Monthly Archives: December 2012

My 2012 Running and Triathloning Recap

Happy last day of 2012, friends!  How are you spending the last 24 16 hours (and counting) of this year?  Will you set resolutions for 2013?  Even though I’m not one to set goals when the clock strikes midnight (you don’t have to wait for a new year, month, or week to make a change), I do like reviewing what happened this year–on the running and triathloning fronts, of course.  Seeing which races and distances proved successful—and which turned into struggle fests—I can better make my 2013 training schedule and race calendar.  This post has been circulating the running, triathloning, and healthy living blogs recently—and a big thanks to Miss Zippy for conceptualizing this idea—so with the new year only hours away, it’s time to reflect on 2012.

Best race experience?

Running:  The Seneca7 (during pre-Fitness and Frozen Grapes days). (The Boilermaker 15-K was a close number two!)

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This seven-person relay race around Seneca Lake promised everything—running (three legs and double-digit mileage for the day), eating (the swag bags contained nut butter and chocolate!), and lots of laughing.  At the beginning of the day, I didn’t know everyone on Team Run-On Sentences, but there’s nothing like running 77.7 miles to bond people.

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It was literally one of the best days ever, and four of the original Run-On members are looking to get a team together for 2013; I’ll keep you posted!

Triathloning:  Cazenovia Triathlon.

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It was my first triathlon in my hometown—I got to swim in “my” lake, bike on “my” hills, and run on “my” roads—and my family showed up in full force!

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Even though I completed brick workouts in the weeks leading up to the event, doing a true triathlon ignited a passion in me that I thought died during collegiate basketball.  After I crossed the finish line, I was totally hooked; deciding to give this triathlon thing a “tri” (sorry, couldn’t help myself) was a huge turning point for me, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me in 2013.

Worst race experience?

Running:  Tromptown Run (half-marathon).  In hindsight, training for my first triathlon and half-marathon simultaneously wasn’t the best idea.  Doing my first multisport event provided enough of a challenge (not to mention a learning curve!) that I could’ve done without increasing my mileage; if I hadn’t spent so much time running, I could’ve worked more on my swim and bike.  Anyway, this race itself proved to be my toughest run (mentally) of the year.  On the bright side, I can only improve, and looking forward (wayyy forward), I know I can and have run 13.1 miles … for when I train for a half-Ironman.

Triathloning:  Honestly, I didn’t have a disappointing triathlon (thanks to low expectations—ha!), but the swim portion of the DeRuyter Lake Triathlon ended up being especially brutal.  Wind and choppy water equated to my slowest swim split of the season.

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Again, that just means there’s room for improvement.

Best piece of new gear?

Running:  Mizuno Wave Elixirs.

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I’ve been an ASICS girl for the longest time, but I’m really glad I switched over; these sneaks feel so light!

Triathloning:  As a swim-bike-run rookie, I had to get all the necessary gear—tops and shorts, wetsuit, bike, everything.  Today, especially during the winter, I’m grateful for my CycleOps Fluid2 trainer.

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If I didn’t have this apparatus, I wouldn’t be riding regularly.

Best running/triathloning advice you received?

Running:  “Run the mile you’re in.” (I think I read it in Runner’s World.) While running, it’s easy to get caught up the distance or time remaining.  During the summer, heading out for a 10-mile run seemed daunting, so I’d break it up into smaller chunks.  Sometimes, I could handle running five and then another five, or maybe eight plus two, but there would be those days that making it to the next mailbox was the goal.

Triathloning:  A lot of running advice translates to triathloning—don’t try anything new on race day, always have several (“A,” “B,” and “C”) goals and races, etc.  Overall, though, I’m still learning so much about the sport, and my cousin MB has been great putting up with all my questions and offering tips.  Most recently, she told me about her general fueling strategy on the bike.

Most inspirational runner/triathlete?

Runner:  How can I pick one runner?!  Everyone has overcome obstacles, challenged themselves, and pushed past their limits, which sounds inspirational to me.

Triathlete:  Again, same thing. (Although I do have a total soft spot for Craig Alexander now.) Each triathlete has a story to tell, and each has a unique journey that lead them to the swim start.  Inspirational people are everywhere; you just have to look.  I’ll freely admit to tearing up while watching the Ironman World Championships in Kona–crossing the finish line means much more than swimming, biking, and running.  And after being inspired by these athletes, how can you not want to do it too?

If you could sum up your year in a couple of words, what would they be?

Challenging myself, going outside my comfort zone, and ultimately making a lifestyle change.

Running/triathloning ups?

Tackling new distances—like my first 10-Kvolunteering at the Ironman 70.3 Syracuse and with New York Runners in Support of Staten Island, and finishing my first sprint triathlon.

Running/triathloning downs?

Where I was mentally during my half-marathon; and honestly, the end of the triathlon season bummed me out.  In terms of confidence, I hit a turning point during my third tri, and I felt like I was starting to somewhat figure out what I was doing.  That’s off-season motivation, though!

Surprise of the year?

The fact that I started triathloning—and having people call me a triathlete.  I still can’t wrap my head around it sometimes!  If you told me one year ago—when I was a wee college senior—that I would be swimming, biking, and running after graduation, I probably would’ve looked at you in complete disbelief and had a good laugh.  Now, though, it seems like such a logical transition, and I can’t picture myself not triathloning.

Let’s hear about your 2012:  favorite race?  Best piece of new gear?  Surprise of the year?

Write It Down, Do It Up – Week of Dec. 30

Happy Sunday!  Did you do anything fun this weekend?  Thanks to the snow—it literally hasn’t stopped since Wednesday—we kept things low key.

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So did Zelda.  I went to two different malls yesterday (who am I?), and today, we stayed home and started taking down Christmas decorations.

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The holidays have officially ended.

With Christmas coming up last weekend, I didn’t post a WIDDIU.  Even though I completed some runs and one swim (don’t even get me started on my pool’s sporadic hours), I’ll be the first to admit I look a laidback approach to fitness while being home.  Case in point:

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Yeah, there was no writing down here during the holidays. (Which definitely affected getting after it and “doing it up.”) Let’s call it a glorified, semi-active recovery week, OK?  I’ll be home for a few more days, so my workouts will continue to be, uh, relaxed.  I know resting and recovering are important, but I really hope my lack of swimming and biking (and strength training) doesn’t come back to bite me when Full Throttle Endurance training starts next week.  Let’s get on to it—Write It Down, Do It Up!

(If you’re new to WIDDIU, here’s how it works:  Every Sunday evening, I post my workout schedule for the week, and I invite you to do the same.  This way, we can motivate each other and hold ourselves accountable.  Sounds like a win-win, right?)

Monday – a.m. run

Tuesday – a.m. run

Wednesday – a.m. swim (crossing my fingers the pool will be open!)

Thursday – off

Friday – a.m. swim; p.m. bike

Saturday – a.m. swim; p.m. run

Sunday – a.m. run and strength train; p.m. bike

Did you stay active during the holidays?  Or did you take it easy?

The Liebster Award

Hiya, friends—Happy Saturday!  I’ve been sitting on this post for a while—both Meghan and Haley nominated me for the Liebster Award—so since I’m shopping with my mom and sisters today, now is the perfect time to share the survey.

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First, I have to share 11 random facts.

1.  I have the best family ever.  My parents, sisters, and I are very close, and we see my mom’s side of the family—grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins—sees each other almost every weekend.

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On Sunday, there’s a huge Italian feast with pasta, pizza, homemade meatballs, all the classics.

2.  Twins definitely run in my family.  My younger sisters are twins, and so are my aunts. (Actually, one of my aunts married a twin!) Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of my sisters or I have twins.

3.  I’m always cold, and I have no idea why.

4.  My powers of persuasion are unparalleled.  As a high school senior, I essentially talked my way out of taking both math and physics, and as a first-year college student, I cut a deal with my Russian professor so I wouldn’t have to take the oral portion of the final exam.  Some of my best work occurred last year when I convinced my Economics prof to curve our midterm exam and make our final exam a take-home “essay.” (As a Writing and Rhetoric major, I do not consider a two-page response an essay.) Maybe this explains why I like rhetoric so much?  Ha!

5.  My morning routine includes turning on the coffee maker, brushing my teeth, and making my bed (in that exact order); I can’t function without making my bed.

6.  If you can make me laugh, then we’re going to be best friends.

7.  During 7th grade, my family lived with my grandparents for a year because we renovated our house.  The project was supposed to take a few months, but it ended up lasting nearly one year!  Even though it was tough making the 25-minute commute from their house to school (and to sports practices and games and …), it was definitely a year I’ll never forget.  How many people can say they lived with their grandparents?

8.  I can’t fall asleep without put on ChapStick and hand cream, specifically Crabtree and Evelyn’s Avocado, Olive and Basil.

9.  I had braces from the end of third grade until the middle of sixth, so I also wear a retainer every night.  So cool, I know.

10.  Two things you can always find on me include my water bottle and a banana/bag of almonds.  Never know when hunger will strike!

11.  Coffee cures everything.

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Next, I have to answer the questions Meghan and Haley asked.

1.  What was your favorite subject in school?  Your least favorite?

English, although I enjoyed French and Spanish, too.  Actually, I even received the foreign language award at graduation.

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And as you can tell from above, math was definitely my least favorite.

2.  What’s your dream job?

My immediate dream job would be writing and/or managing a diet and fitness publication (a la Lucy Danziger), and down the road, I can also see myself going to grad school, getting my masters and PhD, and becoming a college professor.  Talking about writing and rhetoric all day sounds pretty baller!

3.  Is there a time in your life you wish you could go back to?

Some days, I do miss playing high school basketball and hanging out at Camp Hoho going to college, but I wouldn’t go back.

4.  Where’s your favorite place to shop?

For “normal” clothes, my go-to stores include Gap, Anthropologie, J. Crew, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, and DSW Shoes.  For athletic apparel, I obviously love Fleet Feet and Syracuse Bicycle, and I also like JackRabbit Sports and Paragon Sports.

5.  If you could write a novel, what genre would you write?  Why?

Literary fiction—I’ve met a lot of interesting people who would make great “characters.”  And although it isn’t a novel, a memoir would be a lot of fun to write.

6.  Name three favorite foods.

Salmon, Greek yogurt, and (dark) chocolate.

7.  What’s one food you hated as a child that you now love?

Hmmm … I used to hate tomatoes; I don’t love them now, though, but I do tolerate them.  I’m also starting to appreciate sweet potatoes and spaghetti squash.

8. How many different places have you lived?

Cazenovia, NY (hometown); Canastota, NY (with my grandparents during our house renovation); Geneva, NY (during college); London, England (during my semester abroad); and now, New York, NY!

9. Who is your role model?

I’m very fortunate to have inspirational friends and family members, plus a couple college professors.  I think inspiration—and role models—can be found anywhere; you just have to look.

10.  Why do you blog?

Because it’s fun!  I love writing and interacting with likeminded people, so blogging about healthy living everyday can’t be beat.

11.  What’s the accomplishment you’re most proud of from 2012?

Completing my Honors project and graduating from college. (Was that really this year?  It seems like ages ago!)

Graduation

(Although finishing my first triathlon would be a close number two.)

Your turn:  What was your favorite subject in school?  What are your three favorite foods?  And since the new year is quickly approaching, what 2012 accomplishment are you most proud of?

Déjà Vu at the Pool

Happy Friday, everyone!  This week flew by, right?  Having a holiday in the middle of the week seems throws things off.

Dinner

Last night, the family and I went to Circa, one of our favorite local restaurants.  Prior to last night, I hadn’t been there in a few months, so I was looking forward to going back.  Plus, since its menu changes every week or so, there are always fresh dishes that reflect seasonal foods and flavors.  For my meal, I ordered the spicy shrimp gumbo.

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I really, really wanted to love it, but it was just OK; I hoped for a spicier, more flavorful dish.  I ate the shrimp and sausage and left most of the rice; I had plans for dessert—for Christmas Eve, my sister made a roasted pumpkin gingerbread cake, so I had a slice.

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It hit the spot!

Breakfast

Back to an old favorite this morning.

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An open-faced spinach and egg white sandwich with Sriracha.

Workout – Swimming

Good news—the local pool was open today!  I headed over around 11 a.m. for 45 minutes of drill work. (On a semi-related note, I’ve been loving sleeping in, eating breakfast, and having a relaxing morning before working out.)

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Back when I was in elementary school, there used to be a “kids night out” event, which allowed students to hangout at this facility—it includes a pool, a few basketball courts, etc.—for a few hours on a Friday night, and I remember swimming in the pool and thinking it was absolutely huge. (After today’s workout, I can assure you it’s a standard lap pool!) In addition to this déjà-vu/blast-from-the-past moment, I also recognized the on-duty lifeguard who currently goes to my alma mater. (He’s actually the same age as my younger sisters.) We chatted for a few minutes—I had to tell him I graduated in May, ha!—and then I got to work.  I didn’t have high expectations for this swim because I hadn’t been in water for about one week, but it went surprisingly well; plus, it felt really good to swim since I’ve only been running while being home.

As I progressed through my drills, I noticed a few kids enter the pool, and they seemed to be goofing off—lots of laughing and very little swimming—which is totally fine.  Anyway, during my final set of 5x100s, one of their kickboards hit my arm, and instead of getting angry, I simply batted it away and thought to myself, It’s going to take more than a tap like that to rattle me.  Oh, open-water swimming …

I’m sure I’ve shared this before; it never gets old!

Lunch

At home, I heated up half of a leftover chicken breast and wilted some spinach for round one.

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This didn’t fill me up after swimming, so I also finished up the last of the jalapeño-stuffed peppers, plus some wild rice.

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Mmmm!  I then proceeded to eat my weight in chocolate-covered raisins—ha!

What’s the most recent (or strangest!) déjà-vu/blast-from-the-past moment you’ve experienced?

So Much Snow

Happy Thursday, friends!  I hope you had a great holiday and have started to recover accordingly.  My family and I spent the day hanging out, reading, and organizing Christmas leftovers.  The first order of business included putting cookies in Tupperware and burying them in the freezer.

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Out of sight, out of mind, right?

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I haven’t broken into these frozen stashes yet, but I did eat wayyy too many of my grandma’s Italian venetian cookies.  So many, in fact, that they’re all gone, which means no picture.  Whoops.  Anyway, we also laid low yesterday because of a winter storm warning for Central New York; we got easily 10 inches of snow last night, and it’s still coming down.  Plus, the lake finally froze over.

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The bad weather even caused my local pool/fitness center to close, which I discovered after digging my car out of the snow and driving there.  Oh well.  Fingers crossed it’s open tomorrow.

Breakfast

My breakfast started off with an unpictured banana I ate before going to the pool, and after coming back home, I made “oatless” oatmeal an hour or so later.

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I followed the recipe, except I substituted almond extract for vanilla.  I didn’t taste a difference, but that’s probably because of the huge glob of Justin’s chocolate almond butter.  Would you believe Santa put a jar in my stocking?  He knows me well! (And there’s no way it will last more than a few days!)

Workout – Running

After letting my breakfast digest, I headed outside to run.  This wasn’t the greatest idea—the temperature notched 20 degrees Fahrenheit, and the snow continued to fall—but I will do anything (and run in anything) to avoid the dreadmill.

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One of my go-to routes takes about 45 minutes to complete, but it took me an hour to run it today.  Yeah, it took my body about 40 minutes to warm up (ha!), but the roads desperately needed to be plowed again—no sign of pavement.

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Please note the snowbank on the left; it reached my hip!  I would’ve been better off running in snowshoes!

Lunch

After showering, I heated up a bowl of homemade shrimp bisque.

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Mmmm!  I was still hungry, so I put together a plate of Christmas leftovers for round two.

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My uncle’s girlfriend made these delicious jalapeno-stuffed peppers with cream cheese, sausage, and cheese, and I also had a little wild rice.  I’m thinking an apple with some chocolate nut butter is in order!

How are you recovering from the holidays?  Have you taken down Christmas decorations yet?  What about your tree?  Would you ever run in the snow?

Christmas 2012 in Pictures

Happy day-after Christmas, friends!  I hope you had fun with your family and loved ones!

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Santa gave this greyhound ornament to my sister, which was long overdue; it’s our first Zelda-related Christmas ornament.  I didn’t do too great on the picture front the past few days, but I will share some of my favorites.

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On Christmas Day, my sisters and I did our stockings first, and my parents opened a few presents, too.  Then, it was time for breakfast!  We made an egg bake with tomatoes, mushrooms, and red and green peppers, plus gingerbread pancakes with sautéed pears.

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This was the only food photo I took during the holidays, which is because the pancakes tasted super moist and delicious; we’ll definitely make them again next year.  After eating, we moved onto presents.

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My indoor bike trainer was my “big” (and early) Christmas present, so I got smaller gifts, which was totally fine—less stuff to lug back to NYC!

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This pile of books sums me up pretty well—ha!  My sister gave me Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle, which has some great recipes (and spice blend ideas!), and Santa got me Sex, Lies, and Triathlons and the Baby Lit version of Pride and Prejudice, which is super adorable.

A few hours later, we headed to my aunt and uncle’s house for our Yankee swap and Christmas Day dinner feast.  I didn’t take any pictures, but there were so many appetizers—shrimp and cocktail sauce, veggies and dip, crackers and cheese, fried fish, scallops wrapped in bacon, spinach and artichoke dip, etc.  We joked there were enough apps to last until Easter!

Later, we did our annual Yankee swap—similar to a white elephant gift exchange—which was a ton of fun.  This was my first year participating, but I had a good strategy thanks to many years of spectating.  In the end, I walked away with a bottle of very nice red wine (woohoo!), plus a jewelry set and some saltwater taffy.  My grandparents also gave presents to their kids and grandkids; check out these treats.

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Each bundle contained seven tiers of homemade cookies my grandma made.  So seven tiers times five kids (really six, but my uncle and his family live in Pennsylvania, and they couldn’t make it) equals a boatload of cookies.

After the gift exchange, more eating and drinking ensued, and we may have polished off a bottle of cinnamon roll rum.  Chocolate martinis also may have happened–ha!

Was Santa good to you this year?  What’s your favorite gift you gave/received?

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas, friends!

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(And for those who are obsessed with Syracuse basketball like me, Happy Rakeem!)

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[source and source]

I wasn’t sure if I’d post today, but since we’re still waiting for a few family members to wake up, I figured I’d pop in and wish you a happy holiday.

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After doing stockings, eating breakfast (egg bake and gingerbread pancakes, yum!), and opening presents, we’re going to my aunt and uncle’s house for our Yankee swap.  I can’t wait to see everyone! (We had a small party of 11 last night for Christmas Eve surf and turf.) Enjoy the day!

Merry Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas Eve, friends!

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We went to Lights on the Lake last night, a two-mile long drive along Onondaga Lake Park that features a ton of (you guessed it) light displays like the Victorian Village, Land of Oz, and the Wide World of Sports.  We go every year, and it’s fun to see new additions.

In other news, we’re done baking Christmas cookies for now!  Can you believe we made five different types of treats?

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Oh, and Margaret even baked a special Christmas Eve cake.  Hopefully Santa—and the family!—enjoys everything.

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I hope you have a great holiday filled with lots of family, friends, and laughs!

My Christmas Survey

Happy Christmas Eve Eve, friends!  Who’s excited for Santa?

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I’m spending the day baking more Christmas cookies and hanging out with the family, and I figured now would be a good time to share my responses to a survey Courtney shared last week.

1.  Favorite Christmas album/CD/song?

As I shared in a previous survey, I have a serious soft spot for Mannheim Steamroller and Bing Crosby.  In fact, my sister and I listened to both yesterday while we made cookies.  ‘Tis the season!

2.  Run on Christmas morning or take the day off?

Hmmm, I’ve done both in the past.  During my collegiate basketball days, I would take the day off (mostly to spite my coaches–ha!), but I’m pretty sure I ran last year; I participated in the first Runner’s World Run Streak that challenged runners to tackle at least one mile everyday between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, so I think I ran.

3.  What do you usually eat on Christmas morning?

We always have a special breakfast—like baked French toast—on Christmas morning.  This year, we’ll have an egg bake and gingerbread pancakes.

4.  Favorite holiday or Christmas tradition?

After Thanksgiving, my family goes to Critz Farms to cut down our Christmas tree.

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Speaking of …

5.  Real tree, fake tree, or no tree?

I’ve grown up always having a real tree, but I have nothing against artificial ones.

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Any tree is better than no tree, right?

6.  Christmas pajamas … yay or nay?

Way back in the day, my mom used to sew Christmas jammies for my sisters and me.  Time for some throwbacks!

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She even made some for Ellen’s doll!  Mildly embarrassing, but whatever; I loved my Christmas jammies.

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Clearly, the late 90s were a tough era for me—ha!

7.  Where do you spend the holidays?

We usually host Christmas Eve dinner, and we head to my aunt and uncle’s house for Christmas Day festivities.

8.  Food that you always have during the holiday season?  Favorite Christmas food/treat?

My grandma’s crack!

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Er, homemade toffee!

9.  Open presents all at once or take turns?

My sisters and I open our stockings first, and we usually stagger present-opening a bit.  It’s fun to watch their reactions!

10.  Favorite Christmas(ish) movie?

Is it a copout if I say Elf?  It’s just so good!

Your turn:  What do you eat on Christmas morning?  Real or fake tree?  Do you love Elf as much as me?

Snapshot Saturday – Home for the Holidays

Hello from Central New York!

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It feels great to be home for the holidays!  Even though I saw my family last weekend, we haven’t been together at home since Thanksgiving, so I’m happy and thankful we’re all together again.  Including Zelda.

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I missed her so much!  Today’s been a low-key, relaxing day.  I watched the Syracuse basketball this afternoon, which I do not want to talk about.

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Yep, Jim Boeheim was seriously peeved. (And yes, my beloved Orange lost to the Temple Owls.) I then proceeded to drown my sorrows by baking some Christmas cookies.  First, Margaret and I made fudge-filled sandies.

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We split one for “quality control purposes,” and they tasted yummy!

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We also baked a batch of gingerbread men.

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We’ll decorate them tomorrow, and we also have at least three more types of cookies to make, so we’ll be busy!  Oh, and between measuring flour, setting the timer, and moving cookies to cooling racks, I totally OD’d on my grandma’s homemade toffee.

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You can’t stop at one piece; the stuff is seriously addicting, so we call it crack–ha!  Hopefully there will be more at our family dinner tomorrow.

Do you bake Christmas cookies?  What’s your favorite type of cookie to make—or eat?