Monday, November 28, 2011

Skyler is ready...

She still believes.  Can't you see it in her eyes?

Skyler made sure to send her letter to Santa a little early this year just so we could be certain he'd find us.  "Dear Santa,  We just wanted to let you know we'd be in Utah this Christmas." 

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Trek 2011: I love Mainers

 On Wednesday while it snowed outside, Skyler and I baked 5 pies, 3 to stay at home and one pecan and one apple for prizes for the top runners of the Turkey Trek.
  It was cold and snowy, and I expected less than 20 people, so a turn out of 60 was a wonderful surprise. 
 We collected a car full of food for the Good Shepherd Food Bank.
 My mom came out to snowshoe with us.
 College kids are home and there were many sweet reunions.

 This is Susan, my co-organizer and Missie, my friend and the representative from the GSFB addressing the crowd.  There were about 30 people wearing running shoes, so I advised them just to go for it and plow into the trail that was slightly packed down by snowshoers.  The runners seemed game to get a little cold and wet.  Everyone else was on snowshoes or cross country skis.  I think the Turkey "Trek" earned its name this year.
I think I'm saying:  "Are you sure you want to go out there in your sneakers?"

We paused for a group shot (Jackson too!) before everyone took off into the woods.  This was the first year I didn't run the 4 mile loop (I am fighting a cold) so I just snowshoed for a while and then came back to watch the finishers come in and give out the pies.
Speaking of sweet reunions, all the photos were taken by my friend and student-home-from-college Marlee.  I know.  She looks so beautiful and grown up. 
 This is the first place winner holding my pecan pie.
 And 2nd and 3rd.. and both took home pies.  Wooo hooo!

 A whole group of runners did the entire 4 mile loop in the snow.  They were exhausted and said it was tough to run in, but I bet they were happy later.
 Thank you to everyone who came out.  I wonder if this will be the one-and-only snow-covered Turkey Trek?  At least it was beautiful out there.  Thank you also to those of you who made online donations in the virtual food drive. 

By the way, snow, it's okay if you melt now.  I am not ready to give up running on non-snowy trails for the year quite yet.    Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey Trek, Snow Edition!

It snowed all day in Bangor, and it's still coming down. I'd say there are about 8 inches of snow.  Here is the latest update about the plans for tomorrow's Turkey Trek "trail run."

It may look a little different this year, but we are still on, and please consider coming out and joining us.   You are welcome to come and cross-country ski, snowshoe, hike, or if you don't mind your feet getting cold, run.  Come on... be adventurous!  Be tough!  Be cool!  I'm bringing 60 cups of hot coffee donated by Tim Hortons.  Don't make me drink it all.

Please don't forget that one of the reasons we are gathering tomorrow is to donate food to the Good Shepherd Food Bank.  If you decide not to come, please consider joining our virtual food drive which you can accomplish right from the comfort of your warm, dry home.  It's really easy to donate.  Just go to The Good Shepherd Food Bank website  where there is a headline for the Virtual Food Drive and hit the "donate" button.  Thanks to the generosity of the many donors and the efficiency of food banking, a $1 donation to the Food Bank provides $8 worth of food for Mainers facing hunger.    So a $10.00 gift equals $80 in food.  Wow.

That is something you can feel good about as you unbutton your pants to make room for pie.

No seriously, think about the bounty of food we will all be serving up tomorrow afternoon, and you'll feel better about your meal if you share the love with those less fortunate.
Whether you join us tomorrow for some time in the snowy woods (bundle up!) or not,  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

What's for Dinner? (and other news)

 I know you guys probably all have Thanksgiving dinner on the brain, so you may not need a new recipe this week, but stash this in your winter favorite file.  This is comfort food at its finest, and needs to be eaten near a fire when it's cold outside.

Here is how this recipe came into my life:  on the night my dad died, when the rest of us returned to my mom's house, there was a big pot of Chicken and Dumplings sitting on my mom's front porch, cooked by a neighbor friend.  We all appreciated this meal so much, that it was just there waiting for us, and it also just happened to be so delicious and comforting that we all asked for the recipe.

This recipe is a little time consuming, but not difficult at all.  It's great for a Sunday when you are home doing things around the house, or in my case, when you are off running a race, but dinner is cooking away while you're gone.

Chicken and Dumplings

1 stewing chicken (4 lbs) or 4-5 chicken breasts
1 small onion, quartered
1 carrot, chopped
2 ribs of celery, chopped
1 tsp salt
4 tbs butter
6 tbs flour
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 cup light cream or milk
pepper to taste

Lightly boil chicken, onion, carrot, celery, and salt in enough water to cover until chicken is done.  Remove chicken from broth and let cool, then chop or shred (I like to shred it) the meat and reserve.
Strain the cooked veggies out of the broth and add water if necessary to make at least 1 to 1 1/2 quarts of chicken stock.

In a heavy-bottomed pot, melt  the butter.  Stir in flour and paprika (it will make a thick paste).  Slowly add the broth to the butter/flour mixture while constantly mixing with wire whisk.  Broth should end up quite thick.  Add the milk or cream and pepper, chicken chunks and adjust seasons if necessary.  Simmer over low heat.

Meanwhile, mix up the dumplings, which you can either make with Bisquick and use the dumpling recipe on the side of the box OR make them from scratch:
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 tbs shortening
3/4 cup milk

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Dip a tablespoon into cold water and then into dough and drop the spoonfuls of dough onto the bubbling chicken stew; one batch will make about 10 dumplings.  Cover and cook for 15 minutes until dumplings float to the top and become big and puffy.

Pure goodness.  And the chicken stew was even better the next day when I heated up the broth and made another batch of dumplings.  

Other news:
I am out of school for Thanksgiving break.  Tomorrow will be spent baking pies, and Skyler is my helper.  Her specialty is pressing the fork around the pie crust edges.  I will be baking 5 pies, so we will be busy.

Turkey Trek (click here for details):  If you are local and you are planning on joining us for the Turkey Trek run/ walk on Thanksgiving morning, please don't be scared by Wednesday's snow storm.  We doubt the trail will be too covered with snow to run, AND we think if it is covered with snow, it will only be more fun and more pretty.  So come anyway!  If there actually is a lot of accumulation and the trail is covered, we will snowshoe it.  That is to say, we'll be there anyway, so we hope you'll come too!

Sparrow Magazine:  The Winter Issue is coming out in less than two weeks.  Kelly and I are busy pulling it all together, and we are really excited to share it with you.  Stay tuned!  If you haven't already, you can follow us on facebook so you are totally in the loop about the release which will happen on December 1st.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving preparations and feast.  Thank you for sticking with me!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Race Report: Extremely Fun and Incredibly Fast*

*  It's my blog.   Allow me a little hyperbole.

My new tattoo and I ran a race on Sunday. The Brewer Turkey Trot is a nice 3- mile race of about 500 people, and I've run it for the past four years. It is usually painfully cold, but this year it was 50 degrees and sunny and perfect. I love this race because of the many familiar faces in the crowd, and because it's an out-and-back. I like the mental boost of the turn-around and the fact that you get to see the incredibly fast runners who are in the lead (winning time was a 4:59 pace) flying past you.
tattoos make you run faster.

Of course, I wanted a best time, but since my miserable half marathon in Portland, I haven't been on any kind of training nor have I done any speed work. I've just been going out for 3 or 4 milers and kind of running comfortably, which has actually been really nice. I went into Sunday's race just curious about what would happen if I tried to run fast, since I was pretty sure I had forgotten how.

I warmed up, stretched, and lined up probably too close to the front because I wanted to be close to the fasties. I went solo to this race and have no photos, but I stole this one off of facebook.   I am in there somewhere.

I took off with the gun and felt good and fast but resisted the urge to look at my Garmin. I just listened to my music, felt the sunshine, and cruised along. When I passed the Mile 1 marker, I looked at my watch and it said: 8:04. I said out loud: what the? a favorite expression of Oskar, the adorable 10-year old narrator of the book I'm re-reading with my seniors, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I tend to start talking like the narrators of books I'm reading, so I've been saying what the? all the time just like Oskar. 

8:04, I think, is the fastest single mile ever recorded in the history of Emilie Manhart. And I wasn't dying or throwing up. what the?

I decided right then that my goal for the rest of the race was to hang on and stay in the 8s for each mile. I saw lots of friendly faces in the crowd both before and after the turn-around. I high-fived some friends as we passed each other. I peeled off my long-sleeve shirt, fought against the urge to slow down, and kept pushing. Mile 2 was 8:40. Last year I finished in 26:30 so I would have been thrilled to get in under 26, and as I got close to the finish line I saw that the clock was still showing 25. I kicked it into high gear and finished in 25:31. One more minute shaved off. The last mile was 8:38. And I felt great. I felt awesome.

It is super obvious to me by now that if I go into a race with low or no expectations, I do much better than I do if I build up pressure on myself for a specific goal time. I do better if I pleasantly surprise myself. OR I was really tapered, OR my bird made me run faster, OR there is something lucky about the number 495. Or all of the above.  Whatever the reason, it's extremely fun to PR.
 In my very short and obsessively-documented running career, I have continued to get a teeny bit faster each year, and I'm aware of the fact that as I continue to age, that arc is going to head the other direction. I'll enjoy chipping away at my pace while it lasts.

To celebrate my PR, I went straight to the grocery store and got a week's worth of groceries. That's what champions do, I'm pretty sure.

Speaking of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, this book is extremely good and incredibly amazing. You should read it right away if you haven't. Look, I even went to see the author, Jonathan Safran Foer, speak at Colby College last week. He was, as I expected, interesting, articulate, and totally funny.

Jonathan Safran Foer
And speaking of funny, I made the two students I brought with me to the lecture stand behind Jonathan Safran Foer for a photo. When they see this photo, they will undoubtedly say:  "that's awkward."
And that's one blog post about a race, a book, a lecture, and a tattoo.  Happy Monday!

Friday, November 18, 2011

here you go!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


Skyler finally lost her front tooth that has been wiggly, wiggly, wiggly for weeks!

And her mama?
You'll have to wait until tomorrow to see how it came out (it's kind of swollen tonight).  I love it.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

fall goodness

I would love to tell you that I'm back to my old self and feeling just fine.  I'm working on it.

I will tell you that I am filling myself up with nourishing things, surrounding myself with people I love, and trying to be outside as much as possible.  This weekend included an 8 mile solo run, some great food, sunshine, prayer, wood fires, and lots of love from my kids.

It also included carrot apple juice, totally made by Reed. Skyler was at swim practice, so he relished in the chance to be the solo presser of fruits and veggies.  I adore having an evening with one of my kids at a time.

 The secret to the best carrot-apple juice is to add one whole lime.  I'm serious.  Run the whole thing through the juicer, peel and all. 

Today when we woke up, and Sam headed south for a swim meet, it was so warm out and I decided that the kids and I were going to spend the whole day outside.  And besides our morning at church, we did just that.

We took Jackson for a long hike down to the Penobscot on trails that my kids know really well because they hike all the time there with Sam.   I just followed them, and they led me the whole way down to the river, about a mile with several turns.  They were so confident.  And Jackson matched the scenery perfectly.

dragon-hunting face.

photo by Skyler
rest stop. 

Tonight we made a fire on the patio and stayed outside until the last possible minute.  We even made s'mores.  Meanwhile, I had a pot of this black bean and butternut squash chili simmering on the stove.  I used this recipe but used kale instead of swiss chard and added some corn.  It is sweet, smoky, hearty, and delicious.    My kids said:  "no thank you" and asked for pasta with butter and cheese.  Honestly.
Skyler and I have been watching the Food Network together.  I could tell she's watched a few too many episodes of "Chopped" when she started narrating my every move while I was cooking tonight:  "And now she's going to chop the onion.  She is opening a can of beans.  What will she do next?" 

Hope you all had a nice weekend.  I have a very full, busy week ahead.  Can you believe Thanksgiving is next week?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

new york.

My trip to New York was beautiful and good for me.  But it was also kind of a case of "wherever you go, there you are."

Marjorie and I spent Saturday walking, walking, walking.  Farmers Market, Flea Market, Brooklyn neighborhoods, shops, coffee, eating brunch, sitting by the river.  We talked and talked and talked, cried, talked, laughed, etc., repeat.  She was so very good to me.

I ate a lot of good food.  Like this butternut squash soup with apples at Putnam's. 

Saturday night we got our nails painted and then ate one of the best meals I've ever had at a Cuban place called Luz.  Oh my goodness.  We ate Peruvian Roasted Chicken with these spicy dipping sauces and sweet plantains and cilantro mashed potatoes and cubes of grilled Fillet Mignon with this spicy sauce and fried yucca.  We ate Mexican Chocolate lava cake with coconut ice cream.  Good grief.  It was so amazing.

Sunday we got good NY coffee and hot-from-the oven NY bagels (I have some right next to me to take home and they smell so good) and watched the NYC marathon from Marjorie's neighborhood which was one giant party.  So much energy.  We were stationed at Mile 9.
After about 15 lead pace cars with sirens on and lights flashing, the elite men came by. And in a flash, they were gone.  Holy smokes.  (We missed the lead women when we were in the bagel shop.  Darn.)

Hello, legs.

I had to head to the airport after a couple hours of marathon spectating, and I'm here now waiting to board my plane home.  Thank you Margs, for taking me in.
And thank you everyone for the flood of comments, calls, emails, texts, and love.  I can't tell you how much I appreciate all the support.  I feel it.  Seriously.