Pardon The Interruption…

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My goodness blog readers, please pardon the interruption here. It’s the second week of classes, but the level of chaos still distinctly feels like it’s just been one long day of students, meetings and madness. Consider this a “getting you up to speed” post.
Well, Parker started his first day of preschool last week. He is quite enamored with his teachers, classmates and the new toys they have. In fact, he laments that he’s only there from 8:15am-2:45pm, which by the way, I thought was quite a long day for him. When I go to pick him up, he assures me that I must have better things to do and requests that I kindly come back and pick him up when it’s dark. So thoughtful of the little booger.
He’s also still sleeping through the night with sweet Nona for company. We do have our nights (like last night) where he has an accident and wakes up cold, wet and upset, but thankfully those are few and far between. It’s made a world of difference to my own sleep patterns, but also to our now non-stressful night time routine. We read a story, give hugs and kisses, I hog tie Nona to the bed and we all fall happily asleep in no time at all. God bless us everyone for easy bedtimes!
Let me also apologize for the lack of new recipes on here. I’ve hunkered down into survivalist mode, which pretty much means just making the old standbys. New recipes should pick back up again in a week or two when I no longer have a zillion meetings a week that are sapping all of my mental reserves.
I’ve been super consistent with my running workouts and am happily breathing easier during that first wretched mile. Of course, it helps that the weather has been glorious here! Please don’t throw anything at me Florida folks, but I have all of the windows open and I’m wearing a sweater over my tank top because I got chilly…at 1pm! It’s moments like these where I just look out my window and stare at all of the trees swaying in the wind completely content in the moment. As far as I’m concerned, summer is long gone (and good riddance). I even sent Parker to school in a long-sleeved Halloween t-shirt.
In fact, I think that we’ll decorate for Halloween in the next couple of weeks. I’ve decided to go over the top for all of the holidays this year and to decorate super early for everything. I’ve already informed the Irishman that we’re putting up a tree and hanging lights the day after Thanksgiving. The holiday season is way too short not to enjoy every single day of it.
In honor of the first day of September, I’ll be re-posting some of my favorite fall recipes for the rest of this week to get us all in the mood for the best season of all. Think of it as a way of increasing your anticipation for that first truly cool day.
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The Fabric Eater

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Thus far in our zoo, we’ve established that Chewie eats poop, Parker eats boogers and the Irishman eats fake, processed meats. Well, what I haven’t shared with you is that Payton the Bionic Cat eats fabric. And strings. And pretty much anything that he can chew and swallow. In case you’re wondering, he’s 11 years old and he’s been like this from the day I brought him home from the shelter. It defies logic.
I mean, what could really be so incredibly appetizing about eating fabric? The fact of the matter is that Payton is a glutton. When we have company over, I have to prompt them to please hang up their coats and cardigans in the coat closet so that they don’t leave my house missing the collar of their garment like my father did a couple of Christmases ago. In fact, our house is immaculately clean for the simple reason that if we leave things out, Payton will eat them.
Case in point – a couple of days ago, Parker came up to me and said, “Mommy, I’m so frustrated!” When I inquired as to what was the matter, he produced his yo-yo and pointed out that it was missing the string. All 3 feel of the thin white string had vanished. I made a mad dash for his room to look to see whether any evidence remained and I came up empty handed.
Crap. Crapity crap crap. Payton ate it.
So, we’re now on day three of “Payton Watch,” which consists of looking for vomit, sifting through the litter box and pressing on Payton’s stomach to see if it causes any discomfort. We’re accustomed to this process since the fabic eating (and passing) is a monthly occurrence. Take, for example, this shirt that I put on last week.
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I felt a slight draft a couple of minutes later and looked down to see the gaping hole. I have no idea how Payton even had a chance to eat it since he’s not allowed in our bedroom, but alas, clearly he found a way. I don’t even have the energy to get angry anymore when I find a piece of damaged clothing. I just remind everyone in the house that Payton is “special” and precautions need to be taken. Besides, he’s old and his cloth eating days are limited. Even with all of his shortcomings (gluttony, a tendency to pass gas when he’s sitting on you…), I’ll miss the little bugger.

Back To The Pavement

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I have to admit, I’ve been neglecting my running. It’s really not my fault though. You see, during the late spring and summer, my bike calls to me and begs to be taken out regularly. Knowing that cold weather is just around the corner (and my riding days limited), I can’t resist going out for a ride as often as I can. As a result, my running mileage suffers.
The great thing about running is that no matter how long you’ve taken off or had an irregular schedule, you’re never more than 4 weeks away from being back on track. Sure, the next four weeks are going to be filled with sore calves, ice baths and lots of Gatorade, but man does it feel good to be back out there.
When I headed out this morning at dusk and breathed in the brisk air, my heart skipped a beat at the thought of spending this beautiful morning at the track. I headed out with anticipation. I was hoping that I would have the track to myself. I wasn’t disappointed.
I went through the ritual of setting up my drink station and stretching my cold, tired muscles and then I was off. In my world, the first mile is always uncomfortable. My muscles are just starting to warm up, my lungs are getting used to sucking in deep breaths of air and my body is just protesting in general. However, I knew that this discomfort was temporary.
I was doing one-mile intervals this morning (run one mile, walk 1/4 mile) and by the third one, I had found my rhythm. Pardon the train reference (I’ve been spending too much time watching Thomas), I felt like an engine chugging around the track. Everything was regular and predictable – the length of my stride, the rhythm of my breathing, the easy swing of my arms. This is what I was waiting for.
By my last interval, I was tired, spent and glad that I had come out on this foggy morning. I’m still a ways away from an effortless 10-miler, but each journey starts with a single step and each mile with a single lap.
I may be rusty, but I’m well on my way.

A Day On The River

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As a kid growing up, my water time mainly consisted of the beach and the pool. I don’t think I had jumped into a river or lake until college and even then it was with great hesitation. The cloudiness of the water and the brackish taste were total turn-offs for me. Plus, who the heck knows what’s hiding beneath the water’s edge? Let’s just say that I prefer my water chlorinated.
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Part of the reason that we moved up here was to give Parker a childhood different than ours. Not that there’s anything wrong with the concrete jungle of South Florida, but the Irishman and I both wished we had more exposure to nature…so here we are. Whenever our friends head out to the park with river access, we tag along. It’s fun to watch the boys splash and play in the cool, shallow water of the river.
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I normally stay out of the water myself, but on this particular day, it was scorching hot and the cool water on my feet felt wonderful. In fact, I was starting to see the virtues of the river. I mean, who really needs pools anyways when you have natural water sources, right? I was really warming up to the idea…until an old woman and her dog walked by and shared with us that she saw 15 baby snakes “just yonder”the other day…
!!!
Please excuse me why I start researching snake-free above ground pools.

Stolen Moments

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As I was driving to campus the other morning just after sunrise, I notices that an eerie fog was curling above the water of the Tuckasegee River. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it as I watched it ebb and flow at the water line. While I didn’t have much time to spare before an appointment, I knew that I would regret it if I didn’t stop to take a closer look.
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So, I turned down a side street, hopped out of my car and grabbed my camera (which is with me always). As I stood there in the silent morning, I remembered that moments like this are why we’re here. It’s impossible not to notice the serene beauty around you in the mountains and to be completely mesmerized by it. When I catch moments like this, all of life’s little stressors simply dissipate with the fog and I’m left feeling clean and light.
I stayed for about 10 minutes watching the fingers of fog float along the water’s edge and then I got back in my car and drove to my appointment…late. Interestingly, I couldn’t bring myself to care. In my mind, stolen moments such as those are always worth it.

The Parker and Payton Chronicles

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My office, which was supposed to be a quiet and solitary place for academic study has instead become party central. The two main party goers, of course, are Parker and Payton.
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This is primarily due to the fact that Payton refuses to leave the room for anything short of dinner.
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He will, however, move 3 feet if you put Buzz Lighyear on his head and screech in his ear…but he generally holds his ground.
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Unfortunately, this makes him a prime “playmate” for Parker.
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Mind you, Parker won’t do anything to Payton that he isn’t willing to do to himself.
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But that fact generally doesn’t make Payton feel any more dignified.
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Frappe’

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On hot Greek afternoons, one of the most common drink choices is a frappe’, an iced coffee made with instant NesCafe coffee. Now, you would think since I have been drinking instant coffee almost exclusively for one year that it would have occurred to me to make this at home before now. Alas, it didn’t, but when the light bulb finally went off last month, I have been making it with reckless abandon ever since.

Okay, now the process of making a frappe’ is quite simple. I’m going to show you two ways to make this iced coffee, the first of which is with the Braun handheld mixer (my favorite kitchen tool). First, you add one spoonful of coffee and one spoonful of sugar to your cup.

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Next fill your cup halfway with very cold water (I use water from the fridge). Now, using your immersion blender, blend the coffee mixture until it’s very frothy.

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Then, top it off with cold milk (I usually end up using half water and half milk). Drop in some ice cubes and you’re done!

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If you don’t have an immersion blender, simply put the coffee, sugar and water in a sealable water bottle or in a cocktail shaker. Shake it for a good 30 seconds to help dissolve the sugar and coffee. Add milk, give it another shake and pour it into your cup.

Enjoy this sweet and cooling treat! I should add that Greeks drink about 1/3 of the quantity in my cup but 12 oz. just doesn’t cut it most days.