Fun

Thanksgiving

Happy December, everyone!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend filled with family, food, and relaxation.  We always do Thanksgiving with my Dad’s side of the family, who traveled from Massachusetts, North Carolina, and that state up north to my parent’s house in Cleveland for the long weekend (and my brother flew in from NYC!  We missed you, Atlee – she’s in Israel!).  It was a loud, fun, loving weekend together.  Some highlights:

1.   All. The. Food.  aka, “Ode to Laurie Chait”

Thanksgiving Dinner!

Thanksgiving Dinner!

I could (and probably should) write an entire blog post dedicated to my Mom, the hostess.  Words cannot begin to describe the amount of preparation and work that goes into welcoming ~10 people for 4 days straight.  I know there are plenty of families with larger Thanksgiving Dinners than mine, but most people don’t start the feast the day before and end it three days after!  Over the course of Wed – Sat, my mom fed everyone multiple meals, just one of which was Thanksgiving dinner, and all of which were homemade: three types of soup and grilled cheese, a Mediterranean feast, and chili (along with many many leftovers). We only “ate out” once – pizza Saturday night (served with salad, of course)!  She ran the dishwasher three times PER DAY – which means she unloaded the dishwasher three times PER DAY.  Now, of course my brother, Dad, and I pitched in, but as only the woman of the household can understand, when it’s your house…things are just different.

My Plate

My Plate – Round One

Mom, you’re the best.  I can only hope to be as gracious and warm a hostess as you one day!

2.  Cards Against Humanity
A couple of weeks ago I bought Cards Against Humanity – “A party game for horrible people”.  If you’ve never played the game, I insist you buy yourself an early Christmas present and gather a group of your most raunchy friends (or in my case at Wyatt’s Friendsgiving, total strangers) for hours of hysterical laughter.  My brother and I were just about to start a rip-roaring game of Scrabble when he said to me, “You know what we should do sometime?  Play Cards Against Humanity with this group.”  I stared at him and said, “I have it upstairs!”.  Siblings thinking alike.  So we gathered up the crew minus the little girls (sorry, Devon and Dylan – soon enough you’ll be old enough for highly inappropriate humor!), sat around the fireplace, and spent the next two hours laughing uncontrollably and being surprisingly (and somewhat strangely) comfortable with the amount of dirty things being said by our parents and other more “mature” relatives.  We played until there were no cards left.  I’d call that a win!  #newtradition.

Just some of the family

“How Does Obama Unwind?”

3.  “The StairMaster Incident”
On Saturday morning before “The Game”, my Dad took me, my brother, and my cousins Debbie and Talya to his gym to work off one bite of pecan pie.  After taking Debbie and Talya through this workout, Talya and I hopped on side-by-side StairMasters for a little calorie-burn, 80’s style.  I’ve been using the StairMaster at my trainer’s gym, and the one there has the user input “steps per minute”, which are typically between 80-100 for me.  So, I entered in “90”, but this StairMaster was programmed by level and not steps per minute….meaning my entry of “90” took the machine up to its max level of speed, 20.  Which was probably the equivalent of 180 steps per minute!  It started racing, and before I could figure out how to stop it I had crashed to the ground.  Aside from a banged up ankle I was totally fine, and highly amused  – especially when the old man running the front desk rushed over to ask me if he should call “9-11”. So, yeah…that happened.

4.  OSU vs. M*ch*gan
OSU: 42.  M*ch*gan: 28.  Need I say more?  Never mind how we got there (with great difficulty) and the fact that our star second-string QB is now hurt (poor JT…).  The right team won!

Buckeyes!

Buckeyes!

5.  Family
Despite all the craziness that comes with this weekend every year, I’m so so so grateful that everyone makes the effort to travel far and wide to be together.  I’m very lucky to have such a fun, lively, supportive family where anything goes and everyone can be themselves.  I love you all, and look forward to seeing you again in 360ish days!

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From Left to Right: Debbie, Cliff, Talya, Dad, Me, Dylan, Devon, D, Jake Mom. Not Pictured: Aunt Neva, Uncle Yossi, Cousin Atlee

What were the highlights of your Thanksgiving weekend?

Adventures

Slightly delayed, but I thought I’d share some Adventures from this past weekend!  Enjoy!

Wine and Brunch
On Friday night, Jackie and I had a date night at Sidebar 122, a wine and tapas bar downtown.  The atmosphere was cozy, the wine toasty, the food tasty, and the company fabulous.  Jackie and I used to go on date nights all the time – don’t get me wrong, we still do, but probably not in the frequency we did when we 25 and felt the need to hit the town every Friday and Saturday night.  Another big difference is that now, when we go out to dinner, we’re home by 10:30 with a sleepy wine haze instead of hitting up Bar Louie and surveying the man scene.  #30.  We drank this fabulous bottle of cab (I had more than my fair share…hey, she drove!) and a few tapas: goat cheese and tomato “dip” with pita, the house salad, and mussels.  It was tasty!

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Then, on Sunday, I had a to-die-for brunch at The Crest in Clintonville.  I wrote about dinner at The Crest back in this Adventures post.  I love The Crest – what’s not to love about a gastropub?  Great drinks, great fries, cozy atmosphere.  I had been to The Crest for brunch once before and wasn’t as impressed (my breakfast tacos lacked flavor), but this visit was an entirely different story.

My “date” and I shared the Fig and Goat Cheese Waffles and the Breakfast Burrito, along with hot coffee.  As a savory breakfast person, it’s very rare that I order waffles or pancakes for brunch.  But we both thought these waffles sounded too good not to order (ok, to be fair, he wanted the strawberry and basil waffles…but I won out), and they were to-die-for.  The waffle itself was just slightly sweet – not overly figgy or goat cheesy.  That glob on top?  That’s a honey goat cheese ball – yep, a honey goat cheese ball!  And the breakfast burrito was also very tasty – the chorizo was a bit spicy and the cream sauce on top was really flavorful.  We did not eat all of this – not even close – but I may have eaten the leftover burrito a couple of hours later.  I will be back, and hopefully soon!
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Girls on the Run 5K
On Saturday morning, I braved the freezing temps to participate in the Girls on the Run 5K!  For those of you who are unfamiliar, Girls on the Run is a nationwide not-for-profit organization that conducts 24-session programs to teach girls physical, emotional, and mental well-being skills.  At the end of the 12-week program the girls participate in a celebratory 5K event.  I’ve been volunteering as an assistant coach with the group for many years and believe wholeheartedly in their message.  Future post!  But for now, I’ll leave you with a photo of the race right before it started – it’s hard to tell, but the road was packed with girls ages 8-14 – not something you see everyday.  So fun!

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Thanksgiving #1
On Saturday night, I attend my first of three Thanksgiving dinners – and I don’t even like Thanksgiving dinner that much!  Some friends of Ashley and Johnny’s invited me to their annual “Friends Thanksgiving”.  It was my first time attending such an event, and it was really enjoyable!  Chris and Sarah’s home in German Village felt like an English cottage – so quaint and festive and cozy.  The food spread was quite impressive – check out Chris at the head of the table (and this was just some of the food! Note that his wife Sarah is not pictured).
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Unfortunately, my contribution to the feast was a complete bust.  I made my Mom’s Cranberry Orange Jello, which is more salad-like and less jello-like and is super refreshing when served with turkey and mashed potatoes.  I’ve made it before with success, but this time it did not properly mold and I had to throw the entire thing away!  I know what I did wrong (not worth getting into), but suffice to say this is why I hate “baking”.  Luckily I also brought a fresh green salad for something light, so I wasn’t completely empty-handed.  Hopefully the two dishes I’m making for Thanksgiving #2 (“Friendsgiving”) this weekend – cornbread stuffing and green bean casserole – turn out better than the jello did!

Thanks, Chris and Sarah, for including me in your lovely evening!

Horses
I saved the biggest adventure for last – horses!  Up until Sunday, I had never been up close and personal with a horse.  And then that changed!  The new man in my life, Wyatt (yes, I know you’re thinking “new man?!”  yes, I’m still thinking that too!  He’s not getting a formal introduction today, but I promise that will come.  sit tight and keep reading:)), grew up riding horses thanks to his mother.  Apparently he was really good in his heyday, and continues to stay close to the sport by visiting his family’s two horses on the regular (1-2 times / week).  When he learned that I had never been around horses, let alone ride one, he just had to change that!

Pericles

Pericles

So on Sunday afternoon (after the epic brunch), I donned my most barn-appropriate clothes, some old boots, and a brave face and headed to the horse barn!  Wyatt’s family has two horses:  Pericles and Perseus (he was a Classics major…).  His mom rescued both horses – Pericles is an off-the-track Thoroughbred rescue and Perseus a Palomino Quarter Horse.  Pericles can be ridden (carefully – he’s pretty feisty apparently), but Perseus can’t be – at least not right now.  Persues is lame in his front hoof due to complications from an abscess from stepping on a nail in a world competition (yes, I may have pulled that description directly from a text…you think I can remember all of that?!).

Persues

Persues

Before you get all excited thinking that I actually rode a horse, I didn’t.  But I did touch them!  And groomed them and even picked mud out of their hooves (that’s the technical name for it).  I also watched Wyatt ride Pericles, and found that I actually kind of enjoyed being in the barn!  Imagine that.  I’m told that I was more comfortable / natural than most newbies and that horses feed off that energy – I call that a win 😉  Hopefully it won’t be my last time in the barn – maybe I’ll even ride some day!

Quite the weekend of Adventures!  Here’s to another one ahead!

Music

Recall that a few weeks ago I posted about the playlist I made for Ashley’s first marathon.  I received so many positive comments on that playlist that I thought it would be fun to continue the subject!  So let’s talk about music, shall we? (or, as one guy I Tindered with back in the day called it – “musaq”, as in “I lub me some live musaq”  yea…never went out with him).  Specifically, my favorite songs of all time.

Over my 30 years, there have been a handful of songs to which I simply cannot stop listening.  Hundreds of other songs come and go in my rotation, but these top songs remain strong.  When I find a song I like, I listen to it – over and over – and over and over.  I know you’re thinking “everyone does that”, but I’m telling you….I get obsessed.  As in, listen to the same song on repeat…for days.  And with these songs, that obsession lasts much longer than a week or two – it’s a love affair that lasts for years.  A lifetime!

Note that I’m not saying these are the best songs of all time, or the best artists.  I’m just sharing that these are just the songs that I’ve been obsessed with at various points in my life, and continue to be obsessed with to this day.  Judge all you want – I’m not ashamed!

Without further ado, here are my five favorite songs of all time:

  1. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen
    My work BFF Jenny introduced me to Call Me Maybe before it was popular, back in the spring of 2012, forever changing my life for the better.  I even re-wrote the words for my Hanukkah Party invitation – “Spin Me Maybe“.   This song makes me happy in a way no other song can – when it suprises me on the radio I just know it’s going to be a good day!
    call me maybe
  2. Anything Could Happen – Ellie Goulding (Also the Glee Cast version!)
    My friend Cullen introduced me to the Glee version of this song first when she played it in her Spin class last fall.  I then went back and discovered the original version and fell in love.  For a long time I only listened to Ellie Goulding’s version, but then I started listening to Glee’s version and got hooked.  This song speaks to me in a way very few songs do – I just LOVE it.  I’ve probably listened to it more than any other song ever.  
    anything could happen
  3. Crash (Into Me) – Dave Matthews Band
    Ah, a classic.  Goes all the way back to high school when my crush would play this on his acoustic guitar.  I no longer pine over him when listening, but it’s still a beautiful song and gets me swaying my body no matter where I hear it. Crash_Into_Me
  4. Canon in D – Johann Pachelbel
    Before you start thinking this has anything to do with weddings, believe me – it doesn’t!  My love for this song goes WAY back, probably to the age of five, long before I knew it was associated with walking down the aisle.  My Mom discovered it when she saw the movie “Ordinary People” in the 80s, and her love of it rubbed off on me.  We both have a CD of “Pachelbel’s Greatest Hit” – 12 versions of the same song.  My favorites are #2 and #3.  Although it’s supposed to be a happy song, I find myself listening to it in times of sadness.  It’s simplistic beauty soothes me in a way that Call Me Maybe can’t.  And, yes, when I get married – you better believe I’ll be walking down the aisle to this song!  Cliche, maybe.  Beautiful, always. pachabel
  5. Feels So Good – Mase
    And here’s the wildcard – Mase!  Those of you who know me know I LOVE 90’s hip-hop!  It’s half the reason I became a spin instructor.  And this is by far my favorite hip-hop song.  I really wish I could dance, because if I could it would be to this song.  Let’s be honest – I boogie down to it anyways, just not very well.  I also can rap the lyrics fairly well – in my next lifetime, I want to be a rapper.  Feel_So_Good

Runners Up:

Of course, there are many many others.  And there will continue to be more in the future.  After all, the first two songs in the list only came into my life in the last two years!  My top five list may look a little different in 10 years – but I’m willing to bet I’ll still be rocking out to those songs on a regular basis 🙂

What makes your list?!

Allison

This past weekend I flew to DC to visit my high school BFF Allison, her husband Enrique, and their 2.5 year-old daughter Mirah!  If you recall, they came to Ohio this summer and visited my parents and me:

Friends = Family

Friends = Family

Now, before you get too excited and think “I Love DC!” (as so many people have reacted), this wasn’t that type of weekend.  Yes, Allison does live in DC proper (NW side near Takoma Park, MD), but I’ve done the DC touristy thing multiple times.  And now that she has a daughter, it gives us the excuse to do what we do best – eat, shop, and watch TV!  Allison and I have a long history of making oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, hitting the racks of TJ Maxx, and watching shows like “The Practice” together.  With that, you can pretty much guess how our weekend went, but I’ll take you through the play-by-play anyway!

Friday
I arrived at Reagan National around 5, and all three of them picked me up – what a lovely welcome!  And because it was dark and Mirah is young, we headed straight to dinner at their local Friday night spot – an El Salvadorian “deli” of sorts that I’m guessing doesn’t have a website!  Much to my disappointment, it also didn’t have bowls of chips and salsa or a liquor license, but I got over both 🙂  I let Allison order for me – a bean and cheese pupusa and a chicken taco, along with a fresh juice.  We also shared these fried plantains for a little sweetness.  I enjoyed experiencing their Friday night family tradition!

dinner 1-3

dinner 1

dinner1
We arrived home before 7 – yep, you read that right – before 7!  In my effort to bribe Mirah into becoming her favorite “Aunt”, I showered her with some gifts – stickers galore!  Apparently she is in a sticker phase (awesome), and they made their way onto my sweater the next day.
mirah present

stickers on sweater

Once Mirah was asleep, and Allison and I did some major catching up (exciting times in both our lives!) we decided that we were either going to go to bed at 8:30 (not a problem for me!) or make her mother’s famous oatmeal chocolate chip walnut cookies.  Guess what we decided?! Despite the fact that we were already in our PJs (leggings, not printed flannel pants), we tossed on our boots and headed to the local Safeway.  Turns out, Allison not only didn’t have the chocolate chips, but was missing critical ingredients:

grocery

Crisis averted.

Back home, we whipped up a batch using her amazing Kitchen Aid mixer!  I make these cookies once a year in my apartment kitchen, and I always get so frustrated with my hand mixer (and the fact that my brown sugar is never soft).  I wish I had counter space / a desire to bake more than once a  year / a wedding registry so I could get a Kitchen Aid!  We ate about half the batter before baking, obviously.  (and I took this photo after the first batch went in the oven).

cookie dough

cookies

Yep – the taste as good as they look.  I ate about 1000 over the course of the weekend.  (In actuality, I exerted an impressive amount of self-control, only having about 10 all weekend.  Which is saying something given the fact that one year, I ate an entire batch myself in one visit).  I tried to watch an episode of The Good Wife with Allison and Enrique, but I just couldn’t keep my eyes open – so off to bed at 10:30 it was!

Saturday
Saturday morning started off like the best ones do – with a chilly but beautiful run!  Allison and Mirah had to drop Enrique off at Judo, so I laced up my sneaks and ran 4.5 miles around a loop near the house.  Followed by coffee and breakfast.  An ideal morning.  Around 10:30 we headed out for our shopping extravaganza – starting with a brand-new and giant TJ Maxx!  Mirah was easily entertained by looking at pictures of Susan on my phone – smart girl.  Check out this giant dressing room shot – girls trying on sweater dresses!

dressing room

clothes

After Allison tried on (and bought) the entire store (I bought a white down coat – casual), we headed for some much needed nourishment at Cosi.  After a quick bite it was onwards – to DSW and Marshall’s!  Again, Allison bought a lot and I bought very little – just a black long-sleeve shirt.  I heart shopping with Allison!  By that point it was after 3 and Mirah had had enough with Mommy taking out her credit card, so we headed home.  Enrique followed a short time later, freeing up Allison and I to get pedicures!  For some reason, this pedicure felt exceptionally good – the chairs were like a religious experience (as Allison described it), and for just $23 we got pretty feet.

The rest of the evening was spent at home, making this lovely dinner of homemade mac & cheese, roasted kale, and roasted cauliflower (with pine nuts and lemon).  It hit the spot, as did this amazing bottle of red.  At first, they didn’t think they had any red wine – but a trip to the basement produced a fantastic cab that made me very happy!  And ps, I had about 3 times that amount of mac & cheese.  Tasty, especially with some sriracha (which Mirah also insisted on putting on her plate).

dinner

dinner plate

Sadly, I was not able to watch the Buckeyes beat Michigan State as the only games on local TV were lame schools (no cable), but I got plenty of detailed text updates (you know who you are!).  That was, until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer (again!) and hit the sheets at 10:30 (again!).  I was very happy to find the winning text when I woke up in the middle of the night.  Go Bucks!

Sunday
Sunday started off the same way Saturday did – with some cuddle time with Mirah in my guest bed, followed by another run!  This time, a walk/run with Allison and Mirah in the jogging stroller:

run

And then we ate our weight in greasy diner food, and it was amazing.  Chocolate malt included!

breakfast

After brunch and zipping my overflowing suitcase (it was a team effort), Allison drove me to the airport – but not after one last shopping trip!  This time, a different Marshall’s and Nordstrom Rack.  I bought a super cute sweater dress at Marshall’s.  And somehow managed to shove it in my already overflowing suitcase.  #win.

And with that, I was on my way back to Ohio.  I had such a nice time and I’m so glad I made the effort (and paid the cash) to visit.  Just like I wrote about in this post, friendship takes effort.  It doesn’t maintain itself.  Allison and I have not lived in the same city for over 13 years now, and yet we remain the best of friends.  Actually, she feels more like the sister I never had.  And that’s because we both make effort – we talk on the phone at least once a month, email on occasion, and see each other in the flesh as often as possible.  Sometimes a year passes in between those visits, other times just a few months (like this trip!), but I know we’ll always be in eachother’s lives – like sisters.  Allison is planning to visit Columbus early next year – sans Husband and Child!  I’ll miss seeing Enrique and Mirah, but it will be fun to relive the old days.  Don’t worry – there will still be plenty of shopping and TV involved – just more eating out and less baking (no Kitchen Aid!).

Another reason to visit?  I want Mirah to think I’m her cool “Aunt”!  And when Allison sends me a photo like this, saying that Mirah announced she wanted to “go for a run” after I left – I know I’m making an impact 🙂  She’s even wearing a Garmin watch!

mirah run

So.  Cute.  Can’t.  Stand.  It!

Thanks, Allison, Enrique, and Mirah for hosting me!  Til next time.  xoxo.