Month: December 2018

Breathe, Jennifer

Trying to breathe. My eyeliner looks really good.

I’m tired.  Like, really really tired. It turns out it’s actually really hard to train for a marathon through the holidays, regardless of how well it keeps you fitting in your pants.  Who could even have guessed that there are 5000 things to do around the holidays!? And even more when you have kids for whom you are trying to make the holidays magical!? I am confident that all 3 of you reading this are SHOCKED to see me state that this is a super super busy time of year!!!

I have to remind myself to breathe.  I feel like I am walking around aimlessly, banging into walls, but really, everything is getting done.  Is it getting done perfectly? That’s probably a noooooo, but it is all getting done, and to the best of my ability.

Breathe.

All of the Christmas cooking and get togethers of the past weekend are over, and were wonderful.

Cookies for Santa
Individual Beef Wellingtons and roasted Brussels sprouts

Christmas is over, and was so great and special.

I banged out 5 miles on Christmas Eve despite how much I had to do, and 6 miles before work Wednesday.  I have admittedly skipped strength workouts, but I am getting my miles in. In previous training cycles I was skipping a lot of runs at this stage.

I am doing all of my ankle exercises, I’ve gotten them done every night this week.

15 miles went great last weekend.  I have 18 this weekend then we are on to taper.  

Friends are coming for New Years, then outside of working, we shift our focus completely to getting ready for Disney.  These are fun low key friends and we are going to have a great time.

I might not be sleeping great, but I have been in bed by 7:30 each night that this has been possible.  

Roasted tomatoes with balsamic, olive, oil, and goat cheese, and sausage dip
First attempt at home made french baguettes

I am eating.  Probably more than enough.

Breathe.

Everything is getting done.  Everyone is alive and clothed in mostly clean clothing, and is eating SOMETHING for each meal, even if it’s sort of half assed.  Perspective.

I keep showing up for work, and stuff is getting done.

This is all going to be fine.  More than fine. I can absolutely pull this off.  In a few weeks all I will remember is how amazing the race and trip were, hopefully.  Totally. Maybe. Definitely. Mostly for sure.




Holy cooking prep Batman

Whoa. That hair is one red hot mess

I think I have mentioned before that I use a family planning app, Cozi, to organize myself and my family.  Currently, I am wondering if I use it to organize myself, or as a form of torture against myself.

I made myself to do lists prepping for Christmas, broken down with everything I need to do for each day.  Primarily different cooking tasks to be executed each day so nothing falls through the cracks. Yyyyeeaaahhhhhhh, it’s sort of a lot.  Why do I do this to myself? I ended up having to take Friday off of work to give myself more time to prep, because I REFUSE to be stressed and open the door to let myself get sick.  

I suppose it wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t didn’t have to run 15 miles this morning, then shortly after that the woman who is taking care of our cat and house while we are in Disney came over to get run through everything.  Somewhere in there I expect that Wicket will expect me to feed him, and I would like to eat and clean my own body. I already told MattHowk the other day that if he would like to eat dinner tonight (Saturday) he is picking something up.

Sunday we go to Matt’s Dad and stepmother’s.  I am making a broccoli cheese casserole for there, as well as garlic rolls.  None of this is HARD, it just takes some prep time. Christmas Eve Matt’s mother, her boyfriend, and his brother will be coming over, so I am making a build your own pasta meal for that.  Again, not hard, but I need to make a marinara sauce, meatballs, two breads, a vodka sauce, and assemble everything.

Usually we make one or two different kinds of cookies each weekend leading up to Christmas, but that tradition fell by the wayside due to long runs for the marathon.  We DO need cookies for Santa though, so I will also be making molasses crinkles. Once again, not hard, but they need prep time to chill and be ready to be baked. I will also make the onion and mushroom mixture for the beef wellington ahead of time to save myself time on Christmas.

MattHowk will be on call with work for Christmas day, so dinner will be super low key, just some dips and stuff.  I am making the roasted tomato and goat cheese appetizer that I could eat every day of my life, and NATURALLY I decided to try to make baguettes for that instead of buying them.  Did you know that making baguettes is pretty involved? Well it is. Why do I do this to myself? If I get stressed that will get chopped and I will just buy them like a normal human.

I LOVELOVELOVE Christmas.  I do, however, REFUSE to let myself get stressed at all this year.  I CANNOT get sick this close to Disney and the marathon. I just can’t.  Much as I would like for Christmas to be my biggest priority, it’s a very close second.  Sleeping and being calm win out this year. Also, this beautiful pre long run dinner I made time to make. That was a big at winner too.




I graduated!

Oh heeeyyyyyy, here’s my graduated ankle in ankle boots!  Yay me!

Admittedly it was a little chaotic and anti climactic, but I did it!  I finally finished Physical Therapy! I had to bring Wicket with me though, after a long day and a longer weekend, sooooooo not quite what I had envisioned.

After our initial 8 weekly visits, my PT got approval from my insurance company to extend it for another 4, and we moved to every other week to get me as far through my training cycle as possible.  It’s been really interesting watching the changes in clientele. When I started PT in August it was a lot of older people who were recovering from various surgeries, but in the beginning of October it changed over FAST to a bunch of kids who were getting injured in school sports.  Interesting! I was no longer the hot little ticket I was in August.

In the last month I moved to not needing the heat, ultrasound, or massage before my visits, because my tendon has rarely been achey except when the weather is exceptionally gross.  My PT said that’s totally real and normal and will probably persist. Once I had the extra time due to not needing those services, I got to learn some really good exercises to add to my repertoire.

She usually had me warmup on the bike for 10 minutes, then I got to do the Bosu.  I want one of these things SO BAD. I had to hold on to the ledge in the wall because I am still WAY too unstable not to hold on, but I got to do gentle rocking and squats to improve ankle strength and stability.  She usually then had me do weighted lateral stepouts and/or the ladder. I was surprised by how much lateral work she had me do, as I had always steered away from it as a runner.

I usually also got to do dipping calf raises on the total gym, and squats.  I LOVE that thing! Once she was confident enough in my ankle I got to use the stability bar and it was CRAZY how much harder it made everything!  The calf tightness and strength remains something to be worked on for me, this made that abundantly clear.

I also got to start doing walk outs with the weight machine thing attached to my waist.  I have no idea what this thing is called, it has different weight levels you can set. I had to walk out forward and backwards head on, and side to side, to work on stability and momentum so I stop letting my ankle rule everything my body does, or overcompensate for it.  I also got to do kick outs, forward, backward, in, and out, while standing on a foam mat. It was SHOCKING the difference in my ankles was. Still, after all the time. I was so surprised by how fatigued my left ankle got.

What? Doesn’t everyone have a kettle bell collection in their main entry way?

So I am done going!  And paying co pays. But I am NOT done working on strength training in general and my ankle in specific.  If I have learned anything from this experience, it is that strength training is an important addition, not an afterthought or a last resort.  I have worked a lot of weighted lateral work into my twice a week routines as a result of my work with my PT.  Hal Higdon doesn’t like it because he thinks it can cause injury, but I am going to go with my own PT’s advice. My goal is to not have to go back, and the fact that my left ankle can still get so fatigued shows me I need to keep it up.  LOTS of core and hip work are included, because as she says, it’s a chain.

I am going to keep her in my head as I run this race!  So far on all of my long runs she has been in there reminding me to activate my core and remember my posture.  It’s amazing how much of a diffrence THAT makes for my ankle, even though they are so far apart. I am going to bring ALL of my recovery tools to Disney, and I am going to remember her confidence that I CAN DO THIS.  

I have to call her, and send pictures, honestly.  Otherwise the last memories she will have of me will be Wicket having a total meltdown on the floor of their office, and me hauling him up like a kettlebell and carrying him out over my shoulder as he kicks and screams.  Not really as cute as a nice little finisher photo with a medal, is it?

Perspective

Today Wicket and I took a trip to VT to go on the Elf Train with his Great Carol, our niece, my sister, and our brother in law.  He fell asleep on the way home, so I had time to think as the drive took longer than usual due to the ice falling from the sky. I also had plenty of time for reflection on my 18 mile long run yesterday.

It occurs to me that I have spent a lot of time talking about everything that has not and is not going right this training cycle.  But that’s really the wrong way for my to be looking at it. The fact is, I am here training and that’s because so much IS going right.  Here are my thoughts from the last couple of days:

-I have 3 long runs left before my race, and I have so far been able to do all of the meaningful long distances outside.  In late fall/winter. In northern NY. Outrageous



-MattHowks’s schedule got changed up yesterday,so I got to really relax and give myself some spa treatment after I abused my body with 18 miles

-Family have happily and enthusiastically accommodated each of my long runs to take care of Wicket and allow me the time I need to get my mileage in, even though Saturdays can be hard for people

-Wicket is so understanding about having to get up early every single Saturday to get packed off to another house, and he has so enjoyed this extra time with family

-I have a job that is so accommodating of me being sticky and gross for the rest of the day after I use my lunch break to run

-I have insurance and have been able to afford to go to the doctor for both my ankle and my upper respiratory issues




-My Physical Therapist is the kindest, most patient and giving woman who has taught me so so much

-My sweet, kind husband accommodates my sleep, and my hanger, and my tears, and keeps me going every single day

-I have gotten to run in some new places that I likely never would have due to having to bring Wicket to hang out with family, and have LOVED all of my new routes and regions

-My son reminds me to bring pretzels to work because “Mom, you need more snacks when you run more miles”

-I have a treadmill, janky though it may be, and a TV to watch super fun shows family and friends have recommended to me

-I am currently healthy enough to train for a race of this magnitude and feel good doing it (relatively, you know)

I could go on and on, I think.  Once I start thinking about all of the good it just comes tumbling out. I have to stop thinking about everything that goes wrong an instead focus on all that is right.  The fact that I am even ABLE to focus on those wrongs, which are so small in the long run, shows how privileged I am.  I am so deeply fortunate and I recognize that.

I think I might pull off this marathon.  I hope. Fingers crossed.


Running at work in the cold. No one REALLY wants to do it

But it’s called making it work.  

When I ran the Disney Princess half marathon in February of 2013, I didn’t really have a lot of cold weather running gear yet.  I used to take HUGE breaks from running, 2012 was the year I really got serious about it after stress fracturing my shin before my wedding and having to pull out of my first scheduled half. I trained almost exclusively for the Princess half on the treadmill, PRd it and felt fine, then couldn’t walk for a week afterwards.

From that, I took away that races aren’t run on treadmills, and to train outside as often as possible in the wintertimes.  I’m a visionary. I know.

To be able to run outside during the week, this time of year in NY I HAVE to run at work, because it’s not light out on either end of the day when I am at home.  This is an incredibly annoying task this time of year. It involves so much gear and so many layers and crap to lug back and forth to and from work, and a lot of obsessively monitoring the weather.  But we do it to get it done.

On days I run at work I shower at home, then change into my running gear and do my hair in a power bun that will work for running but also be work appropriate when I am done.  I may or may not wear a headband, depends on how sparkly I feel. I pack my work clothes and shoes in my running bag, and off I go to work with no makeup on.

Whenever possible, to make it easier on my coworkers I try to run before our phones turn on, or at least when someone else is also in to cover if we get calls before I get back (I work in a phone queue, though my job is not exclusively on the phone).  I don’t like waiting around all day to run at real lunchtime, mostly because it screws up my eating, and this means that when other people take lunches at their normal time I have already taken mine and can cover the phones.

I try to only run at work when it’s above 20, below that temp I usually feel I need a hat, which does not work with work hair.  20 and above I will use a headband which doesn’t screw up my ‘do too much. I also wear gloves, and carry my phone and work ID with me, and these days my inhaler, in either a jacket pocket or my spibelt. I have gotten locked out of the building before with no ID or phone to text for someone to rescue me and it was massively annoying.

I keep baby wipes in my running bag, so when I get back I wipe my sweaty gross body down, change into my work clothes, TRY to fix any frizz that has inevitably popped up (Frizz Ease Secret Weapon is amazing), then put on my makeup.  I spritz myself with an oil control makeup setting spray (Urban Decay), since I tend towards the shiny side of things even at this time of year. Boom. Done. This time of year I usually don’t even end up too stinky throughout the day! We all know that doesn’t bother me though.

I try to stretch a little once I get back to my office, and I always travel with a stick roller that I use on my calves periodically throughout the day.  If we don’t need it for travel, I also try to keep a small foam roller in my office. This keeps me from being completely stiff and locked up by the time I get home in the evening, since I sit on my butt all day at work.  I also upload my run from my watch to the Garmin app on my phone.  This data automatically gets sent to my coach because I linked it with the website she uses, so that saves me a step.

Saratoga is a lovely little city, but they take poor care of their roads and sidewalks when the race track isn’t in season.  BTW, it’s only in season 6 weeks out of the year. At home I can run on roads, at work I am right in the middle of the city so sidewalks it is.  This makes running at work even more weather dependent than running at home, and I have to be willing to totally bag it because everything may be too slick when I arrive  from NOTHING being cleared, EVER. This time of year it’s a true dance from day to day, and a race against the inevitable.

When I started running at work I didn’t realize how controversial a topic it was with other runners!  Some people are completely enthusiastically for it because it doesn’t take time away from home life, others are vehemently opposed and will TELL YOU OFTEN AND LOUDLY.  I feel like it’s actually been pretty approachable for me, despite all the gear to lug around this time of year and what a pain in the neck it is, so I foresee myself continuing to do it whenever I can until the snow forces my hand.  Turns out kids and their schedules and needs are demanding, and 4:30 am sucks and is to be avoided whenever possible (which is rarely for me, sadly), so work runs it is!  Thank goodness for kind and accepting work friends!

Somehow I always forget

Thank you inhaler!  Running (and sleeping) are SO much easier now!

I tend to be a very controlled eater, eating very similar things each day in the same amounts.  I rarely hit the vending machine at work, so I only have whatever I bring to work with me, which is lunch and some apples for snacks.

Somehow, I always forget how hungry I get when I am marathon training!  I read a Hal Higdon article this week about how physiological changes occur once you hit the 16 mile long run threshhold, and he was NOT joking!  This part hasn’t been terrible for my family though, because the hungrier I am, the more I cook.



This chicken parm man.  I can’t even. It was SO GOOD. I pan fried the chicken breasts in italian style panko, then put slices of mozzarells over them and broiled them with a little homemade marinara on top.  I cut up some fresh basil with the kitchen shears to finish them. It tasted so fresh and light and delicious, even Wicket totally ate the crap out of it.


MattHowk found an unopened package of sliced Gouda in the fridge, you know, like you do.  I decided to make grilled cheese with it before it expired, so naturally I baked bread to use.  Everyone does that for grilled cheese, right? I made tomato soup from scratch using the Pioneer Woman recipe, which is weirdly one of Wicket’s favorite things to eat.  Then we put Gouda and bacon on my fresh bread and put them in the panini maker. I would eat this every single day of my life.


These chicken and dumplings.  Holy crap. My friend Kat recommended this recipe to me that she found on Pinterest, and it sounded just lovely after a super cold super long run.  It took a bit longer than I anticipated because my bone in pieces of chicken were SO LARGE, and it was messier than anticipated due to searing the chicken pieces, but so so worth it.  Those dumplings, man. The corn meal in them makes a huge difference. We actually had this two nights in a row and found that it was even more delicious the next night, and still incredibly filling.  This recipe was an absolute keeper, but I want to try it with smaller bone in chicken pieces next time. Wicket ALSO loved this, though we had to add egg noodles for him.

What should I make next?  Stew? I have venison waiting to be cooked, last year I made the most delicious stew of my life with venison from a deer MattHowk’s dad shot.  I also have a couple of chicken and turkey carcasses waiting to be cooked down for soup. That sounds not unincredible. I have a corn chowder from the Chef Mickey.  BEEF WELLINGTON. That’s coming up for Christmas Day and I CANNOT WAIT. Ugh, the mushrooms cooked in butter and sherry, I CAN’T!

All I want to do is eat.  This is the part of marathon training where people THINK they’re going to lose weight, but they really gain weight.  Because this hunger, this RUNger, is all consuming. It legit takes over your body and your mind. So for my family, it means delicious food.  They’re lucky I don’t steal it from them, but if I do it won’t be my fault.

Something’s got to give

There’s that cold sore. I am so so sick of being sick.  And tired of being tired. I am still choosing faith and hope, and hope this will mean that Disney and the races themselves are going to be perfect and idyllic.  As idyllic as running for 4+ hours can be. You know.

Something’s got to give.  How many times have you said that?  How many times have you heard that? How many times have you thought it?  Is it even possible for a human to count that high? With the holidays, and work, and family, and running, and being sick for the last month I have been saying “something has got to give” to myself so much.  This week I realized that something has. Once again, it’s me.

So, why is it always us?  Mom. Wife. Why is it always US that breaks apart?  We give everything we have to everything we are doing and for literally every woman I know, it’s always us that we shortchange.  We never make work give. We sure as hell try not to let our kids be the ones to give, we don’t want our marriages to give but sometimes we let them.  We regularly let our health and our sleep and our appearances give.

I don’t call out of work that much.  Especially since MattHowk and I balance weird schedules, it’s often not necessary even when Wicket is sick.  I just go, because I am supposed to. I don’t leave my laundry unfolded, or my kitchen uncleaned, or my child unfed.  I power through my runs because my training plan tells me to even when my body feels like cement dragging it out of bed in the morning. Yesterday I woke up feeling just crappy.  So even though I wasn’t “sick sick”, I didn’t go to work. I intended to rest after my run, and of course that didn’t happen.

I ran my first good, hard workout of this training cycle.  I never had any intention of not running. I was supposed to run negative splits, and I rocked the crap out of it.  My first mile was 9:59, and I incrementally worked down to my final mile of 8:27. It was hard, but it felt GREAT. BUT, I noticed that my recovery time predictor on my Garmin watch was really high. MattHowk had a hard few long nights at work, so I also ended up taking Wicket to school AND picking him up, then I made applesauce when I got home, then a pizza. Lots of standing and limited resting, but Wicket and I did go to bed at 6:30pm.

I literally just wrote about how I fell straight back into my bad habits that got me injured, without even realizing it.  Being sick has not helped that one bit, and is absolutely one of those things. I was resisting going back to the doctor because they already told me it was viral, but I’m just so exhausted at this point my boss kicked me out when I went back to work today and made me go to the doctor.




If I am still coughing and unable to breathe, especially during exercise, after 3-5 days I am supposed to go back for asthma testing. The silver lining here is that FNP I met with today runs marathons too, and said she wasn’t even going to bother trying to tell me to stop running.  She said if I’ve powered through so far it’s unlikely to get worse now that I am on meds. I laughed.

Here’s the thing.  Powering through and checking off all my boxes, I wasn’t actually giving anything the attention or service it deserved.  I have been exhausted and cranky at work, resulting in me being literally incapable of being kind or patient with my students.  I have also been a super impatient and snappy mom, and have been unloading a lot on my husband about how cluttered and overwhelmed I feel.  I am sure that’s super fun for that poor, awesome, patient guy.

NO ONE WINS when we shortchange ourselves.  MOM CANNOT GO DOWN. The whole operation falls apart when we go down.  Why are we as women so ok with letting ourselves be last? We KNOW we do so much physical and mental work that we’re vital.  Is it societal? I feel like it is. But just because it’s always been the case, doesn’t mean it needs to always be the case.  Guilt is an incredible force that rules me and my life and I am SURE that most women I know are the same.

Let’s vow together to cut that shit out.  Knock it off. It’s good for everyone if we are rested, and healthy, and happy.  Everyone likes being around happy people, especially the people who like us and rely on us the most.  It’s good for our husbands and kids to see us achieving our goals and making it all work, but nothing works if we are depleted.

I am amending my goal from the other day.  I need to be whole and recovered both physically and mentally.  Badass women are SO much cooler and more fun than sick, hacking women coughing themselves to barfing in the kitchen sink.






35 days

I can’t even with this.  35 days until we leave for Disney and marathon weekend starts.

35 days to get my body ready to run 26.2 miles.  5 more long runs. I feel like I still have so much work to do. 14 miles over the weekend really wiped me out, and I have to run just shy of double that distance.  AND try not to ruin my family’s vacation by being totally dead afterwards.

I’m not going to lie, I’m tired of the cold.  I know it’s not THAT cold, but it requires so much stuff.  Lugging that stuff to work for a lunch run is a massive pain in the butt, and some days doesn’t outweigh the torture of the treadmill. I have had a cough since the beginning of November and the cold air just makes it a little worse each time.  I can’t shake it and I am sure running, and running in the cold air, isn’t helping it at all. I’ve upped my vitamin C intake, and I HAVE to make some changes to try to sleep better.  No recovery at all happens when there is no, or poor, sleep. Lately I have been trying to go to bed when Wicket does even though it’s outrageously early. Everyone knows I don’t want to, and I don’t have an excessive habit, but I need to back even further off the wines I think.  I love you wines, but I love sleep more. It’s not you, it’s me.

My coach (!? can I call her that!?) has me mostly running every other day, low and slow. She says we’re building my strength and endurance back up, and so far she’s happy with my progress.  Notice the STRENGTH part of that statement. I realized a couple of weeks ago that on my non running days I was on the bike. Sooooo, I fell right back into my bad habit from before my injury of completely skipping all strength training and doing all cardio all the time.  Only NOW, I know I need it even more! So Tuesdays and Thursdays are now devoted to strength training. I use the kettlebell a lot, and am primarily focusing on my core and calves/ankles/stability. My PT likes me doing doing lateral work for ankle stability, and they gave me a few new balance and stability exercises.

I thought it would be a good thing to be training through the holidays because it would keep me fitting in my pants, but I did NOT think about how the differences in holiday eating would impact my fueling and performance.  Thanksgiving was stretched out for over 2 weeks and 3 occasions, which came with a lot of different foods and quantities, more traveling and less water, little to no sleep, and far more alcohol consumption than is typical. NONE of this felt good on my running.  Christmas tends to be a lower key time for my little family since MattHowk usually has to work, so we should have far less traveling and craziness and huge meals. The schedule, at least the travel schedule, calming down also means we’re back to meal planning and prep on Sundays.  My boring lunch salad felt much more welcome after a 3 week hiatus to eat heavy leftovers for every lunch.

With my weekend long runs getting over 12 miles now, my hunger is changing and getting more….persistent.  And all I want is ALL THE SALT. I am typically not much of a “snacker”, but I was going to die today if I did not get Cheetos from the overpriced vending machine.  I HAVE to be keeping that in mind when meal planning and try to go for more lean proteins and comprehensive nutrients and some sodium, otherwise I will clean the Glens Falls region out of mozzarella sticks.  I also have to quiet that annoying part of my mind that worries about eating too much. Now is not the time to not eat or restrict. Bodies break when you don’t appropriately feed them. So do brains.  Full disclosure, I’m totally covering a massive cold sore with Cheetos.  All class, all the time. Can’t stop won’t stop.

When I got injured I vowed that I would do a stellar job of recovering.  Well I technically recovered from that injury, but recovery in general is in part what landed me in that situation to begin with.  I NEED to be better for the next 5 weeks. It’s too easy to get back from a run and just start doing all the things, especially when Wicket is being challenging, as 4 years olds sometimes are.  I HAVE to immediately foam roll and stretch, then do it again later. I need to get back into using a protein powder. I just ordered this Tailwind Recovery and am looking forward to seeing how it improves things for me.  I need to allow myself to get off my feet more instead of cooking and cleaning like a maniac all weekend. My right calf is starting to get super tight, I should set myself up for a sports massage with the lady Dawn recommended.

I have a lot more miles to run in the next 5 weeks, but I also have a long checklist of tasks that I need to be doing a better job of accomplishing.  I can’t have been complaining for MONTHS about how important this marathon is to me just to let it fall apart now. 5 weeks is NOTHING, it’s so short.  I have put way too much into this already.

Does anyone think I’ll be successful getting Wicket to learn to make me meals and generally wait on me for the next 5 weeks so I can rest?  Why on earth do we even have these kids if they won’t wait on us!?

 

Thanksgiving #3

We had more Thanksgivings than is typical this year.  Maybe this third one is more aptly called a Friendsgiving?  No offense at all to the first two, but the third was the bessstttttttttt.  The food and the company was beyond compare.

When we first got there at 8ish, the boys were getting the smoker going for the turkey.  Morgan loves all things grilling and smoking and we love him for it, because he always does such a good job.  We had known they wanted to smoke the turkey and were a little nervous about the timing of everything, but they really committed and did such a knockout job of it.

After I got back from that hideous, awful long run and showered and hydrated and turned into myself again, we started on food inside.  Kat made a lovely cheese board for lunch, Julia mulled some cider, and I made my favorite roasted tomato appetizer with goat cheese. Chevre calls my soouuulllll.

Really, this meal prep went so smoothly because everyone had their own role. I made my cheese sauce for my broccoli casserole that I made again, BUT I forgot to steam the broccoli before I baked it with the cheese sauce.  Ooopsie. This resulted in some crunchy broccoli with cheese sauce that didn’t melt as it should, which could have also been due to oven crowding and too low a temp. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t what any of us were expecting, I think.  I hate it when I don’t do a good job with something I make all the time, and people specifically request. Kat browned sausage for stuffing and roasted garlic for mashed potatoes, then we just sort of ate and hung out and waited around for the afternoon!

The boys, especially Morgan, spent literally the entire day outside in the cold babysitting the smoking turkey.  I had no idea it was so labor intensive!  It was a much larger commitment than I realized, and he did SUCH a job of it.  I’m not sure anyone else would have gone so far in the cold for it.  Morgan is a true champion, as are his team of helper men.

Kat handled cornbread sausage stuffing (MY FAVORITE) and the gravy, Julia handled a GORGEOUS assorted roasted vegetables, I did the rolls and broccoli casserole, and the boys brought in that beautiful bird.  Thank goodness they have a kitchen island, because this was a lot of food.  We actually decided to do without the mashed potatoes, and instead the roasted garlic got made into a paste that was spread on the rolls.  And then I died.

The gravy though.  THE GRAVY. That turkey produced a great amount of drippings, which I was a little surprised about.  I guess I didn’t think about drippings with a smoked turkey. Turns out smoked  turkey drippings have a really excellent smoky flavor that just sort of brings the whole meal all together.  Everything you put the gravy over ends up with a little it of smoke, so the turkey doesn’t feel weird or like it’s standing out. Especially married with the roasted vegetables the smokiness combined sooooooo well.  I usually eat everything separately but this called for eating together in conjoined mouthfuls.

For dessert Kat made a beautiful apple pie and vanilla ice cream all from scratch.  What a beautiful job. Full disclosure, I fell asleep and slept through dessert. I don’t even know what happened.  I sat next to MattHowk on the couch, I remember putting my head in his lap, then I was apparently done for the day. BUT I had some for breakfast the next day and it was so special.  

 

This time we did not have a big, set dining table.  Instead we all piled into the living room and ate together as our chosen friend family, and talked about how amazing the food was and how much we missed our favorite friends who weren’t there.  I felt so lucky to be on the receiving end of Morgans alllllll day long ministrations and the thought and care each one of these fantastic humans put into everything they made for the group. It was also so great seeing Kat and Dave get to host in the house they just moved into, as they were clearly so excited for it and treated all of us so well.

I ate leftovers for the entire week at work and was still so happy each time.  I know it’s so corny, but thinking about the group of people we got to enjoy that food with made it even better.  Everyone is so thoughtful in their contributions when we get together that you really get to know each person a bit better through their choice of menu contribution and preparation style.  

We are so so so fortunate we got to have THREE Thanksgivings, and see our friends who we get to see far fewer than we would like.  I am, however, ready to be looking forward to Christmas! Christmas is a totally different eating food creature at our house and I am so excited for it!!!