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Photo: Taken while on my morning run, the Japanese Maple seemed to glow red.

Happy Monday Everyone! Whew, it really does seem like this last weekend was merely an hour long – not two days. Darling runner man and I put ourselves on house arrest for the entire weekend since we haven’t stopped running around since we moved here almost two full months. Wow, we have been in Virginia for almost three months. VA in some ways is not that much different from the area in Michigan which we were both raised but varies greatly from Cleveland and Chicago where we have previously lived. Right now we have a pro and cons list for the area but we don’t want to make any full judgments until we have been here for at least 1 year. Guess we gotta give it some time, right?

Mainly the weekend involved cleaning, leaf blowing and preparing for the holidays. I’m a bit of an organized freak so I love to plan things way ahead of time for the holidays. It’s not that our holidays go smoothly but it does reduce a bit of my holiday stress which everyone could attest to its necessity. My general character is a bit of a shy, anxious one even though strangely enough I love big crowds (small ones are a different case). So, I setup a plan of attack for Thanksgiving and made out an entire grocery list and time schedule for the to-do list. For those of you wondering what to make for a vegan Thanksgiving Dinner here is what is on our list:

Corn’ey Pumpkin Soup in mini pumpkins
Salad (via Brother-in-law)
Fruit Platter (via Brother-in-law or his guest- wonder if they will notice if I steal this for myself)
Sweet Potato Casserole
Sweet Potato Rolls
Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Tofurky (stuffed with stuffing)
Cranberry Apple butter (instead of cranberry sauce)
Pecan Pie (via Brother-in-law or guest)
(2) Pumpkin Pies here & here
Flourless Chocolate Chip Cookies (possible as goody bags for guests)

Together with the menu, I have devised a cleaning plan and activity list for the next week. (Total organize freak, right? Guess those project planning career has hit home too.) Hence today I’ve been running around getting some areas of the house more presentable for guests. I’m talking laundry, washing the rugs, cleaning out the kennels, and so on. In addition to that I’ve managed to somehow find the time to prepare the sweet potato casserole and the sweet potato rolls this morning. It smells so delicious in our house, I’m sure if the HVAC man finally manages to make his appointment today that his mouth will be watering for something orange.

Somewhere in between running around cleaning and cooking, I threw on some exercise clothes for a nice adventure on the gravel. On the “Map My Run” app, I have found a doable 5k route that works for me. It does still have a lot of hills but I seriously can’t wait until I get a flat route to see how fast I run. Haha On a positive note I have noticed my upper thighs are getting much stronger than what they were as a runner in Cleveland, Ohio. Training is much harder but I’m hoping it is all well worth the hard work. Even though I’m not a master of any kind, I have found a little helpful tip to running with hills. On the up side of the hills I tend to push a little harder with my arms and take the pace down a few notches. Then on the down side (just wish there were more), I release my inner child and let my arms wave freely (think child) and let my body “fall” down the hill. Next time you’re running down a hill, just go ahead and let your body take over. It will most likely scare your neighbors but who cares… just wave as you pass anyone and it will be okay. People are usually okay as long as you are a kind crazy person.

So my mile count this week is now 10k. The amount seems so miniscule but when I think about those hills, I’m totally fine with the number. Small blessings are still blessings- I’m just thrilled my husband and I are healthy and have the ability to run. It’s easy to overlook the blessing of health, so I want to make sure each and everyday I am grateful.