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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My Thanksgiving Plans

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This year, Todd and I will be hosting Thanksgiving in our apartment for the first time. Well, my mom is going to be helping us a lot since we live in a two-family house and she’s right upstairs, but it’s the first time we’ll have both sets of our parents and a few family friends gathered around our table for the holiday. It’s really exciting to plan the menu and figure out the logistics of who’s going to sit where, but it’s also a lot of work trying to make sure there’s something for everyone and plan out my baking and cooking schedule. Luckily I’m off from work on Wednesday, so I’ll have an extra day to get things ready.

One great thing is that everyone is going to be contributing: Todd’s mom, Rachel, will make her famously delicious glazed corned beef; my mom will bring a ton of supremely yummy dishes, like Italian lasagna and meatballs, the stuffing, the mashed potatoes, and a few other Thanksgiving classics; and Todd and I will make a few Thanksgiving-with-a-twist dishes, like coconut-sesame green beans, cranberry-fig chutney, and bruleed sweet potatoes. We’ll also be making an apple-cider turkey. And I’ll be baking too: a pecan fudge pie, a pumpkin pie, and a few mini fruit pies. My brother’s girlfriend, Megan, will be making a sugar-cookie cheesecake, which sounds so good!

I’m excited to see how the evening turns out, and to take plenty of pictures of family and food (if I don’t eat it all first).

Bryant Park Holiday Market Food Photos

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Since I’m swamped at work and don’t have much time for philosophical literary musings (or NaNoWriMo—I know, I know, that was supposed to be my Wednesday blog topic), I’m going to share some food photos from the Bryant Park holiday village instead. Every year, the winter market features small shops and food stands, as well as an ice rink. Todd and I visited recently to browse for some early Christmas gifts and get dinner; we tried so many places, and there are still others on our list for next time (cookie dough hot chocolate, I’m looking at you). Here are some photos:

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One section of the Bryant Park winter village, all lit up and glowy after work.

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Roberta’s small pizza, with sausage, onions, basil, and a drizzle of honey. Deliciously crisp yet chewy crust, only I wished there had been more cheese.

 

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A “bing” from Mr. Bing; it was like a thin pancake stuffed with duck, egg, crispy wontons, scallions, a delicious mystery sauce, and probably other ingredients I’m forgetting.

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Amazing fried chicken! With a chicken bun and a beef bun, both of which were good but not anything to write home about. 

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One of my favorite meals ever: a crunchy baguette filled with ham and pickles and lots and lots of gooey raclette cheese.

 

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!

A Runner’s Dream

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Yesterday, for the first time in 40 years, an American woman (Shalane Flanagan) broke the finish line tape of the New York City marathon! I’d been following her career with interest, so I was especially excited to watch her succeed in what she’s called a childhood dream. Her unofficial time was 2 hours and 26 minutes—only one minute and one second faster than that of the three-time defending champion. It’s so crazy to think that had she taken a slightly slower pace, she might not be celebrating victory today. It’s something that strikes me every time I run: whenever I want to slow down, I remind myself that even a few seconds can matter, though my races are nowhere near as high stakes as the marathon was for a four-time Olympian like Shalane.

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View from the Pelham Bridge in the Bronx. #nofilter

I’d never dreamt of running a marathon. In fact, a few years ago, I couldn’t begin to contemplate completing a 10K. But somehow, the sport takes hold of you, and once it does, you find yourself pushing farther than you’d ever believed possible. And in 2018, I will race the NYC marathon, even though racing double the amount I’ve ever run before seems intimidating at best, impossible at worst. About half a year from now, I’ll start looking into which training plan Todd and I should follow (yep, he’s doing it with me; I have the best husband ever) and I’ll focus on things like pace and gear and timing and energy gels and how to run 26.2 miles without having to pee.

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A perfect postrun snack: Cocoa-topped coffee accompanied by a homemade, whole-wheat, pumpkin olive oil bread with walnuts and fresh ginger!

Until then, though, I’m going to just bask in the run: short two-mile morning jogs under the few stars I can see from my neighborhood, long runs in the Botanical Garden or to the cemetery to visit my grandma and grandpa’s headstone. My running dream is to appreciate each experience, even if it’s hard or I just want to sit on the couch and watch TV instead. This weekend, Todd and I did a run to the beach and back home, seven miles in all. We didn’t worry about how fast we were going, we just took in the scenery and walked when we needed to and ran just to enjoy the run. For me, that’s the best part. That and and the post-run coffee (accompanied by carbs & protein!) I like to have when I get back.

Running: A Love-Hate Relationship (But Mostly Love)

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Every weekend it seems like Todd and I either have a race or just go out for a run. I both love and hate that schedule: I like that it’s great for fitness, and great for getting extra calories to put toward food (though too often I put them toward snacks). I don’t like that it complicates plans and means getting out of the house super early after a long week at work. But we’re well on our way to completing the nine races (and one volunteer event) we need to guarantee our entry into the 2018 marathon, and that goal is worthwhile enough that I’m willing to deal with some inconvenience. (Even though I’m still kind of scared about running the 26.2 miles.) Plus, we try our best to keep our runs as varied as possible: morning runs, a few evening runs, short, long, speed, distance, indoor, outdoor. Overall, any run is better than no run, and our love of the sport means we’re willing to sacrifice things like time and toenails.

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On an early morning run in the neighborhood, noting all the unnecessary artificial lighting and wishing I could see some stars.

My favorite runs are long runs, especially if it’s a breezy Saturday morning and we can take our time looping through the Bronx. Maybe we’ll pass through the Botanical Gardens and snap some photos of flowers or Chihuly sculptures; maybe we’ll detour across town to Riverdale and then up to the Ridge Hill shopping center in Yonkers. The slower pace gives me time to think, to relax into my body and the rhythm of the run. Yet there’s something to be said for short runs, too. They’re faster and harder and after only two or three miles, you feel accomplished and exhausted in the best possible way. Case in point: earlier this month, Todd and I ran the New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile in the city. To my surprise, I achieved my fastest mile (7 minutes, 14 seconds) and placed 1,339 out of 3,646 women. I felt like my lungs might burst but I also felt glad because I had pushed as hard as I could. And I was very proud of Todd, who ran the mile in 6:26! That’s a time I can only dream of.

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After the New Balance Fifth Avenue Mile

This Sunday we’ll race the out-and-back course of the Bronx 10-Mile. Though I’m not looking forward to dealing with the subways (always a mess on the weekends and sometimes not running at all), I am excited to explore a new part of our hometown—and then hopefully eat a good breakfast. (After all, what’s a love of running without a love of food?) In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you: What are your favorite kinds of runs?  Your tips will hopefully inspire me to try a new workout or introduce a fresh element to my training, especially as we start preparing for next year’s marathon.

Watch My Garden Grow

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I can’t believe it’s already the end of July. The summer is passing in front of my eyes and I’m not even sure where the days are going; I’ve been juggling additional fact-checking work at the magazine I copy edit for with trying to be outdoors as much as possible, squeezing in time for family (my grandparents just visited from Florida) and friends (we had a board game day, a restaurant-week dinner, Todd’s coworkers’ wedding, and a trip to Mystic, CT). And of course, I’ve also been gardening.

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Garden haul, early July 2017

This year we wanted to focus more on veggies, less on herbs, and so far we’ve been pretty successful (though our lettuce hasn’t been as abundant as in past years, possible because we started them from seed rather than buying the already semi-grown plants sold in Home Depot like we normally do. My dad rigged up a growth lamp in the garage, and it was a lot of fun to watch them sprout up a little more each week; unfortunately, that process also left them a little weak and they’ve been struggling to produce.

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Lettuce (far left), with various herbs, peppers, and beans in the beds, and cucumbers and squash climbing along the top.

I also think we may have gone a little overboard on squash. We love to roast and grill the butternut squash our garden produces every year, and this year we tried some other varieties as well, like yellow summer squash and orange-y crook-neck squash. In fact, I just picked a crook-neck this morning and am planning to make crisps out of it—that’s my healthier alternative to snack on potato chips!

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A still-growing butternut squash

We also have cucumber, which I’ll use a bit later today in a tomato-watermelon gazpacho, eggplant (though they haven’t fully matured yet), peppers (accidentally bought hot banana peppers instead of mild—eek!), tomatoes (the yellow cherry tomatoes are coming along best; our bigger plants seem to be yellowing for some reason), snap peas and green beans, and some kind of fuzzy bean that must have been mislabeled when I bought the plants. I could have sworn that sprout was a Japanese eggplant when I planted it! And don’t forget our fruits: strawberries, blueberries (though they refuse to ripen; I have to research why), and blackberries (we didn’t get as many this year as in past years).

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Garden bounty, picked this morning!

I also have a pumpkin plant, which is really stretching its roots along the backyard fence. I know it’s a long shot, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a little pumpkin in the fall.

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My pumpkin patch