... dance, fitness, food, health, life...

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fantasy Friday: My Style

It's Friday. It's been another busy week, we're tired and ready to let loose a bit, yes? Let's keep it light, then.

Thus, I hereby declare today to be Fantasy Friday, where I indulge in a little dreaming and wishing and sharing.

There may be a spending freeze in my corner of the universe, but that doesn't mean I don't indulge in my fair share of virtual window shopping and wish list making. Pinterest is my wingman in this endeavor. Yours too? Fancy that ;)

I'm definitely a Coco/Audrey/classic kind of gal (although this changes in the summer, but I digress...). Here's what filled my eye candy jar this week...

 What is your little heart desiring this Friday evening?


Thursday, October 25, 2012

Saved by the drums

Long before my days of ballet and modern dance, I began putting down roots in what are considered "vernacular" dance styles. Namely, swing dance (Lindy Hop), hip hop and West African. When people ask me what my favorite type of dance is, it's a toss up between one of these three. Whether I'm swiveling my hips in a swing out, gettin' down to some old school beats or stomping my feet to the drum, I'm my happiest.

New Year's Eve 2008
Three weeks ago, just about when I was feeling at the end of my whoa-is-me-I'm-never-going-to-dance-again rope, enter West African.

You can't see it, but I'm grinning ear-to-ear - I love to fly!
Just like before beginning any new dance class, I was nervous - way out of dance shape, party of one! - but that dissipated as soon as the drums began. The body remembers. Oh, that doesn't mean to say it didn't school me. It most definitely did. But the soul remembers, too. It had been a long time since my last African dance class and it felt like I had come back home after being away for too long.

African-inspired modern piece, fall 2009
You know when you're doing something and suddenly the activity and people around you fade to the background? The only thing you're conscious of is you, in that moment, doing that thing? When something inside of you utters a clear and distinct "yes"? Despite exhausted muscles and a heart pounding in my chest, that was me three weeks ago.

Hubs tells me I look most beautiful after class. That's crazy, because I'm one hot mess - clothes soaked, hair awry and face beet red. He says it's because joy is radiating from inside me and that makes me beautiful.

Birthday dance, 2010
I sure have missed this joy. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Waiting in the wings

Let's take a pause from all these Hungry Dancer posts, shall we? I mean, I have all kinds of HD posts in the queue and more being conjured up in my brain at the rate of my Twitter feed. But let's take a moment to discuss the reason for this blog's existence in the first place: DANCE.

Until last week, the last time I danced was the end of July. The dance hiatus has made me feel like I don't have much to talk about. Which is silly, really, considering there are all kinds of dance-related topics I could cover. More truthfully, though, my lack of dancing has some crazy negative psychological effects, which then affect my blog productivity. Namely, I start questioning if I can really call myself a dancer if I'm not currently dancing, so if I can't call myself a dancer then how can I write about dance and life as a dancer if I'm just one big fraud? Oy.

It's all complete baloney, of course. I know this. But as we all know, sometimes it's really hard to turn off the internal trash talk.

Also? I'm up against a couple of real-life obstacles that are making things difficult.

Numero uno: money. Long story short, I have yet to find employment, and until I do, we're living on Hubs' grad student stipend. As such, there is zero wiggle room in our budget beyond the basics. That means no dance classes, no social dance nights and no seeing dance performances (and there are all kinds here in the 'Burgh that I'm itching to check out!). Boo, yes. But reality bites sometimes.

Numero dos: my health. I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) earlier this year. RA is an autoimmune disease that can be lived with pain and symptom-free, provided you're under a doctor's care. Another long story short, my medical care and medication was interrupted over the summer. Thus, my RA started flaring right about the time we arrived in Pitt. This RA business is no joke. Oh my goodness, the pain. For example, say my shoulder joint is inflamed. It feels like someone is trying to tear my arm off of my body. And the daily recommended dose of ibuprofen barely touches it. It's terrible. My doc back in Colorado graciously extended my prescription for me for a couple of months until I find a doctor here. It's starting to help, slowly, but it is still a toss up every day whether I'm going to wake up pain free or not. This one's a toughie, y'all.

So. Spending freeze. Pain. Bad little voices in my head. I'm up against some serious biz here, but I'm learning some important lessons along the way. For one, I'm learning to roll with the punches. Life is what it is right now. While I have no control over some of it, I do have control over me. How I react. My attitude. What I do with my time. Time is a precious, elusive gift - how often do we complain that we don't have enough time?? I've been given this gift and I'm not going to take it for granted. I'm also getting to practice patience, understanding that my time will come when the time is right.

Stretching and waiting to dance... and for the bus.
While a dancer waits to go onstage, she stands in the wings, preparing for her entrance. She mentally reviews the choreography and timing and the emotion she is to convey. She continues to move to keep muscles warm, supple and ready for action. She is alert. Waiting is not passive. It is eager and anticipating. Waiting in the wings is significant as it determines what happens onstage.

Up next: Africa saves the day. Again.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Hungry Dancer: Pork chops with apples 'n onions

Fall is in full swing and that means one thing for me: apple cravings! Pie, cider, smothered in caramel... if there's an apple involved, I want it.

I'm not much of a meal planner, although that's something I'm trying to change (and more on that in a future post). My cooking style is more fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, in the moment... what deliciousness can I whip together with what I have on hand in the 'fridge and pantry?

In the interest of breaking out of our normal recipe rotation, I grabbed some pork chops during my last grocery trip. We typically cook beef and chicken, with fish thrown into the mix here and there, but we've never really give much thought to the other white meat. I decided it was time to mix it up.

Growing up, my family always ate our pork chops with applesauce. I loved it and still do (I'm a sweet 'n salty LUVAH). I really don't want my chops any other way. On pork chop night, I didn't have any applesauce, but I had apples so we were in business.

Never having cooked chops before, I perused the interwebs for cooking tips and recipes. Don't want to under cook pork, you know. Like chicken, it likes to be well done. I found this recipe and began. Of course, in typical Jessi fashion, I didn't really follow the recipe, I just used it as a guide. And I don't measure most of the time. I just know. ;)

I began by sauteing the meat over medium heat, seasoned with salt and pepper. The meat was a thin cut, so it didn't need a higher heat, as suggested by the recipe. As it began to sizzle, I added cubes of butter (approx. 2 tablespoons) and sliced white onions.

I stirred the onions around as the chops cooked. The butter and onion smell was heavenly. I flipped the meat over after cooking for about 5 minutes or so on the first side. When the onions began to turn opaque - not brown - I added apple slices. I used honey crisp apples - you want a tart but still sweet apple, with some firmness.

I let the meat cook through and then, instead of white wine (which would be just as good, I think) I added orange juice. I continued to stir the onions around the meat as the oj heated up to a bubbly simmer. I did this until the sauce thickened slightly. My mouth was watering at the smell at this point.

Once I was sure the pork was cooked through and the sauce was thickened to my liking, I turned off the heat to let the sauce set and thicken up a bit more. After a few minutes, I plated the pork, onion and apple mixture, accompanied by sauteed kale (just olive oil and salt!) and quinoa. Then we dug in!

I am going to toot my own horn here. It was gooooood. I think it was one of my favorite meals I've ever made.

What is one of your favorite meals to cook? If you don't cook, what do you love to nosh on?

Bon appetit!