The weather has been unfailingly gray for the past several days.
It’s cold – not below-freezing cold, and not storm’s-a-coming cold – we haven’t seen more than a stray flake or two of snow so far this winter – it’s that damp 40-45 degree kind of cold that gets into your bones and ruins your whole outlook on life.
I’ve got the blahs.
I took last week off from work. To get the food and the house ready for Thanksgiving, for sure, but also to shuttle various family members to various appointments.
Alistair transitioned from a cast to a walking boot, and has his next follow-up visit in a couple of weeks; hopefully he will be back in street shoes in time for Christmas.
Larry and I started hosting Thanksgiving before we were married – I think this is our 10th or 11th year – and this year we came the closest we’ve ever been to eating at 1pm (our annual target). We put the bird in at 10:15 and started carving at 2.
Every family has their holiday traditions that become almost ritualistic. Our family is no different. On Friday we stay in our pajamas all day. We put away the Thanksgiving decorations, put up the Christmas tree, and have stuffing-laced meatloaf for dinner.
On Saturday we ventured out in the very cold late afternoon for our town’s Jingle Bell festival and tree-lighting ceremony. Jingle Bells was written here, and every year the town attempts to break the world record for ‘most people singing Jingle Bells at the same time’. No word from the Guinness people yet, so who knows. But it was cold – it was so cold that I wimped out of the 5k that I registered to run – and Larson wasn’t feeling well, so we made it through the singing but not to see the tree lit up.
And so here we are – 23 days til Christmas. My shopping list is ready and underway, but I’m not going crazy with it yet. Christmas knitting is almost done, just Larry’s scarf yet to go.
I’m shooting for a nice calm holiday season. We’ll see how THAT goes.
Six or so months ago I started down this crazy path to fitness.
Along the way I had a series of firsts: first burpee, first trail race, first 5k.
All in preparation for the Spartan Sprint at Fenway Park on this past Saturday with a bunch of my co-workers (Team name: “I Thought This Was a 5K #WTF” )
“3+ miles, 15+ obstacles” is what the website said. I translated 15+ as oh, 17 or 18. In fact, there were 26.
Obstacles like “carry a 45 pound sandbag all the way up the bleachers, then all the way across the bleachers, then all the way down the bleachers”.
And “get on this rowing machine and row 500 meters in less than 2 minutes or do 30 burpees”. I was sooo close – but no dice, I had to do my burpees.
And “take this cargo-ship rope and do 30 jumpropes with it”.
And “climb this six-foot-wall. And then this one. And then this one. And now this ten-foot one.”
And so forth. All over Fenway – I mean ALL OVER FENWAY – across the Monster, in the clubhouse, through the dugout, up and down the bleachers, with a final sprint around on the warning track (I dragged my hand along the Monster for a few yards. Had to be done).
At the end I was tired. And filthy. And sore.
But prouder of myself than I’ve been in a long time. Perhaps ever.
I am bruised from my ankles to my ribcage.
I am a Spartan.
And I’ll see you next year.
Tomorrow is it. My Spartan Sprint day.
I have an 8:45am start time; I have to be at Fenway Park by 7:30.
I am freaking the frak out. I think I’m ready – I know I’m ready – but anything can happen at one of these obstacle race things.
On the plus side, because it’s in a stadium (did I mention FENWAY PARK, home of the WORLD CHAMPION RED SOX??!!!) there will be no mud, no water, no fire, no barbed wire, and no electricity.
Just 3+ miles and 15+ obstacles.
I saw online that last year’s Fenway race had 26 obstacles. Which is, you know, more than 15.
See you on the other side.
There was Halloween, with trick or treating and too much candy.
This afternoon we’re making brownies with Snickers in the middle to use up the last of the candy.
Then a few days later Alistair slipping down some stairs at my mother-in-law’s and fractured a bone in his foot; he’s in a knee-high cast and is relegated to using crutches for another couple of weeks.
(Ordinarily I’d have a photo of him and/or his cast here, but he keeps saying he’s not in the mood for a picture)
This past weekend I went to my first Stitches event. As overwhelming as it was – and it was – I stuck to the austerity plan for the most part:
Not shown here is a Namaste Zuma handbag that I intended to have Larry give me for Christmas. That notion lasted about 12 hours; I’m using the purse already. Hey, he has plenty of time to shop for Christmas presents, right?
On November 1 I started my first-ever NaKniSweMo (aka National Knit a Sweater Month) project: the Mondo Cable Vest. I’m through the shoulder shaping and the neckband already, now to knit all of the body. It’s only November 12th but I think I’ve got a decent shot at finishing by the 30th.
Just before Halloween I cast on for Larry’s Christmas knitting, the Quay scarf. Between all the goings-on I was able to get the cast-on and the setup rows finished, and over this past weekend I worked the first cable repeat.
Thirty rows, four hours. And there are another SIXTEEN repeats to go. This might be the first year I wrap up an on-the-needles project for Christmas.
So all in all, it’s been a busy couple of weeks. But I’m starting to come to grips with the fact that EVERY couple of weeks is going to be a busy couple of weeks. And understand that I just plain cannot get everything done.
Really, I can only do my best. Which on most days isn’t spectacular anyway.
But it’s getting to be the holiday season, and I’m really going to make an effort to focus on what’s important:
So much going on around here – more on that in an upcoming post. For now, know that Thanksgiving is 23 days away, and we’ve just finalized our menu.
cheese and crackers
boar sausage, venison sausage, pepperoni
roasted butternut squash
Fall has definitely arrived in Boston – the leaves are changing and falling, we turned the heat on, and comfort food is on our minds.
This weekend we made chicken cordon bleu soup AND crockpot beef stew.
Crockpot beef stew is an easy one – everyone here likes it, and as long as the ingredients are on hand it’s a cinch to pull together.
Chicken cordon bleu soup, on the other hand!
We had it on vacation over the summer, and Alistair has been asking for it at home. So finally I found a recipe and gave it a whirl. (here’s the original recipe I started with). I had to modify it quite a bit because Larry doesn’t care for cream-based soups, and neither he nor Alistair are big on Swiss cheese.
Chicken Cordon Bleu Soup
- 8 cups chicken broth (2 boxes)
- 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1 lb ham (cubed if you can find it, or cold-cut style, or even leftover roast ham if you’ve got it)
- 3 medium russet potatoes
- 4 oz shredded Swiss cheese
Combine the chicken broth, butter, and seasonings into a heavy pot and bring to a boil. While that’s going on, peel the potatoes and cut them and the chicken into smallish cubes. Toss them into the pot and cover.
Now cut up the ham into small pieces too. Toss it in, give it all a stir, and cover.
Bring it to a boil, then lower to a simmer and let it go for 15 minutes or so.
After you put it into individual bowls for serving, let each person put their own cheese on top.
The recipe also calls for garlic croutons, and we did have them on Saturday, but the fact is they don’t really add much. And we didn’t ever miss the milk – the potatoes give off enough starch that the broth is pretty hearty stuff.
The other big thing that went on this weekend was that whole crochet business.
I did a few different practice pieces, to get the hang of each crochet stitch. It is so very different from knitting, and I am left-handed to boot, so it was a struggle to switch my mind accordingly.
Finally I wrote out each stitch on its own index card, and stacked them up in the proper order.