Monday, December 28, 2015

Running for Christmas Cookies

One of the first events I penciled into my calendar for December was the 2nd Annual Christmas Cookie Run.  I started hosting this event last year for a group of my favorite Charlotte swim-bike-run friends and it was far too much fun to be a one-time event.  The premise is simple - run several miles, eat dinner, hang out, and exchange cookies.  If there's one thing to know about triathletes, it's that we LOVE to eat!

I prepared two types of cookies for the party - chocolate covered cherry cookies and lemon ricotta cookies.  Combined with a third batch of triple ginger cookies, I baked nearly 200 cookies in the course of 24 hours.  

To balance the abundance of sugar that our cookie exchange would provide, I prepared a dinner that included butternut squash, sweet potato chips sand salsa, vegetables and hummus, crackers and goat cheese topped with a fig spread, and giant Christmas grapes.

Once the group of 15 arrived, we headed out for a four mile run on a rather warm December night.  Our destination was Hillside Avenue's famous Christmas globes.  This street of a little less than a mile features hundreds of lit balls hung from the trees in all of the yards.  Our run even included a stop for caroling at a friend's house, where we sang a few lines of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" before realizing we didn't actually know all of the lyrics.

We paused for a group picture, complete with our reflective gear.  We made multiple attempts with a self timer, but ultimately recruited some neighbors to take a better group picture.

Eventually we made it back to the house to nourish our grumbling stomaches - starting with dinner, but moving quickly to cookies.

Everyone prepared 4 dozen of their favorite Christmas cookie, resulting in a wonderful selection eating.  Some of the standouts were flourless chocolate orange cookies, oreo cookie balls, cake batter cookies, snowflakes, whoopie pies, and fudge.

The benefit from a cookie exchange is that you bring a single type of cookie, but go home with a box full of more than a dozen different varieties.  Our crew of triathletes had a wonderful night running, eating, and celebrating Christmas!  Next year, hopefully someone else will be able to host and I'll make the drive from Atlanta to spend the night with a fantastic group of friends.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Thanksgiving 2015

After a rather lengthy drive amidst the millions of Thanksgiving travelers, I arrived home in time to help Mom finish the last of the Thanksgiving feast preparation.  It was a wonderful morning in our pajamas, listening to Christmas music, and cooking.

Thanksgiving Day started with a long run with Bailey, green smoothies, a family hike, and the Macy's  parade.  Lunch consisted of a spread of munchies - crackers, cheeses, salsa, veggies with dip, and roasted nuts - that we grazed on throughout the afternoon.  Dad was manning the grills and our two 13 pound turkeys.

Just as the sun was setting, we captured a family picture.  You may just see four of us (plus the dog) in the picture, but there's a little baby boy the size of a banana that Royce and Erin will be welcoming in to there family in April!  It's crazy to think that I'll have a 7 month old nephew next Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving dinner menu included turkey, oyster dressing, stuffing with butternut squash and cherries, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, roasted root vegetables, celery salad, and cranberry sauce.  For a brief period, there was silence at the table of 9, as we savored each and every bite of the delicious spread.

Grandpa and Grandma enjoyed having all of their children in town to celebrate the holiday together.  I'm pretty sure Grandpa was thinking - "hurry and take this picture so I can dig into my dinner."

The chefs and hosts once again executed a holiday gathering with complete success.  I'm thankful for so many things, but these two people are on the top of my list!

A selfie of the "kids" just before we dove into pumpkin and apple pies.  Thanks to Royce for capturing all of our large shiny foreheads with this unique view.

On Friday we had more family time planned for the afternoon, so Bailey and I snuck out around lunch time for a hike.  It was a picture-perfect day with sunny skies and temperatures nearly 70 degrees.

We both enjoyed soaking up the fresh air and stretching our legs after a day of lots of eating.

That evening, Dad built a perfect fire and we all gathered in the backyard around the fire pit.  Although it's sometimes borderline too cold or windy to enjoy the fire, the trend of perfect weather continued and we spent a couple hours chatting and just enjoying each other's company.

Saturday morning's breakfast started as a random selection of leftovers, but I managed to turn it into a plate of scrambled eggs with veggies, pumpkin cornbread french toast topped with cinnamon applesauce, and citrus segments.

Saturday afternoon was spent in downtown Roswell, yet again soaking up the sunshine.  We started with lunch at The Mill Kitchen and Bar, where I couldn't resist ordering a lobster roll.  It wasn't quite the same as the one I had in Boston during the epic snowstorm this winter.

After, we walking a short distance to Old Mill Park  and hiked some new-to-us trails.  I had no idea this beautiful waterfall existed in the middle of downtown Roswell.

Dad and Mom once again looking so young and photogenic!  I can't wait to move back to Atlanta this summer and spend much more time with this crew.

And lastly, I leave you with a picture that demonstrates what happens when your kids move out and the dog becomes the center of your universe.  Bailey is very well taken care of and ensures that she gets endless attention, runs and long walks, belly rubs, and time to soak up the sun.