Friday, November 25, 2011

Behind thankful scenes

"Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow." ~Edward Sandford Martin

"Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise."
~George Herbert

Friday, November 18, 2011

Cupcake Friday: Thanksgiving edition

Yum, yum, a thousand times YUM.

Whatever you are doing, stop it right now & go bake these cakes!!

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 cup sour cream
1 c fresh or frozen (and thawed) cranberries, finely chopped

1 cup powdered sugar
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
4-5 Tbsp whole milk
1 tsp grated orange zest
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 325. Spray 3 mini muffin tins (for 36 tea cakes) with non-stick cooking spray. Sift flour - nutmeg in a medium-sized bowl & set aside. Beat eggs & sugar on medium speed in a large bowl until mixture thickens and lightens to a creamy color, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer & scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. On low speed, mix in applesauce - orange zest until blended. Mix in the sour cream until no white streaks remain. Mix in the flour mixture. Fold in cranberries. Fill muffin cups with about 1 1/2 Tbsp batter, to just below the top of each cup. Bake just until the tops feel firm & a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 16 minutes. Let cool in muffin tins for 5 minutes. For the glaze, whisk powdered sugar, butter, 4 Tbsp milk, zest & vanilla until smooth. Add up to 1 more Tbsp milk if needed. Remove warm cakes from pans. Use a toothpick to poke 3-4 holes in each warm cake. Use a spatula to spread a thin layer of glaze over each. Let cool completely; glaze will become firm.

P.S. If you can manage not to gobble them up straight away, they're even better after they've set (sat?) overnight.
P.P.S. Would you think less of us if I confess that Jan Michael didn't even take any to work & we kept them all for ourselves?

Monday, November 14, 2011

The calm before the (very happy) holiday storm

Outside my window... Leaves are everywhere (beauuutiful!) and it's not raining, at least for now. It almost makes me consider an afternoon run. Almost, but not quite :)

I am thankful for... We know lots families welcoming - and getting ready to welcome -brand new, precious babies this fall season. I'm thankful for parents who want to be parents, who can't wait to meet these new little ones, and who will love them to pieces as they grow.

I am learning... to control my irritation when I go through self check-out at Safeway. The computerized voice that always says "Have you scanned your club card?" makes me madder than a wet hen. Jan Michael has had to correct me several times about the absurdity of getting angry at a silly machine.

From the kitchen... The kitchen is about to become a crazy flurry of activity; Thanksgiving is 10 days away!! Very soon I'm going to make a list of when to make what (three cheers for make-ahead mashed potatoes!) - I think the frenzy will begin Saturday.

I am wearing... nothing fancy & nothing special. The usual :) In just a bit I will be wearing a big pile of blankets while I take a nap.

I am creating... Our Thanksgiving table has jumped out of my idea notebook and into real life. I have made - and I'm quite pleased with my ingenuity - chargers to sit underneath our dishes. I used pizza pans from the dollar store and covered them with three cans of gold glitter spray paint, and if I do say so myself, they are a far cry from the cheap-o, scuffed, scratched, unevenly painted jobs I've seen in stores.

I am going... to fold a pile of laundry that has been growing exponentially. I am going to make the beds and clean the bathroom (but probably not today.) I am going to clean out the refrigerator to make room for a Thanksgiving feast (but definitely not today.)

I am reading... In my read-the-Bible-in-one-year schedule, we are in the middle of Ezekiel and John. Actually, we're at the end of Ezekiel and will begin in Daniel tomorrow; I'm looking forward to that. Also, I just started re-reading (for the 700th time) Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

I am hoping... that we do not have any unwelcome company for Thanksgiving. (See below.)

Around the house... There is, and I hesitate to say this in case we never have visitors again, a mouse in the house. Actually, no - there is a RAT in the house. We thought it was a mouse, but a very nice, helpful exterminator confirmed just last week that we have a rat. Then, not two days after he showed us the hole that the rat is using as his front door, I SAW IT RUNNING THROUGH THE COMPUTER ROOM. I've said before that finding a slug in the house was the last straw, but a rat darting around in broad daylight is outrageous.

I am hearing... the clack of the keyboard and not much else.

One of my favorite things... on a Thanksgiving relish tray is a pickled beet.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
- A date with our favorite 3-year-old girlie
- Cooking and baking, baking and cooking
- On Friday we pick up Soren at the airport, which is the official kick-off to our second annual week-long, we-hardly-ever-get-to-see-Soren party.
- On Saturday there will be football and board games, and a house full of boys. I can't wait!
- Also on Saturday, I'll run in the Poultry Predictor race. If I run 4 miles in the time I predicted when I registered (42 minutes, which is a gross under-estimation; I don't know what I was thinking), I'll win our Thanksgiving turkey!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Mud & Chocolate

This morning I ran in my first official race.

No, wait. This morning I ran/walked in my first official race, because about halfway through, my knee said "NO WAY, WOMAN."

But nevermind. The point is that I trained for it, and barring creaky, old lady joints, I am quite capable of running 4.5 miles.

Now, some lessons learned:
- Eating my weight in Mexican food the night before is possibly not the best pre-race preparation.
- The next time I run in a trail race (which, for information's sake, is precisely 3 weeks from today) I will wear two knees braces, and maybe also two ankle braces. My body is a fan of braces, it seems.
- The next time I run in any race at all, I will be sure that my ipod is playing well before I hear, "Ready, set, go!" I didn't do this today, and my fingers were too frozen to get it to work. Any and all running is made better by Lionel Richie and songs from the Top Gun soundtrack, you know.

Now, some things I already knew but were confirmed again today:
- Any and all running is made better by wearing a running skirt. I feel sorry for boys that have to wear boring, old shorts.
- We have fun, enthusiastic, seriously awesome friends. Craig, Caleb & Jen were totally on board with this from the get-go, and I'm grateful for it. We didn't all run at the same pace, but I loved knowing we were all out there together, working toward the same thing.
- Encouraging, you-can-do-it words from our very supportive family friends are just the neatest, sweetest things. I need to remember this whenever I have the opportunity to help build someone else up.
- I am married to my biggest fan :)

My husband was born to run; I've mentioned this before. In high school he ran cross country, and one year this was printed on their t-shirts. Paying homage to him 20 years later = super fun :)
Was it cold?...
Ready to rumble!

I am loved and here's some proof: While we were out huffing & puffing on the course, Jan Michael was hoofing it himself - he wanted to be able to meet us along the route in order to record our smiling faces & to scream our names. 3 miles in a parka & non-running shoes is just adding to the list, people.
Finished! And with chocolate medals to show for it! :)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

We ride.

This year's sequined awesomeness made possible by our sis.
And Happy Halloween from Gus, too!