Further Proof

Remember when I was convinced my house was haunted and all of you mocked me and told me it was most likely an electrical problem?  Well, today I present further proof that there is, indeed, something strange going on here.

6:30 am:  Murray and I drive home from our morning run with Back on My Feet.  Murray throws up all over the car seat.

8:30 am:  I eat breakfast and nap with Murray while listening to inane banter on the Today show.  Murray is acting sick, just laying on top of me and not even moving when he hears a food bag rustling downstairs.

1:00 pm:  Murray continues to loaf around the house.  Daphne leaves for work, leaving Selchie behind.  Stacie is upstairs with the cat.

2:30 pm:  Greg and I leave for the grocery store.

3:00 pm:  We get in the car to go home, and I remark to Greg that I am feeling very anxious for no particular reason.  I try to brush it off and assume it’s because I had been doing my taxes, or because I’m dreading work tomorrow.

3:15 pm:  We return from the store and go inside.  Selchie is ecstatic to see us.  Murray is nowhere in sight.  I note that it’s strange for him to not be following us around the moment we return, but assume he is still not feeling well and has been snoozing upstairs.  We continue to unpack the groceries, take out the compost, and unload the dishwasher.

3:45 pm:  I head upstairs to put a few things away and check on Murray.  Murray is not there.  I check Stacie’s room; she is also gone.  Maybe she strangely decided to take him on a walk without telling us?  I run downstairs to find Murray’s collar and leash still hanging by the door.  A thorough search of the rest of the house indicates that Murray has gone missing.

3:55 pm:  Greg opens the front door to look for Murray outside.  At that moment, Murray is prancing down the sidewalk in front of our house, following a group of kids.  He is panting as though he’s been tearing around outside.  The kids tell us he had started following them only a few houses away.  Murray happily trots inside and drinks an entire bowl of water.

I’ve asked Murray a billion times how he managed to get out, but he hasn’t said a word.  If you’ve ever been to my apartment, you know that there are two front doors you need to enter, both of which were locked when we got home.  When I asked Stacie if she knew anything about it, she replied that she locked both doors when she left.  Yes, it is possible that she accidentally left the doors open for a period of time without remembering it, but in that scenario, it is more likely that Selchie would have been the escape artist.

Also, if you’ve ever met Murray, you know that he is timid and has a fear of doors that aren’t wide open.  Even if I stand behind a door that is slightly ajar and call his name while waving treats around, he won’t nose through it.  He also is trained to stay on the front porch when he goes outside, until I give him the okay to go into the yard.  Although he might not have waited for my commands if I wasn’t there, the likelihood of him sneaking out of the house alone is pretty slim.

I think I’ll probably practice a few tricks to get ghosts to reveal themselves that I learned during middle school sleepovers.  Don’t worry, I will keep you all updated.

 

 

Gracie Gold’s Untalented Jealous Sister

Like any red-blooded American, I love watching the Olympics.  When I was younger, my sports were figure skating and bobsled.  I had an undying love for the glittery costumes and perfect hair of the figure skaters, and I always rooted for the Jamaican bobsledders (duh).  As I’ve gotten older and realized that I have neither the talent nor the passion to actually be in the Olympics, my interest has gone from dreams of gold medals to something more akin to jealousy.  I forget about the Olympics until they are about to take place, and then my life is consumed by envy of all the athletes competing.  Every time I tune in to Sochi, I think, “What have I done with my life that in 25 years, I have not once competed in the most prestigious world athletic event ever invented?”  And then I remember what I have working against me, namely:  indifference, paralyzing fear of head injury, incoordination, and the inability to get back on the horse, so to speak.

Today, it was the latter two that reminded me of my failure.  After a day of rain and overnight temperatures that dipped into the teens, everything was covered in a thick sheet of ice.  Undeterred, Murray and I bravely ventured out for our morning run.  (We were not actually undeterred.  We had mainly just forgotten about the ice situation.)  But by the time we made it to the Arboretum, the ice seemed textured enough to make for a good run.  Halfway through, we passed an older gentleman using a cane, gliding down the path in his orthopedic shoes.  I immediately grimaced and remembered all the old people I had treated at the rehab center who had obtained severe head injuries just by tripping over a flowerpot or something.  “Watch yourself,” he said to me with a small wave.  “The whole place is an ice rink!”

“Ha ha ha,” I thought, “you’re the one who needs to watch it, ol’ fella!”  Two minutes later, Murray and I rounded a bend, I overstepped, and down we went.  You know how Olympians who fall immediately pop right back up and flawlessly finish their routine?  Imagine the opposite of that and you will have an idea of what I did.  I whimpered and hobbled around and tried really hard not to cry, but then I did cry, and I kept crying as I limped down the path for a good 5 minutes before running again.  And then when I got home, I looked at the mirror in horror when I saw blood – blood! – on my leg, and mourned the fact that it had gotten all over my freshly-laundered running tights.  And then I got in the shower and danced around when the water hit my leg, and then I got out of the shower and pouted when I saw the big goose-egg that was forming.  And then I thought about it all day as I crawled around on the floor with my kids because you guys, crawling hurts and walking hurts and sitting down hurts and this is just the worst sports injury ever!  I don’t know when I’ll be able to run again, but I’m crossing my fingers for a quick recovery.  In the meantime, you can find me drinking wine and watching Olympians slip and fall and smash into various things and just keep on going.

To recap:

Old men:

Olympians:

American Figure Skater Jeremy Abbott Falls Badly, Gets Up, Kicks Ass

American Figure Skater Jeremy Abbott Falls Badly, Gets Up, Kicks Ass

Me:

Puppy catch fail

Groundhog Round 3

(Even More) Thoughts and Emotions that I Reserve Specifically for January and February

(Because two posts just aren’t enough.)

When I have the choice to trek through the cold to a bar or stay in:

135 "30 Rock GIFs"...Just Because

When I mumble insults to winter in public like a crazy person:

When I pile 4 blankets and a live dog on top of me to stay warm:

image

When my fingertips are blue even though I’m inside my house and wearing my winter coat:

Life As A Struggling Twentysomething As Told Through "Arrested Development" GIFs

When there’s a pissing contest going on about how cold it is:

135 "30 Rock GIFs"...Just Because

When it’s so cold during my run that frost forms on my face, and I make the mistake of scraping it off:

When I realize I’ll be in Florida for spring training in less than a month:

100 "Parks And Recreation" GIFs To Celebrate The Show's 100th Episode

Excited baby car waving arms

the office andy bernard dancing in an elevator gif

100 "Parks And Recreation" GIFs To Celebrate The Show's 100th Episode

Groundhog Round 2

(More) Thoughts and Emotions that I Reserve Specifically for January and February

When I go out and see girls with short skirts and no coat:

What the Hell is Wrong With You People

When people ask why Greg and I moved farther north if I hate the cold so much:

image

When I hit a pothole the size of Texas and my tire blows out the next day:

When I have to drag my recycling container to the street every morning to make sure no one steals the parking spot I so carefully carved out for myself:

100 "Parks And Recreation" GIFs To Celebrate The Show's 100th Episode

When I try to get out of bed in the morning:

image

When it snows unexpectedly while I’m at work, and I’m wearing dress shoes with no socks:

When I get dressed to go outside:

When the cold serves as a reason to store up extra fat:

cookie monster hallelujah gif

Groundhog, You’re Dead to Me

I think everyone in the country is pretty much tired of winter already.  Except for those in California.  Sorry ’bout your drought but I DON’T CARE THAT YOU’RE HOT.  One of my New Years resolutions, if you recall, was to not talk about how cold I am all the time.  I can assure you that I’ve failed miserably.  Not only have I complained about the temperature, I’ve literally stomped my feet and cried about it.  (I’m not proud of that but I felt I needed to get it out there.)  Apologies to my friends in colder places (I’m looking at you, Iowa and Maine), but I just needed to complain once more.  I figured the least whiny and most unoffensive way to do that was through GIFs.  Please to enjoy.

Thoughts and Emotions that I Reserve Specifically for January and February

When my shower gets progressively colder because my roommate is also taking one, and I finally get out and step on the tile floor:

When I miss the bus by one minute and have to wait 10 minutes for the next one:

image

When I check the weather every morning:

image

When I try to navigate half-shoveled sidewalks:

This Little Girl's First Time Walking On Ice Ends Adorably

When Murray drags me through a foot of snow for five minutes so he can find the optimal pooping spot:

The 21 Most Disgusted Celebrity GIFs

When the maintenance workers finally come to seal up my drafty house:

33 Totally Relatable GIFs For Everyone Who's Ever Ended Up In Witness Protection As A Nun

Re: Missouri

Guy in my running group:  “You’re from St. Louis?  That’s where my fiance is from.  We just got back from visiting.”

Me:  “Oh, what did you think?”

Guy:  “Uh….I liked it.”

Me:  “You can tell me if you didn’t like it.  I won’t be offended.” (I’d just think you were stupid.)

Guy:  “No, I liked it, it was fine.  It’s just so…..planned out.”

Really, that’s your main complaint?  Sorry for having efficient city planners who didn’t look like they designed the streets while having a seizure.  (Also, turns out he spent most of his time there in Chesterfield…so that explains a lot.)

 

Guy at a party:  “Where are you from?”

Me:  “St. Louis.”

Guy:  “I got my dog from East St. Louis!  She’s a pit bull.”

Well….obviously.

 

Another partygoer:  “Are you a big Nelly fan?”

Yep, that’s actually my defining characteristic.  I’m from the Lou and I’m proud.

 

The Time I Accidentally Crashed a Memorial Service

The South is all sorts of crazy, as we all know (or at least as I know and tell everyone all the time).  Sometimes, I’m nostalgic for the small, walk-able downtown, the proximity to the mountains, and $2 craft beers.  Sometimes, I miss the comfort of knowing:  I could find parking anywhere, I knew all the cool places to hang out, and I rarely got lost.  Always, I miss the biscuits.

Then, sometimes I reminisce in my head and remember my last night out in Knoxville, and I marvel at how it perfectly summed up my time there.  As you probably know, I got my Boston job very suddenly and also had to move very suddenly.  Knowing that you have precisely one week to close up your life in a place, not to mention pack up all your necessities and shove them into a two-door car, is a little overwhelming.  Luckily, I still found the time to wrangle together my friends at the last minute for one final goodbye.  It was a mid-summer Wednesday night, and I decided on the Back Door Tavern for a meeting spot.  It’s a hole-in-the-wall bar that was up the street from us, with cheap beers and a little patio area with games.  Whenever I’ve gone there, there have always been a total of 7 people hanging out, so I figured it would be a nice place to gather a crew of people.

When we arrived, though, the patio was packed.  Several picnic tables had been pushed together to accommodate a huge potluck.  The smell of barbecue wafted around as a couple guys tended to an endless supply of meat on the grill.  Maybe it was some sort of Wednesday night horseshoes league?  We sat awkwardly in a little corner that hadn’t yet been occupied, drinking PBRs and people-watching.  Finally someone in the group shouted at everyone to be quiet, and then began….a eulogy.  “This was Jerry’s favorite place,” he said, “so it’s only fitting that we celebrate his life here.”  Obviously, things got even more awkward for us.

After they started the procession through the food line, a woman approached us:  “Aren’t y’all gonna eat?”  Uh….no, we didn’t actually know anyone here.  “That’s okay,” she replied.  “Come grab some food!  It’s what Jerry would have wanted.”  So, we did what we were told.  It was, without a doubt, the best banana pudding I’ve ever eaten.  Jerry would’ve loved it.

Later, my friends left and Greg and I went inside for one more drink.  Greg struck up a conversation with a guy wearing a Red Sox hat.  “Boston?” the man said.  “I just got back from there.  It’s terrible.  So crowded and no one’s friendly.  They all drive like crazy people.  And good luck if you need to make a left turn!”

Greg motioned toward me.  “She’s moving there on Saturday.”

“Oh….well, I’m sure you’ll love it.”

Fourteen

Can you believe it’s only been 14 years since Y2K?  I know, me neither.  Time really does fly.  That means it’s also been about 14 years since I last made or stuck to a New Year’s resolution.  Probably.  I don’t even know if I’ve ever truly made one, except in that vague sort of way, like, “I’m going to clean out my car…sometime…maybe only when I need it to transport a large object.”  I do like the idea of resolutions, but in reality, does anyone stick to them?*  You can’t just be like, “Oh, this day is the first day of January, which makes it totally different from yesterday, which means I’m suddenly inspired to change myself!”  I think this applies especially to smokers and unhealthy people.  In order to change, you have to be either really super inspired or completely terrified.  That’s why they have all those pictures of totally scary British teeth at the dentist’s office.

Also, another way to be motivated to complete your resolutions is apparently if you have an entire family full of Judgey McJudgersons awarding you points at the end of the year in a weird pressure-filled competition.  I heard an interview on NPR about Michael Moore’s family, who actually does this.  Once they refused to give a point at the end of the year to a family member who vowed to learn how to hip-hop dance, sustained a major injury in the process, and was unable to complete her class.  But in the same interview, they spoke with a psychologist who said it’s been proven that people are actually less likely to complete resolutions when they tell others what they’re going to do.  They feel such a sense of pride just from stating what they plan on doing, that they don’t feel the need to follow through with it.  It’s basically a lose-lose.  Either you’ll tell supportive people what you’re going to do, and they’ll pat you on the back, or you’ll tell crazy people what you’re going to do, and they’ll berate you if you don’t do it.

But, I still felt compelled this year to choose a few resolutions and then announce to everyone my plans, taking the chance that a) I will not follow through and everyone will judge me for it, or b) I will not follow through because I feel accomplished or bored or lazy.  Some are serious and some are silly, but don’t bother asking me about them 4 months out.  I most likely will have no idea what you’re talking about.

*The answer is no, which is one of the reasons I avoid the gym during the first two months of the year, but am able to go back later.  It’s my own backwards resolution, in response to all the New Year gym-goers.

1.  Be a more socially-conscious consumer.  This is my main serious resolution.  Because I am a slight hoarder of sentimental items and clothes, I can’t commit to being a minimalist, but I’d like to focus on buying less, buying higher-quality, supporting small businesses, and purchasing eco-friendly and fair trade products.

2.  Plan a road trip for when I move back home, and visit all the best U.S. destinations for camping and hiking.  I’ve always gone seamlessly from one school or job to another, not taking a break in between, or not traveling during breaks because I thought I couldn’t afford it.  What better time than when I don’t actually have a job lined up?

3.  Stop talking about how cold I am in the winter.

4.  Grow an herb garden.

5.  Wear bold lipstick occasionally.

6.  Get my ears pierced.

7.  Bake more cookies.

8.  Go to the beach (because it’s only 15 minutes away and I’ve been, like, twice).

9.  Look at pictures of dogs at least once a day.

10.  Write letters to friends.

THE END HAPPY NEW YEAR Y’ALL

 

Thx Part 2

Being thankful is great and all, but we all know the best part of Thanksgiving is the food.  I was sad we weren’t able to travel home for the holiday, but luckily we had some fellow transplants to celebrate with (roomies Peter and Stacie).  The day started off early and cold with a Turkey Trot 5K, after which we promptly went home to warm up and start cooking.  To everyone who’s ever cooked Thanksgiving food for me, I have new respect for you.  Even after spending the week planning and shopping and pre-cutting everything, I was still a bit stressed out.  Fortunately, with such a small group of people and no set dinner time, the day still turned out to be relaxing.  We even practiced a bit of adulting and broke out the Fiestaware and mulled wine.  The day was spent eating, drinking, playing cards, and feeding our leftovers to the cat and dog.  I would highly recommend every dish we ate, and I think Murray would give them all two paws up as well.  What we were lacking in turkey and stuffing, we made up for with stuffed pumpkin and two types of pie.  Without further ado:

Appetizers

Beer bread with cranberry relish over cream cheese

Beer bread

Oh beer bread, how do I love thee?  Let me count the ways.  I used this recipe with Sam Adams Oktoberfest, but any Google-searched recipe will do.  Cranberry relish recipe courtesy of my mom, via the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Cranberry Relish

1 (12-ounce) package fresh cranberries

1 orange, peel on, sliced thin and cut into triangles

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and shredded

1/4 cup bourbon

1/3 cup vinegar

11/2 cups brown sugar

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

Put all ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool slightly and refrigerate, preferably overnight.

Smoked salmon, cucumber, and cream cheese crackers

Salmon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Entree

Baked stuffed pumpkin

Pumpkin

In trying to explain this dish to my mom, I said, “Well it’s basically the same concept as a stuffed turkey.”  She got all huffy and said, “That’s ridiculous!  I don’t think anyone is going to mistake a pumpkin for a turkey.”  (Mom, maybe you weren’t huffy but you sounded like it.  Please don’t revoke my Christmas presents for saying that.)  Full disclosure:  this pumpkin does not taste like a turkey.  It tastes even better.  I said it.  Make it for your next Thanksgiving, or, if you simply cannot live without a meat entree, try it out as a side.  Trust me.  It’s like a creamy cheesy slice of heaven.  Peter and Stacie made this one, so I don’t have the exact recipe, but I adapted a similar one from Epicurious:

1 small sugar pumpkin (or in our case, a large squash)
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 pound stale bread, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/4 pound Gruyère cheese, cut into chunks
3 garlic cloves, minced
A few handfuls of pistachios
1/4 cup chives
A few sprigs thyme
1/3 cup heavy cream
Pinch of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut out the top of the pumpkin as though you are carving a Jack-o-Lantern, then scoop out the seeds and pulp.  Set the seeds aside to roast later, compost them, or discard of them as you normally would.  Sprinkle the inside of the pumpkin with salt and pepper.

Combine the bread, cheese, garlic, pistachios, and herbs in a bowl, then pour it inside the pumpkin.  Add the cream and nutmeg, and season to taste.  When Peter and Stacie assembled this, the pumpkin was so full it looked like it could easily spill over.  That’s okay!  You want it that full because it will settle a bit inside and turn into a big gooey mess of flavors.

Put the top back on the pumpkin, carefully carry it to the oven, and bake for about 2 hours, or until pumpkin flesh is tender.  Check on it as you would any squash or root vegetable that you’re roasting, and poke with a fork to make sure it’s tender enough.  When it’s ready, take it out of the oven (again, carefully).  Let it cool a bit and then slice it like you might an apple.

Side Dishes

Potato kick-ass-erole

Potatoes

Peter kept saying he was making potatoes for our event, but I didn’t figure out what kind until he broke out the frozen hash browns.  I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to introduce the actual name of this dish to him, and even more so to be able to eat it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn medley

Autumn medley

Another great recipe from Sue Filla (via Better Homes and Gardens).  Normally I try to adapt this recipe by using only a tiny bit of butter and brown sugar, but I felt the occasion called for the whole shebang.

8 ounces parsnips, peeled and cut into matchstick-shaped strips
8 ounces carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick-shaped strips
3/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 pears, cut into slices (I didn’t peel them)
1/3 cup pecan halves
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter

In a large nonstick skillet combine parsnips, carrots, orange juice, dried cranberries, and ginger. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium.  Cook for about 8 minutes until the vegetables are on the tender side and most of the OJ is evaporated.

Add pears, pecans, brown sugar, and butter to the veggie mixture.  Cook for another 3 minutes or so until the mixture has a nice shiny glaze.  In my experience, it’s hard to mess up this recipe.  Cook for as long as you’d like, depending on if you want crispier or more tender vegetables.

Steamed corn

Peter’s mom is retired but also loves to keep busy, so at the beginning of the fall, she drove out to Boston from Minnesota with a car full of canned goods and veggies from her garden.  Then she drove the rest down to Tennessee, where Peter’s sister lives.  Our freezer was chock full of these guys, so it was an easy decision to add them to our meal.

Kale and white bean soup with tofu sausage

SoupThis might have been my favorite part of the meal, if I do say so myself.  I’ve been meaning to make a kale and white bean soup ever since I had some at Veggie Galaxy, a vegetarian diner in Cambridge, but I knew I wanted it to have a bit more to it.  So, I added some homemade tofu sausage, with excellent results.  Unlike the stuffed pumpkin, I think this sausage might genuinely trick most people.  I would never dare to do that, though, because I want everyone to know how great tofu is without being duped into eating it.  I do, however, dare you to try this recipe at home.  You’ll love it.

Soup (adapted from The Kitchn)

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 small red potatoes, diced (skins on)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch kale, stems removed, chopped lengthwise into thin ribbons
4 cups vegetable broth/water
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf (I did not add because these are ridiculously expensive)
1 rind Parmesan or Pecorino cheese (did not add but obviously it would be delish)
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

Set a large pot to medium heat and add a swirl of olive oil.  When hot, add the onion and saute about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes and saute another 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute for just a minute or so.  The vegetables should begin to look transparent at this point, but the potatoes should still be somewhat crisp.

Add 1/4 cup of veggie broth and the kale.  Stir well, then cover the pot with a lid.  Stir the kale regularly until it is barely tender, and continue to add more broth or water to the pot as the kale dries out.

Add the rest of the broth, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, cheese rind, and 2 teaspoons of salt. If the veggies aren’t quite covered, add extra broth or water.  Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium and simmer until the kale is completely tender and the potatoes are completely cooked.  Add the beans and veggie sausage (recipe follows).

Tofu sausage (adapted from Edible Perspective)

Sausage

1 package firm tofu
1 medium onion, diced into small pieces
1 red bell pepper, diced into small pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil
1/4 cup red wine
2-3 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds (these are so important.  They make the sausage!)
1 teaspoon each of dried oregano, sage, basil
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon salt
black pepper

First, press your tofu.  I did this by cutting it in half lengthwise, then placing it on a thick towel.  Cover with another towel and a cutting board, then add canned foods or a heavy pot to the top.  I tried to retain a little moisture so that I’d be able to mush the tofu together a bit, as opposed to just cutting it into chunks.

Add a swirl of oil to a skillet set over medium heat, then add the onion and pepper.  Cook until softened.  Smush the tofu into the pan with the onion and pepper.  I say smush because you want it to maintain that crumbled-sausage texture.  The tofu should look a bit like scrambled eggs.  Cook the mixture for 2 or 3 minutes while stirring.  Try to avoid breaking up the tofu when you stir.

Add a tablespoon of oil, then add your garlic and seasonings.  Pour in the red wine and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.

Set your oven to broil, then spread the mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Broil for about 10 minutes while watching for burning.  I kept my oven door slightly ajar while doing this so I could keep an eye on it.

Dessert

Apple crumb pie and dried fruit and nut pie, with homemade whipped cream

PieI first read about the dried fruit pie in one of my favorite books, A Homemade Life, by Molly Wizenberg.  I knew I had to make it but I wasn’t sure when.  Normally I veer toward the traditional pumpkin or pecan pie on Thanksgiving, but we had pumpkin as the main course and pecans are a little too expensive, especially when you live in Boston.  It was like it came to me in a dream; of course, the dried fruit pie was the solution!  It seems homely enough:  a combination of prunes, dried apricots, golden raisins, and, in my case, dried cranberries (though the recipe calls for dried apples).  Cook in water until boiling, drain it, and then stir in some sugar so the fruit gets all plump and sweet.  Mix it up with a bunch of chopped walnuts (the poor man’s pecan), and plop it into a simple homemade pie crust.  Top with another pie crust (or don’t, but let’s be honest: the more butter, the better).  It’s deceivingly boring – what person under the age of 75 enjoys prunes?  (Confession time:  I do.)  But when you taste it, especially with a dab of homemade whipped cream, you’ll know you have a winner.  I was going to include the recipe, but honestly, it’s as simple as that.  It was my very first homemade pie and it turned out lovely.  Also, speaking of deceiving people, I actually did accidentally fool someone into eating this.  My friend Carly came over the next day and was confused about the type of pie being served and mistakenly requested this one, thinking it was pecan.  Although she pretended to be mad at me for “tricking” her into eating my weird pie, I’m pretty certain that she really enjoyed it.  The lack of leftovers in the days that followed is pretty good proof.

All the rest

I’m fairly sure I annoyed everyone with my picture-taking, but who else was going to document this momentous occasion?

thx thx thx

I used to read a blog called THXTHXTHX in which the author, Leah, documented every little and big thing she was thankful for every day.  Sometimes it was clever and sometimes it was sappy, but, unlike Jimmy Fallon, she was never sarcastic or irreverent.  I liked the notes because they were simple and sweet, and they took into account all the little things in life.  I also like Jimmy’s silly spin on thankfulness because damn do I get tired of reading about how #blessed everyone is on social media.  (Invariably, everyone is always #blessed for the same reasons:  husband, job, kids, and Pumpkin Spice Lattes.  Thank God for 30 Days of Thankfulness so the sanctimonious among us can come out.)  I also like reading why my family members are thankful every year at Grandma and Pop’s house.  There are usually poems and a few poop jokes, and ones like the note Laura sent me a picture of this year:  “I am thankful for different things than I was last year.  Also, some of the same things.  A real mixed bag.”

As I learned this year, if I’m not spending my Thanksgiving with family, I can’t get my kicks hearing about what those around me are thankful for because Greg hates being asked this question and refuses to answer it.  (Rude.)  Although I am not nearly as clever as my examples above, I thought I’d share what I’m thankful for this year, thank you note style.

Dear Boston,

Thanks for being somewhat similar to and also entirely different from St. Louis at the exact same time.  You’ve given me a lot to learn, a lot to love, and also a lot to make fun of.

Love, Annie

Dear Casey Pup,

Thank you for being the first dog I ever had in my life, and for teaching me how to have a dog of my own.  You’re the smartest li’l fella I ever met, and maybe the silliest too.

Stay crazy, Annie

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Dear Pie,

Just….thanks.  For everything.

Love, World’s #1 Pie Fan

Dear Truman and SLU,

Thanks for the education and the opportunity to meet some of the best friends I’ve ever had.  I swore I wouldn’t miss you and that being an adult would be so much better, but every so often I get nostalgic for late-night study groups/yoga sessions/bar crawls.  However, I will still not donate $100 to you but nice try.

Miss you, Annie

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Dear Mom and Dad,

Thanks for raising me in such a way that I can look at parents of the current generation and be entirely judgmental toward them, because I know the way you did it was the best way.  Thanks for always encouraging me and giving me a passion for education, the arts, baseball, the outdoors, and terrible puns, among other things.

Love you and miss you, Annie

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Dear Knoxville,

I didn’t love you when I lived there, but what I wouldn’t give for a warm biscuit from Tupelo Honey right now.  You were a little too small for this girl but I miss you just the same.

See you later, Annie

Dear New Friends,

Thanks for being some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  When I look back on where I was 6 months ago (crying in my car because I was lost, eating ice cream alone on the Fourth of July, frantically searching for a place to live), the person I was seems so different.  Now, I celebrate holidays and ice cream days with friends, I live in one of the nicest apartments I’ve ever had, and I call you when I’m having car troubles.

You rock, Annie

Dear Old Friends,

Thanks for keeping the truth in the old Girl Scout song.  Thanks for being people I can count on every day.  Thanks for forgiving me when I don’t talk to you for a month or more, but making it feel like no time has passed at all.  Thanks for phone dates, postcards, calendars, floppy bunny hands, long email chains about speech pathology, silly online articles, interesting online articles, Bridesmaids quotes, cranial nerve dysfunction faces, nacho nights, Julia Child impressions, and just about everything else.

I miss you all, Annie

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Dear Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler,

Thanks for being the new norm of strong and confident women who also happen to be hysterical and don’t take themselves too seriously.  I will forever read your books and watch your shows.

Your Fan, Annie

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Dear Fried Egg Sandwiches,

Thank you for being the best breakfast ever invented.  And thanks to hot sauce and sharp cheddar, for being your partners in crime.

Lots of Love, Annie

Dear Mountains,

Thank you for being amazing and awe-inspiring, always.  Please stay in my life forever.

Love, Annie

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Dear Murray,

Thanks for being the snuggliest, most faithful and obedient dog I could ask for.  Thanks for making me get up every morning to run with you, and for being patient with me on weekends when all I want to do is lay around.  Thanks for teaching me to live every day like it’s the best day of my life.

Love love love, Your Human

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Dear Camera,

Thanks for letting me capture every moment eleventy billion times if I want to.  I still have a lot to learn about you, but I’ve enjoyed trying to become a better photographer.

Best, Annie

Dear Laura and Rob,

Thanks for being the best siblings ever and for being just as weird as I am.  Don’t have too much fun without me!

Love, Annie

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Dear Sheets Fresh Out of the Dryer,

You might be the best thing that ever happened, especially when a dog has been spending time rolling around on you.

Love ya, Annie

Dear Winter Weather,

Thanks for giving me a good reason to break out my tights and boots and scarves, and for making me appreciate warmer weather even more.

Thanks, Annie

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Dear Hardwood Floors,

Thank you for being so durable and beautiful and forgiving.  You might have some scuffs but I think they make you look even prettier.

-Annie

Dear Previous and Current Apartments,

Thanks for being within walking distance of running trails and public parks, each and every one of you.  I might be spoiled with such great locations, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Love, Annie

Dear St. Louis,

Thank you for being the best city in the U.S. (and the happiest, according to this study).  I miss you every day and I love you with all my heart.

Love love love, Annie

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