Happy Thanksgiving!

Today, I am thankful.

I am thankful for family.


Furry and otherwise.

Photo by Ben

I am thankful for good food.


For great friends.


Both old and new.


And for more than my fair share of guilty pleasures.

I am thankful for being able to conquer my fears and set new goals.


And for progress, no matter how slow it may be right now.

Gazebo 2<

Have a wonderful, love-filled, delicious Thanksgiving!

What are you thankful for today?


It’s happening! It’s finally here! Well, it will be here tomorrow, at any rate… THANKSGIVING!!

Who's the Turkey?
Thanksgiving 2009 – Photo by Ben

I love this holiday. Yes, Christmas still holds the #1 spot in my holiday-lovin’ heart, but Thanksgiving rings in at a close second. After all, it’s an entire day dedicated pretty much to food! And to being thankful… but also, FOOD!


Goodness knows I do love me some turkey (I’ve used Alton Brown’s Good Eats Turkey recipe for the past two years and it’s been a delicious hit each time!), but Thanksgiving dinner for me is really all about the sides.


This year’s feast will include smashed potatoes, green beans, roasted butternut squash, bacon & maple roasted brussels sprouts, homemade cranberry sauce, gravy, and maybe some sort of healthified stuffing.

Dessert doesn’t hurt either. Ania‘s got dessert covered for tomorrow, and this year’s celebration may be scaled down a bit in terms of size ’cause it’s just the two of us (or not! After all, it’s about the leftovers too!) but there will be no scaling down the flavor! Mmm, so much epic goodness, both for us and for these moochers, who will be getting a Thanksgiving Feast of their very own:

Day 297 - Guard Dogs
Photo by Ben

Okay, for realsies though. All talk of pumpkin pie and delicious side dishes aside, I do have a lot to be thankful for. I have a good life, great friends, amazing dogs, and I am about 300x healthier right now than I have been during any holiday season since the age of 10. Despite my lackluster month so far, things are getting better. I recognize that the holiday season tends to be a weight loser’s worst nightmare, but I’m just trying to keep it all in perspective and remind myself that a few pounds are never worth being miserable over.

December 2009

November 2011

I’m trying to remind myself that it’s okay to take a break, to need to take a step back and just breathe. That I’ve already come a long way, and even though I’m not “there” yet, it’s really only a matter of time. The weight loss will eventually progress, my goals will be met, and my heart will go on. Right now, though, I can just be. Call it my mental reboot, temporary and guilt-free. This doesn’t mean I’m charging into the holidays with reckless abandon, or that I’m going to backslide. It just means that I’m going to stop beating myself up for not wanting to try so hard right now. Hopefully, even if you are someone who doesn’t agree with that, you can respect it.

Clear Shot w/ Old LensRed
November 2009 vs. November 2011

Last Thanksgiving I ran my first 5K. It was the furthest distance I had run since… um, ever. I was still hovering around 220 lbs, and it was a feat I didn’t think I was capable of completing. Luckily, I (as usual) was wrong! I ran those 3.1 miles and here I am, only a year later, gearing up to conquer a 15K in a week. I’m not going to be able to run the entire thing, I know that. But I’m going to be able to say that I finished a 9.3 mile race and that I have lost 60 lbs and I am thankful for that.

What’s one thing on your Thanksgiving menu this year?

Mini Pumpkin Pies with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

Pumpkins Pies

I don’t think these need a big setup.

Ingredients for Success

They pretty much speak for themselves.

Cookie Cutter?

Say hello to the classic holiday favorite, miniaturized.

Baker at Large

Bite-sized, in fact. Well, if you’re me, that is. If you’re a regular person with regular table manners, perhaps it’d take two or three bites.


These little tarts are the perfect portion size for Thanksgiving, dinner parties, or simply for the knife-averse. No pie-dividing necessary!


And bonus? They do nothing but reinforce the idea that yes, if it’s adorable, it just tastes better.


Mini Pumpkin Pies with Cinnamon Whipped Cream
Print this recipe!

Makes ~36 individual tarts.

Prep time: 10 – 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes per batch

These delightful and, needless to say, adorable individually-sized pumpkin pies are accented with just the right amount of sweetness. Top them with decadent homemade cinnamon whipped cream for dessert or a party dish that’s guaranteed to please!

Cuter is Better

For the Tarts:

– Pumpkin pie filling, enough for 1 pie (I made mine using a variation of the official Libby’s recipe.)
– 1 box refrigerated pie dough (the kind that comes with 2 in the box), or your favorite dough recipe.
– Round cookie cutter, bowl, or cup with a 3-inch (ish) diameter

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Roll out your pie dough, then cut out small circles of dough. Press them into a non-stick sprayed muffin/cupcake pan.
2. Fill the cups with the pumpkin pie mix (I poured mine into a measure cup to make it easier), filling them to the top of the dough. (You have may extra filling left over once all the tarts are filled.)
3. Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
4. Allow tarts to cool completely, or refrigerate until ready to serve. Top with whipped cream!


For the Cream:

– 1 cup heavy whipping cream
– 2 tablespoons sugar
– 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1. In a chilled bowl, whip together cream, sugar, and ground cinnamon, about 2 minutes or until firm peaks begin to form. Do not overwhip! I used an electric hand mixer, but you can do it by hand using a whisk, or use a standing mixer instead.
2. That’s it. There’s really just the one step. 🙂

Just a Bite

I like my pumpkin pie cold, which makes it even easier because I can make these the night before and refrigerate them until it’s time to consume! Make them now, thank me later.


Whew! What a weekend! Not only did it start off with an exciting giveaway (you can still enter to win a skirt or necklace from Shabby Apple!), but the rest of the weekend was full of vampires, food, dogs, and emotional drama. Winning!

Friday night was both excellent and terrifying, mostly because of seeing Breaking Dawn. I am only slightly ashamed of my extreme love for all things Twilight, and I was really excited to see the movie. Don’t judge me! While I fully acknowledge that it wasn’t exactly quality cinema, I was thoroughly entertained the entire time. My only real disappointment was that I didn’t get to see the Hunger Games trailer up on the big screen! And hey, there’s nothing like vampire-werewolf-human love triangles and hybrid-baby-mama-drama to put your own issues in perspective, right?


Saturday was the busybusybusy day. After completing a 6 mile training run/walk (PDR!) and meeting up with my friend for lunch at Sweetgreen (best salads evaaaar!), my roomie Erin and I headed to the dog park with the pups. Not just any ol’ dog park, either, no sirree. Shirlington Dog Park!


I think I’ve mentioned it before, but this park is fantastic! It’s further from my house but so worth the drive. There are always so many dogs, and such a great mix of sizes.

Running with the DogsPack

This means there are always at least a few pals for Harry & Daxter to play with that don’t make me seize up in fear due to their enormousness, haha… ha.


Good times were had by all!

On the Hunt

Post-dog park, it was time to finish up the dish I made for Panda’s Thanksgiving potluck. It was partly a pre-Thanksgiving celebration, and partly a Bon Voyage party, since she’s moving away for a little while. I decided that my contribution had to be extra adorable to try to make up for the sad part, hence:

Pumpkins Pies

Mini Pumpkin Pie Tarts! Topped with cinnamon whipped cream. I’ll be posting the recipe for these tomorrow, so stay tuned. They were a precious supercute huge hit!

Just a Bite

I couldn’t go to the party without putting my face on first, of course.


My espionage-ready face, that is. Hehe.

Tiny Pie MeFaced!
Rachel & ChadDrank.

I’m going to assume I don’t need to spend much time detailing how much fun it is to get together with friends, eat food, drink, and play Rockband. We all know it’s pretty much always awesome.


Although my epic failure at Super Smash Bros deserves an honorable mention.

Gaming for One

As does awesomely running into fellow blogger Amanda!


More blog-life colliding with real-life awesomeness. Running-on-Waffles-Amanda knows Panda-Amanda from work/grad school, and happened to be at the potluck too! Small world, no? We had a lot of fun reflecting upon how creepy/awesome it is to feel like you know someone without ever having met them before. Instant friends!


Oh yeah, and the food. Oh my, the food! I don’t think I’ve eaten that much in, well, a looooong time. And I won’t be eating that much again until… Thursday. HA.

Cider MeWatergate

My plate was literally bursting, and I didn’t even get to try everything! There was hash brown casserole, chicken, stuffing, mac & cheese, sweet potato rolls, squash souffle, asian slaw, meatballs, and not one, but two different kinds of mashed potatoes! It was a beige wonderland of deliciousness. I also had my first encounter with Watergate “Salad”, too, courtesy of Erin’s contribution. Who knew so many processed ingredients (pistachio pudding mix + cool whip + crushed pineapple + marshmallows + walnuts?!) could combine to create such epic tastiness?


And on the dessert table, alongside my mini pumpkin pies, were these pilgrim hat cookies that Amanda made, funfetti cupcakes, brownies, cookies, and an epic-looking coconut cream pie that I was sadly too full to consume.

Oof, so many noms. It definitely set the mood right for Thursday! Speaking of which, I have luckily coerced blog-reader-turned-friend Ania, who is also on her own this Thanksgiving, into having dinner with me! So if you are similarly orphaned this holiday, please email me if you’re like to join in! There will be turkey, taters, and other deliciousness.

Happy Monday!