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Who run the world? Girls.

9 Jun

Now that school is over, the question pretty much everyone is asking is, “What are you doing with all your free time?” I’d love to say that I’m taking up a new hobby or finally cleaning out my closet… but, mostly, I’ve been sitting around watching YouTube videos of girls who kick ass. I’ll distill my favorites here:

Kicking ass at kindness:

Kicking ass at taking down obstacles:

Kicking monster ass:

Actually, kicking pretty much all the asses:

 

Girl mother-effing power. And that’s really all I have to say about that.

Some Wise Words From Other People

5 Jan

While the rest of the blogosphere is writing about goals and resolutions for the coming year, your girl Kef is just trying to keep her head above water. School, work, and self care are each their own full-time job, and I’ve been working overtime at each of them for the last year or so. I’m grateful to have a job I love, to be in the LAST SIX MONTHS of my NP program (#praiseHim!), and to be injury-free enough to run… but none of those wonderful truths make me want to rip my hair out any less on those days when I feel like I’m spinning my wheels (and not in the kicking-ass-on-a-seated-climb-to-your-college-playlist kind of way).

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Since my life is chock full milestones this year–finally being done with grad school, running my first full marathon, transitioning to a new role at work– I’m not stressing about goals set arbitrarily to the new calendar year. I love the idea some people have to choose a word and pursue it as the theme for the year, but we allllllll know I am a woman of many words and could never choose just ONE. So, instead, I’m choosing two phrases to get me through the tough 6 months I have ahead of me:

1) Goals are often simple, but never easy.

The tremendous Kelly Roberts wrote these words earlier this week on the Oiselle blog. I love this mostly because it is an elegant way to state the obvious: the difficult part isn’t figuring out what needs to be done, it’s actually breaking inertia and doing the work. The path to our desired result is pretty clear, if only we get out of our own way and do what we already know is required. Simple to say, never easy to do.

2) There is no secret. Keep going.nosecret

This is a tried-and-true Oiselle maxim I have always loved. It’s easy to feel like everyone else has a vat of the magic sauce that makes everything fall into place effortlessly–especially when they only post the clean-house/best-lighting/perfect-pace picture on social media. This phrase is a reminder that there is, actually, no secret, and that everybody else is in the same boat. As the good witch said, “you’ve had the power all along, my dear”–you just have to keep going.

So that’s my story for the next little while, and I’m sticking to it, whether I like it or not. What are your goals/resolutions/words/phrases for 2017?

 

(Almost The Last) Wedding Wednesday: Reception Kings and Prancing Dads

20 Jan

Today we’re gonna finish up the party pics I couldn’t get posted last week, next week it’s all about the amazing work MamaKef put into this life event, and then its honeymoon in Croatia time. Sharing all these fun wedding moments has been great, but I’m ready to move on. (Part I ; Part II ; Part III ; Part IV)

First things first, I have to crown a King of the Reception. I’d like to think everyone had a great time at our little fiesta, but there was one guest who stood out in a sea of really fun people as the person having the MOST fun: RussianBearKef himself! There was not one single scene the photographer caught without him in, having a blast. A smattering of the many snapshots of one of my dearest friends getting down with pretty much every woman I know:

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Impossibly, we have known each other for TEN years– so because I can, I think we need a before-and-after comparison:

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I rather think we’re getting better with age (and less Russian Bear!).

It was an extremely tough decision. The runner up goes to SummitKef, for cheering us on SO wholeheartedly as we fed each other beignets and baklava. The whole photo series is priceless, but here’s just one to wet your whistle:

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Back to the party:  the FamiliaKef really knows how it’s done:1503

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FINALLY, JetSet learns how to Wobble.

While my family was dancing, MrKef and co were up to some very-usual antics

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#posselove #brandeis

Naturally, FlailKef, SpeakToSomeoneAboutThatKef and I were picking some apples and putting them in our pocket:

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It was just a room full of dancing fools!

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The most beautiful couple on the planet, clearly.

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I think this is me “dancing” to Makossa

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Countless cool points were won and lost that night.

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Partying like we should have in 1999.

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Things reached a fever pitch when MamaKef’s cocktail hour props made their way to the dancefloor:

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Not in a frame, but they’re two of my most beloved, so I’m going Blogzilla and throwing it in there, anyway.

In case there was ANY wonder whether this whole night had been worth it, a miracle happened. Our last song of the night was “New York, NY.” Everyone was swaying in a circle, minding their own business and belting it out along with the original Bl’italian when…

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… SUDDENLY MRKEF’S DAD AND MY DAD ENTERED THE CENTER OF THE CIRLCE HOLDING HANDS AND PRANCING:

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It cannot be understated how happy this made me– my father does NOT dance, does not like attention, and does not touch other humans. My reaction was pretty much the same as KPopKef’s, captured wonderfully in the background to the right.

Once we got over the shock, everyone piled through the dads to form a bridge.

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1589 I honestly think this is the happiest moment of my whole life. I bemoaned the process of putting together a wedding for a price below the Federal Poverty Line for an entire year, but  I would happily pay twice the cost of the wedding just for this amazing memory!

Beautiful MakeUp and Emergency Hair Touchups: Colleen the Stylist
Amazing photography provided by: RMN Photography
Venue and gracious coordinators of logistics: Key Bridge Marriott
White dress the bride could live with: BHLDN
Alterations that kept the bride IN said dress: G2G Couture
Perfect party music played by: DJ StereoFaith

Extravaganza 2015: Sparkly Selfie Sticks & Seating Arrangements

4 Jan

Welcome to a new year in Kefland. Sadly, my time management skills have not improved since 2015 and I do not have any resolutions to rectify that, so we’re going with a quickie post full of pictures today with the promise for some yummy recipes later this week.

The FamilyKef and our surrogate family, CafeKef and ChampagneOnlyKef, love Christmas, and we love an extravaganza. For more on both of those things, read this post and this post.

As 2015 was the year of the weddings, this was the first Extravaganza where all our spouses joined in, and they did so each with their own zeal:

Jimmy2.0Kef with his rifle/gift

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MrKef with his 1920s-style toothache remedy

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and KimmieKef with her usual cuteness.

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Now, one would think that the major life events and additions that happened over the last year would have been all the change one family could handle. But then, MamaKef realllly rocked the boat by… SETTING THE DINING ROOM TABLE FOR SEATING, INSTEAD OF BUFFETING. This was a scandal no one saw coming, and so we all waited patiently for MamaKef to provide each of us with seating assignments.IMG_5377

I’d say it was dinner as usual, but I have a feeling most people’s Christmas Dinners don’t include a riling version of “Chrissy the Christmas Mouse” (featuring ChampagneOnlyKef on the spoons) and the Queen Mama herself drinking a Pumpkin Pie Vodka cocktail at the table.

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This one is blurry because ChampagneOnlyKef was just THAT enthusiastic about the spoons.

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Hot Mama– ow OWWWW.

So then it was gift… I mean, NO GIFT… time, which of course meant there were some gifts. ChampagneOnlyKef and CafeKef totally took the cake by giving MrKef and JetSetKef those magic towels that come in a teeny little package and expand to reveal their shape. Suddenly, it was 1995 again and there were two small boys in our midst:

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To round out the night, CafeKef (who is looking hotter than ever), whipped out her sparkly selfie stick and we took some group shots. Here’s a blurry shot of both the magical woman and her magnificent wand:

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We tried to recreate our first-ever Ganza Group Photo, but we weren’t particularly impressed with the result. For posterity’s sake, here’s a comparison of life  BSS and ASS (before selfie stick and after selfie stick):

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I’ll let you guess which one is which.

We decided a venue change was necessary, as only JetSet and MrKef had the skin tone to withstand that fluorescent lighting. We managed to get the lovely shot below, which I think is really quite nice.

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But, of course, there were some bloopers along the way:

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And that, my friends, was Extravaganza 2015! I’m sure I missed some important moments, and I’m sure my lovely family will remind me in the comments below.

Later this week: champagne punch, amazing eggplant, and a cake that will knock your socks off.

TriTalk Tuesday: Nation’s Tri 2015 Recap

15 Sep

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It’s Tuesday and that means two things: 1) in one (!) day I will be thirty and 2) it’s time for some TriTalk, and I’m linking up with Cynthia, Courtney, and Phaedra to give you the scoop on this year’s Nation’s Tri.

Last year the swim was cancelled due to heavy rain in the days leading up to the race. The weather this year threatened to make the race a duathlon yet again, but thankfully Mother Nature kept it together and we had a beautiful race day morning. Pre-race expo was easy as pie–in and out in less than 10 minutes–and bike racking was uneventful (I seem to have FINALLY learned my lesson from the drama of racking my bike for the 2014 NYC Tri!) . I was looking forward to getting home, stuffing my face with a gluten-free pizza, and going to bed.

…but first, I had to run 17,249 post-wedding errands. After a trip to Costco, Macy’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, the Post Office, Anthropologie and Athleta (which really were all wedding-related, even though I know that’s a strange list of wedding stores), I was finally home. All that running around made falling asleep around 9:30 easy, and I was grateful to be so sleepy that even pre-race jitters couldn’t keep me up!

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Photo credit: SwimBikeRun Photo

Pre-Race

There are pretty much two ways to approach transition prep: get there insanely early and organize your stuff so that it would pass military room inspection standards, or get there with only as much time as you need and hope for the best. Any guesses as to which your Type B+ triathlete friend here picks? Exactly. I do not like to get caught up in other people’s mess on race day, so I try to get to transition 20-30 minutes before it closes, set up my stuff, and go claim a shady spot to sit by the swim start. I don’t bring a ton of extras with me (except for goggles–always gotta have a spare set of those!), I do not try to get fancy with balloons or other bike markers, and I do not try to fashion a bench out of a cardboard box or a cooler or what have you.

Sounds like I have it all together, right? Well, I do… once I get to transition. To have met me in this life is to have waited for me–so even though I plan to get to transition with 30 minutes to spare so as to avoid other people’s madness, I inevitably get there with about 10-15 minutes to spare and get caught up in my own shenanigans. This year, I had totally forgotten that Rock Creek Parkway was closing at 630, and I got stopped by a grumpy cop and had to go pretty much all the way back home and take the long way around.  C’est la vie.

The Swim

Like last year, there was lots of waiting around for the Olympic racers to all get off before the Sprint race started. Luckily, it was a stunning morning and then this rainbow appeared–truly a sign of a good race to come!

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Photo credit: Live Free and Run — go check out her awesome blog!

I was Heat 30, and we got moving sometime around 845. Here’s where things get interesting. In general, I do not race triathlons–I just really like doing them. However, sometimes even a Type B+ woman can be driven to Tracy Fleck dimensions. While chatting with this very nice woman, I mentioned that I often sign up for the Athena category (which is a triathlon class for women over 165 lbs… which is to say everyone over 5’6″ or so whose name is not Heidi, Cindy, or Iman). She looks me up and down and says, “Oh, wow. That’s crazy–you look like a normal person, I’m surprised you qualify for racing with those people.”

Now, I know she thought she was being complimentary, and I know that it is practically compulsory in this culture to meet even the slightest comment about fatness with an EMPHATIC “but you’re not fat! You’re just athletic/big boned/curvy/whatever!” but for whatever reason I was just not in the mood for this bologna, and so I decided right then and there that, even if I wasn’t racing the other 1,000 people on the course, I was going to race her. “Those people.” Hpmh.

I usually kind of lollygag my way thought a swim, but since I was suddenly competing, I put my head down and got that thing done… sort of. Twice I got so caught up trying to pass big bunches of people that I veered way off course and probably swam an extra 75 meters or so… whoops. Probably serves me right. The course is a little bit of a cluster because it’s a 9-at-a-time timetrial start and you’re swimming INTO the current for the first 200 meters, so that means there are just throngs of people struggling and bottlenecking for the first third of the course–not my favorite way to swim, but I got through it. I was pretty sure I was one of the first in my heat out, so I just took off for transition and hoped that lady enjoyed the view of my ENTIRE over-165lbs-since-middle-school butt as she watched me from behind. (Swim: 17:05)

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Apparently, this is THE #nationstri photo to take–I, sadly, did not strike such a pose, but thought these people did it the best out of everyone who did! Photo credit: Susie Goggs.

The Bike

I tried to zoom out of T1 as quickly as I could, with mixed results (4:10). I had used PAM Cooking Spray on my arms and legs to help get the wet suit off, and I think that was helpful. I was most slowed down by some mud on the 0.25 mile run from swim to transition, which had me running slowly to avoid falling and took some extra time to clean off

Pretty much as soon as I got on the course, I had the wildly pleasant surprise of finding that my legs felt AWESOME. Head winds were strong going up Rock Creek Parkway past the Kennedy Center, so I moved down to the drops–which I almost never do because I think riding on the drops is a bit unsafe, but since it was the last weekend of my twenties, I felt like reckless impulse was the way to go. Like last year, I just focused on picking people off, so I still couldn’t tell you much about the course… but it was flat, and it was fast. And I was not playing.

On the way past transition on Independence Ave (mile 11?), some woman zoomed by me and was weaving in and out of people (rather than pass on the left, where there was an ENTIRE PASSING LANE at her disposal). While she was breaking all the rules, she was rudely yelling at people who didn’t anticipate what she was doing BEHIND them in order to move out of her way… so uncalled for. Luckily for me, my selfrighteousness burns like the fires of Mordor, and I decided that I was, once again, in a race. She was speedy on the bike and stayed just out of reach, but–as tri luck would have it– her bike was racked near mine and I saw her head out of T2 just before me. Game on. (Bike: 55:28)

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Everyone else in the world got better pictures than I did and I think them for sharing! Photo credit: Jessica Margarit.

The Run

Rude Passing Woman aside, I really enjoyed my time on the bike, and felt strong and speedy for once as I headed into T2. I made a quick shoe change, guzzled some Nuun, and headed out to enjoy my favorite part: the Run! (T2: 2:15)

The Nation’s run route really is spectacular. Down Independence Ave, along the Tidal Basin, a quick uphill toward the Holocaust Museum, then down around the front end of Haines Point before a long chute on Ohio Drive. In the first quarter mile, I saw a patient of mine from a couple years ago cheering from the sidewalk, so of course I had to double back and see her and her supercute toddler–what a happy surprise to see them again! Last year the short-but-steep hill heading into the first water station killed me; this year I owned that little beast (but was bested by the GU I was struggling to open the whole way up… you win some, you lose some).

I thought I was running somewhere in the neighborhood of a 9:30 mile, and could not believe when my Garmin dinged off that I had completed the first mile in 8:20-something. This was insane! I had never felt this good this far into a race (even a sprint) before, and I was on track to match my 5k time from the beginning of the season.

As I rounded the 2 mile mark in Haines Point, who comes into my view? You guessed it: Rude Passing Woman. I’ve been working on my finishes, so I decided to hold steady for another quarter mile or so before turning it on and trying to catch her. As we headed up the Tidal Basin bridge onto Ohio Drive, I tried to conjure the sweetest aura I could so that as I went by she would just FEEL that I was doing it nicely and feel so badly that she had yelled at all those on the bike course. In fact, I bet if you go to RudePassingWoman.com, you’ll find a blog post about how this really nice, supportive, thick woman passed her in the final mile of the run and did it so nicely that she is turning over a new leaf and will be transitioning to NicePassingLady.com for the 2016 tri season. Okay, so actually she paid me NO mind as I went by, and–fine–it isn’t really nice if you’re only being nice to prove a point, but … delusions are key to selfpreservation so we’ll just leave alllll of that right there and move right along.

Before I knew it, I was in the chute! I let loose and CHARGED for the finish line… I was not going to be passed in final seconds like last year. I got the run done in 25:48, almost a 2-minute improvement from last year.

Once I crossed, I realized I was pretty much surrounded by men and figured I must have finished pretty high up in the women’s rankings. I headed over to the timing tent, and was SHOCKED to see a number “1” in the Division Place column… I had WON my age group!

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Use your imagination. Looks like the photo credit’s been taken care of for me on this one!

I waited around for awhile before calling MrKef and my family to see if maybe people who had started after me would have finished faster, but it turns out that this time I had really won. This still feels so insane to me, mostly because lots of triathletes would argue you’re not even in contention for the podium without a fancy tri bike, and without having done a BRICK workout a week, and without an aero-helmet blah blah blah. I didn’t meet any of that criteria and here I was, my agegroup winner. How crazy! Total race time: 1:44:31

photo 3I thought I would have a lot to say about this, but I am still kind of shocked. I know, I know– it isn’t THAT special to have won an age group award, but in this world that equates thinness with fitness, it just feels like a HUGE win for me. Whenever I show up to bike groups or races, people are constantly assuming I’m a newbie, or that I won’t be able to keep up with the pace group, or that I need them to demonstrate complicated parts of the workout for me… and this is just confirmation that hard work and good training pays off–period.

It also confirms something that makes me really proud of myself: I cannot be bothered to let other people’s hangups get in my way. If I had waited for the right time, or the right weight, or to look the right way before I tried a triathlon, I would still be waiting, and I never would have found this sport that has brought me lots of joy and contributed immensely to my mental and physical health. This is a lovely thing to realize about yourself as you leave your twenties behind. To all my people out there who feel smothered by the totally effed collective that is American body image (however it affects you) I’ll say this: Bump the haters, don’t believe the hype.

And to “Those People” Swimmer and Rude Passing Woman: I’m coming for you again next year.

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May is Over, and Here’s a Super-Long Post to Prove It Was Awesome

2 Jun

Last year I took May off because all the Greek Easters were so exhausting that MrKef and I ate peas for a month— this year, I was too busy to blog (or cook, for that matter) because I was sharing amazing moments with some of my favorites. Here’s a not-so-quick recap of the last 6 weeks or so. Tomorrow we are easing back into the cooking world with a super easy kale-cabbage salad!

May was so awesome that it actually started in April, when we all got together to celebrate KMBGKef’s bachelorette party. This is when I learned that I really love painting

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and that, if you provide a tiara and big ol’ pink cup, even the least bridey person can become a BRIDE (adding some margaritas in there doesn’t hurt, either).photo 1

Next up: BabyKef’s Bridal Shower! MamaKef completely outdid herself (which is to say: she did what she always does) and threw the shower to end all showers. We all wore hats to go with the Tea Party theme (which really get in the way of selfies, as CafeKef and I came to find out),

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and enjoyed only the finest company

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and then totally rocked out to the Back Street Boys, as one does.

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Once that fun was over, it was onto the next shower, which GodmotherKef graciously and successfully hosted in beautiful Northeastern Pennsylvania. I am not really into showers, so I begged her to keep it small and gender neutral–not sure how MrKef felt about being included in the shower shenanigans:

photo 3MamaKef gave GingerKef and FlailKef the BUSINESS about VCHS attendance drama

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and FlailKef took full advantage of the BIRCHBEER

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before everyone ate their bodyweight in cute little finger desserts. Is that a beautiful get together or what?

photo 1Still not sure how awesome May was? KMBGKef became KMBGSKef!

The whole bridal party took the role VERY seriously. Leah did her best to eat the monstrous breakfast that appeared in our suite while we got ready:

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while RealBFFEKef spent every waking second on a beautiful, heartfelt, funny speech :photo 2and I just tried to keep it together from weeping all day long, an endeavor I was absolutely not successful at when I saw KMBGKef all dolled up:

photo 3and when CuseKef saw his mom for the first time

photo 4and then again pretty much everytime I realized that I get to spend my life with this woman as my best friend.photo 5 Lordy lou, I’m getting a little misty eyed just posting these pics again! Best wedding ever–on to fun photos:

YourHonorKef did a (warm) tequila shot with the SO Crew (+me)… my eyes may have watered after this for a completely different reason:

photo 2and CuseKef and MrKef affirmed their love for one another (yet again)

photo 3Everything was just pretty perfect, if I do say so myself.

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BUT WE ARE NOT DONE YET, PEOPLE. BABYKEF HAD A BACHELORETTE PARTY!

I am totally obsessed with themes, puns, and flair (foundation for my lifelong obsession with QueijoKef). BabyKef’s wedding is on a boat (IN THREE WEEKS!), so I went with a nautical theme:

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Big thanks to SunStache, Chariots for Hire, Etsy, and Wegmans for making sure this lady had an awesome time at the beautiful Boordy Vineyards!

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Looks like good, clean fun right? Well it all went downhill pretty quickly once it turned into #BalzBachBashAfterDark at Howl at the Moon (which is apparently the #1 destination for bachelorette parties in Baltimore)photo 4In addition to basically being an all-night slumber party, they serve drinks in three sizes and I made the big mistake of asking for the “medium,” which was about the size of my femur. Who knew you could make the same mistake three times in one night? Whoopsies.photo 3But, the hangover was worth it because I got to watch BabyKef absolutely rock the house DOWN with her tambourine solo to “Twist and Shout.”
photo 5And that, my friends, was May.

Greek Easter 2015 Part II: Triumphs and Tragedies

5 May

Another joyful celebration of Greek supremacy with all my favorite friends is in the books (if you missed the last few, check out 2012 and 2013 and 2014). This year’s festivities featured perfect weather, a few new dishes, and some babies (with no reports of honey-sourced botulism, praise the lord!).

The Triumphs:

  • The selfie stick was a bit hit this year, and we managed to get the first ever DC Greek Easter group shot… twice!
    The early crowd:
    photo 2The late crowd:
    photo 4And some total Babes (sans hair for SummitKef…sorry!):photo 3
  • The Pastitsio: This is the yearly crowd favorite, and this year’s pie rang in at almost 9.5 lbs!
    photo 2photo 4…though I must also say that the Ottolenghi Caramelized Garlic Tart in the brand new square tart dish also turned a lot of heads this yearphoto 3
  • The Help: ThisIsYourLifeNowKef and SummitKef are officially the first people whose offers of help I have ever accepted. Because of them, I got to sleep a record 5 hours Saturday night (usually I only have enough time for a nap from like 4:00-6:00 am on Greek Easter Eve… can’t stop, won’t stop!). ThisIsYourLifeNowKef learned a new skill (peeling potatoes with a paring knife… definitely a resume builder) and everyone said the melomakarona were the softest ever thanks to SummitKef’s watchful eye as they soaked in a honey syrup.
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  • The Protegee: Some of you know that I have been hanging out with the most wonderful gal in Arlington every Thursday since August, and she accompanied me to Trader Joe’s to procure the Greek Easter goods this year. Nothing in the whole world has ever made me prouder than the moment she nonchalantly reached back into a cart chock full of food and turned around with–what else!–the FETA!
    photo 1In general I am not in the habit of putting pictures of other people’s kids on the internet, but I needed there to be photographic evidence of this moment– this way when TheSunshineofMyWholeDamnLifeKef grows up and wants to know what her parents were like when they were younger, she can come here and know that they allowed some crazy woman to drag her all over creation searching for the cheapest dill.

The Tragedies

  • The Paulatimi Salad: Would you believe I served it without the basil?
  • NoLongerClevelandParkKef had a back injury and was unable to join us and GingerKef was fighting the Midwestern Avian Ebola SARS flu–their absences were truly the heartbreak of Greek Easter 2015.
  • The Lack of Photos: I didn’t think I need pics of food because I’ve made the same thing every year… but now that I’m trying to write this blog post, I realize I didn’t take pictures of really anything/anyone. Sadness prevails.
  • The Streak is Over: Thanks to SummitKef and ThisIsYourLifeNowKef, the long-running streak of my not even thinking of showering on Greek Easter Sunday came to an end–this year I was done cooking at 1pm, showered, and even completed a homework assignment… all before the first guest arrived! I guess that’s not such a tragedy, but it’s always sad when a tradition dies.
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The picture may be grainy, but MrKef was just so happy to have a clean ChefKef!

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