A Tale of Thanksgiving, Dating (and Breaking Up With) Bourbon, and Travels to the Cold Midwest

FOOD

Well, what a week!  I flew home to WI the day before Thanksgiving, cooked a bunch of holiday vegan food, went out to eat with my sister and cousins, and then went to Chicago for several days for work.

So…I had access to a kitchen for a few days and took advantage of that, and otherwise mostly ate out (except for an awesome vegan meal my sister made of black bean soup and local fresh grain bread with a balsamic/olive oil dip – of which I forgot to take pictures because I was more concerned with catching up with my sister who I haven’t seen in a year and a half!).

After I arrived and my Dad picked me up, we went grocery shopping, drill battery hunting, and then off to a Mexican restaurant for dinner.

This, my friends, is a yummy drink that swirls frozen margarita with frozen sangria.  Genius.
This, my friends, is a yummy drink that swirls frozen margarita with frozen sangria. Genius.
my veggie hot pot of yumminess for dinner.
my veggie hot pot of yumminess for dinner.
a vegan Thanksgiving with my parents and sister and her family!  Cornbread, maple roasted root veggies, balsamic roasted brussel sprouts, vegan stuffing (mom made that one), tofu pot pie, and green bean casserole!
a vegan Thanksgiving with my parents and sister and her family! Cornbread, maple roasted root veggies, balsamic roasted brussel sprouts, vegan stuffing (mom made that one), tofu pot pie, and green bean casserole!

The night I arrived, I spent time in the kitchen drinking wine, listening to Irish music, and cooking.  Sort of like I never left VA (expect I didn’t know where anything in the kitchen was!).

chopped mushrooms to make the base for the green beans
chopped mushrooms to make the base for the green beans
roasted butternut squash for the soup
roasted butternut squash for the soup
using my mom's Ninja to make the soup!
using my mom’s Ninja to make the soup!

The Saturday after Thanksgiving, my sister and I went around town and stopped for tapas and drinks at a neat place called Stilt that’s local to her.

sweet potato fries, squash soup, and pretzels with stone ground mustard.  And beer for her and wine for me!
sweet potato fries, squash soup, and pretzels with stone ground mustard. And beer for her and wine for me!

Saturday night was a major reunion of sorts.  In my estimation, it’s the first time this group got together in about 9 years!  Three of our cousins and my sister and I.

all the pretty girls!
all the pretty girls!
tofu hot wings which were delicious!
tofu hot wings which were delicious!
AC will be happy...I finally tried a bourbon drink!  This was a bourbon sour with a beer float on top.  Quite good, actually.  And my sister's yummy mojito.
AC will be happy…I finally tried a bourbon drink! This was a bourbon sour with a beer float on top. Quite good, actually. And my sister’s yummy mojito.

And then it was off to Chicago for a conference.  And here were some of my eats along the way…

butternut squash soup.  So glad it's a thing this time of year...
butternut squash soup. So glad it’s a thing this time of year…
roasted brussel sprouts with cranberries
roasted brussel sprouts with cranberries
grilled asparagus with sea salt and lemon
grilled asparagus with sea salt and lemon
went to a Greek place that really didn't have much vegan options, but did whip me up some yummy veggie kabobs!
went to a Greek place that really didn’t have much vegan options, but did whip me up some yummy veggie kabobs!
Greek beets....a cold dish of beets in garlic and olive oil.  It's the exact dish that turned me on to beets years ago!
Greek beets….a cold dish of beets in garlic and olive oil. It’s the exact dish that turned me on to beets years ago!
my standard hotel breakfast...steel oats, potatoes, OJ, and toast.
my standard hotel breakfast…steel oats, potatoes, OJ, and toast.

FITNESS

Well one thing is for sure…there’s no way on earth this girl is running outside in the Midwest in the middle of winter.  No way…no how.

Snow.  Cool to see in movies...not so cool to be in....
Snow. Cool to see in movies…not so cool to be in….

So, it was treadmill runs, yoga, and even a zumba class with my sister!

All fun stuff, but was glad to get home to mild weather that I can run in outside 🙂

Funny how thin one’s skin gets when moving south….though I was never meant for the cold, even as a kid!

LIFE

It’s been a really great, if not crazy, week.  I flew into Chicago last week Wednesday and then went to WI for the holiday weekend.

plane selfie!!
plane selfie!!

Thanksgiving dinner was at my parent’s house with my sister, her husband, and two kids.  I got to cook, play a game with my niece and nephew (after being told I buy them overly complicated games…they got back at me by bringing them and having me play!), and have Thanksgiving dinner with my family for the first time in eleven years.  The last time I was there for Thanksgiving was right before accepting a job and moving to VA.  So I bet you can all guess what I was thankful for this year!  While I missed my husband and kids, I know they had a great time without me.

my eldest, A, was home from college.  Apparently fell asleep completely wrapped in my blanket, and Bumble kept her company all night!
my eldest, A, was home from college. Apparently fell asleep completely wrapped in my blanket, and Bumble kept her company all night!

I spent a night at my sister’s house, and we caught up, attempted to watch movies, but really just talked through them (Love Actually and The Bourne Identity), worked out, went shopping, hung out and played another game with the kids, and then hung out with some cousins.

Sunday I took the train down to Chicago, checked into my hotel, and hit the bar to wait for my friend to arrive.  It turns out watching a Packer game in Chicago is a totally different experience.  I honestly don’t watch (American) football and normally couldn’t care less, but it was fun.

I had dinner with BS then went to bed to get ready for the conference the next day.  I also had too many bourbons.  So as much as AC wanted me to start drinking bourbon (she’s a big fan) it seems we’ve had only a brief love affair….we started dating on Sunday and promptly broke up on Monday…..

The conference itself was amazing.  I got a ton done, and was even interviewed (on camera!) for a publication specific for my industry.  Kinda crazy.  AC came down (we’re in related lines of work), and even though we shared a room, we hardly saw each other!  Our specific work responsibilities meant we were interested in different parts of the conference, but we still managed a fun night on Tuesday at a lovely GE 100th Anniversary event.

the most awesome hotel picture ever.  This was in my bathroom...it says (if you can't see it)...Your comfort is important to us, and with that in mind, we would like to inform you that opening the windows will allow flying insects and spiders into your room.
the most awesome hotel picture ever. This was in my bathroom…it says (if you can’t see it)…Your comfort is important to us, and with that in mind, we would like to inform you that opening the windows will allow flying insects and spiders into your room.
my last morning in Chicago turned out to be sunny (if not crisp!).  My hotel was on Michigan Ave, so it was a nice walk through the loop for breakfast and window shopping before heading back to catch the shuttle to the airport.
my last morning in Chicago turned out to be sunny (if not crisp!). My hotel was on Michigan Ave, so it was a nice walk through the loop for breakfast and window shopping before heading back to catch the shuttle to the airport.

Then I came home, worked, and took care of D, who’s in the middle of a pretty ugly Crohn’s flare-up right now.  We’re in the waiting game of test results to determine next steps, and he’s hanging in as best he can.  It’s impossible not to be worried about him though.  Send happy and healing thoughts his way, if you’re so inclined.

Other than that, it’s cleaning, shopping, cooking, and just being happy to be home!

 

 

This Isn’t a “Circle of Life Kinda Thing”

It’s a Lion King reference.  I hope you get it.  If not, the title may be lost on you….

FOOD

It’s been a simple few days.  Oatmeal again for breakfast yesterday and an early Cinco de Mayo dinner of lentil tacos for dinner (tacos are easier to feed masses of people).

Irish oats with blueberries and apple pie spice this time.
Irish oats with blueberries and apple pie spice this time.

Today was a green smoothie for breakfast and a salad and coconut veggie curry soup for lunch.  Dinner will be some grilled mushrooms and a quinoa salad.

FITNESS

I met up with AZ for a spinning class yesterday morning.  It’s been quite awhile since I’ve done one of those, and it was a brutal workout.  Even my friend, who spins fairly regularly, thought it was a tough one.

I wore my HR monitor, and it had me at 560 calories in one hour.  Crazy.

Today I did a zumba class at the Oceanfront as part of the Healing Life hippie festival.  It was cold and windy, so the dancing warmed me up.

LIFE

It’s been a nice weekend.  The oldest had her fitting party last night, and it ended up only one girl could spend the night, so it wasn’t as chaotic as I thought it would be.

While the girls hung out, D and I actually sat down long enough together to watch TV.  We started watching House of Cards, which is a Netflix-only political drama with Kevin Spacey.  So far we’ve watched 3 episodes and are loving it.

Today I went to a vegan meet-up at a hippie festival down at the Oceanfront.  I will be honest, I was disappointed.  It wasn’t well-organized (no meeting time/location…just the generic 10-6pm hours of the festivities), so I ended up wandering around by myself.  I don’t know if it was the wind and cold, but there wasn’t much there.  I did stay for a while, talked to the few vendors that were there, and watched a class on sprouting, but overall as a meet-up, it was nothing like the previous ones I’ve been to.  Oh well…they can’t all be awesome I suppose.

a flag football tourney was going on while I was there, and I stopped to watch them for a bit.
a flag football tourney was going on while I was there, and I stopped to watch them for a bit.
random ocean shot
random ocean shot
walking into the festival
walking into the festival

I finally planted my herbs this afternoon too.  One pot has 2 basil plants in it, and the other has a Thai basil, mint, and oregano.  Hope I don’t kill those.

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I’m really excited about next weekend.  R, M, and I (and possibly D, but not sure yet – he may be going camping) are going to Crabtree Falls in the Blue Ridge Mountains to go hiking!  It’s a group hike of about 3 miles total; 1.5 miles up and 1.5 miles back.  It’s graduated with a well maintained trail, and was told it’s good for kids.  I can only imagine how beautiful it’s going to be.  I think if I’m going to get into hiking, I want it to at least be pretty 🙂

Finally, a few goofy pet pictures to end the post…

D messing with Bumble.  She's clearly not amused.
D messing with Bumble. She’s clearly not amused.  I kept imagining her thinking “I’m not Simba, you jackass”
A and her friends went to Skinny Dip and brought the pups back some froyo.  She was a happy pups.
A and her friends went to Skinny Dip and brought the pups back some froyo. She was a happy pups.

Both Sammie and Bumble are getting pretty old.  Sammie will be 11 in July and Bumble will be 14.  Bum has always been an inside cat, but we’re starting to let her be in the yard as long as we’re there too.  She loves to explore, but we don’t want her running about the neighborhood.  She’s also a bit of a frady-cat, and hasn’t really wandered too far.  Today, for example, it took her forever just to walk out the back door….

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looking both ways is something we all should do.....
looking both ways is something we all should do…..

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