A Rhinestone 2011

I’m looking to structure A Rhinestone World a little more firmly this year.  Most of what I post can be summed up into 7 categories, so each category will be assigned a day.  This is the structure I am going to begin trying out.  Likely it will change as I settle into it, but here is how A Rhinestone World will look moving forward.

Mondays:  Non-sequitors, plans for the week, musings, and just plain any ol’ thing that doesn’t quite fit into one of the following categories.  I’m one of the few people on the face of the earth that actually get a slight kick out of Mondays.  This is probably not unrelated to The Bachelor airing on Mondays.  Still, I love that feeling of anticipation, calendar review and preparation.  Tuesdays are bitch, howev.

Tuesdays:  Movies:  Alternative Movie Project, Movie reviews, discussions of upcoming movies, etc., Movie Hero of the Week.

  • A note on Movie Hero of the Week – Some weeks, Movie Hero of the Week may be joint posted under the fashion category.  I often find fashion inspiration from movie characters.  I’ve decided to play with this a bit.

Wednesdays:  Art, The Musical Project, Plays I’ve read or attended, theatre in the academic sense.  (These posts will be unrelated to my career in theatre. )

Thursdays: Career, Auditions, advice, questions, asking for advice, etc.  Thoughts on the practical aspects of being in the arts, Chicago theatre, etc.

Fridays/ Joint posts: Fashion.  Due to fashion’s practical applications in my life (day, audition, event wear) and the fact that I am often inspired by movies I see and books I read, fashion posts may eek their way into other days as well.  In fact, I expect this to be true tomorrow.

Fridays/Weekend:  Hobbies.  Knitting, Sewing, Perfume, Vintage Housekeeping, Cocktails, Essential Oils, National Parks, etc., Holiday/Seasonal, Restaurants.

Fridays/Weekend:  Books.


As far as upcoming posts go, I have several projects (both continuing and new) in the works.  I plan on continuing The Alternative Movie List Project, reading books off my gigantic Book List, studying musicals in The Musical Project, finding new perfumes and cocktails, and exploring the 30 for 30 project, I’d like to document more of my knitting and sewing (for better or worse), and (if we decide to) document how finding a new apartment in Chicago works.

Although I rarely post it, any political stuff will appear in my other blog Yankee Doodle Sweetheart.

Finally, a note on what this blog means to me and how I use it:

I don’t keep a journal in the traditional sense.  I used to, but carrying around messy notebooks started to clutter things up for me.  I like to collage as much as write and I was overwhelming myself.  Although I’ve had a blog in some or another for many years now, how I blog has morphed somewhat.  I use a Rhinestone World to communicate as well as document my latest project.  It also serves as my journal, occasionally.  One more thing I try to do with A Rhinestone World is write to myself 5 or 10 years ago.  I try to provide information that I was desperately looking for when entering theatre as a career, moving to Chicago from a rural location, and trying to find personal style in not only fashion, but life.   I hope it might help someone who finds themselves in a similar situation.  This new structure I’m attempting is designed to help me do all of that and more.

I have a steady readership I am very grateful for. I hope you all enjoy the slightly new style of A Rhinestone World in the upcoming weeks.  Please let me know if anything feels particularly clunky or boring or if you have suggestions.  Please subscribe so you can keep up with the doin’s.

If you are new to A Rhinestone World, welcome and feel free to explore.  The following posts are a good taste of what I write here:

Advice for actors just starting out

People who inspire me

My domestic missteps

Theatre and film history

Fashion thoughts

My Hobbies

My favorite reads

Thanks for reading and Happy New Year!


Spring Cleaning: Part Three – The Plan

I have tomorrow off.  Rather than loll about watching Judge Joe Brown and eating an enormous breakfast with grits and eggs, I shall loll about watching Judge Joe Brown and eating an enormous breakfast with grits and eggs and THEN Spring Clean.  And here, in somewhat abbreviated fashion, is what I plan to do:

I start with the Kitchen.  I hate doing the kitchen, so I do it first.  Otherwise, it would never get done at all.  I then move on to the hallway and entry, followed by the bedroom (my favorite), the dressing and craft room, the living room, guest room and then bathroom (second favorite).  I try to vary size of room and messiness of room.

No matter which room I’m exorcising, however, the basic game plan is the same:

1.  Open the room.  All windows open and aired out.
2.  Strip.  *wink wink*  All linens unhung, off the beds, towel racks, tables and the like and pitched into the laundry or handwashing.
3.  I then pick up any clutter.  I also put any breakables or decorative items (including anything hanging) into a big box.
4.  Rugs are put outside to be abused.  I then sprinkle them with homemade carpet fresh-nah’ and let them think about what they’ve done.
5.  I pull all the big and mobile furniture to the center of the room.
6.  And then the room gets a scrub from tip to toe: ceilings, fans, walls, windows, floors, furniture.  I make Will do the fans because I’m allergic to …well…everything.  Really.  I have proof.
7.  I then label and reorganize things if they need it.
8.  I dust and replace breakables.
9.  I press and rehang the linens.
10.  I putter.  Potpourri, candles, linen spray, decorating.
11.  I take any notes on things I would like to see in the room, things I need, things that need to be done (painting, etc.).  I then add any new items to daily, weekly, and monthly maitenance lists.
12.  Then I go get the rugs and vacuum them.

Then I nap.  For way too long.

Though this is the bulk of the action, it’s the little things that count, isn’t it?  Like, what movies will I be watching while I’m doing this?  Well, thanks to my facebook friends (who are also my friends in real life, I’ll have you know), we have created a formiddable list of choices.  I like a movie with a good cleaning scene, of course.  It’s inspiring.  But a musical is good, too.  Also, childhood favorites are nice because you’ve seen them 8 million times and you won’t feel a need to be riveted by every moment.  This is why Mary Poppins is the tops of the tops for me.  Cleaning scene, musical, AND from my childhood.  There it is.  Here are some other suggestions:

  • Mrs. Doubtfire
  • Titanic
  • Maid in Manhattan
  • Robin Hood – any version.
  • Sunshine Cleaners
  • Corrina, Corrina
  • The Sandlot
  • Back to the Future
  • Enchanted
  • Mr. Mom
  • Uncle Buck
  • 13 Going on 30
  • Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead
  • King Ralph

I haven’t seen all of these, but I trust the suggesters.  Mr. Mom and Uncle Buck will likely be two of my choices.  Although, like I said, I do dig a small claims court show.  Also Dr. Phil and The Steve Wilkos Show.  They’re so cranky.  I love it.

Then there is music to consider.  I prefer poppy 80’s and early 90’s tunes with the occasional squirt of uptempo, nay, high speed bluegrass.  Avalanche by Nitty Gritty is one of these.  I don’t know what it is about “Every Heartbeat” and “Faith” and “Let’s Hear it for the Boy” that helps me clean, but they do.

I also love watching episodes of How Clean is Your House? on the internet.  Seeing the absolute atrocities they are dealing with helps me trudge on.  I want to hang out with Kim Woodburn.  I love her.  I want to call people “mucky pups” and “filthy beggars” but unfortunately, I am the muckiest pup I know.  I did trim my gloves in pink maribou, thou.

I’m actually considering live-blogging this whole fiasco.

Anyway, next up is the actual work!  I will be taking Before and After pictures.

Spring Cleaning Part One: The Kit

Admittedly, my cleaning supplies are a bit…extensive. I’m really into antique recipes, natural cleaners, homemade potpourri and essential oils. BUT, while I may overdo it to the furthest degree, you don’t have to. You can clean your whole house with dish soap, baking soda, vinegar, and some rags. Throw in a bucket and a toothbrush and you’re home free. (See this post for further details.) I wasn’t quite sure how to go about this: All natural? Cheap? Clever? Convenient? All of the above?
Instead, I’m choosing a three level approach. Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced. In other words, Into It, Really Into It, and Beyond Saving.
Level 1: Basic (Into It)

  • You’ll need a bucket. You can carry stuff around in it. You can use it for mopping, scrubbing, soaking, and any manner of cleaning liquid.

  • Then you’ll need some sort of mild abrasive.  I like Bon Ami.  But salt or baking soda does the trick too.  Comet, Ajax and the like are pretty harsh, so I try to avoid them.  Our bathroom is hard to ventilate so I like to use stuff that isn’t harmful to the ol’ lungs.  If you choose something other than baking soda, make you sure you also have baking soda.
  • Next up:  Vinegar.  Cuts grease, cleans mirrors, and disinfects.  If the smell bugs you, it goes away when it dries.  But a few drops of essential oil help mask it, too.
  • Toothbrush, scrub brush, and cotton balls, swabs, and toothpicks.  Pick the right size for the job. 
  • Concentrated dish liquid.  Make sure it’s concentrated, not just regular.
  • A mop
  • A broom
  • Rags
  • Gloves (two pairs, one for the bathroom and one for the rest of the house.)

Honestly, that’s all you need to the job.  However, certain formulas and extras can make the job a whole lot easier.  Before we move on to the intermediate level, let me pontificate about some of the previous suggestions.

First, gloves:

These are my gloves.  The pink ones are for around the house.  They have a pseudo cotton lining.  Makes ’em comfy.  Plus they have a nice cuff I can flip to catch drips.  The yellow are cheaper and for the bathroom only.  The small pink gloves are cotton and they do two jobs.  One, they help dust weird spaces like blinds.  But also, you can slather your hands in moisturizer, put the rubber gloves on top and after hours of soaking, you’ll have the furthest thing from dishpan hands.  (I learned that from Kim Woodburn, one of my sassy bombshell heroes.)  Kim decorates her gloves in maribou.  I bought some.  And rhinestones.  I just didn’t get to it in time for this post.

Now, a word on rags.  Not all cloth is created equal.  There are fabrics that serve certain jobs well.  If you don’t really give a shit about that, then cut up an old tshirt and call it a day.  It’s cotton.  It’s lint-free (provided you kept it from the cats) and it will do the job.  BUT if you’re curious, here’s the rundown.

Here we have white terry cloth, microfiber, jersey/lint free, and white flannel.  White terry, is of course, absorbent.  Microfiber dusts without any addition of a cleaning product.  I mentioned the benefits of cotton jersey.  And white flannel can buff wood to a shine.

We also have the aforementioned scrubber, and sponges. 

Now let’s move on tooooo (drum roll)

Level 2: Intermediate (Really Into It)

An All-Purpose Cleaner (as you can see, I’m running out).  I make my own (It’s super easy.)  But any sort of bleach-free all-purpose cleaner will do.  But, in my humble opinion, it’s easier, safer, cheaper and greener to make your own and all with less effort than a trip to the store.  So grab an empty spray bottle and try this:

  • 1 pt. warm water
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 15 drops lavender oil

Shake it up, and off you go!  That’s it!  It’s really gentle.  Lavender is a natural disinfectant, and baking soda is an unbelievable cleaner.  However, a bowl of warm water and a couple drops of dish soap will also do.  Seriously, you can very nearly clean an entire house with only dish soap and water.

Then you need essential oils.

Excuse my terrible photography.  What I’ve got there in front is tea tree, lavender, lemon, pine needle, and well…frankly, I can’t remember what the other one was.  I have a lot.  Tea tree is antiseptic and a disinfectant.  I use it in the bathroom on surfaces (particularly the toilet).  Lavender also has disinfecting properties along with soporific effects.  I actually use it in linen spray.  I iron with it and spray it on beds.  Pine is great for floors and making carpet refreshers.  Lemon is good for kitchens.   The initial layout of cost on essential oils can be ouchy.  They can cost up to and beyond 10 bucks for a dinky bottle.  BUT they last for freakin’ ever.  I very nearly bathe in orange oil and I still have 2/3 of a bottle.  And I’ve had that bottle for a year.  Keep them out of direct sunlight.  In complete darkness is best.  Keep them coolish, though don’t bother to refrigerate, and they will last a very very long time.

And now, the triumvirate:  Baking Soda, Washing Soda, and Borax.  I mentioned baking soda before.  Now I’m mentioning it in reference to the BIG box of baking soda you can get in the laundry aisle.

Washing soda is pretty incredible (you can get it in the laundry aisle).  You can clear drains with it, take out stains, clean pretty much anything.  It’s a grease cutter.  It’s an all-around cleaning super hero.  Like dishsoap, you could very nearly clean an entire house with washing soda (although it’s much more potent, and you should wear gloves.)    Borax is, at it’s heart, a laundry additive.  But I clean my toilet with it.  I clean carpet with it.  It’s old school.  Borax has been around for literally centuries.  In fact, the all-purpose cleaner pictured above is a borax/dish soap combo.

Next, grab a few lemons.

Lemon juice is a natural bleach.  You can get out stains, brighten whites, and cut grease with it.  You can even  clean a toilet with a half a lemon and table salt.

Next up are empty sprayers, squeezers, and the like.

Makes your cleaning concoctions more portable.

Grab some paper towels.

Use them sparingly.  Sometimes a job is so gross, the towel just has to go.  That’s what paper towels are for.

Finally, arm yourself with a second bucket, a string mop, a sponge mop, and a broom.

Okay.  That’s an intermediate kit.

Now.  Ask yourself, am I seriously into this?  Do I want more?  What ELSE can I do with essential oils?  I want to be OLD SCHOOL with my cleanin’…

Okay.  Then let us move on to:

Level Three: Advanced (Beyond Salvation)

This is where I reveal potential psychosis, so bear with me.

Firstly, aprons.

Two, for Spring Cleaning.  I probably have ten.  But for Spring Cleaning you need two.  One cover-all for dirty jobs and general cleaning.  The second for puttery, floofy, fun jobs like scenting things and ironing linens.

These are my selections for this year.

Then, and this is based heavily on how much natural wood furniture or flooring you have, you may want to grab:

Turpentine, linseed oil, and 100% beeswax.

Also have a bowl you can beat the hell out of.  I will be using this one as a double boiler:

I also like to have a junk saucepan around.  I use one I keep at Christmas for simmering potpourri on the stove.

Muslin is nice to have on hand for making sachets:

Cats, of course:

Various herbs, spices, and witchy accoutrement:

A selection of your favorite homekeeping reading:

There are many reasons, as I mentioned before, to make your own cleaning products:  cost, fun, being environmentally friendly.  If being green is your motivation, replace the dishsoap with castile soap.  Castile soap is made from olive oil.  It’s not a detergent, like dish soap.  I use dish soap for two reasons, 1. it’s more effective. 2. I don’t use much at all, and what I do use is a “greener” brand.  But if you dont’ mind a little more elbow grease, try castile soap.  The main brand is Dr. Bronner’s.  But here’s a little hint, tucked deep into the bar soap aisle, is a cheap cheap cheap bar of Kirk’s Castile.  It costs about a buck.  Just shave it up into little flakes using a cheese grater and keep it in a ziplock bag.

Of course there are all manner of nylon scrubbers, squeegees, dusters, and the like that can be in a cleaning kit.  It’s always up to you how you want to do it.  These items I’ve mentioned are the biggies when making your own cleaning products.

I also keep around bleach, grapefruit seed extract, vodka (for linen spray), many more essential oils, jars, bottles, the list goes on.  I also have some measuring cups and spoons specifically for mixing.  Funnels come in handy, too.

So there it is.  I feel like I just came out.  Truly, even to clean a house to a spectacular shine, you only need the basic items.  I like the added herbs and beeswax and essential oils for their different scents, their ability to disinfect, and their history.  Also, this is merely a post about cleaning.  Herbs and essential oils have their place in the world of home remedies.  But that, m’dears, will have to be for another day.

Tune in tomorrow for Part Two:  The Recipes.


First and foremost, before I delve into my yearly Spring Cleaning preparations, I must make this disclaimer: It gives me joy. This is an essential element to understanding how I go about my spring cleaning. Because frankly, in today’s world, spring cleaning need not be extensive, nor is it actually necessary. So you have to know that all this puttering and futzing I do is because I enjoy it. Here’s last year’s rundown: https://rhinestoneworld.wordpress.com/2009/04/06/rubbity-scrubbity-sweepity/.

That said, it’s kind of interesting to note why spring cleaning is such a grand tradition. Back in the olden days, people used to heat their homes with coal which produced a sooty residue on furniture, walls, and linens during the cold months of the winter. When warmer weather arrived, houses required a full scrubdown to get rid of all the soot and grime. Since we use much cleaner heat, we don’t have to worry about this sort of thing. But there is that end of winter feeling to contend with. Everybody sits around, windows shut, breathing all over everybody. paraffin residue from candles, dust, dirt tramped in from outside, salt. As clean as our heat may be, nothing feels or smells better than that first day of spring where you can throw open the windows and air that shit out! Truly, fresh air is a dust mite’s worst enemy.

Since last year, my essential oil collection has grown, as has my natural cleaning recipe collection. I definitely have learned what I like best. New additions to this year’s cleaning kit include beeswax, turpentine, and linseed oil. (Thanks Blick Art Supplies!) I don’t think it’s coincidental that I buy much of my cleaning paraphernalia at art supply stores. Truly, there is an art to housekeeping. Am I good at it? Nope. But I am fascinated by it.

Over the next few days, I am going to provide a sort of Spring Cleaning 101 with pictures, lists, and recipes among other things like my favorite resources, and of course, the ubiquitous Movie and TV lists, and maybe even an Ipod mix.

Part 1 will be The Kit

Part 2 will be The Recipes

Part 3 will be The Plan

A word on the slippery slope of housekeeping and being a staunch feminist:

Again, I bring you the word the Joy and I remove from all conversation the word Obligation. My home is important to me, and making it a place for me and Will to relax and feel comforted gives me such a kick. Finding ways to use limited apartment space also is a little thrilling for me. (Using a suggestion from a decorating magazine, I came up with the little mini-office setup in our living room this weekend that made my damn day.) I love aprons, and cooking, and herbs and essential oils. I get this from my Mom. I also love the history of it. Much of what I love about homes goes way back to the ways of the wise woman before the unwashed made her into a “witch.” Truly, that’s where a lot of this rings for me. So in my own way, I’m gettin’ down and Mother Goddess with the spring cleaning. When I say I love the four seasons, I mean that in a visceral way. I like to bring in the seasons in a ritualistic manner, and in Spring, this is what I do. In Fall, I like to cook things with root vegetables, and read up on spooky things, and immerse myself in color. Winter is about yuletide and Christmas and spices, and summer is about the outdoors and family and fun and adventure.

So as I get older, feminism is about both the future and the past. I revel in new opportunities for women (expect a Nancy Pelosi: Hero post soon). In the past, I think it’s folly to throw out age-old feminine wisdom along with the overdue removal of bad policy. What I mean is, while we can stop the oppression of days past and choose a more enlightened way, we do our foremothers a huge disservice by getting rid of their traditions, too.

It’s dark and deep, I know. Of course, when it comes down to it, it’s a flick of the broom and a scrub of the floor. But it’s rooted in much deeper and more sacred practices that go all the way back to the Beginning, whatever the Beginning was.

So there it is from my weird little world. Tomorrow: The Kit!

Bust my Buttons

I kind of like Mondays. It’s a fairly recent development, but it’s true. New audition postings, reviews, new to do lists…better weather (at least this week). I like a sense of renewal, and I think Mondays provide that.

On tap today? Working on a monologue. I haven’t done that in so long! But I needed a Tennessee Williams, and the one I have is not appropriate for the part I want. So new it is. We’re getting ready to fly to Pittsburgh this weekend for a wedding, so I can memorize on the plane, I suppose. In fact, today will likely be a theatre-y day. I have no auditions scheduled but it’s time to prepare for a cabaret! I am oh so very excited about this. It’s my first cabaret in Chicago and I’m fairly thrilled. (www.pointofcontention.org) I won’t reveal what I’m performing, but I believe I may be allowed to use a boa. And whaddya know? I’ve got a pink one at home. Anyway, proceeds from the cabaret go towards funding Point of Contention’s fall show. A worthy cause indeed. I also need to download the cast recording of Poseidon the musical for research and audition preparation purposes.

As you can see, my quest for a solid month off of theatre for restorative purposes was just a pie in the sky, and as Ernest T says, skies too high (and no, I really have no idea what that means. Just sounded appropriate). But I’ve still managed to regroup and restore a bit. And I’m looking forward to our mini-trip this weekend. Still have to run to Williams Sonoma for a wedding gift but I think that will go on Wednesday’s to-do list.

A bit of a non-sequitor, but for a website purporting to make one’s life easier, doesn’t Lifehacker’s interface seem overly complicated and hard to read?

On the domestic front, I have found a recipe I adore: Baked Oatmeal. It is perfect! You can make it the night before and pop it in the oven in the morning, and have a healthy (IBS friendly…sigh) breakfast before shooting off into your hectic day! Sure, I sound like someone’s grandmother on the way to a bingo marathon, but it’s true. Cheap healthy and convenient food is a theatre girl’s bread and butter. And I do a little jig when I find one that works. I can give ya the recipe if you’re intrigued. And Will liked it. Which is a victory in and of itself.

So let’s see, that’s to do’s, food, schedule. What’s left? AH! Mani/pedi of course. I told ya I was going to a wedding and that means breaking out the strapless shoes for the first time since…alright last week. Whatever. The point is a Beauty Night is in order. It’s like Spring Cleaning for my appearance. And what do I always say are the most important things in my repertoire? Eyes and Eyebrows. Eyes and Eyebrows. And since I’m beginning to look like the Gatekeeper of the Emerald City (just in time for St. Patty’s!) the time has come for some maitenance.


Soda is an acronym I came up with to describe a certain room in our house. I often forget what all the letters stand for, but since this is in written format, you’ll have no idea how long I paused while trying to remember, nor will you have to suffer through me, mouth-gaping, emitting a long “uhhhhhhhhh” while I try to think of it.
So here it is:

If I can just get a fridge in there I may never have to leave.

It all started out with my Christmas Gift from Will. He trompled all over the tri-state area (okay, he went to Schaumburg) looking for the perfect sewing table : “One that looks nice…and not too expensive.” And friends, he triumphed! So much so, that I decided I needed a sewing area! Yes! I would create a sewing area!

But then I thought…well I knit, too. Don’t I? I also paint occasionally and draw and color. I’m a walking pre-school on a rainy day at recess..with gin.

And then of course, there is all of my audition stuff, and musical instruments, and scripts, and sheet music, and headshots, and manilla envelopes (I just…I have a lot of manilla envelopes) and flotsam and jetsam and kits and caboodles and all sorts of items that would fall under the broad category of “Creative Endeavors”. While I wasn’t looking, or rather while I was coming out of a round of anesthesia, Will took it upon himself to remove some of my more hideous sculpture work (self portrait) so you’ll noticed I avoided the category of “ceramics”. Also he refuses to haul a piano to the third floor, I doubt I can get him to heave a kiln up there.

In short, I require not an area, but a Room. Will might say A Warehouse, but I think I’ve done well with the space allotted to me.

And I barely spent a dime. Alright I spent about 45 dollars all tolled.

The SODA room (pictures to follow) includes several areas:
1. Dressing : This includes our closets and dressers, ironing board and iron, laundry and linen care, and shoes. Also sheets.
2. Office: Computer and printing supplies, small office supplies, filing, Reference books, and correspondence.
3. Art supplies: All labeled and tucked away in a reappropriated shoe bag. Very clever. And not at all my idea, but I can’t remember where I saw it originally.
4. Knitting: I have a knitting bag fitted with wheels so that I can sail into old age as quickly as possible (I’m 27 going on 84 or 14…not sure). I’ll just poke a needle in at an angle and turn my little caddy into a hand car that I will seesaw into a geriactric ward…or even just a few feet into my
5: Sewing area: Sewing table, sewing machines, buttons, thread, notions, fabric, and other accoutrement, all sitting atop a hideously lovely purple carpet I got at the grocery store.
6: Easel: I have a strategically placed easel to hide the
7: Cat box: It’s pink. It’s cute. But it is still a cat box.
8. Theatre bookshelf: It is a limited display. Basically it holds all my practical (ha ha I know) theatre stuff: audition books, headshots, etc. The bulk of our theatre reading material (texts and the like) are in a Rubbermaid container out back.
9. Bulletin Board: To hold notes concerning my latest project. I plan to girlify this as soon as possible.

Of course, since the Muse of Arts and Crafts decided to beat me silly with a bolt of fabric and a t-square, I have loaded up my project plate to the point of screaming, but I’m loving every minute of it.

I’ll have pictures soon. I just need to vacuum up the cat litter.