Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thankful for Coats

This Thanksgiving I'm thankful for you, my faithful readers.
AND for my faux leopard swing coat and Ted's charcoal wool dress coat that I bought at last year's Salvation Army Coat Sale, both worn to the recent opening of the play Elling (starring Denis O'Hare and Brandan Fraser) on Broadway at the Soho House! (paired here with a winter white lace mini dress that I found for $15 at H & M and a long gold chain and pendant I bought at a flea market for $8)
AND for our friend Kelly (pictured here) who accompanied us to the opening.
AND for the coat sale that is coming up at 9:30am on Saturday, December 4th at the Salvation Army between 10th and 11th.
It's good to be Ren!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Dulcinea Beauty Tip #4: An Apple a Day

At first, it was a saving money thing. Big surprise, right?
But then, eating a large apple plus a handful of raw almonds made a fabulous start to a lunch. Or was a wonderful way to curb hunger between meals.
And eventually, old snack standards like tortilla or potato chips and candy didn't seem like food anymore. In fact, I finally believed that excessive salt and sugar shut off my ability to notice I'm full and actually cause me to overeat.
Now, I start off each meal by filling up on the good stuff: Green vegetables, whole grains, fruit, and water so by the time I get to meat and dessert, I'm too full to ask for seconds.
Reward? Shopping spree (at thrift stores, of course) for a whole new smaller wardrobe!

Pictured right:
Leenya as Dulcinea in Man of La Mancha, Arts Center of Coastal Carolina 2010

Friday, November 12, 2010

Dulcinea Beauty Tip #3: Fall in Love

In the final scene of Man of La Mancha, Aldonza assumes Don Quixote's name for her, Dulcinea, partly because he is the first man to ever fall in love with her, but also because after his death, she learns that it is up to her to love herself.
In Hilton Head, I got in the best shape of my life partly because of the intense fight choreography, partly because of 4 hour volleyball matches on the beach, but mostly because I fell in love... with running.
The best way to get in shape and then stay in shape is to find a physical activity that you will do every other day not only because you know it's good for you, but that you can't stand to NOT do it, that when you have to skip a day you miss it. And even better, is to fall in love with an activity that is FREE and that you can do anywhere you are, summer or winter.
Every other day, I would run out of the girl's cast housing and down the street, over the white sand dunes sprouting with tall grasses, and out onto the beach. With Dixie Chicks (Taking the Long Way Home) or Melissa Etheridge playing in my iPod, I'd challenge myself to go farther and farther each day, finding the perfect strip of sand that wasn't too hard packed by the receding tide nor too dry and loose to get my footing. Even with inclement weather threatening, the beach was the best setting for inspiring intervals of jogging and full out sprints. I raced dolphins and watched pelicans and ospreys hunt in the waves. A number of times, I even ran barefoot (inspired by an interview on NPR about running shoes being uncessary) and found it even more exhilerating (though my toes ended up with blisters between them from the sand).
Before long, my clothes were looser and I felt stronger and stronger and then my days between runs I found myself missing the beach.
Back in New York, 80 degree days are in the past, but I've held to my regimen and pretend that the New York sidewalks are the packed down sand of the beach. On cold or rainy days, I walk stairs, taking the elevator down and repeating the climb until I've climbed at least as high as the Empire State Building.
And it's wonderful to be back to my first true love: my husband.
What have you fallen in love with?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Fall Bitch and Swap

Have you thrown your Bitch and Swap yet? What did you get?

Dulcinea Beauty Tip #2: Once a Week

This is a photo of me with dirty hair.
And it's so much more manageable than just-washed hair!
I've been told not to wash my hair more than once a week before, but I never believed. I mean, what's a girl to do if she sweats when she works out? And what about product buildup?
As Aldonza, I didn't wear a wig and I wanted it to look like it hadn't been brushed or washed in years. DJ, our director, even suggested that I clip pieces of straw into the back of it, as if I had been dragged through the stables, but in the end, sometimes more is not, well... So I began to wash it once a week, on my day off.
And I liked my hair better! Even with sweat from running, salt from swimming in the ocean, gel and mousse that I put in it every day, my hair had better texture and felt thicker and smoother and healther and much more manageable. So why go back to washing every day?
The secret is I do get it wet as if I'm going to wash it in the shower but then I add conditioner and leave that on for the remainder of my shower, rinsing before I turn the water off.
Then, whether I leave it wavy or blow it straight, it feels as though I have twice the hair than I would if I had just shampooed it.
Fewer washes=fewer dollars spent on shampoo, not to mention fewer dollars spent on hair color, if that should apply to you...
Thanks, Aldonza!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Dulcinea Beauty Tip #1: The Aldonza Manicure

Okay, this is not really a "beauty tip" and this post would have been better timed before Halloween, but I came up with this idea when I was looking for details to make myself really dirty at the beginning of the show, Man of La Mancha. To become "a creature who'll never do better than crawl", I wanted to be covered in years of gutter grime so my transformation would be more dramatic. I knew we would be "getting dirty" by covering ourselves with burned cork before each show (see upper right photo with Lauren Ford, "Antonia"), but would it stay in the cracks of fingernails and toenails?
For about a year now, black has been back as the trendiest nail polish color, and not just for Emo, Goth or Alt Rockers. During rehearsals, I was wearing black on my nails and as it wore off between manicures, I wondered if I could wipe it off in a way that it looked like residual dirt. I must admit, I was inspired by the makeup in the Lord of the Rings movies (so many closeups of Frodo and the ring couldn't reveal clean hands) and was happy to know that this effect wouldn't require frequent applications of black shoe polish or something worse.
  1. Apply one layer of black nail polish all over nails (and toenails if feet are bare).
  2. Allow to dry.
  3. Soak paper towel or toilet paper in nail polish remover and wipe nails down, avoiding the cuticles, leaving polish on edges only.
Soon, other cast members wanted this "Aldonza Manicure" to add details to their dirtiness. (Pictured here are Sal Sabella, "the Padre", and me out after a show, showing off our gnarly nails)
Who knows? Maybe we'll start a whole new fad!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Dulcinea Project

It's no secret. I've been away.
And I haven't been blogging.
And I'm sorry.
But sometimes a Renaissance Girl has to take some Me-time, some away time, and get some perspective.
And this time, I got it while playing the filthy, lowest of the low woman-for-sale Aldonza in Man of La Mancha (pictured at right).
I realized that for the past 6 months, though I find pleasure in the creativity and imagination it takes to live well on an artist's budget, I have grown weary of making ends meet, of making just enough to squeak by. And I admit this, knowing that a lot of you are feeling the same way. And it's okay. It's the recession, baby.
But I regret that I stopped writing...
In the next few posts, I will write some beauty tips I discovered and utilized while making my transformation, onstage and off, from cheap jack- of- all trades Aldonza to beautiful superstar Dulcinea, including a dramatic body image change. It took diving into one of the most difficult roles I've ever performed to find myself and to know I've been here all along; I just needed to figure out where to dig and what to shed.
And it still didn't cost a cent, just a gamble.
Maybe I'll call it, The Dulcinea Project.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Three Coat Sales!

No, I haven't posted in a while, but yes, I want you to know about the upcoming Salvation Army Coat Sales!
  • Saturday, November 6th 9:30am to 5pm
  • Saturday, December 4th 9:30am to 5pm
  • Saturday, January 8th 9:30am to 5pm
Check back to my first Coat Sale posting for my tips to navigating these hectic and hilarious events.
And I promise to post again soon!