Foodie Penpals

I’m so excited about this new program I’m participating in.  It’s called Foodie Penpals.  Sounds like it’s right up my alley, right?  So each month you get matched up with another foodie penpal somewhere in the country.  You exchange dietary information and then you send them a care package of $15 worth of foodie that you like or is local or is interesting in some way and they do the same.  At the end of the month, you each blog about it.

My foodie penpal was Robin from Texas.  She doesn’t have a blog or I’d be linking to it right here… but she sent me a great package.  It was actually on my doorstep today when I got home from the grocery store.  What perfect timing since today is the last of the month!!

I was so stoked to see what was in it.  Have you ever gone over to your friends house (or mothers, or boyfriends, or anyone else really) and looked in their cupboards and been shocked at what they buy at the grocery store?  Like things you never even noticed the store carried?  Oh wait, you don’t go through your friend’s cupboards?  Well, maybe you should start because you can sometimes find some cool stuff in there that you never noticed at the grocery store.  And that’s what I equate this program to.  It’s someone else picking out things they think are cool.  And Robin did not disappoint.  So here it is:photo

There is local Texas salsa, fun Mexican cookies, Hidden Valley ranch packet with recipe for ranch crackers and M&Ms (I’m going to have to hide these from my husband before he eats them all).  It was such great mix of things.  I dove right into the cookies because I had never had them before.  They were perfect.  They’re really like a mix between a cracker and a cookie, not too sweet and very addictive.  And I love that they’re from Mexico and I’m pretty sure not available anywhere around here.  I love stuff like that.

I can’t wait to try out the salsa.  I adore salsa, especially when it has a whole foods in it.  I like to mix it in with my tuna instead of mayo or use it as a flavorful salad dressing.  This jar will go quickly, I guarantee it!  And it had the cutest Christmas wrapper on it, even though I’m sure it won’t be around that long in this house.

So all in all, very successful first time on the foodie penpals.  I will definitely be signing up again, and you should too!  Maybe we’ll even get each other’s names and be exchanging.  Wouldn’t that be fun?

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Thanksgiving Planning

I’m a planner at heart. I make lists and keep calendars. I wish I could say this makes me super-organized, but that is not always the case. At least it makes me feel organized.  I find writing a list declutters my brain.  I started making lists for Thanksgiving in October.  We are having 18 people for Thanksgiving this year, which is a house record .  Our table only seats 12, so I’m not 100% sure how it is all going to work out.  But I have my lists and my schedule and I’m confident that it will work out.

Let’s talk planning.  Starting in October, I began making a list of all the food that I wanted for Thanksgiving.  This was things that I can’t live without (gravy and kale salad and actual vegetables), things my husband can’t live without (overly sweet yams topped with marshmallows) and special requests from my family (chestnut and sausage dressing that sounds fairly yuck). I like to start this early because who knows when an idea will inspire you and room will have to be made to fit it in?  I kept this list on my phone, so I could add/subtract at will.  About a week ago, I sat down with two sheets of paper and my menu.  On one sheet I made a very extensive grocery list.  On the other, I decided what day/time each item would be prepped.  For example, the day before, I will blanch the green beans and at the last minute I will heat them and dress them.  I tried to think through all the steps and pack as much into the day before as I possibly could.  Then I made a notation of what cooking implements I would need on the day of and what I wanted to serve them in.  Hopefully this will mean that I have enough platters, bowls, pots, pans and sheet trays to go around.

Just part of my epic list!

Just part of my epic list!

On Saturday, I will iron napkins, wash serving pieces that haven’t been used all year and dig out enough silverware to feed 18 people.  Then I’ll brave the crowds at the grocery store to get all the food I need.  On second thought, I’ll do that in the opposite order and try to avoid the crowds.  On Monday morning, I will pick up our bird from the farm.  (That sounded a little creepy, like I’m picking a pet, not something I plan to eat!)  On Wednesday, we are closing work early and then I’m going to knock out as much prep as I possibly can and clean the kitchen.  If all goes (mostly) to plan, Thanksgiving day should be a relaxed affair and very light on actual cooking.  It should be a finishing job on the food and I can (hopefully, again!) hang out with my family and guests instead of slave away in the kitchen.  I have to say, all these lists have me feeling extremely calm about the whole thing!

And then in a tryptophan coma we can all nap like this:

Isn't my nephew adorable?  I love the wand next to him.

Isn’t my nephew adorable? I love the wand next to him.

Festive Drink Ideas?

cranberry bitters

I received something very fun today: Cranberry Bitters.

I don’t really know what to do with them.  My original idea was a Champagne Cocktail.  Soak a sugar cube with 2 drops of bitters, drop into a champagne glass and top with champagne.  I have visions of handing my Thanksgiving guests a Champagne Cocktail as they walk in the door.  Doesn’t that just sound like the picture of sophistication?

Only problem?  It will use up almost none of my bitters – perhaps only 30 drops or so.  So what do I do with the rest?  I’m scouring the internet.  Any good ideas?

Weekend Update

How was your weekend?  Mine was great!  I got to spend it just the way I like: exercising outside, hanging with my family and generally just being a lazy bum.  Love it.

I had to work on Saturday (I work every other one).  I complain all about it but in reality, it usually makes me pack in much more “weekend stuff” in the rest of the time because I want to make sure I get it all in.  When I have too much time, I tend to get lazy, bored and grouchy.

Right after work, I helped my mom move a bed and then her brother and sister (my aunt and uncle) came over and we went out to dinner.  We decided to go to this Chinese food place that was written up in the Washingtonian Cheap Eats list.  It turned out to be very good and we were the only white people in there – good sign!  We ordered so much food because we weren’t sure how big the plates would be and we wanted to try a lot of stuff.  It was sooo much food!  My uncle (man I love him) wanted to be adventurous and ordered beef kidney.  The waitress really didn’t believe that he wanted it so she came back just to verify.  Yep!  We do want that!  Why not?  As my grandfather used to say, “There’s always another meal.”  I love that.  Such a motto for trying anything once.

too much food

This is probably only half of what we ordered. The whole table was full.

On Sunday I woke up raring to go.  I was going to run or hike, but Rob suggested that I go for a bike ride.  Don’t tell him, but he was totally right.

bike 11.10

I haven’t been on my bike since the last tri at the beginning of September and I missed it.  I just didn’t know how much until I got back on.  I did about 16 miles.  And boy did they wear me out.  It’s been a little too long I guess.  But the weather was gorgeous (if a little cold) and I was so happy to be alive.

trail

elkhorn2

Autumn really does that to me.  I can’t get enough of being outside.  I’m so glad I live in a place that has all four seasons.  Each one reminds me of something I love about being in nature.  And the change reminds me to notice it.

Mussels for lunch = quick and cheap!

Mussels for lunch = quick and cheap!

After biking, we met up with some friends for bowling.  We’re all terrible so it’s tons of fun and no one takes it too seriously.  I don’t really think I could get into bowling as a serious hobby but once every 6 months or so is great!

I was a tad hungover from my bowling exploits on Monday morning but I sucked it up and went to Crossfit anyway and I’m glad I did.  We did a hero wod for Veteran’s Day and I crushed it.  It may sound backwards, but being slightly hungover forced me to go as fast as possible to try to get it over with.  Here it was:

“Badger”

  • 3 rounds
  • 30 clean squats, 65#
  • 30 pull-ups
  • 800 m run
  • 37:53

Some mornings I feel amazing, some mornings I feel like a pile of poo.  I never know until I get in it.

Ok, and here’s a daily dose of cuteness.  Looks like someone is ready for a haircut:

hud

Halloween WOD

I was so excited for the Halloween WOD/Party and then I had to leave early.  Because I had to go out to dinner with some old friends. Gosh, isn’t my life so hard?

So all around, Saturday was great.  How do you like my costume?  I think I pulled it off.

wonderwoman 1To be fair, the tutu was so poofy, I had to take it off for the WOD, but otherwise it was a great costume.  I’m sure I’ll be wearing it again.

wonderwoman2

Ugh and the WOD!  It was really tough.  Here it is:

10 Rounds

  • 30 Double Unders (60 singles for me)
  • 1 Bear Complex, 65#
  • 20 meter sled push (no idea on weight but it was with a  partner and it was super heavy)
  • 13 squats

Do you like how the date was the workout?  Once I noticed (I’m a little slow), I loved it.  What I didn’t love was the 10 rounds of this insanity.  After about 5 rounds, I thought I might die.  But somehow, once again, I completed it and it actually was almost easier at the end.  How does that happen?!?

I also made some food.  I wrapped dates stuffed with almonds in bacon.  It was a mouthful to say but delicious to eat.  And they didn’t look that great.  Even though they tasted amazing.  I hope people ate them.  I wasn’t around long enough to find out.bacon wrapped dates

I went in the first wave and then hung out for what seemed like seconds before having to leave, jump in the shower and drive down to Virginia with my husband.  We were meeting up with his oldest friends.  The guy has been his best friend since high school!

We ate dinner with them, where I told them all about Whole30 and they told me all about how my muscles were going to explode or something from Crossfit.  Thanks guys!  Even though I know the odds are super low, especially if I practice good form and common sense safety, I still can’t get it out of my brain.  I’m a worrier in my core.