family time, tea dates, homework cramming, donkey feeding, indoor farmer’s marketing, and small business shopping. Because #shopsmallsaturday should last all season long, here’s a little round up of my favorite spots around pvd:

NAVA for the best gifts for your best gals. + plants + candles + vintage wears

Home Imagined for refurbished midcentury furniture and an epic craft corner.

The Shop for cozy. Because you can shop small for foods and drinks, too.

Queen of Hearts / Modern Love for downtown fashuuun and fun accessories.

Frog and Toad for the most unique, perfect, can’t believe this is a real thing gifts.

 

 

first photo by Emily Nunes.

 

 

weekend in wonderland

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When you start the weekend on a Thursday afternoon with airport wine and your best friend.

When you realize how to spell Chautauqua.

When you fly into a blizzard, but a bold ballet dad braves the storm.

When your apartment is above the old McDuff’s, and has the puppy portraits and “wipe your paws” doormat to prove it.

When you can walk from McDuff’s to the (gorgeous) studios and the theater in under 3 minutes.

When you find breakfast cookies. And so you return after hours to beg for more. And then leave with 6.

When you warm up to Christmas carols and the snow just keeps coming.

When you mirror the 12-year-old ballerina showing you how to Sugarplum and remember yourself as a 12-year-old bunhead and wonder how this all came to be.

When you realize your tutu matches your tea saucer and your life is complete.

When the waitress thinks you’re married and refills your would-be husband’s coffee again and again (and again).

When angels literally surround you and ask questions like, “Do you live at your studio, or do you have a house?”

When you vow never to turn Hallmark channel off.

When dinner turns strangers into friends and the person across from you says “bubblah”.

When you take your partner’s hand, step into sous-sus, and feel astoundingly present.

When you sign an autograph for Phoebe on the bathroom counter and she smiles a smile bigger than her face.

…you’ve just done a Nutcracker guesting in Wonderland.

waiting

IMG_7624.JPGAs evidenced by the relative emptiness of this blog over the past few weeks, I think it’s safe to say this season has truly been one of the busiest of my life.  A senioritis-induced course schedule overload and new opportunities in the studio have been filling my time so sufficiently, I can’t remember the last time I sat down to journal, let alone blog.  There are so many things I want to share with you- stolen costumes, nostalgic cheese, nourishing drops of dew- but for now I will take a note from advent season.

Advent is a version of the Latin term “coming”.  It refers to the season observed by Western Christian churches as a time of waiting to celebrate the Nativity of Jesus.  It’s a time of anticipation and measured expectancy.  Religious or not, I find the practice of this slow expectancy deeply relatable.  In this chaotic season of life, advent reminds us to take pause, muse, and reflect.

M and I crafted up our own advent calendar (a la Reading My Tea Leaves), each tiny envelope full of good deeds (make dinner for his brother and sister-in-law who are welcoming a new baby this week), and fun winter time dates (spiked hot chocolate at Duck & Bunny) to help us savor the wait.

a christmas story

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This morning I parked my car at a metered spot in Brookline and hoofed it half a mile to one of the most beautiful bakeries, Tatte.  Brownstones lined my right and a woman in blue passed by on my left.  As she did I made eye contact, smiled, and chirped my usual “Hello!”.  To my delighted surprise, her equally spirited return greeting came almost instantly- if only you knew how many people look away when I acknowledge them.  Her quick but genuine response tickled, and I walked the rest of the way feeling a tad bit lighter.

Fast forward through some pastry perusing, tea sipping and note scribbling a la Tatte, when the women next to me start “discreetly” side-eyeing my notebook, a page of which I’ve now begun staining with the dregs of my English Breakfast leaves.  I realize the rather strong likelihood that my strange activity is offending their tame Wednesday brunch chatter and check my phone.  An hour has passed!  And I only paid for 48 minutes of parking!  I cause a bit of a ruckus in gathering my things (why must I bring crafts everywhere I go?), clearing my teacup and busting out the door.  There’s still a good 10 minute walk between myself and my inevitable parking ticket, so I pick up my pace from rush to trot towards the Brownstones.

From several gallops away, like the frame-by-frame delivery of a sad comic strip, I see the ticket print out (chchchchhchh), detach from its maker (zzzzip), and smack down onto my windshield.  I’m there just in time for my ticketer to turn around and watch my shoulders shlump dramatically downward.  Between panting breaths from frowning lips I sigh out, “This is me”, placing a defeated, consoling hand on my poor car, whose already been through enough this week.  The meter guard interrupts her own automatic apology to surprise me again, saying, “You know what?  If I hadn’t seen you earlier, and we hadn’t said hello to each other, I would never do this.”  She slips the ticket away, crumples it into her pocket, and before walking away, smiles once more and says, “Merry Christmas.”

Thank you, kind stranger who made my morning feel special when it could have been frustrating.  Never have I so directly felt the power of a friendly greeting.  If that’s not Christmas spirit personified, I don’t know what is.

 

discovering dance

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When I was two, my big sister’s girl scout troop attended Festival Ballet Providence’s Discover Dance performance of The Nutcracker, part of a program wherein schools, church groups, senior citizens and other small communities that may not otherwise have the opportunity are invited to view a daytime showing for a highly reduced rate.  Since my mother was wildly active in all things field trip, volunteer, organization and arts, and I was just a wee little Keeks, I tagged along for the day.

Now, just to clarify, when I say my mother was(is) wildly involved in the lives of her children, I mean she was not just on the PTO- no- she ran the PTO.  She not only attended every academic ceremony and school function, but would most often arrive several hours early to help plan.  Perhaps best of all, though, was the special tradition my mom established at my old elementary school, a brainchild of hers aptly called Creative Awareness.  A week-long celebration of the arts, my mom’s Creative Awareness embraced the unabashed creativity of the young, speckling the halls of Aitken School with colorful student artwork and rogue 5th graders flute, trumpet, and clarinet-ing their tiny, expressive hearts out.  This art appreciation week culminated in an elegant evening talent show, featuring students framed in decor so classy it caused audience members to question their whereabouts and out-of-districters to purchase new properties (probably).

It comes as no surprise, then, that my mother- girl scout troop leader and overall art enthusiast- would orchestrate a trip to the ballet.  At the ripe age of 24 months, I had been exposed to an impressive repertoire of live theater (pretty sure I saw Into The Woods from inside the womb), heck, my mom even co-created and directed a children’s theater group which I acted in for the first twelve years of my life!  But this Nutcracker thing- this ethereal, floating, wordless bit of magic- this was my first experience with real ballet.

According to my mother, I sat on the edge of my velvet-wrapped seat for the duration of the 2 hour ballet, eyes glowing.  When the curtain finally dropped, so did my jaw.  In her telling of this particular story, my next move was to dismount from my perch, point up to the stage, and squeak out, with the utmost assuredness, “Mommy, I am going to do that one day.” (It should be noted that my first word was a full sentence. #grammarpolice)

Twenty years later, that know-it-all oddly accurate little girl has just fulfilled a pretty incredible dream.  As my pointes brushed the hard stage of PPAC Friday morning and the child-dense house applauded my (rather shakey) double pirouette approximately 30 seconds into the grand pas de deux, two-year-old me craned her neck up.  Little Kirsten smiled her smile across my face, bearing her teeth through since-painted lips.  She leapt with abandon and reached her gaze up to the highest balcony, desperate to absorb every bit of this antipodal view before Tchaikovsky’s final horn silenced.

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It’s difficult to express my feelings about FBP’s Discover Dance program.  But doesn’t that tend to be the case when such unselfish things so directly effect your own life in a way that feels self indulgent?  If from my performance last week, even just one child drew a fraction of the inspiration that I did in watching it all those years ago, my heart will surely be full for the next twenty.

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making spirits bright

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Over the weekend, A and I headed up to the historic town of Winchester, MA for a Sugarplum guesting.  Diverts and rosin, golden tiaras and (so many!) children- what a way to kick off the Nutcracker season…

Though it feels good to be back in my city (and stalking Seven Stars), I really am a big fan of traveling to places my eyes have never met.  No matter if the destination waits just 60 miles north and the duration of the stay plans to be quite limited; The eminence of adventure is not lost in short journeys.  Discovering (and dancing) in new places is one of my favorite flavors of thrill.  Of course, sparkling tutus, glassy birch trees, miniature bottles of bubbly, warm crêpes and generous best best friends do seem to add just the right spice.

Oh yes, it’s a wonderful life.

happy december

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New England homes will always let you know when Christmas is coming; twinkle lights crop up in every window, woven greens circle door knockers and the warmth of crackling fireplaces glows from the inside out, sending plumes of exhaled smoke up through colonial brick chimneys.  December is upon us.

The successful closing of Up Close On Hope | Apollo & Bach Suites brought a short holiday break for FBP, and now with bellies full of turkey we plunge head first into Nutcracker preparations.  Ah, Tchaikovsky and sore toes, you epitomize my December.  To get into the spirit, I’ve been  doing some decking of my little halls and a bit of Christmas gift gathering too (#shopsmall), with festive socks on my feet and a chai in my hand, of course.

Last night I trekked it up north to Ballet Arts Centre of Winchester to rehearse with the students for my Sugarplum guesting this weekend (eeep!).  Back in Providence, the next 4 days will be spent hopping from France to Spain to Germany, through blizzards and living gardens to a land made of sweets, accompanied by suites my body knows forward and back.  So goes the wonderful, gratifying, exhausting grind of December’s annual preparatory routine.  Gird your loins, dancing friends, the Nutcracking season is officially here.