Little Gurl Balls- sugar and spice…

Sugar and Spice and everything nice...

Sugar and Spice and everything nice…


I spent this morning making a batch of my annual truffles, and remembered that I’ll be seeing some non chocolate eating friends…

I decided to try something new:

Basic truffle recipe:

½ cup butter, softened

¼ cup cocoa powder

2 ½ cups icing sugar

1/4 cup coconut milk or dairy cream

1 tsp vanilla

smush all of it together really well, chill it, roll it in cocoa. Oh and you can add booze.

Little Gurl Balls

Skip the cocoa , add a bit more icing sugar to make stiffer.

Use equal parts ginger and cinnamon- or add nutmeg and cloves if you got ‘em- to roll the little balls.

Rolling the balls

nom-kick in the taste buds – nom!



Time for another Gratitude post…

Where do I start?

Sitting in my comfies < yay a for self -employment>, with a little furry bundle on my chair with me, making ridiculous food choices for breakfast from the leftovers that came home with me from last night’s OCCP #34, I’ve sorted almost everything, written up the credits for the video production and now want to write a heartfelt thank you note to everyone who came out last night.

And – wow- run on sentence much?

<blaming the Ooey-gooey…> don’t ask….

So randomly as the thoughts occur:

Teachers – wow. As usual, the teachers “brought it” with their choreographies, co-ordinating of costuming for the groups, and supporting their students as these people take what they are taught and put it together to show us!

Thank you: Antonina, Marina, Chantal, Farasha, Jalilah, Suhani, Niki, Anna and Safiya, and Deepali.

The Student groups: Months of learning and weeks of practice go into presenting all of the pieces that grace the stage at Ottawa U each OCCP.  The additonal commitment to make it a community event by agreeing to pitch in a donation to help cover the expenses, and then to bring along friends and family to support themselves and share their love of the dance form – I know that the way we do things is an anomaly- this is something I am truly grateful for – thank you all!

It’s a sign that Ottawa has it’s own flavour as a dance community, and I will always  be thankful that we can support each other in this way! And GREAT JOB everyone – especially to my groups, who get put through the wringer to prepare I know!!

Rogues and Pros: The soloists, duets, and professional groups  who “bring it” on their own – be it as students dancing solos for the first time – “I’m no longer a virgin”, is a quote from one of last night’s performers heard in the dressing room after she finished her first solo – to the pros who give their time and energy to share their more advanced skills, giving everyone something to which they can aspire!

Thank you Gilane, Iana, Khalia, Leslie, Lilia, Moonlight Dancers, Karina, Mia, Zhannah, Jehane, Gothic Muses, Chantal, Eurika and my amazing dance mates of Bollywood For Fun.


Behind the scenes:  Every show, the creative mind of Michele Roy blossoms as she arrives before I even get there – it’s good she has connections at the venue – and she embellishes the basic scenery in gorgeous fabrics and trims. She sets a beautiful space for everyone to shine upon.  Thank you Michele!

Once things get started, Catharine and Eurika have been my right and left hand and brain for the past few years, so they have it down pat. They herd the cats < I found it very amusing to note that yesterday was actually Cat Herding Day>, they introduce each act quickly and keep things rolling along with door prizes, and anything else that needs tweaking as we go.

I literally could not do it without them and with dancing in 4 pieces this show < I NEVER DO THAT> I am so grateful to have been able to leave it all in their capable hands!

Sustenance: Food is a super important < for me> part of the back stage experience  – this is a party, after all! And Safiya started helping out a few years back by volunteering her services to pick up snacks and water for the dancers. It makes my life so much easier to know that someone else is handling it, and they always bring great food!

THANK YOU Safiya and Anna and special mention to Madhumaki/Melissa, who always brings a pan of OoeyGooey – and I always end up with a generous serving to take home afterwards.

Front of house:  As the dancers come to check in and their guests arrive to find their seats, everyone was greeted by a crew of helpful women who acted as runners guiding the new folks in the right direction, as well as checking the performers in, collecting tickets, as well as processing the dvd orders. It is not a one person job, and it takes patience and co-ordination to keep things rolling and not miss anything – this OCCP’s crew was fabulous!

If I miss anyone in this specific thank you, please forgive me – I was running around and may not have seen you in action! Thanks to Farasha and Laksha, Linda, Jehane, Tiana, and during the first set, Safiya stayed out to help guide in any later-comers.

Sponsors:  I love being able to give back – and something tangible is a fun way to do that. I rely on the generosity of the community to offer up little and sometimes bigger items to be given away with random draws of the ticket numbers during the show.  Thank you Jehane/DuniyaStudios, Siddiqah, Deepali, Lisa-Marie, and Eurika

Video: Yes, lucky I am to have a professional in the family. Tom of Darner Media has not only been video taping me dance since my first or second public performance way back in the mid-90’s, he’s been one of the most supportive dance husbands I’ve ever seen. Those of us who have supportive dance husband and partners, even if they cannot be at every single show, we know how lucky we are, and we are grateful every day when they just shake their head ruefully as they pick up sequins off the floor, attend as many dance shows as  they can/ or for those with kids, watch the family/ bring the family when they are needed as we have to head off in a flurry or sparkles and chiffon to dance for another event.

In our case,  he  also provides us with our moving memories of every Ottawa Community Class Party, and does his best to create a dynamic dvd that let’s us share the fun we had with family and friends after the fact!  Thanks Tom.

NOTE: Performers if you missed your chance to order a copy of the dvd, please email Tom directly:

Photography: Robert of R.S.V.P.hotography  kindly gave his time and energy to join us again last night.  His shots of local cultural events capture the energy of the performers and the feeling of the events, and I know he’s always bouncing around to so many events it was greta that he could come take shots for us last night!

NOTE: Performers, if you DO NOT want your photos displayed on Facebook, please message Robert directly or send me an email and I will forward it to him, otherwise, you’ll find the shots on his Facebook page as soon as he has a chance to process them.

Ivy Ploughman is developing her skills as a photographer and comes out to use the OCCP for practice, and some of the photos she has achieved in the past have been amazing, so I’m also very grateful to have had her in house latest night! It may take a while to see her shots, but when she has them ready, they will be in a private page – and I’ll let folks know here.

UOttawa Crew: Yes, this is their job, and I pay them to do it, but they always go beyond the call of duty in helping us make it a fun night! From helping Michele get the decor set up, working with our dancers special requests for lighting, helping solve music issues,  working with Tom and the photographers, as best they can, to make it a great show, Denis, JP, and Gabrielle are part of the community!

I think I’ve covered it all, with words that barely do it justice.

Thank you.

Happy Ho Ho.


Getting ready to dance… students and professionals all put their belt on the same way.

Well, sort of – I was trying to come up with a dance related metaphor  for ” putting your pants on one leg at a a time”, and that was the best I could come up with in 10 seconds of thinking…

Onward we go.

In our area, we have an assortment of opportunities available to us to perform, depending on your level, interest in generating dance opportunities < pros- advertising your availability to restaurants and for private parties; students, nagging your teachers to give you a chance to dance >.



While there are better pics of Halyma, this shows a bit of the veil and skirt from Shibori Borealis...


And there are some standards that help making the transformation from your everyday gorgeous self ….

to your super powered dancer self.

As we are approaching my own Big Bi-Annual OCCP < Ottawa Community Class Party >, I spent the end of my final rehearsal time with one of my student groups listing a pile of things to think about as they prepare to dance that night.

And I thought some of you might find it helpful, interesting, and can add your own little tidbits in the comments, especially to help the new and up and coming dancers have more information! HAS A GREAT ARTICLE TOO -SO CHECK IT OUT!!

These are not in any particular order, just how they pop into my head, so prioritize based on your own process!

Know your music.Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 8.07.29 AM

Do I need to say more? Unless you are improvising to a live band you have never met before, in which case, just dance!!

Know your routine with your eyes closed.

Dancing a choreographed piece with other students? Know your routine with your eyes closed < literally, yes, I mean it>,  while still being prepared to adjust if everyone else suddenly forgets and you are the only one “doing it right”.

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 8.08.54 AMPractice Your Smile.

Unless your piece calls for a different facial expression, in which case, you should practice that.  It’s muscle memory once you don’t have to think about it, and that will make those pics of your look great.


Stand up straight, from the ribcage, and keep your butt tucked under to both protect your lower back and keep it from looking like you are doing some sort of Booty dance – unless you are doing it ironically, of course!  AND LOOK UP!!!


On stage, the lights are bright – your face will fade into a neutral blob unless you define your lips and eyes. Here’s my cheesy video for applying make-up:

IMG_2098Nails and feet

You don’t have to go out and get an expensive mani-pedi, but take a moment to make sure your nails are neat and even, add polish if you like, but well groomed is the key. And shoes or not is also your choice, but it’s good to have a pair with you, just in case the space you are dancing in requires shoes, or is simply safer for you with shoes.


YES. There are some costumes that make it difficult, but Bellydance has enough of a PR issue without the audience being distracted by the accidental viewing of more than they expected. And yes, I’ve heard that “in the old days” dancers didn’t wear underwear, so I’ll add that this is my OPINION, with which you can do what you like… but think about it…

Cover-up/Galabeya/robeScreen Shot 2014-12-06 at 8.35.03 AM

Wear one for wandering around the audience. Yes, your veil can work in a pinch, but if you have a loose dress/ long tunic/ something comfy and pretty, save the viewing of your actual costume for when you are on stage. It also allows you to eat and drink – so that you don’t faint – without risking getting stuff on your costumes.


Your choice, but remember that MANY people have allergies/ sensitivities/ coughing fits around freshly sprayed hairspray, so TAKE IT OUTSIDE to a separate area where you can spray and return to the dressing area without overwhelming your colleagues.

Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 8.26.51 AMPERFUME -NO.

Just no. It’s really not needed in this day and age of hygiene, and think about it – if you are on stage, no one is going to smell you anyway; and if you are dancing in a restaurant, shouldn’t the patrons be enjoying the smell of good food and drink? And that goes for essential oils, incense, and any other heavy scents – again we have society that has a number of people with sensitivities or should I say “Scentsitivities”, some of whom will actually become nauseated or get migraines from perfumes. Please be kind and just don’t. < lecture ends here >

STUFF- I treat this like I treat camping:

  • Pack light;
  • Keep your site clean
  • Make it better than how you found it;
  • Take home everything your brought with you
  • Recycle and clean up your garbage

Arrive on time or a little early

You may not get the chance to walk through your routine, but at least if you can check out the space you will be dancing in/on, you can take a few moments to prepare any modifications you might need to.  We’ve danced in shopping malls, in parks on rickety stages, in parks on uneven grass, and in theatres where it’s simply glorious, and every situation has required a quick run through with the group to establish entrances, exits, placements on stage etc.

Have you music in multiple formats

Click here for great Cd Art

Click here for great Cd Art

These days, in  my opinion, cd’s should be gone the way of cassette tapes < which is what I started with!> but many venues are still using cd players for their sound system. So, while I always inquire in advance, I usually bring my music on my iPod  < not my phone, that risks a disturbance in the force while dancing>, a USB stick and in rare cases, if absolutely required, cd. Most modern DJs have their laptop in place and can take your music right off a USB stick – but having it in more than one playable format is good.

What else do you do to prepare for a show?

Leave me some comments and if you have questions, pop them in the comments as well!

Dance season winding up…

As the leaves are falling from the trees, and the cloudier, rainier days settle in, my classes are just getting into the final weeks of lessons with routines and general whacky fun!

We practice and play as we prepare to present some fun routines at a semi-private event in December and the fun of doing a dance recital as an adult is indescribable.

Well, maybe a little bit describable …

We get to approach the event as without the pressure of being forced to perform – it’s always optional!

We know that perfection is about maintaining a fun state of mind, not about getting every tiny detail exactly right < it’s a student show after all>, and…

We get to play dress-up as adults! Speaking of which, if you are looking for costuming for your upcoming dance event, or need adjustments to your pieces, drop me a note in my other world,

At present, all of the tickets are accounted for amongst the host teachers, and their students and personal guests, if any come available, I’ll be letting you know!

Otherwise, I hope you are all finding ways to bring your dreams and joys together into finished projects – whether art, writing, dance, or even exams and job projects.

Every goal we accomplish, big or small, builds upon our foundation of clarifying why the heck we are here after all.

So this is me, just having fun – relaxing, not getting too technical, and hopefully making some people smile!

Competition versus Community – finding balance.

First – this post holds no secret answers.  Just some meandering thoughts that wanted to be expressed while i sip hot chocolate with a dash of coffee in it for good measure.  balance.

Everything we do, we do for a reason. Sometimes the reasons are community minded, and sometimes they are self-preservation minded, but either way, our decisions affect both ourselves and the world around us.

Like my hot beverage today – hot chocolate – personally motivated comfort food on a cold morning, but with a touch of coffee – purposeful, ‘get me going to face the world” kind of subtle touch, that brings me out of my cocoon and into the public. balance.

Sometimes it’s just straight coffee – get out there and face the day with gusto and get on with it.

And when it’s straight hot chocolate, it’s time to take a time out – “me” time to recharge and contemplate – and when there’s Bailey’s or Sortilege in there… well, let’s get back to the topic at hand.

Competition – good for the customer as it provides choices and forces the service providers to step it up and keep working on improving their products and services to meet the needs of their clients – new and existing.

Community – we all need support at a times from our colleagues who are going through the same thing as we are – be it in business, hobbies, health, anything that touches our lives. Having a community to be a part of is important, to various degrees, as a human being and a member of society in general.


So there we are, offering a service that is offered in a similar fashion by others we consider friends and good people, and there are so many of us – are there too many? Is it spreading our customer base too thinly so that no one can earn a living?  Do we fall into the terrible trap of starting to negatively think about those good friends and deem their services less valid than our own?

And what about that community feeling we all want – is it just to stroke our own egos and make us feel better about ourselves, and yet we find it difficult to give back that same support we might be seeking?

We are all insecure at times. We all find ourselves trying to balance fulfilling our own dreams while knowing that someone else also has the same dreams and maybe we have to vie for the same people to support both of our dreams.

But is there enough to go around? There might be, if we make the choice to not “need” so much.

I know this is a very vague post – and it’s not so much because I am thinking of specifics and don’t want to name names; it’s vague because I’ve been seeing this balancing act to various degrees in so many peoples lives around me for years now.  It affects the dance world, it affects the social media world, arts of all types, event offerings, the bridal world, the eco-friendly world, it’s everywhere.

So what do you do about it?

Years ago, I read a book. Yeah, helpful I know. It was a bit all over the place, but the gist that I got of it was seeking out multiple streams of income < competition> and win-win scenarios <community>.

And that was what stuck with me – I think those who know me can easily see the first one – I do try to find multiple ways to generate the income I need to pay the rent and eat.

And I hope that the 2nd element also comes through in my actions. As much as possible, I try to find the win-win solution in situations.


But every once in a while, I look at what others around me are doing and I wonder, am I doing enough?  Am I promoting myself enough, am I doing my best at whatever it is I am trying to achieve < and this is my competitive side emerging to stir things up>.  And isn’t everyone else going through the same thing, no matter how confident and put together they may seem to be to the outside world?

I think we need both. and we need to be grateful for both.  balance.

Tracey/ Halyma

Thanks for reading if you took the time – I value your time shared with me.


This morning, on the first extended early morning walk I’ve taken in a while, I was blessed with a teacher.  The universe is infinitely fast in it’s responses to our great life questions if we are paying attention. In a literal moment that transcended into the metaphysical aspects of my own personally created reality, < you like that? #flakyphrasingbuttotallytrue >, one of my purposes was reiterated.  Simply and succinctly over a 10 minute period.

Personal time: A Thank you to my Dad.

Every once in a while, I remember.

This summer, while on our annual camping trip, I was reading a thought-provoking book called, The Ancestors Are Arranging Things, and segments of it discussed Allumette Island – where I spent time as a child. and it brought up many memories.

It was a long time ago < 1981> that my Dad passed away on a summer vacation that would change a lot in my life.

That which I remember before that, is only moments, snippets in time.

Snippets of Dad:

– cooking his home grown swiss chard and eating it himself – I think no one else liked it.

– boiling water and pouring into his glass grape juice jar that was kept in the fridge, and if you drank it and didn’t refill it, well….

-supper at 4:30 p.m. so that he could grab a nap before heading out for civic duties.

– his garden and compost set up.

And the cottages….

The view from the beach at "Vibert's indian Point"

The view from the bonfire pit at “Vibert’s Indian Point” < so not PC>

-the night I saw a family of skunks crawling out from under the porch when I needed to venture out to the outhouse.  Pretty sure everyone was awakened for that adventure.

– map-o-spread on graham crackers with hot chocolate and resoundingly loud singing along with the 78’s on the wind up record player. “She’ll be com in’ ‘round the mountain” as a long-time standard.

– the gift of an inside set-up of a port-a-potty for Mom, to which I may have innocently declared, “That’s not vey romantic”, but now as an adult, realize it was a phenomenal gift of comfort and security to his wife at the rustic cottage.

-and canoeing and the peddle boat, and the hours he spent on upkeep of a beautiful piece of land, where I learned to love the outdoors.  I would not have had the opportunity if I did not grow up with every summer involving a trip to the cottages thanks to Dad, and Mom, of course.

And then, after my Dad passed away, my sister picked up the torch. So,thank you Ginny too, for taking the time to pack up your little sister, a big black lab and head out for those weekends in the small cottage.  And yes, I remember the bear crossing the road ahead of us as we were about to pull into the long winding lane and our sudden trip back to Waltham for Grandpa’s hunting rifle. We never needed it, thankfully, but it was the thought that counted.

And our long canoe trek, from the cottages to Waltham, through what now might be considered pretty small rapids, but you made your little sister feel somewhat safe, as we “road those rapids”.

@wtl and @halyma

@wtl and @halyma

As I am blessed now with a husband who I have been camping with each August since 1996, I know I am most appreciative of it due to those seeds planted in my childhood.

I was never a strong swimmer and am still not today. But I love the canoe, and flat water paddling for the sheer relaxation of it, with a few small challenging trips through slightly rougher water, once in a while, to say I can still do it.

At the beach with our canoe, well Tom's Dad's Canoe...

At the beach with our canoe, well Tom’s Dad’s Canoe…

And stars, and the wild blue berries and raspberries and blackberries that bring back memories of summers at the cottage and heading out to our blueberry fields for picking.

The only thing I don’t think I’ll ever replicate is lying in the back of the family station wagon in my PJ’s headed into town to the Dairy Queen and maybe a drive-in movie.

Sadly and unexpectedly, recently I was back at the cemetery where my Dad is buried. I was deeply saddened to be there for the loss of a childhood friend , but it allowed me to take a fresh photo of his headstone.
Thanks Mom for the company and helping me find it.

Sometimes we all need a reminder that this life is precious, so don’t hesitate.IMG_6428

A brief thank you to the Passionate People.

There are folks out there who just ooze enthusiasm. They rave about the things that are amazing in their world.  And they do it in real time, in your face, up close and personal.

They freak me out a bit.

But I do appreciate them a lot. It saves me the energy of having to put that kind of effort into things and allows me to just get S*&T done.

I’ve been noticing a few of them around lately, and just thought I should take a moment to thank them. They won’t notice this as they are too busy being gleefully involved in the exciting things in their life.  These people actually say ” mmmm” with a musical quality when they eat.  AS I say – freaks me out a bit…. But they are still cool.

So thanks all you Passionate People – keep up the good work! Just keep the volume in check around my delicate ears :-)

Screen Shot 2014-09-26 at 8.39.49 AM

Found this site online – go see Ajay’s cartoons!