Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

The Expo starts today! It’s been a really busy several months and this week has been really crazy. The weekend is going to be so busy, but so worth it. You can find me performing in The Rhinestone Revue, judging The Main Event, teaching “Stalking the Stocking”, hosting my Tea Party, hosting The Sunday Showcases, and, of course, working strike. I hope to see you there!

With no further delay, here’s your tip! Straight from the lips of Mr. Scratch…

Get your butt to The Expo.

Seriously folks. It’s an amazing event. It’s worth it just to check out the Exhibit Hall: shopping, the Costume Exhibit, Art Show, Historic Lingerie Display and Fashion Show, meet the Legendary Guest of Honor, Drop-in classes! But what makes the Expo so incredible is The Conference, where you can take classes from experts from all over the world. And of course, the fantastic shows and super-fun parties. Let’s face it, it’s just an incredible weekend.

M2

Published in: on 5 February 2016 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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It’s a Book!

Dear Constant Reader,

I’m pleased to announce…

If you preordered a copy through Kickstarter and I know that you are going to be at The Expo, your copy will be at the registration desk when you check in.

For all my other backers, I’ll get those books in the mail as soon as I can, after The Expo. Thank you, lovely backers, so much for your support!

If you are a performer or teacher at The Expo, you’ll be getting a copy of my book in your goodie bag!

There will also be some copies for sale at The Expo. If there’s an Expo merch table, you can find them there. Otherwise, track me down.

Post-Expo, books will be available at B.A.B.E. and I’m making a little shop at minamurray.com.

I hope my little book delights you!

M2

Published in: on 3 February 2016 at 1:02 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Here’s your tip!

For any project, consider the Golden Triangle: good, fast, cheap. Pick any two.

Since you would never give a customer a truly bad product, I substitute “high-end” for “good”.

M2

Published in: on 29 January 2016 at 2:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday!

I am pleased to report that my little book is at the printers! And we hit our 4th stretch goal with 20 hours to go (as of this writing)! I am so delighted at the positive response and I hope you will be equally delighted with the book.

And now for your tip!

Floorwork is not appropriate for every venue.

If the audience is in seating that’s not raked, your floor work will probably be invisible to all but the first rows as you disappear from view behind people’s heads. Also, the stage might be disgusting. Rock clubs are not known for the cleanliness of their floors. Have a contingency plan for these situations.

The simplest solution is to perform an act that has no floorwork. Problem solved!

Bring a set piece that will raise you up so you can be seen by all. This is the sort of thing the legends call a “prop”: a bench, chaise, platform, &c. I have a lovely prop Scratch built for me out of a coffee table.

For the above two solutions, you need to know in advance that the venue is unsuitable. To be prepared for an unpleasant surprise, create an alternate bit of choreography you can substitute for the floorwork. You can do the act even if you get to the venue and discover floorwork would be a bad idea.

M2

Published in: on 22 January 2016 at 2:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Stretching…

Dear Constant Reader,

Thanks to the wonderful Kickstarter backers my little book is bigger than I expected and will have color pages! Thank you all so so much!

We’ve set two more stretch goals. If we reach $1250 (and we’re only $150 away) all the backers will get a lovely bookmark with useful information. If we manage to reach $1500 (which was beyond my wildest dreams when we started this), the first 100 backers will get a beautiful brass bookmark!

So, please, if you aren’t a fabulous backer yet, pre-order your book before Friday or spread the word, because if we reach those goals, everybody wins!

M2

Published in: on 19 January 2016 at 2:01 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I am so excited and grateful to announce that the campaign for my little book has hit its THIRD stretch goal. We’ll now have 4 pages in color!

If you want your name in the acknowledgements, this is the last day to pledge at that level.

And now for your tip…

New project, new needle.

When you start a new sewing project, put a fresh needle in your machine and change it often over the course of the project. Needles get dull and bent, especially when subjected to some of the fabrics we use for burlesque costumes. A dull needle can damage your fabric by punching holes instead of gliding between fibers, snarl your threads, and wreck your tension. New needles are so much cheaper than wasted time and bitter tears.

How often should you change your needle? I’ve seen recommendations for as little as 4 hours of sewing to as many as 20 hours. Personally, I listen. If I start to hear a popping noise when the needle goes through the fabric, it’s dull and must go.

I’m told by Scratch that this rule of thumb applies to carpentry as well. Not only do dull tools give poor results, they are actually dangerous to work with. A fresh table saw blade is much cheaper than a trip to the emergency room.

Happy sewing!

M2

Published in: on 15 January 2016 at 11:34 am  Leave a Comment  
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Thank you!

Oh Constant Readers,

I’m amazed and delighted! 24 hours after I launched the Kickstarter campaign for my little book we were funded and past our first stretch goal! And then we passed the second stretch goal!

Scratch & I scrambled to come up with a third stretch goal. If we hit $1000 (and we’re really close) in addition to the charming black and white line drawings, we’ll add 4 pages in color. This book is going to be bigger and more beautiful than I expected and it’s all due to you!

I’m especially grateful to all my backers for believing in me, but especially those for whom this is their first Kickstarter project. This whole experience has honored and humbled me. I can’t wait to hold my little book, but I’m more eager to send it out into the hands of my wonderful patrons.

M2

Published in: on 11 January 2016 at 11:55 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! I’ve got some really exciting news before we get to your tip!

For more than four years, I’m been writing these tips here for you. Now I’ve collected some of my favorites (and winnowing them down was so painful!) into an attractive volume. That’s right, I’m publishing a book! Miss Mina Murray’s Little Book of Better Burlesque will be available in March! I’m so excited!

You can preorder your copy by backing me on Kickstarter. If the project is funded, I’ll be producing a lovely book. If it’s over-funded, I’ll be able to include even more tips!

And speaking of tips, here’s today’s:

Oil will remove lipstick.

If you run out of makeup remover, you can use an oil that you might have in your kitchen cabinet, like olive or coconut. However, oils in food will also take off and smear around your lipstick. So avoid eating greasy foods when you’re wearing lipstick! (You can chow down on the fried chicken or BLT in the privacy of your own home — that’s what I do.)

M2

Published in: on 8 January 2016 at 11:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday Tip!

Dear Constant Reader,

Happy Friday! Happy New Year! I wish you all the best in 2016! To start your year off right, here’s your tip:

Take time to reflect on the lessons of the past year and your dreams for the coming one.

Thank you so much for continuing to read my missives for another year. I appreciate every Constant Reader.

M2

Published in: on 1 January 2016 at 11:00 am  Leave a Comment  
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In the Kitchen: Leopard Bread

Dear Constant Reader,

There’s been this post going around about a baker who made leopard bread. Baking. Leopard-print. What’s not for me to love and want to try in my own kitchen?

One makes bread dough and leaves some of it white, colors some of it dark brown and some light brown with cocoa powder and then rolls the colors up around one another so that when you slice into the loaf, it reveals a leopard pattern, but there was no actual recipe in that post.

However, hidden in the post was a link to a baking blog with the bread recipe. It was in Portuguese. I don’t know Portuguese, but I figured I could muddle through with my experience with other romance languages plus a dictionary. Then I found a link on that page to what seemed to be the original recipe and it was in French. Excellent! I happen to read culinary French very well. I ended up translating both and comparing them.

In addition to translating the words into English, I also converted all the measurements from grams, milliliters and Celsius to cups, teaspoons, ounces, and Fahrenheit. This required a fair amount of research since every ingredient converts from weight to volume differently. I had to do a lot of thinking about the appropriate type of flour.

In the end I went with the French version as writ because it was more detailed and the white dough was flavored with orange zest instead of vanilla. However, I decided not to top the bread with melted chocolate and chopped hazelnuts, although that sounds pretty good…

And this was the result.

Leopard brioche

It’s not bad for a first try. Since I cut it open you can’t tell that is not a nice loaf shape. The dough was very elastic and I wasn’t able to keep the rolls from shrinking when I put them in the loaf pan, so it has uneven protuberances on the ends. It’s also not done all the way though, although I thought it was. It had all the hallmarks of done bread, but it needed at least another 5-10 minutes. I’d also like to make sure there is a clearer distinction between the light brown dough and the dark brown dough — just a touch less cocoa powder for one and a touch more for the other should be fine.

Since baking it I found yet another link in the French blog and found another version in English by a Chinese baker which referred this one in Chinese (which is where the trail ends). However, the bread in these two versions is different than the sweet cake-like bread of the Portuguese and French versions, the first being more of a white sandwich bread and the second being a sourdough-type.

I’m pretty sure that a variety of bread recipes will work with the spot-forming technique and I might try a different one next time.

M2

Published in: on 29 December 2015 at 12:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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