A Late Birthday, An Early Thanksgiving

My birthday was on a Tuesday this past week, but I had commitments after work, so we didn’t really do much to celebrate.  I stopped by Luke’s Locker, a local running store, to pick up our registration packets for the Turkey Trot and while I was there, I decided I would buy myself a birthday present- new running shoes.  The guy watched me walk and had me try on three pairs of shoes that would best fit my foot type.  It was a tough decision between two of the pairs, but I decided on the Brooks.  I brought them up to the register, not even having looked at the price and I had sticker shock when the clerk rang them up, but I went ahead and got them.  It was a treat to myself and probably wise to get shoes that are fitted for me anyway. 

The rest of the week was pretty busy, so Nick and I finally celebrated with his mom and step dad, who were in town, on Saturday evening.  Every year that Nick and I have been together, we’ve gone to the same restaurant to celebrate my birthday- Suze.  It’s one of my favorite places to eat in Dallas, particularly because it has become our little tradition.  As a former devoted watcher of the Food Network Channel (we no longer have TV, so I don’t get to watch it any more), I learned about Suze through the Next Food Network Star.  Lisa Garza, the chef at Suze, was in the top three of season four of the Next Food Network Star, so of course I was eager to try the restaurant.  I picked it out as where I wanted to go for my 27th birthday and we’ve been going there every year since.  It’s a small spot in an unexpected location, but I love it.  And it was nice to celebrate with Nick’s mom and step dad this year as well.  It was a small, quiet affair, but just the way I wanted to celebrate turning 30.

Nick and I turned in fairly early in preparation of our run the next morning along with an early Thanksgiving with Nick’s mom’s side of the family.  We got up and I checked the weather- 72 degrees out and 90% humidity.  I knew right then and there that it was going to be a hot run.  Now I normally don’t start to sweat on my runs until close to a mile.  If it’s cold out, then I can make it about a mile and a half before I start to perspire.  Well, I made it about 4/10 of a mile before the sweat began to drip down me.  And I had 8.6 miles to go before I was done.  Let me tell you, it was miserable!  I kept wiping my face off with my hands and my shirt, and every time I did, I saw these black flecks on whatever I wiped my face with.  I assumed that maybe I hadn’t wiped off all the mascara from my eyes the night before, so I was wiping the mascara off.  It wasn’t until about mile 5 that I realized that it wasn’t mascara at all.  The little black flecks were gnats!  I kept running into swarms and they were sticking to my face as I ran through them!  Gross!  After that realization, I tried to look harder and avoid the swarms.  Along with the gnats, I was dying of thirst by mile 3.  There is a water fountain that I run by a couple of times, however last week I discovered it’s completely dried up.  I was so desperate for water, I wanted to ask people out in front of their homes if they could get me something to drink.  Unfortunately, that didn’t pan out very well, the few people I saw out were closing the front door or garage right as I got close enough to ask or they didn’t actually live in the house they were standing in front of- like the yard maintenance crew.  I managed to complete the 9 miles in miserable time and I probably walked 2 of the miles, but it was done and after a quick shower, it was time to start cooking for Thanksgiving round 1: Nick’s extended family.  I signed up to make gnocchi with squash and kale, and rolls. 

No Knead Onion Rolls- The yeast is getting activated
The dough is starting to rise
Dough is formed into balls
I didn’t get a final shot after they came out of the oven since we ended up going over to Nick’s grandparents place and I finished them there.  It was a little too chaotic for a food photo shoot.  I ended up using whole wheat flour instead of regular flour so they came out pretty dry and not particularly popular among Nick’s family.  Oh well.  I should have followed the recipe exactly for better results, but if you are interested, click here for a link to the recipe from Real Simple Magazine.

The Gnocchi with Squash, and Kale turned out well.

sauteing the squash
Gnocchi with Squash and Kale ready to go in the oven for the final touch
Again, I didn’t get a picture of the finished product, but it was almost done in this last picture, so hopefully you get the idea.  I found this recipe in a recent issue of Food Network Magazine, but you can click here to see the online recipe.

Thanksgiving with Nick’s family went well, although I get very overwhelmed any time there is a big holiday event with all of them.  Growing up, we had a lot more immediate family meals than getting together with extended relatives, so I’m not used to huge family gatherings.  Every holiday that Nick’s family gets together, I really want to be more outgoing and friendly, but every time we get there, I become so overwhelmed.  They must think that I’m very cold and recluse.  When it’s fewer people, I feel much more at ease and friendly.  (To Nick’s extended family, if you are reading this, I’m sorry, I’m just overwhelmed by large family gatherings.  I promise, I’m a friendly person!)

After we got home from Thanksgiving round 1, I had to prep for Thanksgiving round 2: Office Thanksgiving Lunch.  I signed up to bring an appetizer and decided to make sausage balls a family favorite from growing up.  It has sausage and cheese- a typical crowd pleaser.
Sausage balls fresh out of the oven
Nick ate about half of them, so I figured they must be good.  And as it turned out, they quickly disappeared at the office lunch, along with most of the left over No-Knead Onion Rolls from Sunday’s family Thanksgiving.  So it’s been a successful kick-off of the Thanksgiving overindulgence week.  Next up will be a nice, quiet Thanksgiving dinner at home with Nick after our 8-mile Turkey Trot Race.

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