Saturday, September 29, 2012

Some Ballet stuff

First things first. If you don't follow Adult Beginner, the funniest blog I've read in a long time (I think I've plugged her blog before, so all none of you who read my blog should be following), stop what you are doing and read all of the archives now, because her blog is going to be a bit like this post, only funnier and better and a blog instead of just a post.

So I started reading that blog because I was sort of interested in ballet and that blog made me a little bit more interested, so I after 4 terms of fighting my way into that class and arguing with my schedule, I've finally got a spot in the school-offered ballet class.

The woman who teaches it is a lot more serious than I thought it would be, and when she said that everyone was going to be wearing leotards and pink tight, I was really excited because I like buying clothes.

The first class, no one had proper clothes, and we more or less stumbled around on the barre (except for some of the people who'd taken the class before or danced before and were just miles ahead of everyone else), and there was a moment when I looked in the mirror and realized that even though 80%of us had no idea what the hell we were doing, it was very very pretty.
Then I started wondering about the future of the class, when everyone's properly dressed and sort of knows what they're doing, and how pretty that will be.

Class ends. Shopping time.
Now, in the city where I live, there is a store that sells shoes and leotards and tights. It's called Renaissance Rose, and it also sells everything else in the world, like wigs and fishnets and petticoats and dresses and Shakespearean Insult Gum and you get the idea.
But there's a couple of employees who really know their dancewear shit. There's even a guy who does pointe shoe fittings, but you have to call ahead and schedule an appointment, because most of the time he's working in a Real Dance Store.
But yeah, if you need somewhere within walking distance, and you're buying shoes for a beginning class, and you only want to look at Capezio products, it's a good place to go.

So I walk in there, pick up a couple of leotards that looked like they might fit, got someone to unlock the changing room and tried them on. Ended up with one, size L, Capezio BraTek2, black. Wanted to get more but the first one was $40 and I'm in college. So I guess I get to do a lot of laundry this year. Good thing they made laundry free for dorm students, I guess.

Looked at the wall of dance tights, but there was nothing but white in size JumboLarge and I not really a JumboLarge and I don't want to wear white tights, so I didn't buy anything.
Then came the shoes.
Something you need to understand about me and shoes: I stomp around in size 8 boots all the time, but that's because my feet are weird shaped, and smaller shoes I can't always get my feet through. So I stuff some paper in the toes of my boots and continue my stomping, but I have kind of tiny feet.
So I go to the wall of dance shoes, find the soft ballet slippers, find the adult ballet slippers, and start trying them on. At this point, one of the store employees has figures out that I'm taking a ballet class and don't know what I'm doing, and while the store is far too busy for him to stop what he's doing and fit shoes to my feet, he keeps checking back on me to make sure that I'm getting ones that fit right.
All of the adult shoes are the Juliet shoes, in canvas or leather. I'm not super pumped about this because I know from all my ballet reading (read: not a whole lot of reading) that full soles are better for beginners because they give you something to push against and actually make you work to strengthen your arch. One of the girls in class mentioned that to me at one point too.
But as I'm trying them on, I realize that all of the smallest sizes are just kind of swallowing my feet and looking all unattractive and baggy and I also know from all my not a lot of reading that shoes for ballet should fit tighter than what I'm getting.
Store Worker Ballet Guy pops by, looks at my left foot (which I'm trying the shoes on) and confirms this.
I tell him these are smallest sizes.
He tells me to start trying on children's shoes.
Children's shoes only are stocked in leather, and again in one style. You're buying children's ballet shoes at RenRose, you're buying the Daisy, which is full soled, so I was happy.
So I again try on shoes until I seem to find one that fits, can point toes and nothing is curling under, thing I've found the perfect shoe.
Store Worker stops by again, says it's pretty good, but I should try a half size smaller. Stays there as I awkwardly find another box and pull on another shoe (there's no shoe fitting bench or chair of any sort. I'm sitting on the floor for all of this) and he says it's perfect. I put the kids shoes back in the box, take all my things up to the front to get rung up, walk away $50.75 poorer.

Next class is the following day (for some reason, this is a TuThFr class, which I've never experienced before). Wake up in the morning, still don't feel like P Diddy, pull on a pair of black tights I already have, hair up in a bun, bangs clipped back, feeling like a Serious Ballet Kid.
Get to the dance room, sit down, pull on my kid shoes in the most hardcore adult manner.
Left foot, ON! Everything is perfect, shoe fits like it was made for me. Left foot says, "Let's get down to business. ADULT STYLE."
Right foot, ON! Right foot says, "Hey, dumbass. Remember how I'm a size bigger than Left Foot."
I think, fuck.
So I do the class in socks, spending the whole thing a little uncomfortable because of my semi-exposed ass just being like, right there.
But once again, I have a moment when we're doing something in the center and I realize how pretty this all is, and we still have no idea what we're doing.
What will this class be like at the end of the term?
I have no idea, but I'm excited.

Went back to good ol RenRose, said that when I tried on the shoes they were too small on one foot, they say sorry but since you tried them on at home instead of in the store, I can't return them, so I buy myself another new pair (thankfully, kids shoes aren't as expensive as adult shoes), try both of them on in the store, everything checks out, pay and head home.
My walk home took me past the fabric store, and that resulted in buying some $30 of fabric and ribbons (I could have bought cheaper fabric, but the pattern I loved was only available in 100% silk), walk on home and 5 hours or so later I'd made a nifty little wrap skirt.

I'll get back to y'all about how pretty things are later in the term.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Coconut cake, day 1

Day one actually happened a couple of days ago.

Day one was the day when I decided that I needed to make coconut cake.
So I go to the store, get myself some coconuts. The first store I went to didn't have the right kind of coconuts, but seeing as how somehow my town developed with 4 GROCERY STORES IN A ROW that wasn't really a big problem.

Get home, time to stab something sharp through their eyes.
Or...drill through them with a 1/4 inch drill bit on my awesome HAND-POWERED EGGBEATER DRILL (I love that thing too much. It's probably the best thing I ever bought) and drain out the water.

According to Alton Brown, the best way to then get them open is to bake them at 375 and then let them cool. It worked surprisingly well, because not only did the shell crack all over, but the meat of the coconut started pulling away from the shells.

And that was where things got difficult. It took my brother and I about 20 minutes of trying to force the meat out with paring knives (and I broke a paring knife, but it was the cheapest knife we own so wasn't a huge loss) without breaking it before we decided to get some needle-nose pliers. After that, I got all of the shell off in about 10 minutes.

After THAT came getting the husk (the little brown layer that sticks on the meat. I'm calling it a husk) off, and Alton Brown's suggestion of the vegetable peeler was the best ever.

And now came time to grate all of that. I pulled out the trusty box grater (We don't have a food processor. My mom broke the last TWO) and started attempting to grate 1/3rd of a cup for coconut extract, which takes the longest out of everything you need to make coconut cake.

...and two hours later, I had 1/3rd of a cut and a determination to buy a food processor.

And that was day 1. Maybe tomorrow I'll write about day 2 (which was today)