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

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Seeking: Inspiration

I've been feeling a little blah lately - okay, a lot blah.

My typical day goes a bit like this: hit the snooze button three too many times, frantically rush to get ready for work, barely catch the bus, work all day, head to a dance class or the gym, wait and wait and wait and wait for the bus, arrive home by 9:30 on a good night, shove food into my mouth, scroll through my emails or flip through the snail mail, respond to an email or two if I'm lucid, clean up the dish disaster from the morning, collapse into bed... And repeat. The weekend arrives with it's own bustle of errands and household chores, squeezing in husband and friend time when I'm not decompressing or catching extra zzz's. Before I know it, Monday is here again.


I'm no stranger to an over-committed schedule. I guess my true complaint is I feel that my life lately is colored in shades of beige and gray, reflecting winter here in Pittsburgh. The days and weeks pass and I feel like I'm just going through the motions. No color, no flashes of inspiration, no aha! moments. I long to teach, to choreograph, to create, and find myself playing the wishing game with the ideas that dance through my mind, causing my heart to flutter as I lay in bed at night. But when the moment comes when I sit down at my computer, or stand in my bedroom (the current choreography studio), poised and ready... nothing.

The ideas vanish.

Then I had my duh moment: it is impossible to give when your well is empty.

I woke up last weekend and decided it was time to change what I can control. I can't change the weather (oh how I'd love to borrow some Colorado sun to share with the Steel City) but I can add splashes of color here and there. After brainstorming a game plan, I ventured out to obtain a few nuggets to begin the awakening.

At the Ballet: Onstage, Backstage... A big book of snapshots of the San Francisco Ballet in 1998, in company class, rehearsal, children taking their first class, and principal dancers captivating the audience. Nothing inspires me more than dance photography. A dancer's body in action is nothing less than art.

Never Stand Still: Dancing at Jacob's Pillow... Merce Cunningham, Paul Taylor, Suzanne Farrell, Mark Morris, Judith Jamison, Bill Irwin - need I say more? It is but a dream to simply take class at the Pillow. Becket, MA, is a lot closer to Pittsburgh than Colorado was. One step closer.

My good friends Detective Holmes and Dr. Watson never fail to help get the storytelling juices flowing (aren't old British detective stories just the bees knees?!). I also picked up a story about two sisters' adventures in western China in 1923, and how they are tied to a modern-day London gal. A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar, by Suzanne Joinson, is sure to pluck at my own wanderlusting heartstrings.

New sketch pencils, a Pink Pearl eraser, and a sharpener... the cherry on top! Using the aforementioned book of ballet dancers, I intend to shake the cobwebs loose from my figure drawing and costume sketches. Just a playful hobby for me, but one that I love and am not too terrible at.

All in all, nothing extravagant or elaborate, but enough to begin filling the well, drop by drop.

What's filling your well these days?


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hungry Dancer: Eating clean(er), week 1

Eating clean is still a work in progress. Snapshots of last week...

Does nonfat cottage cheese count?

A light li'l lunch

Bedtime Cheerios. Hey, it's whole grain oats.

Best Walmart discovery. Ever.

I will never 100% eliminate sweets from my diet - or bread for that matter - but I am making a legit effort to cut back the treats. Thus, mini on-the-go Nutella for the win. Here's to small victories!


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Hungry Dancer: eating clean

The cream sauces and comfort foods have been fun and all, but in light of my health issues coming to head as of late, it's time to get back on track.

I keep reading about "clean eating" around the interwebs and it has piqued my interest. But as I easily get annoyed with fad diets and food trends, I wanted a little more background before jumping on my sassy soap box. I found this handy list on Eating Well's site:

Cut down on alcohol
Cut down on sugar
Cut down on salt
Cut down on saturated fat
Cut down on refined grains
Decrease the processed junk
More fruits and veggies
Drink more H-two-O
Drink green tea
More whole grains

Okay, seems pretty common sense to me. My personal favorite is what Wiki Answers has to say about clean eating:

Mainly, it is the avoidance of processed foods, chemical additives, and anything artificial.

Again, seems reasonable. I will, however, still indulge my occasional Skittles, salted caramel macchiato, and french fry cravings, respectively. Let's just be real.

About that soap box.... As far as eating trends go, you have to do what works for you and your schedule, budget, lifestyle, preferences, etc. I mean, downing an entire jar of nutella, chased with a pint of Ben and Jerry's on the regular is probably not the best idea, but a little indulgence here and there is not going to kill anyone. And life happens. You hit snooze one too many times in the morning, you have to work late, your baby/dog/cat/planning how to survive and thrive in a zombie apocalypse (Walking Dead, anyone?) kept you up all night... Sometimes stopping at Starbucks or ordering a pizza is the only way you're going to get any sustenance. Go on, order the pizza, enjoy the cheesy goodness and get back on track tomorrow. Better late than never. Always.

Not too sassy, right? :)

One sample of my fast-'n-healthy breakfast menu of the week: frozen multigrain waffles topped with plain nonfat yogurt (Greek is best for the highest protein quotient), pear slices, walnuts and a drizzle of honey. Rotate in other fruits for variety. Healthy, fast, and YUM.

Have you joined the clean eating party? What are you favorite fast and healthy eats?

Happy, healthy eating!


Monday, February 11, 2013

Smile and eat gelato

Oh hello, Monday, here you are again.

The weekend was very low energy, fighting fatigue and more pain. My left shoulder has consistently hurt for almost two weeks now, and every day another body part joins the party. Yesterday it was my right foot. Tomorrow it will be...? Oh the suspense!

I started my RA drugs last Thursday night - yay!! But I forgot how lethargic and blah they make me feel. I don't remember them hitting me this hard last year, yowza. I remember feeling tired the day or so after taking them, but soon bouncing back to my normal self. Fingers crossed that my body quickly adjusts.

Despite all of this, I'm so very grateful I have those little yellow pills again. Putting on deodorant, washing my hair, grabbing the oh shiz bar on the bus without wincing? Yes, please.

Despite just wanting to lay around in my sweats, drinking tea and reading books, life goes on and weekend chores had be done so the week has even a dash of sanity. Thank God for my husband and his strong muscles and big heart. Lugging around 15 or so shopping bags on and off the bus, and then several blocks home to our apartment, is probably not his idea of a relaxing afternoon. But he did it with a smile, and then cooked me dinner and made dessert. I am deeply touched but not surprised. He always jumps in to help me before I can utter a request. He is a good man.

On Saturday, after wrangling our budget for the month (a week late, oops!), he took me out on a date. He knows exactly the way to my heart: gelato. Samoa on top (yes, as in the quintessential Girl Scout cookie), nutella on the bottom. Best for last.

Love the patriotic cone paper. America.

I woke up feeling more human and less zombie today, hooray! Monday, let's do this. I know the gelato helped.

Here's to another full week...
Happy Monday!


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Hungry Dancer: C is for {Oatmeal Raisin} Cookie

And that's good enough for me! (Sesame Street anyone? Anyone?)

I love oatmeal raisin cookies. LOVE. But I'm kind of an oatmeal raisin cookie snob. They must be soft and chewy, with emphasis on the chewy. The edges should be oh-so-slightly-crispy to complement the chewiness. Nuts are okay, I guess, but I really just want raisins in mine. Nuts mess up the chewy experience. Dried cranberries are great, too - the more chewy goodness, the better! (Are we seeing a theme here?!)

A little soup 'n salad cafe back home in Fort Collins, Colorado, called Spoons, makes the best oatmeal raisin cookies. Trouble is, Fort Collins is a long commute from Pittsburgh for a cookie.

So I set out to find thee perfect recipe for thee perfect oatmeal raisin cookie. Turns out, that recipe was no further than a cookbook in my own kitchen. I'm not sure what the magic is, but I have a sneaking suspicion it's the butter and sugar.

This recipe is copied directly from my Taste of Home Cookbook, and the recipe was contributed by some lady named Jan, from Missouri. Thank you, Jan from Missouri. You made this Hungry oatmeal-raisin-cookie-loving Dancer very happy!

Hungry Dancer bakes Jan's Chewy Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup raisins (*the recipe calls for 1/2 cup, but I like my cookies loaded)

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and sugars. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
2. Combine flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in oats and raisins. Drop by the rounded tablespoonfuls 2-inches apart onto an ungreased baking sheet.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 1 minute before removing to wire racks to cool.

Makes 4 dozen.

Serve with cold milk!

Happy eating!


Monday, February 4, 2013

Happy happy happy

Happy Monday, happy February, just happy!

Mr. Groundhog informs us spring is fast approaching. The weather outside says otherwise. I hope he's right, because I'm ready for these:

All Pinterest

I finally saw a rheumatologist last week, hooray! This means the return to my RA drug treatment (this makes me sound like I have a drug problem... rest assured, these are doc prescribed). This in turn means subsiding flare ups and pain, which means getting back to my regularly scheduled program of this:

Gettin' down with my bad self, circa 2011.
That guy on the right? That's my friend C. He's the life of the party, always.
Photo credit: Jessica Loucks.
Valentine's Day! Which means this:

{Google images}
Burgers for V-Day? You know it.

Our first date was on Valentine's Day. Oh so cliche, I know. It was totally spontaneous and an "undate", if you will. More on that later this month... :)

Happy Monday!