In uncertain times, I turn to food preservation—and a pandemic soup recipe you might like

I found this post in my draft folder, dated September, 2017. Just the headline, “In uncertain times, I turn to food preservation,” with no text. I was probably setting up some post about a thing I’d canned.

Apparently I thought 2017 was “uncertain times.”

That’s cute.

It’s true, though, that I look to my kitchen as a coping mechanism. After nine weeks of sheltering in place—and with the stress of lost employment and the trauma of a global pandemic—I’ve spent more time there than ever. I feel really lucky that I like to cook; undoubtedly, preparing three meals a day is placing more stress on many families, not less.

One of the things that’s given me the most joy during this time is finding ways to produce less waste. I’ve dehydrated orange peels to supplement a tin of black tea; saved bones and vegetable scraps for gallons of chicken broth, turkey broth, ham broth and beef broth; frozen and canned chilis, soups and salsas and restarted a compost regimen which had fallen by the wayside.

Yesterday I made cream of broccoli and potato soup and thought I’d post it as a flexible base to make “cream of whatever you’ve got” soup. Please enjoy.

Continue reading In uncertain times, I turn to food preservation—and a pandemic soup recipe you might like

Twenty Days of Thankful #10, 11 and 12

Day #10-12: Forgiveness

It was a lofty goal to try and blog every day for twenty days, and I got half way through without wavering. An uncommonly busy Monday (and Tuesday, apparently) threw me off course and so this is me making up for lost time.

I mean, who wants to listen to me yammer on every day anyway?

Hopefully you forgive my negligence, and will accept this little list of some of my very favorite posts as an apology:

Unknown Damn you, Foam Roller

tumblr_mo5o9xV1Uf1qmywbko1_500 Don’t Knock Wyoming ‘Til You’ve Tried it.

2012-12-24 12.00.11Small Town America Through the Eyes of Waldo, FL.


Coffee with Erin

There’s something so reassuring about having coffee with your best friend.

Even more so, perhaps, when you only get to see her every once in awhile.

Erin and Lauren, 2010 in Door County, WI

Erin and I have been friends since 7th grade.  I was still in braces.  Now, there are plenty of people I knew when I was in braces that I couldn’t give two hoots about now, and vice-versa, I’m sure, but not this one.  Erin’s a keeper.  She moved away when we were 14, and we kept in touch by letter-writing.  We’ve remained pen pals all this time, and enjoyed a brief couple of years when we lived in the same area again.

For the past two years, Erin’s been serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa (I still can’t believe she’s using all that French we learned in high school).  So it’s been awhile since I’ve seen her, and the six weeks or so that it takes to get a letter to Benin makes it difficult to keep in touch.  While in Chicago for a couple weeks on a leave/vacation from her service, we managed to squeeze in a coffee.

It still feels like it did in 9th grade, before she moved, sitting behind the bleachers or in the band room and talking about our hopes and dreams, and about the silly people around us.  Today, more than 15 years later, we talked about our hopes and dreams, and the silly people around us.

Not much has changed… our triumphs and our failures are just bigger now.

There’s something to be said about catching up with a person who knows you – Like, KNOWS you – the kind of person who’s known you since you had braces.  That’s the friendship in which years can go by and you pick up right where you left off.

What is work? and, the philosophy statement.

I’ve been thinking about the idea of “work” a lot lately.  Is work what you get paid to do, what you’re passionate about, or are you one of those lucky people who gets to have both?  I recently read this article on The Daily Beast that gives some thoughts on Labor Day and it’s origins.  Apparently it’s not just about white pants and hot dogs as summer draws to its end.

For me, Labor Day is pretty symbolic.  By that, I mean, it’s my ONLY holiday off.  Working for a public university I get a lot of time off for the holidays and a lot of time off in the summer, and in between are two brutal sixteen week stretches.

Yeah. Brutal.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been thinking about Labor Day a month after Labor Day, because I’m in the middle of that stretch right now.  Save two days for Thanksgiving, Labor Day and MLK Day are it for us.

But even more than this glorious opportunity to sleep past 5:30am on a week day, “Labor Day” has serious implications that we work too hard.  So for us Americans, here’s a day (A day) to drink beer and barbeque.

Thanks for that.

I’m not opposed to work, I guess I’m just opposed to being forced to do something I don’t want to do just to make a buck.  It’s not the work that I’m against, it’s the perpetual need to generate dollars at the expense of my time, my energy, and even, at times, my dignity.

What’s the difference between work, my work, and a job?

If you’re really lucky those three arrows all point to the same place.  I’ve thought about this from the perspective all three of the things that I am: an educator, a dancemaker, and a writer, only one of which really generates any significant income for me.  Finding the why of what I do, especially in the things I don’t get paid for, means figuring out what my Work (capital W) really is.  The rest is just a time suck that helps me pay my rent.

Or not.

I’m fortunate of late in that I’ve been able to peace-meal together jobs (meaning, the things I get paid for) that are actually part of the bigger scope of “my Work”.  All of this is wrapped up in a tidy little statement that I’ve been working on for my teaching portfolio (ignore the dust, it’s under major construction).

This philosphy statement was the hardest four paragraphs that have ever emerged from this keyboard, but nonetheless it’s essential in figuring out how all the puzzle pieces of my life, jobs, skill-set, and passions fit together.  I think everyone should do it, even if you aren’t a teacher or and artist or particularly need a philosophy.

And, without further ado, here’s mine:

As an educator with professional experience in both the arts and sciences, I am convinced of the need for more integration of evidence-based practices in the arts, and more time-tested, somatic, experiential learning in academia.  To that end, I seek out opportunities to collaborate with peers and mentors to develop curricula that is effective and efficient.

I am passionate about the health of the dancer, and the majority of my work lends itself to understanding and articulating the body as it relates to dance.  Too often, the great work that is done in the scientific realm on dancers does not trickle down to its practitioners.

I believe it is my mission to use my experiences in dance and kinesiology to form an alliance between the two fields, with the ultimate goal of creating understanding and awareness around dance education and dancer health.  I believe that principles of educational psychology and learning are ubiquitous and should be implemented in dance classrooms as well as academic classrooms.  I believe that dance is a natural human tendancy, a healing art, and a means of discourse akin to any language.

Ultimately, my talent lies in my words, and in my ability to communicate, moreso than my ability to tendu.  Therefore, I resolve to be the messenger between these two worlds and further bridge the gap between experience and evidence.

How do we feel about this? Do you have suggestions that could make it better?

My favorite-est posts of all time

This post is short and sweet. I’d like to take a moment and share with you a mini-memoir of a few of my posts. Inspired by one of Dance Advantage’s upcoming circle time, I started reflecting on what I think is my best “stuff”.

Thoughts on stillness at artintercepts.orgMaybe these aren’t the best written, the most impactful, or even the most particularly useful to the greater body of knowledge, but these are the five that stick out to me.

1. On the blog at Art Intecepts I recently wrote a post about stillness, or lack thereof, and compared to the greater context of my life. It was a healthy reminder to me to slow the heck down, but not too much. Read about that here.

2. Shortly after returning from San Francisco this summer and speaking at the Dance/USA conference, I wrote on Dance Advantage about some conference take-aways, and the crtical need for a more effective conversation to take place in order to effect change in the dance community. Read about that here.

3. If you didn’t know I was gay, I guess you do now. Here’s my story, as told by me, on The L Stop.

4. I love to travel, if only to have a reason to write. One of my favorite travel posts came not from the coast of Italy, but from the middle of Wyoming. Read about the middle of Wyoming here.

5. Although first published on, I love this post because, if for no other reason, it was my first appearance on The Huffington Post. If I had known all it was going to take was a jab at a famous dance critic and talking about naked dancing, I would have done so a lot sooner. You can read that one here.

Ok, so those are mine… what are your favorite posts?

Oh, stop it… you flatter me!

What I meant was, give me YOUR best stuff. For all the other bloggers out there, what is a favorite post you’ve written?

Asking readers: What do you want?

me, wondering, what do they want from me?!?

Now that I’m fairly confident there are more people than just my mom and my girlfriend reading the blog, there are a few things I’d like to know:

Mostly, I’m curious about how frequently you want to read posts.  I’ve been admittedly sporadic… sometimes putting out four posts in four days and other times radio silence for two weeks.  In an effort to get organized, I’m wondering if you like the idea of daily, weekly, or bi-weekly posts?

Which day(s) of the week do you MOST like to read blogs?

And, what’s your favorite topic on One Crafty Lady?  Do you like the recipe posts? The travel? The general musings?

Mostly, I want you (the reader) to feel a little more power over the blog – like it’s a choose your own adventure book.  I want what you want; we’re all in this together…

When is it okay to call yourself a writer?

First of all, LOOK!  One Crafty Lady went and got herself a facelift… er… a new free theme (!).  What do you think of my new digs?

I thought I’d celebrate the recent crossing of 100 posts on the blog (this one here is 110) by dressing her up in fancy new clothes and offering my reflections on the journey to becoming the writer I am today.

Pondering a post. Just another day in the office…

I first started writing online in 2009 while I was finishing up my masters degree in Kinesiology.  I was creating static content for Art Intercepts, but began dabbling in blogging to express more opinion-based topics that I wanted to discuss with other dancers.  I kept a little private blog between myself and my friend Erin as we traversed life, and One Crafty Lady was born upon her moving to Africa to work for the Peace Corps.

Even though I’ve been writing ever since, I didn’t really start calling myself “a writer” until this summer.  I guess I didn’t feel like I could because writing has generally been a hobby, an extra-curricular, something I do for fun.  People that play volleyball in their spare time can’t exactly call themselves “volleyball players” on their Linked-In profiles, right?

Over the past three years I’ve gone through four blogs (not including the two I have now), a couple hundred posts, and about 600 tags.  I’ve also created 3 columns on other sites (with a fourth pending), 2 magazine articles, and a gaggle of guest posts.  It feels really weird getting pitches from other writers and publications; it feels even weirder when you find out you’ve been added to someone’s press list.

You mean, people care enough about what I have to say to send me their press releases?  How cool is that?!?  I’ve either created a reputation of “crazy and incapable of saying no”, or I am now doing professionally what I like to do personally.

Isn’t that kind of everyone’s dream?  

Writing has become an important aspect of my voice in the dance community, my professional life at UIC (each of my 300 students is required to keep a fitness “blog” on our internal class site), and my personal life.  What started out as a hobby is now a huge part of who I am and what I do, regardless of whether or not I get paid.  Because writing permeates all those other aspects of my life, I guess I kind of AM getting paid – essentially.

I’m embarking on two rather big projects: one with friends and collaborators in the blogging community and one on my own.  Starting these (yet to be announced) projects, in conjunction with presenting at Dance/USA with a panel of dance bloggers this summer sealed the deal.

I’m a writer.

When is it okay to give yourself the title of writer?  When you have the confidence to own it.

…and I do.