Well, if this isn’t inspiration

Then I don’t know what is.
New Oven!

I know I haven’t posted anything in awhile. And while I’m kind of sorry about that, I also really enjoyed the downtime.

I took some time to take photos just for fun. And because I wasn’t trying to get any kind of photo in particular, it helped me improve my skills a little.
Hellooooooo F stop!
Dandelions
Exhibit A

My Bubble
Exhibit B

And to be quite honest with you, I was feeling a bit uninspired in the kitchen. I know, right? Kind of lame for a food blogger to stop having fun in the kitchen.

I don’t want to post fluff just so I can say I posted something. I write when I’m inspired. Or when I’ve had a success.

Or an epic failure.

And there were so many other things happening in my life–all for the good!–that what we were eating for dinner just kind of went on the back burner. (Kitchen pun! It’s ok, I know I’m hilarious.)

But let’s get back to that gorgeous photo at the top.

Dude, we got a new oven!

New Oven!
It bakes! (And doesn’t take 40 minutes to preheat)

New Oven!
It cooks! (Well, I guess technically I cook, but that’s beside the point)

I’m in love.

Between the new oven and my dreamboat, I’m kind of in heaven. And! I’m ready to get back in the kitchen.

Watch out world!

Travel Food

Blueberry Muffins

I’m going on a road trip this week, and I can’t tell you how excited I am!

I’ll be performing “Views from Grandma’s Porch” with Bare Bait Dance, a fantastic modern dance company right here in Montana. I get to hang out with five of the loveliest ladies you’d ever meet, and dance till I drop.

Don’t you dare pinch me if this is a dream!

Because our schedule will get a bit hectic here and there, I’m going to be bringing some homemade snacks to get me through our techs and workshops. I was trying to think of what would be easy to make, easy to throw in a dance bag, and not be heavy in my belly.

Yes, yes, and yes.

Blueberry Muffins
From Good Housekeeping
makes 12+ muffins

1 cup oats, processed in a blender until mostly uniform in consistency
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup plus 2 tbsp buttermilk (If you don’t have buttermilk, see the notes below)
3 tbsp olive oil (or substitute unsweetened applesauce)
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (no need to thaw)

Preheat oven to 400F and prepare a muffin tin with liners or non-stick spray.

Combine all the dry ingredients in a large bowl until fully mixed.
In a smaller bowl, beat the egg with the buttermilk, then add the remaining wet ingredients.
When everything is almost fully incorporated, add the blueberries and fold them into the batter.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin tin and then bake for 25-30 minutes. A toothpick should come out clean when inserted into a muffin’s center, and the tops should be golden brown before you remove them from the oven.

Blueberry Muffins
So quick!

Blueberry Muffins
So easy!

Blueberry Muffins
So delicious!

Blueberry Muffins
And pretty.

If you don’t have any buttermilk
Blueberry Muffins
Simply pour 1 cup plus 2 tbsp of milk into a bowl, and then add 1 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice. Let that sit while you prepare your dry ingredients, and you’re good to go!

So, what else should I make for my trip?
Blueberry Muffins

Merry Christmas!

It’s been pretty quiet around here lately.  Let me explain.

My laptop died.  You know, the one I’ve had since 2007?  My beloved, solid as a rock, ancient-but-still-totally-usable 2007 Mac Book?

One day it was totally fine, and the next, gone.  Just gone!  It was seriously upsetting, and I may have cried big crocodile tears every day for a week.

So, there I was with pictures in my camera, an exciting blog post to write, and no computer.  In a stroke of pure generosity, my husband wiped his iPad and handed it over to me so that I could at least feed my Pinterest addiction and upload photos.  Unfortunately, writing an entire blog post with photos on an iPad is a little bit more than difficult.  Probably doable, but more time consuming than I could manage.

Oh, did I mention that this was just before Nutcracker?

Yeah, I had a few things going on to distract me from my laptop woes.

So after the Nutcracker, when visions of Sugar Plums had cleared from my head, I started to really think about how I was going to make this work.  Sure, I could find a cheaper laptop than a Mac, but that’s what I wanted, and really, if I’m going to drop hundreds of dollars on something, it darn well better be exactly what I want.  Why spend $600 on a laptop if I’m going to have to do it again in a year or two?  I might as well make an extra investment and not have to do it again for a long, hopefully really long time. (By the way, I’m not trying to advertise for anyone here, I’m just a huge Apple fan-girl and can’t help but gush.  I’m certainly not getting paid or perked in any way.)

I did the calculations.  Even if I saved up $100 every month (ha!), it was still going to take me at least 10 months before I got a new laptop.  I’m no stranger to sacrifice and saving, but almost a year of borrowing someone’s computer to write blog posts was a bit daunting.

But on Christmas morning, Santa totally came through for me.
IMG_7368

I think I scared my in-laws when I made that first tear in the wrapping paper. I may have screamed something like “SHUT UP!!”  Sorry GG, I was more than a little surprised.

I don’t know how those elves managed, or how Santa pulled this off without even giving off the slightest hint! My Christmas spirit was strong to begin with, but this just put it over the top.

It was absolutely perfect timing, because tomorrow I have a giveaway to announce.  It’s not a laptop, but it will definitely make a difference for someone.  Let’s keep this spirit of giving alive, shall we?

By the way, I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas or Hanukkah.  Any other “SHUT UP” inducing gifts out there? Did you get to spend time with your loved ones?

See you tomorrow!

I’m Still Here!

I have lots of lovely recipes planned out in my head for the next few weeks.  I even have some pictures lined up and ready to go from things I’ve already done.

The problem is that it’s Nutcracker week.  Starting tomorrow night and going until Sunday, I’ll be a dancin fool.  A happy, exhausted, make-up’ed, dancin fool.  I won’t have time to groove in the kitchen.  It’s very exciting for me, but only exciting for you if you’re coming to the show.

I’ll be back with a vengeance, but until then, here’s a look at me dancing.

(I’m totally kidding.  That’s definitely NOT me, but that’s what I go for 🙂 )

Turnout

I am a ballerina.  I’ve finally come to terms with the term.

You see, growing up, I was a huge tomboy.  I played in the mud, I rode my bike down giant hills, I loved playground football and anything else that involved shows of speed, strength and general bad-assness.  I hated dresses more than anything else in the world, and if my hair wasn’t pulled back in a ponytail, it was tucked up under a white Nike baseball cap (and then I chopped it all off in sixth grade).

But there was this other side of me.  One I spent a lot of time trying to reconcile with my tomboy.  I wanted more than anything else in the world to dance on stage in a tutu and pointe shoes.  To move gracefully under the lights and be lifted above the stage as if I were lighter than air.  Needless to say, my tomboy wasn’t cool with the uber-feminine term “ballerina.”

I was never shy about telling people that I danced.  I was so happy to finally have the opportunity that I’m amazed I didn’t shout it from the rooftops!  But I would say “ballet dancer” or “I do ballet” instead of “ballerina.”

When I came to college, it was easy to just say “dancer,” because I did or had done a little of everything by that point.  I had a very strong ballet vocabulary, I had done a tiny bit of tap and jazz, and I was learning to love modern dance a little more with every kick-ass class.  I’d even dabbled in flamenco and hip hop!  (Ok, I did flamenco once, but it was awesome)  Dancer fit better, and people wouldn’t chime in with the “B” term, because I wasn’t so focused on one style anymore.

When I was a first-time senior in college, I was approached by one of my very favorite people and asked to teach a pre-ballet (creative movement) class at her studio in town.  I was flattered, floored, terrified and excited.  I knew that this was the start to the rest of my life as a dancer, and I couldn’t wait to start teaching.  Even though I wasn’t just a ballerina anymore, I finally connected with the term, and used it with pride.  That one class turned into two, and pretty soon I was teaching almost every week night.

After my second senior year in college (give me a break!  No one finishes in 4 years anyway) I realized that I was going to have to start paying for my education very soon.  And because I was broke and trying to help support a family, I realized that I had to get a different job.  I say “different job” instead of “real job” for several reasons:  teaching dance is a real, noble job; you can definitely make nice money teaching dance, but you have to teach a lot of classes to make that work; a job is a job is a job–if you’re getting paid to do something, it’s a job.  But alas, teaching didn’t have dental attached, and my baby had cavities.

For a long time, I entertained the idea that I could maintain a full time job, teach dance, find time to keep rehearsing and performing, AND spend quality time with my family.  After all, I had just finished going to school, teaching, working another part time job, rehearsing, performing, studying and spending time with…Nope, there just wasn’t enough time spent with family.  I had neglected–no matter how unintentionally–some amazing, wonderful, incredibly patient people so that I could be a dancer.  Although I loved the work that I was doing, I finally realized that I couldn’t maintain the manic pace and keep sanity for myself and my family.  I’m sure that Wonder Woman could somehow make everything work, but she never did return my calls…

So now I work behind a desk.  I get to interact with lots of great people.  I have amazing insurance.  I count my blessings every day.  But I miss dance.  I miss going to class.  I miss seeing smiles on dancers who finally get the correction I gave them.  I miss the struggle of working on a step or a phrase, and then mastering it and turning it into art.  I even miss the long hours and late night rehearsals sometimes.

So how do I not let myself be sad?  How do I keep my dancer self as fulfilled as my everyday self?  It’s actually a very small thing, but it makes a big difference.

I turnout.  I stand in first position while waiting for my latte.  I do ankle circles behind my desk.  I talk about dance, and watch youtube videos of performances.  Sometimes–and don’t tell anyone I told you this–I do pirouettes in empty public restrooms.  It keeps me sane until I can make it to my weekend rehearsal, or my living room to bust it out.  They’re all small reminders of the ballerina that I always am, no matter if I’m sitting at a desk or dancing in a studio.

Why am I telling you all this?  I’m not sure, actually.  Maybe because I’ve only recently realized that the only thing that can let my dream of dance whither away is me.  Or maybe because I realized that my life isn’t on hold.  Ever!  I’m living my life, all the time.  God didn’t give us a pause button, and there’s no rewind or fast forward.  My life may not look exactly like I imagined it would, but I’m not going to let that stop me from being happy.  And actually, it might even be better.  My family is happier now that I’m home every night, I’m happier now that I get to spend quality time with them, and I’m still dancing as often as possible.  I appreciate everything that much more because I have to plan and work for it.  It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it.

How do you “turnout”?