A Review: The Painted Girls


I’ve been trying to get into reading a lot more. I’ve really missed it, and I miss making time for reading. With things like school, and friends, it’s really hard to prioritize reading. I have at least seven books on my to read list and it’s growing. Every time I walk into a Barnes and Noble, there’s another book added to my list. That was the case with The Painted Girls. I saw the book sitting on the $5.99 table. I loved the price, and I was also drawn in by the cover. There were dancers in the same style as Degas, and having danced a few dances inspired by his work, I was extremely interested.

Cathy Marie Buchanan transports her reader into Paris in the 1800s. She introduces three characters, sisters, living in poverty and trying to survive. The eldest, Antoinette, tries to find work to help her mother but is dragged instead into a world of romance, violence, and theatre. As her “bad boy” lover get into more and more trouble, you see her pull away from her family. She neglects her family for a boy. But is she being selfish? Or is she getting the chance to be a girl who loves a boy. For years she has had to mother her sisters, but she is not their mother. What obligations should she have to them? Then there is Marie. Marie is not pretty, in fact, she is described as brutish. She has long limbs and dark, unattractive features; and yet, when she dances there is something that awakens in her. It is what attracts Mr. Degas to her she becomes his painted girl and the model of his Little Dancer pieces.


 While Cathy Marie Buchanan paints a picture of the brute reality of circumstance for girls who constantly feel the pressure of being beautiful despite their circumstances, it is quite a frustrating piece. There are young girls in the uneasy position of needing patrons to survive but being young girls who have not been exposed to the world of riches and alcohol. The book makes you uneasy about the reality of the situation for these dancers, but it doesn’t really make you feel for the dancers either. The uneasiness felt was for the situations and that anyone had to deal with these issues but not necessarily for Marie or Antoinette.

I will say that this book is a page-turner. It’s a quick read and it’s interesting. I finished the book in an evening. But I can’t say that I felt for Marie or Antoinette in the end. Perhaps it was because I couldn’t relate to the girls. The book has gotten rave reviews and has a 3.61/5 rating on Goodreads. I wanted to know more about the rest of the cast of characters. The sisters seemed selfish and indulgent. They make poor decisions over and over again. They were driven at certain times by sibling rivalry and delusion. It was a good story. It was an enjoyable read. I just wasn’t as invested as I wanted to be. I wish the characterization had been better. (3/5)




Incentives Explores!

This weekend we had 30 degree weather in Chicago. While the rest of the nation was getting pummeled with snow, I was enjoying the sunny, balmy weather compared to the -15 degree weather that we’ve had. So I decided to go explore in Chicago for a bit. I’ve been here for almost four years but it’s so easy to forget how many cool things are around here. So my best friend and I went ahead to go have a tourist-y day and see some things that we’d never seen before.

Our first stop was the Chicago Architectural Center.


A view of the Lake including the Adler Planetarium.


A better view of Millenium Park and the Magnificent Mile.

After that we popped down a couple of blocks to go over to the Chicago Cultural Center.


I was obsessed with this ceiling.


And this light.

I was just very obsessed with the Cultural Center in general. The decor is beautiful, and the architectural is wonderful, and I wish that I could live there.


I was also obsessed with the lighting at Gilt Bar.

And then we popped by Gilt Bar for drinks because my friend decided that the ambiance was great. He was right, and the drinks were amazing!

See you guys next week!




What to Watch in 2016

So, this post is a little bit different, but with the Critics’ Choice Awards on Sunday, and with ballerina, Sarah Hay up for an award for Flesh and Bone, I thought that it would be cool to do a little review on dance shows to watch in 2016.

Flesh and Bone (2015):

If you are under 18, do not go for this one. Heck, if you are over 18, I still don’t know if you’d like to watch this one. The cool thing about Flesh and Bone is that it goes back to the Center Stage days of using actual dancers to play dancers; and while refreshing, that was about the only thing that I enjoyed of this one. The ballet was beautiful, not going to lie. It’s so nice to see dancers en pointe who are actually over their boxes and great at what they do, but this one slid down the Black Swan tunnel quickly. Incest, strippers, mafia relations, and competition drove this show into a strange place, and I’ll admit that I was happy when it was over. 4/10

Ballerina (2006):

It’s not a new movie, but it is on Netflix which means it’s available. Again, real dancers who are even playing themselves this time means that there is gorgeous dancing in this one. Another big plus is that it includes many of the big names that we’re used to seeing in ballet.  Zakharova, Lopitkina, Vishneva,  Samova, and Obraztsova are huge names and I was only too happy to get to glimpse into their lives. 9/10.

Ballet 422 (2014):

Allowing us to glimpse into the lives of those at the New York City Ballet, Ballet 422 allows us to take a glimpse as dancer Justin Peck creates a new piece and showcases Tiler Peck and Sterling Hyltin. There is that suspense in that Mr. Peck only has two months to create and set the piece and there is the beauty in the rehearsals that allow us behind the scenes peaks. I loved it, particularly because I’ve followed NYCB through Sarah Jessica Parker’s Yahoo series with the company. I’ve been following Mrs. Peck for quite a while and was even more excited to get a sneak peak behind the scenes. 8.5/10

*Bonus: Check out The Royal Ballet’s Youtube channel which gives you sneak peaks into actual rehearsals! Watching corrections has never been so fun!


Incentives Takes New Orleans!

Recently 3 members of our Incentives team found their way to New Orleans. I will not hold a grudge against them for not bringing me…it’s literally snowing here where I am while their pictures look sunny, and warm, and beautiful…but I digress. The team explored the French quarter, going into a number of art galleries and tasting fun foods. Check out some of their favorite spots. Incentives can’t wait to go back (with me this time)!









Two Sales?! What’s Going On?

Check out both of our sales running through Nov.30th! Get 10% Off your Nutcracker Jewelry purchases and 20% Off Danse Jewelry purchases. Order now! The holidays are just around the corner 😀




How to Have a Successful Fundraiser with Nutcracker Jewelry

So, you’ve decided to make the plunge! You’ve decided to make a purchase with Nutcracker Jewelry and sell the pieces to the parents of your dance studio. But even though you’ve sent out emails, and hoped that it would spread by word of mouth you’re not getting any orders. What do you do?

First things first, Nutcracker season can be a little overwhelming for everyone involved. The dancers are stressed out. They may not have gotten the part that they wanted, but they’re trying to do their best to learn the choreography because they may still get the part next year. Parents are stressed out because they have two kids with none of the same rehearsal times. They’re basically living at the studio just to drop off and pick up their children. Teachers are stressed because they have eight hours of rehearsal a day, and only a limited amount of time to put on the biggest production of the year. See what I’m saying? Everyone is stressed out. Don’t be one of them. Be calm, cool, and collected. Know that you have a great product that people will want when they see it. How will they see it? By your making it visible.


Does your studio have a bulletin board? An announcement board? Remember the blue poster that came with your welcome packet? Be sure to put it up in a place where it’s visible. The studio that I danced at had a little case for things like CDs, DVDs, ballet shoes. Any of the extras that parents wanted or that students needed. See about putting your jewelry here. Make sure that parents can see it. Do you have a large rehearsal with all the soldier and mice? What about all of the little angels? Scout out the parts that have lots of children cast. Which rehearsals will the most parents be at? Make sure you’re there too! Engage the parents as they come in to drop off their kids! Show them what you have available!

For those of who don’t have selling days be sure that if you’re not wearing Nutcracker Jewelry, parents are seeing it on their students’ teachers. Can your ballet teacher wear a necklace? Some earrings? What about the women in the office? If you’re at a studio like mine was then your office is basically home. The women in the office know everyone! They’re talking to so many parents everyday. Make sure that their decked out in their Nutcracker attire too. The key is to make their presence known. Too often do I have people come up to me and say, “I wish that I’d seen those,” when they see my Nutcracker charm bracelet or earrings. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you! Make sure that everyone has seen it.

Finally, know your audience. You have a mother in front of you, her daughter is a Little Angel in the Nutcracker this year, and she wants it all. She wants the Angel, and the Nutcracker, and the Sugar Plum, and Clara! But they’re kind of expensive…talk to your studio. Would you be willing to run a promotion. We’ve had studios run deals like “Buy Four Charms and Get Your Fifth free!” “Buy One and Get the Second Half Off!” Be friendly! Make sure your customers know that you are taking care of them and that you want them to be happy with their purchases.

We here at Nutcracker Jewelry want you to run your most successful fundraiser to date. We’ve seen so many studios be successful, and we want to help you be successful as well. But know that you have to be a great salesperson. You have to be willing to get yourself out there, work with the other parents to make sure that on a day that you’re selling, everyone is decked out in Nutcracker gear! Is the dancer playing Clara being put in the scene with the mice and soldiers today? See if you can get her to wear her Petite Nutcracker earrings? Get dance teachers, other moms, older girls involved. Visibility is key! If you can get a mother to see that years down the road, she can give her daughter a gift that she’ll be able to hold on to forever; if you can get a little girl to see the dancer that she loves wearing her favorite Nutcracker charm and ask her parents for the same, then you’ll have a successful year with Nutcracker Jewelry.

Good Luck!




20% OFF through Oct. 31st


Check back with us on Wednesday to see how best to promote your jewelry! 20% OFF Selected Sterling Silver items through the end of the month. Buy your ballerina a gift she’ll always cherish today!


Happy October!

Is it just me or does it feel like September went by crazy fast? I’m not going to complain because autumn is my favorite season and October means cold weather, and fuzzy socks, and TONS and TONS of tea 🙂 I’m pretty sure the people at my local Whole Foods are starting to know me by name because I’m there picking up new teas all of the time. And while I celebrate the cold weather and warm drinks, the ballet community had something to celebrate this past week…I’m not sure if you’ve heard about World Ballet Day?

I personally am not the biggest fan of creating holidays because someone random feels like it. It feels like there is always some new holiday that I’ve never heard about trending on Twitter every time I check my feed. World Ballet Day was definitely one that I could get behind though. If I didn’t have classes all day I would have probably just sat behind my screen all day checking out all of the different live feeds across the globe. In case, you missed some and wanted to check them out we’ve linked some of our favorite videos from the day below:

World Ballet Day – Royal Ballet

World Ballet Day (Live) – The Australian Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal New Zealand Ballet, and a few more too!

World Ballet Day LIVE Full Stream – The National Ballet of Canada

Now, the shortest of the videos is 5 hours long, so we do not suggest that you watch the full thing at once. But it was really cool for me to see the different styles of the different companies, the different ways that the instructors teach classes, and to just watch all of the gorgeous dancers. I hope you guys had a wonderful World Ballet Day!

Don’t forget that for the month of October you can get 20% Off of your Sterling Silver purchases on our Nutcracker Jewelry line! See you next week!