My Vegan Life | Gardein Mandarin Chick’n Bowl

I thought that Asian inspired dishes would be my ultimate craving when I went vegan, but one of the reasons why I don’t miss meat at all is because of the wonderful alternatives provided by animal friendly companies like Gardein! The first time I purchased meat alternatives was a teriyaki stir fry, but when I saw this orange chick’n I knew I had to give it a try, and was not disappointed. It’s honestly BETTER than actual chicken (as I’m finding with many recipes)! I could seriously eat this every day! Here’s what I did:

1/2 packet Gardein Mandarin Orange Chick’n and 1/2 included sauce. I cooked it in a stir fry pan for the recommended time, while simultaneously cooking white rice and steaming broccoli. When the Chick’n was about done I added some chopped green peppers and red onion to the stir fry and the sauce. I put the rice in a dish, then added the stir fry pan contents and the broccoli.

I can’t wait to cook this one for my boyfriend, I know for sure he will love it!

This post was not sponsored by any products mentioned and everything was purchased with my own money. (But I mean, I’m happy be sponsored if Gardein is listening 🙃).

Happy Eating!

Alicia

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My Vegan Life | Summer Salad and Refresher

In January I completed the Blogilates 28 day reset and started my journey to weight loss and health. I have since lost 20 lbs, and while I still have more to go, I feel great and have also turned my diet to vegan shortly after completing the challenge. The hardest things to give up for me were fish, eggs and the amazing sweet and sour chicken from our local Chinese restaurant. I was never one for beef, and there are so many great alternatives out there that it is really easy not to miss meat. Even better, my boyfriend adopted the vegan life last year so it’s so easy to go out for date nights with someone who gets it! Eating at family party’s (my family loves to grill) has also been fairly easy. I usually just eat the sides (potatoes, corn on the cob, pasta salad, and veggies) but if I know I’m going to a cookout I will bring my own veggie burger or make a vegan dish for us to eat.

I have since discovered so many delicious recipes that I figured I’d start sharing them here along with dance since it all goes so well together.

Today’s recipe is a lovely tofu salad!

I started by grilling some tofu while preparing the veggies. Kale and spinach as a salad base, cucumber, tomato, red onion, black olives, chickpeas, green pepper and half an avocado. Olive oil, pink salt and pepper as dressing. Mix in the tofu and you’re set for a yummy lunch!

I also had a large mason jar of cold water, with fresh mint leaves from the garden and a squeezed lemon slice!

Next post I’ll update on how my summer dance and workout have been going!

Happy eating!

Alicia

NYC Trip | Lincoln Center | Bloch Store and Downton Abbey Exhibition!

Monday I went to New York City (a nice few hour train ride for us) mainly to see the Downton Abbey Exhibit, but since we were in the neighborhood I decided to make some ballet stops too!

We left from Rhode Island pretty early in the morning, taking a 7:45 train and getting to Penn Station around 10:30. Our Downton Abbey tickets weren’t until 2 so we took the subway to Lincoln Center and I finally got to take some picture in front of the famous fountain!

And of course in front of the theater sign where there was conveniently a “barre”

Next up was the Bloch store right across the street! Let me tell you how I have dreamed of coming to this store and standing in that beautiful window to be fit for shoes! I’ve been wanting to try several of the new stretch shoes, having had pretty good success with the Eurostretch, and they even had some models that aren’t on their website.

After some trial and error, and a very patient and awesome fitter, I decided (it was a tough one between 2) on the Synthesis in a 7XX. I have to get used to the smaller platform of the tapered shoe, but they look sleek and lovely and I can’t wait to finish sewing them and to break them in!

The shoes that came in close second (which I still may order and try!) were the Superelative, which I’m wearing 2 photos up.

My Aunt gifted my my shoes for my upcoming birthday, and bought herself a new sweater for class, so we both got pretty blush bags! She’s taking her first class tonight as we speak, and I can’t wait to hear about it!

Next we were off to a quick lunch before the show, and went to a healthy place next to the exhibition called Fresh&Co, which was delicious! I had a turkey sandwich with cranberries, since I was starting my 28 day cleanse the next day and will be omitting gluten and bread (that’s another blog)!

Now off to Downton! I fangirled almost as much as when I went to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I just love the clothing of this era! I even wore my hat from the time!

I have to say, since going I’ve been shopping on ModCloth and Unique Vintage all day for some modern flapper looks, and have looked at going to a roaring 20s lawn party!

I think I could pull off the look of both Edwardian fashion and 20s!

We started in the “downstairs” area, because the exhibit was set up like the house. This was the kitchen, servants area, and where the staff would dine and do much of their work. My moms favorite was all of the cooking appliances and ways of preparing food, since she’s basically a modern Mrs. Pattmore!

Seriously, that table is like something out of a wedding! A Downton wedding sounds good to me!

Since I already love dressing vintage (more of a 50s look) I think some Deco/ 20’s inspires clothes might be making an appearance in my wardrobe! I mean, those dresses! Plus who doesn’t like a good hat! Time to find a 20’s party to go to!

I think it made me want to re-watch the series again, and hope for a Downton movie!

(Harry Potter fans like myself will get it!)

The day was fun and exhausting. I need to make it a point to get to NYC more often, to shop and take classes. Until next time!

Practice Makes….Better

So I’ve (proudly!) been back to consistent ballet classes for 8 months straight! This has to be a personal record, and since no financially devastating events have happened to make classes unaffordable like has happened in the past, I’ve definitely seen progress. While I have been dancing since I was 22 (9 years) as an adult, until the past 4 years ago I was very inconsistent so progress, especially on pointe, would leave me back at square one frequently. My first year of college I was able to take multiple classes a week at the Boston Ballet which was a few minutes away from school and ballet/ contemporary and pointe at The Studio: A Dance Center for adults whenever I could.

I’ve always been that person to forget combos, and have to follow someone, which is probably still true if I took more intermediate classes (which I will do once I’m out of busy photography season) but right now I’m happy in my awesome beginner class where I’m feeling like I am progressing and re-learning the basics I never learned when I started because the studio I attended was more focused on performance. I still fear I will never be good at petit allegro, but it’s getting better!

I’ve always been told practice makes perfect. With being an artist, dancer, gymnast and learning an instrument, it is always practice! But I’ve come to determine that practice will NEVER make perfect. Why? Because perfection, and striving for perceived perfection, is unrealistic and will drive you completely mad reaching for something that is unlikely to be achieved!

Instead, I aim for better. Even if it is just one little thing I do better than at my previous class….a longer balance, better turn, remembering the combo…BETTER is better than driving myself mad over unrealistic goals. I still have that dream of being on stage someday, but for now I’ll just be over here working hard on my strength and getting back to 3 classes a week to improve!

AliciaAlicia_wm-27Alicia_wm-33Alicia_wm-67(thankfully I’m also a better photographer than when I did these as well!)

Pointe Shoe Chronicals | Adult Ballet Blog

To a dancer, the tools of the trade are especially focused on the feet and legs. Finding the perfect fitting shoe can be an endless struggle! I’ve had a hard time finding flat shoes that fit well and don’t cause a bump under the ball of the foot, and just when I think I’ve found the perfect pointe shoe, my feet seem to change and my shoe stops working for me. I’ve literally spend HOURS in the dance stores trying on shoe after shoe from every name out there. Having larger feet also doesn’t help because many shoes aren’t stocked in my size. So far my favorites have been Suffolk Solo and Stellar, Gaynor Minden, Bloch Balance European Strong and Bloch Eurostretch, which I just stared wearing. The Balance European was my go to shoe for years, but my last pair just didn’t seem supportive anymore in the regular shank, the strong shank seems to be doing ok. I went to the dance store a while back in hopes of trying the Bloch Eurostretch, and after trying them I ended up buying a Grishko Miracle, which ended up not working for my wide feet and desire for a large platform. As soon as my feet would swell, they would become obviously too small and narrow. Otherwise they were extremely comefortable and flat so I was sad that they couldn’t work for me. I’ve been dancing in a mix of a Suffolk Stellar and Bloch Balance euro for the past few years. My latest pair of the Bloch seemed so unsupportive by the 3rd class wearing them, and I felt they were allowing me to sickle and have to work extra hard not to. The strong shank worked much better so if I buy them again, strong will be the way to go! 


Thinking of how comefortable the Bloch Eurostretch was (that I didn’t buy 🙄) I ordered them online since our local stores lot their contract with Bloch and don’t carry them anymore, and sewed them last week. At first try I had a hard time getting over the box and felt held back on them, but determined to break them in and give it a go I sewed them and did some basic barre at home. After a few of these sessions (the instructions say just do barre to break them in, no de-shanking or beating them up) I think I am hooked. They felt to so good I even wore them to class tonight, and I’m always scared to wear a new shoe to class, because if it doesn’t work out there’s people to watch me fail. I’m the only person on pointe in my class so I always feel a little pressure to not be the one to make an ass of themselves! Since starting class on pointe again regularly, I feel a lot of strength (and maybe a little confidence) returning! Now if only I could get those one foot relevés up a little better I would be happy!

Anyway, right now I feel these could be my current shoe. I still have my Stellars in my bag, but I love the support and stretch of these Bloch Eurostretch! What are your favorite pointe shoes?

XX

Alicia

Here are a few photos from class tonight!

Summer Stretching | Adult Ballet Blog

I always find I get super tight and inflexible in the winter and loosen up in the summer when it’s easy to stretch because it’s warm. Well this year in general I’ve been slacking on my stretching and flexibility and boy does it show. I haven’t been running the past couple weeks because it’s been oppressively humid, but I ran twice this week and am dying on my floor right now after running in 80 degrees of gross heat. I’m slower, making sure I have water and taking walk breaks but I think it’s still better than doing nothing. I’m only doing about 2-3 miles as well because I think I’d die if I did anything longer. I still want to prepare for all the Fall races (3 half marathons!) but also stay injury free so it helps my dancing and doesn’t hurt it. 

My plantar fasciitis in my right foot has been doing well and jumps haven’t been causing sharp pain. There’s one more summer session left that is three weeks so I have been taking ballet class all summer, doing barre on pointe and center in flats (definitely not ready for pirrouettes on pointe)! 

The last two weeks after class I’ve been staying in the hallway and making sure I take a good 20 minutes to stretch. It’s the perfect time since I’m warm from class and my flexibility game is lacking lately. I’m also making sure I spend as much time as possible after running to sit in all of my splits and hit my back and shoulders as well. I’m taking a flexibility workshop tomorrow with one of my favorite dancers so I’m excited to see what I learn and implent it into my regular stretching routine.

I had been going to yoga after work for a few weeks but didn’t make it this week or last because of a migraine and helping my friend with her business cards. I love yoga I just wish there was a little more holding of stretches in class. I also have been regularly doing barre fitness and yoga classes on Cody App that are geared toward flexibility. The classes with Megan Currie that are about backbending are amazing! I also just got the Yogance class which is yoga but with dance inspired flow and movement so I can stick with things at home. 

So here’s where I am now, now time to start stacking some yoga blocks! I will post my scorpion tomorrow after class because that’s going to be one of the big focuses and I’m so excited! 

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Adult Ballet Masterclass at Boston Ballet with Kathleen Breen Combs!

As soon as I got the email saying there was going to be a special masterclass from Boston Ballet Principal Kathleen Breen Combs, I signed up immediately! Having missed the last 2 masterclasses for adults, I was determined to go to this one! 

I danced at the BB Newton studio all through college so it was wonderful to be back. Dancing to live accompanyment is wonderful and I forgot how simply amazing it is. I heard they are moving down the street to a brand new state of the art studio so I think a monthly Saturday or Sunday trip will be in order especially since they have classes every day now (yes, every day for adults! Good thing they only had 2x a week when I was in college or I’d have much more college debt haha)!

I recently got a few new leotards so I was excited to wear my new purple floral mesh leotard to class as well. Also I’m loving my Grishko Mod 6 ballet flats, and am not having that akward bunching fabric issue with them.

I was kind of nervous going to class, especially since I had no idea how hard it would be and have been out of class on vacation the past month. After today I’m definitely inspired to try to take 3 classes a week again, because I did feel I kept up very well (except petit allegro, I loathe petit allegro and it’s something I need to work on daily)! 

The whole class was wonderful! She was such a sweetheart and completely down to earth. Her combos both at the barre and in center were based a lot on musicality and her tips and corrections were a lot about using the music and dancing the combos. She said barre isn’t about just standing there doing the foot movements, but to really use the opportunity to use the port de bras and head to dance. We did some great hip opening warm ups at the barre that I think I will definitely incorporate into my practice and warm up before class even. I’ll put up a video of my favorite one at some point this week. We did a lot of turning the working leg in and out to really wake up the hips and turn out muscles. 

I always struggle in petit allegro so we won’t talk about that, but the adage was beautiful and included my favorite promenade to attitude as well as pirrouettes. Grande Allegro is were it got interesting….There was a full house in class today, probably about 40 dancers, some of which I recognized from when I danced there in college. I prefer to be in the last group because I’m terrible at remembering combos, and like to watch it a few times, so I was in the last group (groups of 3)…or so I thought. End of the line, it was just me. My inner “you can’t do this” was screaming noooooo! Turn around! Pretend you already went! No one will know, but the last groups music ended and I found myself in the corner, prepared for the last combo.

I can’t do this. Turn around. 

No. Go. This is a once and a lifetime.

Tombé, pas de bourre, glissasde, saut de chat. 

Simple, you’ve done this combo a thousand times.

I went.

Probably the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done but at the same time the most exhilarating and brace. I’m that dancer that hides in the back afraid to mess up. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but my saut de chat is far from pathetic, it’s actually one of my favorite jumps. Miss Breen Combs helped me through! Cheering encouragement and giving me tips…think of your shape in the air! Up! And arabesque to finish! And after everyone clapped. I’m sure it wasn’t because I was any good, but because I finally had the courage to step out of the back row and dance. I’m glad I did it, because even though I was embarrassed, now that it’s over I would totally have regretted not doing one of my favorite steps because of fear of messing up and being laughed at.


I really hope Boston Ballet continues these adult masterclasses and I’m so glad there are more options on the schedule! I also think I’m going to sign up for the Brookline Ballets adult summer intensive this June. I was scared to tell my boyfriend about it since we don’t see each other much, but as usual he totally supported me and said I should do it and the weekend classes because I love it. I couldn’t be luckier to finally have someone who supports me in Ballet (sometimes literally) and encourages me to go follow my dreams.

After the workshop I went over to my favorite dance store that I missed going to so much (they literally have everything in stock in like every size) to get a new pair of pointe shoes because nothing I was ordering seemed to be the same as when I got them there. The owner is super nice to talk to and will give you the cold hard truth if need be. The fitting experience is very thorough and she works hard to find you the right shoe. I got my last awesome pair of Suffolk Stellars there that were no less than Stellar! I was lucky there were no appointments so she took me in and we got started with the same shoes I had before. We also tried a few other combinations of size and width since the shoes are handmade And my feet may have changed since last time. She also inspired me to peruse dance photography and gave me some great tips on how to get started. I couldn’t decide between my Stellars that I loved before and the Solo which I had years ago and were my first Suffolks. It was great to actually get to compare them and get feedback. Since I don’t get to come to the store often and couldn’t decide I just got both (💁🏻) and will let taking class in each help me decide which I like more. So if you are in New England I highly recommend seeing Paula at Dancers Image in Newton.


So I leave my day at a complete place of happiness and no doubt that I can continue to chase my dreams of improving the best I can in Ballet and specializing in dance photography. I have one of my regular classes tomorrow night and am super excited to get back to work!

Happy Dancing!

Alicia