In Daddy’s Shoes

“These fit me just fine mom.”

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Portrait of a Toddler

I love my Nikon 50mm lens meant for natural light use. The only problem with it is that any movement at all on the part of the subject makes for a blurry picture. As a result, I can’t take as many portraits of the munchkin as I’d like to because he is a fast moving little guy. However, I have learned that right after nap time is the perfect opportunity to catch some natural shots and if I’m balancing a container of Play-Doh on my head, I can even get him to smile. Here, I snapped two shots before I lost his attention to the Play-Doh that I had to fork over as payment for his stillness.

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Here, he’s biting his lip in concentration while he plays. Play-Doh is very serious business.

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Greek Meatball Soup

My parents are in town for the holidays and that means that it’s been a cooking and baking frenzy here for the last couple of days. I’ve vowed this holiday season to do something that I’ve been intending to do for the last 5 years – write down all of my mother’s recipes that exist only in her head.

Last night, we made Euvarlakia (Greek Meatball Soup). Here’s my mom writing down the recipe for me.

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This was one of my absolute favorite things to eat as a kid and it was also the first thing that the Irishman requested when my mom was making her menu for the week.

Without further ado, let’s get this recipe going, shall we? Here are the ingredients. 1 lb. lean ground beef, two stocks celery, two carrots, one small onion, 3 potatoes, 3/4 cup rice, 1 tsp. parsley, 1 tsp. garlic, 1 Tbs. olive oil, 2 eggs, 1 lemon, salt and pepper. (Not pictured is flour and baking soda because my mom didn’t tell me that we needed them until later.)

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First, chop your celery, carrots and potatoes. (You’ll notice that only half of our onion is chopped, but that’s because my mom thought that the whole thing would have been too much.)

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Put 12 cups of water into your pot and add in the chopped celery, carrots and 1 Tbs. olive oil. Bring to a simmer. (You’ll notice the unchopped half of an onion floating in the water. My mom decided to add it in for flavor after all.)

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While the water and veggies are simmering, we’re going to make the meatballs. Put the ground beef into a bowl and add in the 1 tsp. of salt, 1/2 tsp. of pepper, 1 tsp. of parsley and 1 tsp. of garlic.

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Next, add into the bowl the chopped onion, one egg and 1/2 of the rice that you measured out.

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Now, get your Greek mother to mush it all together while you keep your hands completely clean.

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It’s time to roll out the meatballs. My mom scoops them out with a tablespoon and lines them up onto the cutting board to insure that they’re all the same size.

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Once they’re all measured out, roll them into little balls.

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Hello little meatballs. You look very nice. I, of course, won’t be eating any of you, but the rest of the clan here will gobble you all up. I’m sorry about that.

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Next, bring the water and veggies up to a boil.

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Put a plate with a 1/2 cup of flour and a sprinkle of salt next to the pot.

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Next, roll each meatball into the flour. This will keep them whole in the pot.

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Hello plate full of floured meatballs. You look very nice. I, of course, will not be eating…. well, you know the rest.

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Now drop your meatballs one at a time into the pot and add in your potatoes too. This is also where we add the remaining 1/2 of the rice.

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Lower the temperature to a simmer and set your timer to 30 minutes. When the timer goes off, it’s time to make the avgo lemono (egg and lemon mixture), which is the tour de force of most Greek soups. It’s really easy to do. Come, let my little Greek mother show you.

First, add just the whites of your second egg into your bowl.

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Whisk this for 30 seconds or so until it just starts to froth.

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Next, juice your lemon and add this to your egg mixture.

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We’re also going to add an 1/8 tsp. of baking soda and a pinch of salt. Keep whisking!

Now, we’re going to slowly start adding one ladel of broth into our egg mixture while whisking continuously. We want to be careful not to scramble the eggs, so make sure that you add the broth slowly to bring the eggs up to temperature.

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Continue this process until you’ve added about half of the broth into the bowl. Then, slowly pour the egg and broth mixture back into the main soup pot.

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Increase the temperature until just shy of boiling, add in another tsp. of salt and viola, you’re all done!

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This was the Irishman’s bowl that I took a picture of. Can you tell that he was impatient for me to snap the picture so that he could dig in?

Santa Who?!?

One of the Irishman’s coworkers dressed up as Santa and we decided to take Parker in to see him since the mall Santa is a little bit scary to me (call me paranoid, but I have no clue what screening process they use). These three pictures show the progression of emotions that Parker went through when faced with a pseudo-Santa. I know that I shouldn’t laugh, but seriously, kids + Santa = good material for laughs.

Stage 1 – Apprehension. “Dad, are you sure that I should be sitting on the strange man’s leg?”

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Stage 2 – Marginal Acceptance. “Ok, well since no one is flipping out, I guess it’s alright.”

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Stage 3 – Flight. “I’m over this now, please help me!”

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Running Update And A Funny

I am quite pleased to report that yesterday, I ran (drum roll please) 20 miles! Woohoo! It was quite the painful accomplishment, but any lingering doubts I may have had about my ability to complete the marathon were completely quashed. My ankles were killing me from about mile 15 onward, but the good news is that the pain had a plateau and once it got to “painful as hell,” it didn’t get any worse. In other words, I now know I can run through it if they start to plague me during the marathon, which I guess is the true purpose of doing a 20 miler in training.

Now, it’s all downhill from here. With only two weeks of training runs left, I have a 10 mile run scheduled for Sunday with an 8 mile run to follow the next weekend. Yup, it’s time to taper for the race, which means that the next two weeks are all about resting and getting over the aches and pains. My ankles will very much appreciate the R&R. I can’t imagine what it’s going to feel like to run on fresh legs since the last month or so has just been brutal.

Now for the funny that I promised in the title. I was at a bookstore looking at vegetarian cookbooks when I came across this:

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The Bacon Cookbook? King of the Blue Plate BBQ? What? I’m certain some teenager (or someone like my husband) relocated these cookbooks into the vegetarian section as a joke to see if anyone would notice. I have to admit, I thought it was pretty funny and since I was at the bookstore alone with no one to share it with, I snapped a picture with my iPhone so that I could share it with all of you.

Tis The Season…To Be Busy!

Man, is Christmas really only 10 days away?!? I realized early last week that I had done absolutely nothing to be ready for Christmas day. No presents, no decorations, nothing. So, I kicked it into high gear and at least made a small dent in the readiness department, but there is still a ton left to do. Ack!

My parents are coming into to town on Friday and praise the Lord for that since Parker is out of school for two weeks starting on Monday. This visit is good for all of you since I’m going to be posting a lot of recipes during the time that my mom is here. Yum and yay!

Ok, I’m off to start hammering out some errands, but I at least wanted to pop in and say we’re still here…just crazy busy.

Pay The Piper

Well, I ran 18 miles yesterday…and it hurt…a lot. What’s odd about it is that I felt mentally fine, cardiovascularly fine, but my legs felt like they were going to snap off at the hip. It was quite surreal.

When I got home from my run, I was walking very gingerly (Parker was imitating my old lady gait quite accurately) because my ankles felt like they were going to break at any second. Truly, I was concerned that they might just break off. That’s a nice visual, isn’t it? But really, I have very skinny little ankles and I’m not sure that they’re equipped to carry my 5’11” frame over long distances. I’m sure they’ve filed a complaint with the proper authorities for the amount of abuse they’ve had to suffer through.

Anyway, I had a few objectives that I had to meet before I collapsed onto the couch: (1)A scalding hot shower; (2) three Advil; (3) nourishment (which consisted of a huge glass of chocolate milk and some homemade buttered popcorn); (4) a good deal of whimpering. Once all those things were accomplished, I blessedly got to put my tortured feet up and I promptly realized that I was having great difficulty staying awake. This shouldn’t be surprising considering that I ran for over three hours straight and burned more than 2,000 calories.

Fortunately, Parker was in a snuggly mood and after laying on me for 30 minutes (watching Thomas the Train, naturally), we both headed into the bedroom for a nice, long nap. I woke up feeling surprisingly refreshed and while my legs were still protesting any movement, I no longer felt as if they had been beaten with a sledgehammer.

In retrospect, it was time to pay the piper. This is the climax of my training (I have a 20 miler in two weeks) and these runs are definitely the ones that separate the quitters from the finishers…or the sane from the crazies – anyone want to venture a guess as to where I fall??

The marathon is only 5 weeks away and I am absolutely certain of one thing – I will be ready. This journey has been both a mental and physical struggle. My head is definitely in the game and my body is doing it’s best to hang in there. When I first signed up for the marathon, I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like to complete these double-digit runs and while I knew that it wouldn’t be easy (obviously), I wasn’t prepared for the sheer mental toughness that it takes to keep going when every joint in your body is screaming, “STOP!” I think you have to be a little crazy to do this because when I hit that place, it just makes me want to keep going just to prove that I can. It’s nuts, I know.