December 4, 2020

Weekend Recap: Thanksgiving Week

I normally only recap my weekends, since weekdays I typically work pretty late so there isn’t a lot to blog about. (Although I know it’s easy for you to check out my LinkedIn, I generally don’t blog about work stuff, or when I do, I try to keep it vague.) But this week was Thanksgiving week – and while I didn’t take any extra days off work, my mom and I celebrated Thanksgiving across multiple nights, starting on Tuesday.

Long time readers know that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, and I get a lot of joy out of updating / refining my Thanksgiving spreadsheet that helps it all go smoothly for me. Normally, I host a big gathering of my closest friends and family. But this year, with COVID19, that wasn’t an option – my Thanksgiving table would be just me and my mom (J was with his kids, who I am unfortunately avoiding at the moment to keep my mom safe).

I realized well in advance that while I could do my usual Thanksgiving feast, I really didn’t want to with just two of us – we’d be eating leftovers for days and days and days! So this year, I decided to try something different, and make a few Thanksgiving dishes every night for several nights. This would allow my mom and I to actually enjoy more of each dish (rather than just having a bite or two); plus, I was happy to try some new dishes that normally wouldn’t have made it onto my menu. Since we kept it going even after Thanksgiving, this even meant that when we saw friends / family posting photos of Thanksgiving meals, we could ask for the recipes and include it in our week of Thanksgiving 🙂

So, Tuesday night – we kicked off Thanksgiving week with the best homemade mac & cheese, sweet potato cornbread, and some simple roasted broccoli.

My plate also includes canned cranberry sauce, the first time I’ve ever tried it. I REALLY don’t understand why anyone includes this on a Thanksgiving table. It’s not bad, per se, but it’s definitely not good. It just reminds me of the little packets of jelly that McDonalds gives you with breakfast. (For what it’s worth, as a little kid, I used to hoard those to eat plain! LOL.)

The cornbread was a recipe I’ve made several times before, but this time, it came out particularly moist and delicious, and we just loved it! Meanwhile, the mac & cheese was a recipe my sister-in-law discovered a few years ago and passed onto me, and it truly is the best. Mom and I chowed down on this yummy comfort food meal while watching You’ve Got Mail, a rom com I’ve always meant to see but somehow never had. (And which was featured in some online list of “movies that have Thanksgiving in them”.) With all those delicious carbs in my tummy, I fell asleep on the couch snuggling Sadie mid-movie; luckily, my mom was happy to turn the movie off and say we’d finish it the next night. An hour is about my limit for watching a show, so dividing the movie up like this worked well!

The next day, after a busy day of work for me and chemotherapy for mom, we made a corn pudding recipe recommended to me by a coworker. OMG, this was sooooo good!! I couldn’t entirely picture what a corn pudding was before I had this, but… kind of a sweet corn quiche would be my best descriptions? I used frozen corn rather than fresh (I’m sure it would be even better with real corn cobs), and used the immersion blender stick instead of grating it. Along with that, I made some simple green beans fried in lemon butter.

And for dessert, since J had bought a pumpkin cheesecake at Trader Joe’s a few weeks ago and I didn’t feel like making my usual, I made a version of these pumpkin pecan cheesecake parfaits (skipping the pecans because they aren’t my favorite). It was really easy to make, and I actually did so while on a work call… but definitely not as good as the usual cheesecake.

Pretty in a martini glass though!

While we had dinner and dessert, we had fun finishing You’ve Got Mail, and I managed to stay awake through the end 😉 Thanksgiving night two success!

Thursday – actual Thanksgiving! The day unfortunately started out more stressful than I would have liked. I wanted to start it off with a long hike, so I took Sadie for her first car ride and we headed over to the Fowler Trail, planning to do Goshawk Ridge through Rattlesnake Gulch and up to the Continental Divide overlook. However, once we got going, I realized it was much colder and icier than I had anticipated. The first part of our hike up to Goshawk Ridge was pretty good, but the descent got pretty slippery and hairy, and I was constantly worried I was going to fall, especially with Sadie running on leash ahead of me.

I kept heading up, and I’ll admit that I was partially motivated by wanting a photo of Sadie and I at the top of the overlook – the same place I had taken a really happy selfie a little over two years ago, on Election Day morning. But my phone battery inexplicably drained like crazy (maybe due to the cold?) and then died right when I got to the top, before I could snap a picture. Darn it!

I did at least snag this cute one of Curious Sadie when we were getting close to the top…

This also meant that I didn’t have music or podcasts to listen to on the descent, and while normally that wouldn’t be a big deal for the 30 minute run down, it took me over an hour this time, since I needed to carefully try to pick my way down some icy spots. I was really cold and frustrated by the time I got back down to the parking lot, and I ended up in a pretty grumpy mood rather than arriving home elated and high on endorphins.

Fortunately, the afternoon was pretty relaxing. Mom and I didn’t have much cooking to do, so we watched the Westminster Dog Show and the replay of the morning’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in the afternoon, and then enjoyed our main Thanksgiving meal in the evening:
cranberry sauce (I cut the recipe in half and wish I had just made the whole thing; this stuff is so good!), herb-stuffed roasted turkey breast,
brussel sprouts salad, and sausage and herb stuffing.

These are all classic Thanksgiving dishes that I make every year, which I felt like I couldn’t not have on Thanksgiving.

But for dessert, I got a special treat – Mom made a homemade apple pie! This is something that I’ve always found too daunting to tackle myself, and having that for my 2020 Thanksgiving dessert reminded me just how lucky I am to have my mom living with me right now, rather than being solo like I was all spring.

We had our true Thanksgiving dinner at the dining room table, along with a glass of wine… but after dinner, we had our pie on the couch, and watched the first half of Michelle Obama’s Becoming on Netflix. This was pretty good, but I felt like I had heard a lot of it before since I read the book, so I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I expected. Still, a lovely night!

Sadie has learned very quickly that if she wants to beg treats, she has better luck with my mom than with me. Sadie, this apple pie is not for you!

Black Friday dawned equally cold, and after the debacle the day before, I didn’t feel like going out for a run with Sadie first thing in the morning. But by 11am, I finally hopped on my Peloton for Cody’s “Bring the Heat” bootcamp, and while I did that, Mom hopped on the treadmill for her first workout in a while. I was really proud of her, and it was a lot of fun for us to cheer each other on throughout the workout – she ended up listening to a lot of Cody’s class, and we were both cracking up at a lot of his ridiculousness. (Red velvet cake for breakfast?! Too funny.)

Inspired by the bootcamp to be in a healthy mood, I had some leftover brussel sprouts salad and roasted turkey for lunch… but then kept picking at more of the not-so-healthy Thanksgiving leftovers after. Oops! But Thanksgiving is not the time to be on a diet 🙂

In the afternoon, J came over with his kids to trade Thanksgiving meals with each other, and we all masked up and went for a walk around the neighborhood with Sadie. All three of them were thrilled to meet her, and I was relieved to see that she really liked them as well. My experience with Sugar has made me very nervous about introducing dogs to new people, but Sadie is turning out to be really friendly with just about everyone!

I had one conference call scheduled at 4pm, and my walk with J and the kids inspired me to keep going and take Sadie for a quick 5K run around the neighborhood before the call. It also helped to have the time constraint of the call! Often when I don’t go for a run first thing, I procrastinate and procrastinate, so having something beyond which I couldn’t push it any further was really helpful. My Sadie girl needs her runs to be happy!

Mom and I feasted on J’s family’s Thanksgiving dishes for Saturday night dinner: sweet potato casserole, broccoli casserole, and corned beef and cabbage (neither J nor his kids really like turkey all that much, so they decided in this “why not” year to totally buck tradition). I absolutely loved the sweet potato casserole in particular – this recipe is a keeper, and will definitely be on my official Thanksgiving table next year!

I managed to finagle J’s sweet potato recipe! Here you go: Blend 3 cups cooked sweet potatoes with 1/2 cup butter and 1 cup sugar. Add 2 beaten eggs, 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk, 1 tbsp vanilla, and a pinch of salt. Pour into greased baking dish. Then, melt 1/3 cup butter, and add 1 cup brown sugar, 1/3 cup flour, and 1 cup chopped nuts. Top casserole with mixture, and bake at 350 for 30 minutes.

Mom and I spent the night finishing up Becoming, and then watching a few episodes of Schitt’s Creek, which Mom and J love and I think is just mildly entertaining. So, it was the perfect chance for me to catch up on social media a bit, and also set up my new phone (I just upgraded from the Pixel 3 to the 5, and it arrived that morning). Nice, relaxing night!

When we first got Sadie, she wasn’t much of a snuggler, but now she’s starting to get the hang of it!

And then… the actual weekend began. I put my gym clothes on first thing in the morning to take Sadie out for a cold run, then ended up laying around the house and not doing anything until lunch time. Oops! I finally went for a neighborhood walk at 11am with my friend Chris, then returned home to make lunch with my mom. She had spent all morning roasting the turkey carcass into broth, and I turned the leftover stuffing into dumplings. I had never tried doing this before, but it was so delicious – especially with a lot of Trader Joe’s Everything But the Stuffing seasoning for flavoring! (This seasoning is amazing, though unfortunately sold out at my local TJ’s; if you can find it, snatch it up!)

After lunch, I finally got geared up to go for a run – and brought my mom in addition to Sadie 🙂 We headed over to Flatirons Vista, a nice little 3.6 mile loop, but it was closed due to poor conditions, so we headed back to High Plains trailhead instead. Unfortunately, the western direction of this trail was closed too, so we ended up going on the Coalton Trail – which actually goes back to the edge of Superior. I was bummed that we had hopped into the car to drive only to have to run back to a trailhead that I normally just run to from my house… ironic 🙂

But the Coalton Trail is really beautiful, and doing the out and back with my mom worked really well. Sadie and I ran to the Coalton trailhead (2.8 miles) while Mom walked in that direction, and then I called her at my turnaround point so she’d turn around too; then, we both made it back to the trailhead at almost exactly the same time! I wasn’t looking at my watch at all, and it felt like we were running kind of a slow pace, but Sadie seemed pretty tired. When I got done, Strava told me I had actually PRed several segments, and averaged a 9:09 / mile pace! I was really proud of myself, and also loved getting to do this as a family with my mom out there too. I really hope we can repeat this more often!

Another bonus of having my mom along: she snapped a photo of Sadie and I getting back to the trailhead!

After we got home, I headed out for some errands, and then spent the evening having a Zoom date to play Among Us with J, his kids, and my friend Chris’ kids. This game is so much more fun when you can play it on video with people rather than having to use the game’s terribly-designed chat function to type everything!

Finally, I attempted a cheesy roasted cauliflower bake for dinner, which ended up being a bit disappointing. It wasn’t necessarily bad, but it had so much cheese and heavy cream in it that I wanted it to be amazing, and it was fairly average.

The old case on my new phone is blocking the camera lens… I have since fixed it. But this photo shows you how not-nearly-as-cheesy-as-you’d-expect this casserole is.

Also average: the first episode of The Crown, which Mom and I finally settled in to watch after hearing rave reviews from everyone. I asked people on Instagram if it gets better and if it’s enjoyable if you aren’t a big royal fan (since we aren’t), but the answers pretty much all came back as “I didn’t like it either” or “Ohhhh it’s AMAZING! I love the British royals!”, so I’m going to chalk that up as a series that Mom and I won’t be continuing. Win some, lose some!

The next day I was still feeling really sore from Thursday’s hike, so I jumped on the Peloton for a 20 minute recovery ride with Kendall from 9/30 that I’ve had bookmarked to do forever. It was a great ride, with some really mellow tropical house music, and I enjoyed it so much that I decided to stack another class on top – Emma’s “secret” Disney ride (it’s all Disney music but that’s not mentioned in the title / description) from 6/16. And I had so much fun in that one, that I ended up stacking a 15 minute Broadway ride with Hannah Corbin from 7/14, and finishing with a 5 minute core class! I was really proud of myself for doing a full hour of workouts on a day I wasn’t feeling it, and I decided I may have to get into “stacking” more in the future.

The rest of my day involved some family drama – after all, you can’t have Thanksgiving without that, even if it’s over text rather than in person! Haha. But the rest of my Thanksgiving week had been so good, I was able to stay pretty calm and just go to bed knowing it would be better in the morning 🙂

And sweet Sadie did her best to cheer me up by bringing me her favorite toy ❤️

In all, I definitely missed having my big feast of a Thanksgiving dinner… but it was also kind of fun to try some new things and have less pressure (self-imposed, I know) to have everything on the official table be perfect. Assuming we can gather for Thanksgiving 2021, I’d definitely prefer to go back to hosting a big feast with friends and family. However, I think the idea of a Thanksgiving week (perhaps as a test run in early November??) may be something I continue as a way to keep mixing it up and trying new delicious comfort food recipes 🙂

Hope you all had a healthy and fun Thanksgiving in spite of this year’s weird circumstances!


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