Thanksgiving Weekend in Photos

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I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I know I did: it was a lot of work, but spending time with family made it all worth it. Plus, we’ve had leftovers for days—which made dinner much easier on Saturday and Sunday while we put up all our Christmas decorations. Here are some snapshots I’d like to share.

Our Thanksgiving Table
We tried to keep it classy with a white and gold theme, and a floral centerpiece that mom bought to use as part of a new Thanksgiving tradition.
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Thanksgiving Dinner
A slideshow of some of the bountiful food we were blessed to have this holiday, including a 27-pound turkey, lasagna, corned beef, and at least a dozen sides.

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Family Photo
I love everyone in this picture so much!
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Dessert
I baked a pumpkin pie with maple whipped cream, a chocolate fudge pie, and a few mini pies. We also had sugar cookie cheesecake from my brother’s girlfriend and snowball cookies from my mom—both were delicious!

Christmas Time!
As is tradition in the Doka household, we spent the weekend after Thanksgiving changing our dining room decor from fall to winter:
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And putting up our Christmas tree:
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Countdown to Disney: 45 Days

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20953500_10106693311536829_1695517932177272958_n.jpgMy Disney obsession is no secret. I first visited with my parents and brother in 2001, and thought I don’t remember much of the trip—to those who know me well, it’s also no secret that I have the worst memory in the world—I know I had a good time. Todd and I visited together early in our relationship, then again in 2012 when he proposed. And on our recent trip to California with my parents, we visited Disneyland for the first time (right). But every time we’ve gone to that magical place, it’s been warm and sunny—until now. This year we’ll be in Disney World for New Year’s Eve, so that we get to experience all of the holiday decor plus a special celebration to welcome 2018.

There’s only 45 days left until our trip, and we’ve planned it down to the tiniest details. We know which day we’ll do which park, we’ve made restaurant reservations and plotted out which shows we’re going to see, and we’ve booked fastpasses for the rides we most want to experience. I know it’ll be crowded (read: completely and utterly mobbed), so I think all of our planning will serve us well. Of course, we’ll still be spontaneous here and there, and I’m sure we’ll have tons of impromptu photo sessions. I also can’t wait to see what kinds of holiday snacks we’ll find; I’m trying not to do much research in advance so that I can be surprised while we’re there.

So now I’m just counting down the days, and in the meantime, I’m looking back at photos from all of our previous trips. Here are a few gems from our trip last summer:

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Todd, Dad, Nick Wilde (from Zootopia), me, and momize-full wp-image-10066″/>

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The fam on Splash Mountain.

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Snapshots of some of the delicious food we had during our visit!

Vacation Memories

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As recently as last month, my parents hadn’t been on a vacation since their honeymoon. They’re two of the hardest working people I know, and I thought they deserved some time away, so I convinced them that we should take a family trip to see the West Coast—from Phoenix to the Grand Canyon to the Hoover Dam to Las Vegas to Los Angeles. I’ll eventually share details about each part of our trip (including the best deep-dish pizza I’ve ever eaten and our kayak surprise), but for now I just wanted to share a picture from each leg of our trip and say hello to everyone I’ve been missing these past two weeks:

Grand Canyon

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Todd and I at the Grand Canyon, one of the most stunning vistas I’ve ever seen.

Las Vegas

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Disneyland

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With Nick Wild from Zootopia at Disneyland. I loved taking family photos with characters!

Los Angeles

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On the Santa Monica pier, my favorite spot in LA.

My 29th Birthday… Sort Of

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It was my sort-of birthday this weekend: Technically I was born on February 29, the extra day in a leap year, but since there isn’t one this year, I guess I can celebrate whenever I want! Everyone was so good to me. Todd’s parents bought me the rainbow cookie cake I’m posing with in the slideshow above, and my parents got me some cute cupcake balloons and took the family out to dinner at The Cheesecake Factory. And everyone gave me wonderful cards and gifts! I’m so thankful to have such awesome people in my life.

I know I haven’t updated this blog in a few weeks; it’s been tough to juggle work, household chores, errands, and hangouts. And when I do have some time, I’m not too sure what to write about. But now that I’m (almost, sort of) 29, I’ll try to be more responsible and do better haha. I also hope to really make progress on my New Year’s resolutions between now and my next birthday, as well as train for the 2018 New York City marathon. But I also hope to find more time for the people who make my life as meaningful as it is: all of my family and friends, and my fellow bloggers and online amigos who push me to do better, be better, and live better.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on what your favorite blog posts have been, and what you’d like to see more of going forward so that I can brainstorm some ideas. And, as always, thank you so much for your continued readership and support!!! xo

A Reminder to Give Thanks

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It’s been just over one week since Thanksgiving, and I’ve spent the week trying to truly hold on to the gratitude I felt on that day. It’s always so easy on a holiday, with no work and the prospect of delicious meals and family time, to feel thankful for the things and people in our lives. It’s a lot harder after the fact, when we’re too full and back to the daily grind. I want to be appreciative more often, if I can. We only get one life in which to show people they matter to us, and I want to use mine. I hope you’ll join me in this quest: to be thankful every day in December leading up to Christmas and the New Year. I’m going to start trying to post to my twitter account each day with the hashtag #ThankfulDecember to remind myself that no matter how cold it is outside or how hectic it is at work, there’s always something to be grateful for. I’d love it if you could post, too, and we can help inspire each other!

 

 

7.5-mile Fall Harvest Race

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The day before the 7.5-mile Fall Harvest Race in Cornwall-on-Hudson, New York, I trimmed down my Spotify running playlist and packed leggings, a t-shirt, a long-sleeve insulated shirt, a head warmer, and two pairs of socks. Todd, my parents, and I drove about an hour upstate to Beacon and walked around the town: art galleries, a hipster coffee shop that wasn’t as good as we remembered, a chocolate shop, and a record store, but also a Key Food, a squat library, and a smoke shop or two. Mountains rose in the distance, but I could never get a picture unmarred by houses or cars or telephone poles. We ate dinner—a patty melt for me, a pork chop for Todd, a chicken-and-avocado sandwich for Dad, and a walnut-crusted chicken salad for Mom that had more meat than lettuce—at a diner a few towns over, then retired to an airport hotel room infested with ladybugs.

At half-past seven the next morning, we picked up our free t-shirts and race bibs at the Storm King Engine Co., a firehouse on what appeared to be Cornwall-on-Hudson’s main street, alongside a cafe, a diner, a flower shop, a post office, and a gazebo. In the same room as packet pickup, colorful gift bags held raffle prizes and organizers offered coffee and bagels to runners. Around 8:20 we made our way to the start line, where we found only a dozen or so others waiting. By 8:30 a small crowd had formed, and we were off! It turned out that only 80 of us participated, a majority of the crowd potentially having signed up for a nearby trail race instead (according to what I overheard one local saying to another, anyway).

The first two miles took us through the town: houses and lawns, cars with Trump bumper stickers. I kept clenching and unclenching my fingers into a fist to try and get some feeling in them. Around Mile 3 we passed back along the main street and headed toward Storm King State Park, a 1,972-acre tract of protected land. During Miles 3 and 4, we got some great views of the Hudson River. Mile 5 took us steadily uphill. We had passed my parents earlier, and at this point Todd slowed to a walk. It was just me for a while, following the white painted arrows on the roads, which were open to traffic, to figure out which way to go in order to stay on course. I passed up a group of women who’d been in my sight at the start of the run but whom I’d since lost track of. My legs burned, especially the backs of my thighs. My breath came heavy, since I’d been running the race at a faster pace than usual. But I didn’t focus on those things; instead, I felt only gratitude—for the pure, crisp air and crunch of leaves and nostril-tingling scent of nature and woodsmoke. At the top of the biggest hill, there was a spectacular view of the Hudson Valley, a swath of red and gold trees. Another few more small climbs, then downhill the last mile to the finish line, where I came in at 1 hour and 13 minutes, with an average pace of approximately 9:50/mile. Though I placed 56th overall (those runners were fast!), I was second in my gender/age group and got a cool embossed cup as a prize.

On the drive home, we stopped to snap a photo at a scenic view:

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A Boo-tiful Halloween

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Wow, I’ve been busy! I’d spent some time planning snacks and activities for a Halloween party held at my friend’s house in Connecticut, and I’m pleased to say that it was a success. We had a sleepover the night before so that we could wake up and get an early start on all of our creations, from chocolate cupcakes to fruit cups meant to look like candy corn.

Clockwise from top left: Elina and me, wearing matching Halloween socks, with Ghost; chocolate-covered Oreo cookies made to look like pumpkins; a salad topped with a sour cream “spider web”; spinach “toxic waste” mac & cheese; and orange, pineapple, whipped cream “candy corn” fruit cups.

At the party we also took pictures with Halloween props and watched Poltergeist, a horror classic that isn’t scary but is fun to poke fun at. We even carved pumpkins! Todd and I went the easy route and just turned out pumpkin into a bat, but some of our friends etched out some really creative designs.

On Sunday, I decided that we still hadn’t had enough Halloween sugar, so I baked a lemon-ricotta cake with cream cheese frosting and a layer of lemon curd, then decorated it with some Halloween sprinkles. I also made mini cupcake versions, but those were topped with a vanilla-malt frosting. Mom and I baked vanilla cupcakes with vanilla frosting, too, and had fun scarify-ing them with spooky ghosts and gummy worms and any other candy we could find.

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To burn some of those calories, Todd and I did a six-mile run to the Botanical Garden in hopes of seeing some fall foliage. Most of the trees hadn’t begun their transformations yet, but we saw some stunning fall colors near the entrance of the garden. When we got home, we quickly washed Todd’s car before it rained, falling in sheets so thick you couldn’t see through them. It was nice to relax and listen to the storm after the busy weekend we’d had.

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Unfortunately I missed out on seeing the cute costumes of trick-or-treaters because I had to work late yesterday, and it’s likely to be busy and late all week here at O magazine. But it’s okay: I have plenty of sweets and candy to help me power through!