Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One more

The last sunrise of 2014! (And not even my own footprints in the snow, I promise.)

Happy new year to you all, friends!

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 in review

Hey! I browsed through this year's photos, and then PhotoSnack made them into a little video for me!

Check it out (with optional soundtrack): 2013 in review

Cheers to 2013 - and 2014! - and thanks for stopping by Miles and Laurel this year!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Christmas 2013

Here's what we were up to over Christmas!

We spent Christmas Eve at my grandma's house with most-but-not-all of my extended family. It snowed about three inches through the day, which was beautiful to look at but made for a slow drive home (thanks to Josh for getting all of us back to my parents' house safely!).

For the first time in a few years, my brother and sister and I were all at my parents' house on Christmas morning. It was a special year for that to happen, because it was their first Christmas at their new house. For a house they bought only a couple of months ago, it was amazing how comfortable and cozy and festive it felt: not strange, not even that new. It's a good place.

Wish, by the way, was loving having a bunch of family around. He has long considered my mom, sister and dad among his closest confidants, but after this holiday, we add my brother and my sister's boyfriend to that list. He also loved running around in the backyard and on quiet snowy roads.

He even has his own stocking. What's not to love?

His stocking included a cookie cutter shaped like a Keeshond (that's his primary breed, but he's definitely not purebred). I loved it!

After stockings, we went upstairs to open the gifts under the tree.

My mom and dad gave each other pans!

Josh and I borrowed my brother's rake in October and may have possibly not returned it yet. This Christmas, there was a mysteriously shaped package under the tree with our names on it.

Our own rake!

Many, many thanks to each family member (and Santa) for the sweet gifts.

We posed for a few photos...

...before heading to my aunt's house for the rest of Christmas Day. This is also her first year in a new home, and it was perfect for our group. (I was between Josh and my brother at the dinner table.)

Later, as longstanding tradition dictates, we played White Elephant, the dice game that rewards rolling doubles with prizes (and sometimes "prizes"). There were tons of dice being circulated, but my very favorite was the tiniest little dice you could ever imagine.

(My winnings were a box of tea and a box of Clif Bars!)

After the game and dessert, my aunt took us on a quick walk to see the neighborhood lake at night. It was a gorgeous evening and not too cold.

And then we went back to my parents' house, where we relaxed on the couches, visited with my parents and enjoyed our White Elephant prizes. And Wish fell asleep with the cheetah.

We missed our Colorado family, but it was a wonderful holiday in Minnesota.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Saturday sunrise

The best part of a morning run in the winter?

Seeing the bright sun coming up!

It felt like the sun stayed low in the sky for a large part of my run, so that early morning gold light was everywhere. I liked it a lot.

In case you were curious, I remembered that the hardest part of a morning run is when your 10-miler passes the neighborhood bakeries and you can smell all of the pastries being churned out for the day ahead. Today I even saw a car drive past me with a boy in the front seat holding a donut!

Luckily, I had potica waiting for me at home. Happy Saturday to you!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Pizza and Potica

Oh, it has been a great week.

After the Christmas festivities (more on those soon), we made plans for yesterday to be Potica Day at my parents' house. It has become a tradition in our family to make potica (basically poh-TEE-tsah), a Slovenian bread with a honey-walnut-butter filling, sometime around Christmas. My dad had to leave for a work trip, but my mom, sister, sister's boyfriend, brother, Josh and I tackled the project. My mom prepared the dough, and we took turns kneading our way through the batches.

(Wish was never too far away.)

We rolled out the dough and spread a layer of filling, which my mom had prepared in advance, then rolled it up carefully.

Then you can make a spiral with the dough, or a loaf, or a circle, or whatever. Sometimes our first initials end up on the pan. We made a lot of spirals last night. I tried a circle and it ended up looking like a smushed U. It was not my finest effort. It still tastes good, though!

The first potica day in the new house's kitchen!

As my mom was finishing the last batch of potica dough, a movement formed in the kitchen to make another batch of dough for homemade pizza. I don't know who started the idea, but it caught on quickly. Credit my brother, though, with being pizza captain last night. He took charge of the project and made it happen. We planned out two pizzas - one with pesto, shrimp, tomatoes and mozzarella and one with tomato sauce, peppers, olives, onions, spinach and more cheese.

Mom switched gears and whipped up a batch of pizza dough, and Brother and Josh prepared it for baking.

Then we all helped with the toppings. Wish is strategically under my mom and sister's hands.

The pizza was marvelous, and it was a great evening to wrap up the first Christmas at my parents' new house. Pizza and Potica is a new tradition we'll definitely revisit next year.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Christmas Eve stroll

Last Thanksgiving, after I dropped Josh off at the airport for an early morning flight to Colorado, I took Wish for a stroll and we watched the sun rise. The neighborhood felt silent, and I loved starting the holiday with a walk like that.

I thought of last year's Thanksgiving walk today when I took Wish out for his Christmas Eve morning stroll. It was peaceful, but not as leisurely.

We bundled up and trotted around the quiet neighborhood for a few minutes (emphasis on few). The sun was rising this time, too, and there were beautiful pink streaks in the sky.

Wish was more interested in monitoring an approaching bus than watching the sun rise or posing for a Christmas Eve photo. Oh, well.

Cold as it was, I liked starting the day with a few quiet minutes and some fresh air with our pup.

Let the festivities begin! If you are celebrating this week, I hope you have a warm and wonderful holiday.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Marvelous Monday: Week 51

It's almost Christmas!

Five marvelous tidbits to begin the week:

1) Our washing machine broke down over the weekend, and Josh did some research, tinkered with some machine pieces, and fixed it successfully himself!

2) I hot-glued our holiday cards on to sparkly gold ribbon and they're all hanging up now on the pillar in our kitchen, and I love looking at them. They may stay up for months.

3) We had a fun visit last night with our friends - the new parents! - and their great family.

4) Today's high temperature struggled to get higher than two or three degrees, which didn't exactly buoy my spirits for the run I had planned. I cut it short - three miles or so - and ran errands around the neighborhood, and it did feel good to get out there and trot around a bit.

5) With more snow on tap for Christmas Eve, it will definitely be a white Christmas in our part of Minnesota. It seems like a light snow has been falling a lot lately, that glittery snow, and it's really beautiful - especially at night under the streetlights. I love to watch Wish run/hurdle through it, and I'm looking forward to getting my snowshoes out sometime in the next couple of weeks!

Are you traveling this week, and is it snowy where you are and/or where you're headed? We'll be in Minnesota this year, spending time with family here and also thinking of family in Colorado.

Friday, December 20, 2013

My canine running buddy

Today I got out for a run with Wish for the first time in what seems like ages!

December has been a cold month in Minnesota, and while Wish's body doesn't seem to get cold because of all that fur, he is really uncomfortable outside when his paws are on the cold sidewalk for too long (read: more than 100 feet when it's below zero). (Also, he did not stand for the one pair of booties we tried for him last year.) Because of all the cold weather, Wish's exercise time has been limited this month, and even with games of fetch in the house, he gets cranky and stir-crazy.

After a full week, I was excited to get out for a few easy miles this evening, and with the temperature hovering around 20 degrees all day, conditions were favorable for my canine friend, too.

This is the basic idea of how he looks when he runs:

We stopped to look at some holiday lights and you can tell how much that pleased him.

With light snow falling gently, my dog and I trotted around the neighborhood for 2.5 miles. It felt great to get out for a run and fresh air, and Wish was having such a good time he didn't even think to bark at a passing garbage truck. (Also, I think he's sleeping now.) It was a pretty fun way to kick off the weekend before Christmas.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Throwback Christmas lists

In honor of Throwback Thursday, I thought I'd share a few Christmas lists from years past.

First, from circa 1989-90:

I am most interested in what dolly surprise I was seeking.

Ahh! I just had a flash-hint of a memory, googled Dolly Surprise, and confirmed that a Dolly Surprise was indeed waiting for me under the tree. Does anyone else remember them? You'd raise one of Dolly Surprise's hands and her hair would grow, and then I think raising her other hand would make her hair get shorter. Yes!!

This one must have been in my early middle school years and is quite a bit more substantial:

As you can see, I was a serious fan of the Sweet Valley franchise. (But perish the thought that I might be gifted "Shipboard Wedding, the newest one"! I don't remember the premise of Shipboard Wedding, but it sounds wonderfully dramatic.)

Also, I had forgotten about mini-backpacks until I saw one on my list from that year. And I love that I was pining for a Readers Digest subscription, too.

I saved my favorite for last. It's not even mine - it's my sister's - and I've shared this on Miles and Laurel before. But I do believe that it's the ultimate wish list.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Kitchen projects

Sugar and butter were flying in our kitchen tonight, and by the looks of the utter mess on the counter, the kitchen hasn't bounced back yet.

But one of our kitchen projects did successfully reach 300 degrees - otherwise known as hard crack!

Fingers crossed that this batch turns out. If it does, I'll tell you more about it soon!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Marvelous Monday: Week 50

Week 50 is going to fly by! Here are some notes about the start of the week:

1) The very big highlight is that our friends welcomed a baby girl into the world late last week. We stopped by over the weekend to see the family, and I got to hold the two-day-old baby. We are so, so happy for them.

2) Everything else is small potatoes by comparison, but I am pleased that the rosemary plant I harvested from our outdoor garden seems to be doing okay inside and maybe even growing a little. (I didn't have high hopes.) The sage plant is looking a little bit wilted, but I'm crossing my fingers for it, too.

3) Josh was at the mall today and brought home a surprise present: new Tennessee hats! Yay!

4) I love holiday cards.

5) Tonight I walked through the living room and noticed, for the first time, the marvelous shadows my snowflakes were making on the ceiling. Whoa!

What's marvelous about the start of your week, Reader? Do you have any secrets about how to keep indoor herb gardens? Is there anyone else who plans to get a Christmas tree but hasn't yet?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A tuckered-out dog

Someone got to play off-leash in the snow for the first time today!

Hope your weekend was great!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Leisurely run

All miles have a purpose. The purpose varies wildly from day to day, and although I can guess, I don't always know what it's going to be when I start running. It can be very specific to the workout (a long run to practice spending time on my feet or hill repeats to build leg strength) - or it can be broader: to explore a new place, to push me past what I thought I could do, to show me where I can improve, or to serve as an outlet through which I can sort through a challenge.

Today's purpose was decidedly less structured. Today the cold snap ended. It was 19 degrees when I went outside this afternoon and brilliantly sunny, and it was about the best thing ever. I was enjoying being outside (and running without a facemask) so much that I actually cut the run's distance short so I could take some leisurely walk breaks, just for the heck of it. I practiced my deep breaths and looked at shadows and storefronts and snow on the trees.

Those unstructured miles won't help me break any personal records, but they're just as important to me as the rest.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

More snowflakes

Two years ago, I remembered how much I love making paper snowflakes and ended up with a window full of taped-up snowflakes.

This year, I wondered if I might try to recreate that snowflake window, but I hadn't decided for sure. Then, earlier this week, I walked by a boutique with a window display featuring snowflakes strung into garland with white ribbon. (It caught me by surprise and I might have yelped "OH HOW BEAUTIFUL!")

My inspiration was set.

My goal: make a bunch of snowflakes out of scrap paper we had around the house and then string them on ribbon to decorate the window between our living room and dining area.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. First, the snowflakes had to be made. The construction scene one morning last weekend:

I remember this process being messy two years ago, but I think it was a hundred times messier this year. When I last made snowflakes, Wish wasn't part of our family, and this time around, he made his presence known by 1) sitting in the snowflake scraps 2) tracking them all over the home and 3) trying to eat the remnants.

I didn't clean up as I went, but I did put the snowflakes into old textbooks to press them overnight.

Later, I took a few out and strung up one strand of snowflakes, just to see how it looked:

I liked where it was going, so I kept going: threading the ribbon through sturdy cutouts on the snowflakes, then using little pieces of tape to hold each snowflake approximately in place on the ribbon.

The final result:

I didn't actually count how many snowflakes I would need - just merrily cut out snowflakes to my heart's content - and I had a bunch left over. I looked at our mantel and decided that it, too, would benefit from some snowflake decor. I made little loops with ribbon and tape and hung eight snowflakes on a long piece of ribbon, then attached that with more tape to the mantel.

It was appropriate timing: lots of winter weather around the country made for some snowy football games. Snow on the TV + snow on the mantel!

My window display in 2011 stayed up long into 2012. I can only predict the same for these little snowflakes.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Marvelous Monday: Week 49

It was a chilly weekend with at least a few more months days left in this cold snap. Brr! Here are some more marvelous tidbits about the weekend and upcoming week:

1) I have obtained a Minnesota-shaped cookie cutter and am very excited about it. I botched a batch of sugar cookies this weekend so I missed an opportunity already, but I am going to try it out sometime this month. More cookie-making is on tap for tomorrow night, too.

2) I finished my sort-of-holiday table runner over the weekend! Here it is on top of a red tablecloth, just to show you the fabric (I did not stencil this one):

3) It's officially grapefruit time at my house. I had the first grapefruit of the season (possibly of 2014) this morning for breakfast and it was wonderful.

4) I spent a few minutes today wandering aimlessly around the library after picking up my reserved copy of Eleanor & Park. (Thanks to Steph for this recommendation!)

5) I had a great yoga class tonight. We spent a few minutes at the start of class practicing deep breaths, because the teacher reminded us that we all tend to hold our breath in cold weather (not to mention the shoulder-hunching that goes on), which does no one any favors. It's so true! Take a deep breath, right now!

What's marvelous about the start of your week? Do you love or hate grapefruit? Do you have holiday decorations up? And what are you reading?

Friday, December 6, 2013

Cold snap

Today's run:
  • a few miles
  • a few degrees
  • a lot of layers
  • a sunset

Onward with the weekend!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Winter run

There will be plenty of time later to grumble about tricky winter running conditions.

Today, my first snowy run of the season, was not that time. The miles felt like play. It was a wonderful combination of conditions: it was warm enough to skip wearing gloves, the sidewalks weren't icy yet, and the snow was dry enough so it wasn't piling up in my shoes under my heels - and I saw kids sledding and making snowmen.

I ran on a trail and followed the tracks of a human and dog who had traveled the same path just before I did:

I liked the scenery, too.

A cold snap is arriving soon, so I was very glad to get out for a run today.