Merry Christmas 2009 
Saturday, January 9, 2010, 08:44 PM
Posted by Administrator
The proof:

My sister's family staying overnight at my parents' means that I get to witness the magic of Santa Claus. It's like being a kid again. Except that they left milk for Santa while we used to leave bourbon. "To warm him up," is what they told us.

There was a flurry of gift-opening on Christmas morning. Hannah loved her new CD player and was rockin' out in no time.

Emily was overjoyed with her new dolls.

CJ was not the least bit impressed with Santa's offerings, but had a blast with one of the old standbys. Although not new, it was very clean as Becky had to take it apart and wash it the previous evening after CJ dumped the tray of stuffed mushroom down the tubes.

And Jon showed his enthusiasm for the Patriots while enjoying Christmas breakfast.

By late morning, we were loaded into cars and headed to Aunt Cathy's for a wonderful Christmas meal and the much-anticipated annual Pictionary game. I also had way too much fun playing Hungry Hungry Hippos with the kids. Love that game!

Then, it was back in the cars to visit the Curtin side of the family, especially Nana who is holding her own at age 96.

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Happy Holidays! 
Saturday, January 9, 2010, 09:50 AM
Posted by Administrator
Despite living 2,500 miles away, I have yet to miss a Christmas with the family. And so, on December 23, Paul and I endured a 5-hour flight and a whole day of travel which took us to my parents' house in Stratham, New Hampshire which, as always, was beautifully decorated for the holidays.

The next day, we managed to squeeze in a Christmas Eve morning run (in brisk 30-degree temperatures) followed by a Wii lesson from Hannah.

Then the whirlwind of family, food and presents started. With 18 people for dinner, it was a festive evening!

More to come...
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A Quick Status Update 
Sunday, December 20, 2009, 09:14 PM
Posted by Administrator
Half Marathon Training
On track with 41 days to go! Of course, I leave on Wednesday for nine days in cold, snowy New England. I'm not sure how the plan will hold up in the face of inclement weather and family parties, but the fact that it requires running only 3 days a week definitely works in my favor.

I spent a large part of the weekend making 4 dozen chocolate truffles. Mmmm... I learned a lot - the next batch should be quicker.

One day of work left in 2009 - WOO HOO!

Still putting a smile on my face every day and keeping me warm every night. You may notice a fourth furkid in the photo - this is Otto, a holiday visitor.

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No. AZ Road Trip Day 8 – Sedona to Tucson 
Monday, December 7, 2009, 09:28 PM
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This was it - our final day of our Northern Arizona adventure! To make the most of it, we awoke early to catch the sunrise from Airport Mesa. As you can see, we weren't the only ones with this idea.

We had planned to hit the road right after breakfast, but had enjoyed our previous night's dinner at Chocola Tree so much that we decided to stick around for another meal. To kill time until their 11:00 opening, we browsed some art galleries and then stumbled upon a store seemingly made just for Paul - an olive oil store! That's right, an entire store dedicated to olive oils of various origins and flavors. Sampling was encouraged and Paul was happy to oblige.

We found our Chocola Tree lunch to be well-worth our delayed departure. We enjoyed Carrot Ginger Soup, Thankful Potato Soup, Bruschetta and Pecan Pie, along with some fun samples our server whipped up. We were the only patrons and I think he was bored.

Overall, it was a fantastic trip! Northern Arizona is a beautiful part of the world and, while it is chilly in November, exploring it in the off-season allowed us to avoid the crowds. I could not have asked for a better vacation or a better travel partner. Or should I say, pardner?

You can see more of Paul's wonderful photos from this trip on his website.
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No. AZ Road Trip Day 7 – Sedona 
Sunday, December 6, 2009, 04:30 PM
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While other people I know were up before dawn risking their lives at Black Friday sales, we slept in and then met friends, Bob & Eileen, for a late morning hike followed by a delicious lunch at Wildflower. We found that the farther we got from Najavo country, the better our food options became.

Fueled up again, we returned to the trails for a glorious loop on Brin's Mesa, Soldier's Pass and some other trails. It's been quite a while since I've run on trail and I loved every minute of it. Fresh air, red rocks, dirt under my feet. Ahhh.....

There were certain parts I loved a little less than others, like when the jeep tours came through and interrupted our solitude. However, we did learn a few things by eavesdropping on their commentary at the Devil's Kitchen sinkhole.

We stopped frequently for pictures and to play with dogs. Sedona is an amazingly dog-friendly pace - just one more reason to love it!

For dinner, we chose Chocola Tree, a raw food restaurant. And we chose wisely. I like hot foods way to much to go completely raw, but I love how healthful and creative (not to mention gluten-free) the diet is. We had the Kelp Noodles with Nut Sauce and the "Turkey" Sandwich Plate made with leftovers from the previous day's holiday feast. The "turkey" was actually nutloaf which is much tastier than it sounds.

We finished the meal with coconut ice cream and a slice of the Chocolate Ganache Pie. It was divine.

Fully sated, we headed to Tlaquepaque for their Festival of Trees. We had no idea what this was, but, having skipped the Black Friday craziness, we were due for some holiday cheer.

Various groups had created themed Christmas trees (or cacti) that were being auctioned off for charity. Here was our favorite - the decorations are used light bulbs of all varieties that were collected from local stores and painted.

And while this store was closed, we couldn't resist a photo. Sedona draws an eclectic group of people.

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