GRATITUDE

We woke up this morning at the gloriously late hour of 11:30 AM. I don't know what time we finally tumbled into bed last night, I just know it wasn't late enough to merit that kind of epic sleeping in but oh lord, was it a delicious sleep. We somehow managed not to overstuff ourselves or drink too much and woke up feeling grand. Major pat on the back for the Morrises.

We had just sat down to breakfast of poached eggs over stuffing with ducky gravy and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds (this is our new favorite way to dispense of leftover stuffing) and were recounting the best moments from yesterday when Colin said he wished we'd taken a moment during dinner to share something that made us feel thankful. Be still my heart, that man is so wonderfully sensitive. Since we didn't do it last night (and since this is a place where I can write all sorts of sappy nonsense), here goes...

I'm grateful for our home, which is full of mostly only objects that tell a story about where we've been, where we're going and what we love. I'm grateful for Lincoln Square and for our the amazingly generous owner of our apartment, who leaves us gifts of persimmons from his visits to Virginia and tomatoes from his garden, and whose home and acquaintance we're just so very lucky to share.

I'm grateful for family, and for friends who are so dear they have honorary limbs and branches on our family tree. 

Most of all, I'm thankful for my handsome, loving husband who shares so much of himself with me and who never fails to tell me how thankful he is for me, too. He's a good listener, very patient, and the most loyal friend I know. 

I'm grateful for you, too, dear reader! I hope your holiday was all you hoped it would be. I hope one minor, really not important or holiday-ruining thing went wrong. Perfection is overrated and I'm always most grateful for all that's good when something goes amiss. 

I'm off to dream up a recipe to use our leftover duck. Please share something you're thankful for in the comments, I'd love to hear!

AROUND HERE LATELY // TRADITIONS

Let's just skip the part where I bemoan my wavering fidelity to this little corner of the web and get on with things, shall we?  You know, the how could I be such a terrible blogger, my poor, ignored writing habit, blah blah blah... The self-punishing opening paragraph is terribly boring if you ask me.

Thanksgiving is nigh and we're hosting again. There's so much to do and never enough time but it's all terribly exciting and I love, love, love it.  It seems a tradition was born last year, when my brother's move to Chicago from France coincided with Colin's and my first holiday season as married people and we decided to throw our own, grown-up kids' Thanksgiving. It turned out just grand and I wouldn't have it any other way this year.

(Side note: It's still so strange that we're a family, Colin and me. We're the Morrises, but when we're with my brother – especially for a holiday like this – I tend to think of it as a Brown family event... But I'm not a Brown anymore, at least not technically, but in my heart I'm both and oh dear, a girl can get herself terribly turned around thinking about this sort of thing. I suddenly totally relate to women who hyphenate. But I seriously digress.)

I really came here to talk to you about tradition. In my family, our traditions mostly centered around food and my sister was their keeper, declaring any given recipe a tradition and then somehow remembering it year after year, and bless them, my parents kept those traditions, they kept the heck out of them they did.

The pressure is on for our second Thanksgiving. This is the year where we decide which parts of last year to nix and which to repeat and make into traditions. We're using several of the same recipes, variations on others, and throwing some out all together. We're repeating dressing, trying a new cranberry sauce, and opting for duck instead of turkey. (I know, you're like How can this girl care so much about traditions but not have turkey at Thanksgiving for goodness' sake? The menfolk at our Thanksgiving don't care two pips about turkey so instead we're having ducks. Tradition?)

The easy traditions are the ones that Ethan and I brought with us from childhood, like eating pickled herring on crackers and chicken liver pâté on crostinis for lunch while we cook. It's much harder to come up with your own. Last year we really enjoyed a bottle of port with dessert, so we bought a bottle for this year, too. (I don't know if being three sheets to the wind by dessert can be considered a tradition, but if it can, then bam. Got one.)

If you host your own Thanksgiving, are there Thanksgiving traditions you've maintained from your childhood? What traditions of your own have you started? Are there games you play on Thanksgiving that you really enjoy? Ideas welcome, and happy Thanksgiving!

THINKING ABOUT... GARDENING

Weeee, spring is finally here! And so many good things are happening to me, too, or not happening exactly, but there are so many little glimmers of hope, just little pinpricks like a starry sky where each star could explode Big Bang-style into an entire, beautiful universe at any given moment. Awfully enigmatic, I know, but I'm not ready to share anything more about those things – not just yet! Suffice it to say that spring is in the air and life is good.

We went two years living in apartments without outdoor space for plants, so I'm over the moon about our huge front porch, back deck, and little yard. No more re-potting houseplants in the middle of the living room floor, hooray!

We share a little house with our landlord, whose apartment is upstairs, and he's planning to build raised beds soon, where I'll put our vegetables and herbs. I would have had the hardest time choosing what to grow, but luckily some dear friends offered us their extra seeds, some in packets and some harvested from their own community garden plot. I had so much fun sorting through the little paper envelopes, taking stock of what promises to be a very colorful (and hopefully bountiful) garden.

Until we can begin planting outside, I'd like to pot some leafy plants for indoors. I took the photo in this post a year ago this week, when I filled our one-room, 500-square-foot loft with a dozen or so houseplants. It was such a tiny space that the effect was almost jungle-like, but our houseplant collection feels sparse now that we've spread our plants out in our new, more spacious home (and, let's just be frank here, killed a few of them, too.)

What are you planting this year, either indoors or out? In the past, I've gravitated toward succulents for indoors, which did well in our apartment without needing a lot of attention. Succulents are adorable, but I want bigger, more robust plants that will fill our rooms. I'd love suggestions for hardy large houseplants if you have any to share!

SALT WATER SANDALS

Have you ever worn Salt Water sandals? So many bloggers rave about them, and I'm considering trying a pair this summer. I have small feet, and thankfully can get away with ordering less expensive and more durable children's styles. I always hesitate, though, out of fear that they'll make me look, well, young.

Maybe I'll give it a go – they're so affordable and really cute! Would you try them?

(You can buy them here in lots of fun colors.)

THE LONG ROAD AHEAD

Every once in awhile, life plateaus. Former challenges have become easy, old hat. I coast along, going through the motions and succeeding without really excelling. It's at times like this that I need to push myself harder, to make new goals. To mix things up. I'm hungry for new challenges.

It hardly feels it, but spring's arrival is imminent. It's a natural season to think about change and renewal, but I need it especially badly. I catch myself feeling bored, which is a terrible feeling.

Eager to try something new, something truly hard, I registered for the Chicago Marathon in October. It's a daunting goal, finishing a marathon, but I'm actually excited to train, to test the limits of my discipline.

I don't have a target finish time, and I'm not living for the moment when I cross the finish line. For now, I'm just enjoying the journey, which is many miles longer than the 26.2 I'll run on October 12. It's not boring, and that feels good.

Of course, there are lots of other reasons to run a marathon. I'm also running to raise money for a very important cause, which I'll talk more about later.

I hope you'll follow my journey. If you've run a marathon before and have advice of any sort, I'd love to hear it.