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Athens Marathon Recap

21 Nov

Last week, I joined the ranks of people crazy enough to run 26.2 miles just for the fun of it. The day didn’t turn out quite how I hoped it would, but the thing about the marathon is that you spend a tremendous amount of time and energy preparing for a single day wherein dozens of crucial details will be out of your control … Which is to say that the day probably won’t go how you hope it will. We don’t get to choose the frame our hard work gets hung in.

The trip to Greece was fairly uneventful. MrKef was thrilled to have 6 hours of in-flight entertainment, while I was content to watch Girls’ Trip on rapid repeat for the duration of the flight.

My aunt and uncle picked us up from the airport and a three-day Greek feast commenced. My aunt was so thoughtful and prepared all kinds of perfect-for-running meals– pasta, salmon, salads, and I considered more than once declaring a new marathon event: eating 26.2 pieces of my aunt’s cheese pie. But that wouldn’t be hard so everyone would do it.

And then it was race day! JetSet jaunted in from Dublin (as one does), and we headed to the expo. It was superwell organized and, despite being forced to walk through all the vendors, we managed to have some fun.

Afterward, we met my cousins at the spectacular new Stavros Niarchos Cultural Center, which is a spectacular building and worth a visit.

One tram ride later that nearly ended my running days for good (because when the tram comes but you still have no tickets, you stick your leg in the door until your brother gets the ticket machine to work), and MrKef and I were settled into the hotel. For the first time in my life, I actually chose to eat in the hotel restaurant because they were serving salmon and that’s what I like to eat the night before a run. We enjoyed a surprise date night– we were the only ones in the restaurant for most of the meal and got to dine by candlelight with the whole place to ourselves.

I got my things ready for the morning and settled in for a good night’s sleep. That lasted for about 2 hours, after which I woke up and was totally unable to fall back to sleep. MrKef came back from some revelry with JetSet around 3, and there I was… wide awake. I must have fallen asleep again sometime around 430, and when my alarm went off at 515, transferring to the eating race crossed my mind once again.

Despite my lack of sleep, I was feeling great. I ate an RX bar,  blasted my feel-good playlist, and headed out to the bus. My bus experience was seamless– I got on about 640 and was at the race start by 730 or so. I was hoping to sleep but, alas, it eluded me. There’s a short walk to the stadium, and there are tons of portapotties (but inside the dugout there are flush toilets whose lines are shorter and faster–a win!).

Here’s where the fun started. We were supposed to use the track at the Marathon Stadium to warm up, but the portapotties were lined up in the outer lane of the track, so of course the lines formed around the track. Undeterred, a group of guys in Spartan costumes started doing laps in the center, so there was a hilarious layered effect of portapottie lines, then people stretching and lounging about, and then the inner circle of Spartans and their growing ring of joggers.

And that’s also when the heat started– temps called for 65F with 98% humidity at the start. I knew the day would get hotter as the race went on, but also knew that the cloud cover would be my best friend. Well, my BFF was nowhere to be seen at the start, and I was already sweating before the race for underway. I was not thrilled by this turn of events, but was still feeling jazzed to get this show on the road. The race started promptly at 9, and I was off by 920 or so.

Things started off well enough.

My race plan was to keep things around 9:30 effort, knowing that the opening and closing 6ish miles were downhill, so I’d be able to bank some time in the beginning  before heading into 12 middle miles of hills. I kept to that perfectly for the first ~4 miles and felt good, but realized I was getting HOT quickly. I slowed down a bit for the next two miles and poured water over myself every water stop, but I just could.not.cool.down. The sun was definitely strong and I could tell other people were struggling as well, but it became clear pretty quickly that overheating was how the lack of sleep was going to manifest itself. I started to feel exhausted around mile 5- not muscle or mind fatigue, just get-me-to-my-damn bed tired. With 21 miles to go, this was not a good sign.

Luckily for me, we entered the first big town since Marathon right around then. Whole families were out to cheer, and people lined the street blasting traditional music, performing Greek dances, and cheering us on. I got a second wind, high fived everyone I could, and took in every “Bravo, kouritsimou!” that came my way.

At that point, I thought my tired troubles were over. The promised clouds showed up and I felt slightly less hot. I got a huge boost when I passed the first of my family members who came out to cheer — it was so special to have them out there. I was starting to feel pretty good. Maybe I had run through the fatigue.

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Or maybe not. Just when I was starting to cool off and feel better, the hills started. And continued. And kept on going. These hills went straight up Elizabeth Warren on me and frigging persisted. 

I got to a water station somewhere around mile 12 or 13 and suddenly knew what it meant to “hit the wall.” I struggled to open my Nuun packet to refill my water bottle and was starting to feel dejected. I slowed down to a walk and just tried to focus on getting the damn Nuun open. And then all the Greek Gods smiled upon me from Mt Olympus– I heard my aunt calling my name and my uncle reached out, ripped open the Nuun and poured it in my water bottle before sending me back off on my way.

I passed JetSet somewhere between miles 16 and 17  — a good brother will fly to across the world for ~30 hours to watch you run, but the BEST brother will BRING YOU A SPINACH PIE AND OFFER IT TO YOU DURING SAID RUN.

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I was all smiles there, but I knew I was sunk — I was feeling so crappy by that point I even refused the spanakopita.  I can’t even revisit such a low point in life. So let’s keep going.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find any energy to pull it together. There were maybe 30 seconds after seeing my aunt and uncle where I felt like I could finish the race running. I ended up run-walking the rest of the way, sometimes using long time intervals to break up the running with walking, and other times just trying to run until the next telephone pole. I was on track to finish under 4:10 until about mile 15, and then it was a never-ending descent into “I have no idea WHEN the hell I am going to finish.” The distance  between kilometer markers stretched on so long that I convinced myself that someone had messed up and used kilometer signs to mark off miles. Not good stuff.

The crowds only got bigger as we entered the city. The downhill felt good for about 3 kilometers, and then the wall I had been pushing since the halfway point became The Great Wall. After what seemed like 10,495 hours, I finally made the left turn and could see the stadium in the distance. The crowds were huge at this point, and all the excitement and adrenaline I had been hoping for finally kicked in and I made a mad dash for the finish. Running through the original Olympic Stadium was incredible.

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4:42:36. Certainly not the time I had trained or hoped for. I eeked into the top 40ish% for total participants, gender and age group– so that’s something. About 4,000 people who started the race didn’t finish. Everyone was hot, most people were doing at least some walking, and the last 6 miles were filled with  many audible promises of “never again.”

I’m disappointed about my time, but I really meant it when I said the other day that the amazing 22-mile run was validation enough for a training cycle of hard work. I wish things had gone differently performance-wise, but I’m not too hung up on that.

The biggest disappointment to me is that I wasn’t in a good enough place to really enjoy myself. I wanted to finish the race exhausted but exhilarated, feeling proud of myself and filled with all the warm and fuzzies of having done some certifiably awesome. There were definitely times when I could appreciate how special this race is: running through an entire town of people dancing the Syrtaki, kids giving out Laurel leaves and olive branches throughout the course, couples in their 70s and 80s cheering on runners, seeing my family throughout the race and at the finish line, a cadence-quickening percussion troupe in a tunnel near mile 24, and — of course — that historic finish in an Olympic Stadium. But I was just too tired for too much of the race to really savor any of those moments.

There are definitely things that I’m proud of. Despite feeling like crap physically and knowing that I just didn’t have what I needed to run the race I wanted, I was never actually in a bad mental place. I realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t going to have a great day and can say for sure that I made the very best of it that I could. I finished the damn thing, despite being out in the hot sun 30 minutes longer than I thought I was going to be, and despite the fact that I wanted to quit pretty much every step of the way after mile 12. I’m hoping that, with a little time, the disappointments fade and make some space for the special memories of the day.

When everything goes wrong, what a joy to test your soul and see if it has endurance and courage! –Nikos Kazantzakis

I am so, so grateful to my family, who cooked runner-friendly meals, watched thousands of people run by just for a sweaty mid-race hug from me, flew across the world and then made the ultimate sacrifice and ate my spinach pie for me, waited for hours at the finish line (and then almost an hour more when I messed up the post-race meet-up point…), and congratulated me as if I had won the whole damn thing. Plus, they made sure I had the headgear of a champion, and I am now the proud owner of TWO στεφάνια, the famous leaf wreaths:

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AND DID I MENTION THE POST-RACE FEAST???

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That’s right, people– TWO kinds of wreaths, and TWO kinds of cheese pie. Our Greekness is your weakness.

And, of course, I can never say enough about my incredible husband — who cheered me on throughout the training, delayed his summer vacation until November, and only complained about the months of early-to-bed Friday and/or Saturday nights when it meant he had to go alone to see whatever new superhero movie was out.

I don’t know if I’ll run another marathon. Of course, a part of me would love to go back to Athens next November and show that course what this Spartan woman is made of … but another part of me would be happy to never, ever, ever run farther than 22 miles ever again. I’ve known for some time now that I strongly prefer training to racing — so I might train for a spring marathon without signing up for one to keep mileage high and pressure low. But who knows– I may get the itch to try my legs at this beast of a race again. Only time will tell.

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Tsoureki Bread Pudding

17 Jul

Thanks to the many, many of you who reached out with kind words about my grandfather. It is appreciated more than you know.

I’ve got no clever transition and very few jokes today, so we’ll just get right into it– tsoureki bread pudding. IS THIS NOT THE MOST BRILLIANT THING YOU HAVE EVER HEARD OF? I mean, really.

So here’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna make a loaf of the delicious sort-of-sweet Easter bread, tsoureki. Then we’re gonna drown it in cream and sugar. And then we’re gonna throw some chocolate on it, bake it and eat it.

Please accept my most sincere apologies that I could not have been bothered to take the perfect picture of what is obviously the world’s most delicious dessert. Although, if you need a picture to believe that this dessert is a good idea, I’m gonna need you to check yourself — the cheddar on your cracker may not be as sharp as it used to be.

FullSizeRender (31)I pooled several resources to come up with this recipe–what I ended up going with is reflected below.

Tsoureki Bread Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of tsoureki, cut into cubes (or, any store bought not-plain Jane bread … a cinnamon raisin loaf would probably be all kinds of awesome, too)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1.5 c sugar
  • 6 c milk (please do not even come to me with anything other than whole)
  • 2 c heavy cream
  • 1 c butter, melted and cooled
  • 4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 bag chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 3/4 c white sugar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 1/3 c heavy cream
  • 1 TBS bourbon (Metaxa if you have it!)
  • pinch of salt

Assembly

  1. Lightly grease a 9×13 pyrex or large cake pan. Whisk the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, butter, vanilla, chocolate and nutmeg together.
  2. Arrange in the tsoureki cubes in the pan, the fewer the layers, the faster it will cook. Pour the egg mixture over it. Set aside and let the bread soak up all that creamy goodness for at least 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 375F while the bread/cream mixture sits.
  3. Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the top is browned and center is set. This will vary depending on your pan, so go with what it looks like rather than what these direction say.
  4. While the pudding bakes, make the sauce: simmer sugar and water on medium heat, swirling the pot  instead of stirring, until it is a deep amber.
  5. Remove from heat and slowly stir in the cream.
  6. Add bourbon and salt. Return to heat for 1 minute more, stirring constantly and gently.
  7. Serve pudding warm or room temp, with a generous serving of cooled bourbon sauce.

Kalitsounia- Another Reason to Use The Huge Mini-Muffin Tin Your Mother Gave You

18 Apr

If there ain’t no party like a West Coast party ’cause a West Coast party don’t stop, then there is definitely no dinner party like a Cretan dinner party because you will never, ever, ever want the food to stop. And I am pretty sure Coolio would agree with me that these kalitsounia are proof positive that cooks from Crete are not effing around. Part custard treat, part tart, part muffin, these bite sized treats defy your dessert definitions. My favorite part of making these is the reminder of how perfectly unpersnickety Greek pastry is–this dough is forgiving and easy to work with, and the filling practically pulls itself together.

This was my first time at the kalitsounia party, so I borrowed heavily from this recipe, and my teensy tweaks are reflected below. I also benefited tremendously from MamaKef’s compulsive gift giving–these guys are a great reason to whip out your 48-count muffin tin again and the Cake Boss Linzer cookie cutter kit (sans cutout attachment) was PERFECT for creating perfectly-sized dough rounds with pretty scalloped edges. But, as always, these are mere suggestions and you just go ahead and do whatever your heart desires.FullSizeRender (24)

Kalitsounia

Ingredients

For the dough

  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/2 c Greek yogurt, left to sit in colander/strainer for ~10 min to reduce liquid
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 c sugar
  • 3.5-4.5 c flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
  • juice of 1/2 orange
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
 For the filling
  • 15 oz of soft myzithra cheese (you will prob have to live in NY, Baltimore, Toronto, or Melbourne to find this outside of Greece– for the rest of us, ricotta worked just fine for me)
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1 eggs and 1 egg white
  • 1 tsp cinammon

For the topping

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 TBS water
  • 1 TBS cinnamon

Assembly

  1. Using the paddle attachment of a standing mixer, combine olive oil, sugar, yogurt and eggs in a large bowl. Add in the orange juice, lemon zest and vanilla and blend again until just combined. In a separate bowl, combine flour and baking powder, mix well, and then add gradually dry ingredients to the wet mixture. Knead the dough with your hands, until it softens. You may need to add flour–the dough should be soft and pliable, but not stick to your hands. Cover the bowl with a clean dish towel and set the dough aside to rest for at least 30 minutes- no need to chill.
  2. Using either a rubber spatula or a standing mixer, combine sugar, eggs and cinnamon until well mixed.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F, lightly grease a mini-muffin tin. On a well-floured surface, roll out dough to about 1/10 of an inch (good on you if you have any idea what a tenth of an inch is–I just went with “as thin as I could get it without its being see through”). Use a 6-inch cookie or biscuit cutter to cut the dough into rounds.
  4. Drop one round into each minimuffin slot. Fill with about 1-1.5 tsp filling. Whisk together egg and water, then brush the top of each pastry with the egg wash. Sprinkle the top of each with cinnamon.
  5. Bake at 350F for about 25 minutes, or until golden. Allow to cool in pan, then pop out and enjoy– these are even better when served the next day!

Baklava Cookies

20 Mar

I made these super-easy baklava-inspired cookies a few weeks ago for FlailKef and GingerKef’s annual Oscars Party.

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In a tribute to my dear friends’ brilliant yearly invitation, I give you the following write up:

Many people think that FENCES exist to delineate those who enjoy working with filo dough and those who would prefer to find themselves on  a HACKSAW RIDGE rather than deal with all those layers. If you are among the latter, this recipe is for you! Immediately upon ARRIVAL at this Oscar Party, people came out like a LION for these cookies, which have all the syrupy, nutty goodness of baklava and none of the flimsy filo. MrKef was determined that I make them full of gluten and full of sugar, so rather than let the nutritional info send you into LALA LAND, I’ll keep those stats in my HIDDEN FIGURES file COME HELL OR HIGHWATER. The great reviews of these cookies sent me happily into the MOONLIGHT, still not giving one flying eff about MANCHESTER BY THE SEA.

Translation: these cookies are awesome and easy, full of gluten and sugar, and everyone really liked them. Oh, and I still hate Boston. Inspiration here, full recipe below.

Baklava Cookies

Ingredients

For the Crust

  • 1/2 c unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp orange zest
  • 1.5 c flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
For the topping
  • 1/3 c pecans, chopped
  • 1/3 c almonds, chopped
  • 1/4 c light brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • generous 1/8 tsp cloves
  • generous 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 TBS unsalted butter, melted
Syrup
  • 1/3 c honey
  • 3 TBS water
  • 2 TBS fresh orange juice
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a rimmed metal baking dish with parchment paper (I used my square tart pan- the pan from a toaster oven would probably work too). Combine melted butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, and orange zest until combined (I used standing mixer, but I am sure you could do this by hand). Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl, then add to butter mixture and fold in until incorporated. Press dough evenly into bottom of prepared pan and bake for 15-16 minutes, until lightly golden and center is set.
  2. Prepare topping while crust bakes. Combine nuts and spices in a small bowl; add melted butter and stir until incorporated. Spoon topping evenly over warm crust (which has just finished its initial 15-16 min bake), then return pan to oven. Continue baking for an additional 10- 12 minutes, or until golden.
  3. Make the syrup during the second baking session. Bring to a boil the honey, water, and orange juice in a saucepan over medium heat. Turn heat down to low and simmer until thickened and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool for ~10 minutes.
  4. Place pan on a wire rack and spoon syrup over still-warm cookies, tilting pan in all directions to coat evening. Cool bars completely in pan. Cut with a sharp knife when ready to serve.

Savory Baklava (or, how to turn vegetables into dessert)

17 Jan

JetSet and KimmieKef recommended the sort-of-new cookbook Smashing Plates. I got it last week, and pretty much every page is already dog-eared for future cooking. I hope you’re all looking forward to some new Greek Easter dishes this year… or at least being conscripted into taste-testing the recipes I try.

Our recipe for today actually comes from the author’s web site, which is equally replete with new takes on traditional Greek fare. It also answers the question JetSet has been wondering for the last 7 years or so: how can we make vegetables dessert? The answer, it turns out, is to combine caramelized onions cooked down with cinnamon, tomatoes, feta, almonds, dill, and dates, and then to layer them with phyllo and butter.

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Yeah, she went a little crazy with the filter– sue me. At least I’m trying.

It’s important you know that this pie is neither sweet nor savory–it’s the best of both. MrKef  and some non-Greek, normal eaters gave the swavory thing big thumbs up, and I would definitely recommend this pie for a brunch–because who the hell knows which meal or flavor we’re supposed to be eating at 11:30am with a bottomless carafe of mimosa, anyway?

Tomato, feta, almond and date baklava

Ingredients

  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 medium white onions, finely sliced or minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of granulated sugar (I used coconut sugar)
  • 1 bunch dill, finely chopped (or 3 teaspoons dried)
  • 10 vine plum tomatoes, skinned, seeded and roughly chopped (keep half of the juice)
  • 3 TBS tomato purée
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 packet phyllo pastry (9 sheets)
  • about 1/2 stick butter, melted (sub olive oil- this is just for spreading on the phyllo)
  • 3/4 c sliveredalmonds, ground down to a crumble (either by food processor or just by banging them)
  • 7-8 large Medjool dates, pitted and finely sliced
  • 2 c feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons clear honey (optional)

Assembly

  1. Lightly butter or oil the bottom and sides of your longest pyrex pan or rectangular aluminium baking dish (I used a 13×9 pyrex). Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large-bottomed pan. Gently fry the onions over a low heat, add the garlic, cinnamon and sugar, then increase the heat. Fry for about 12 minutes, until caramelized. Add the dill, tomatoes and half of their juices and the tomato puree and cook for another 10 minutes, until reduced. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Remove outer bag from phyllo, and gently roll out the dough. If you are new at phyllo, lightly dampen a paper towel and cover the dough with it, as it dries out if you are moving slowly. Place one sheet of phyllo in the greased baking dish, then gently brush it with melted butter or olive oil, being very generous. Be sure to get all the corners and ends. Repeat 3 more times, for a total of 4 layers. Don’t worry too much if these layers rip, as they will be covered by deliciousness in a minute anyway.
  4. Spread half the onion mixture over the pastry, top with half the almonds, the dates and half the feta. Repeat butter/phyllo layers for another 4 layers, and top with the remaining onions, almonds and feta. Do another 4-5 layers of phyllo/butter, making sure that the last one is as pretty and untorn as possible.
  5. Lightly score the top, cutting diamonds or squares, brush with butter and splash with a little water. Place on a baking tray and cook for 30–35 minutes until golden.To get maximum flakiness, turn up the heat to 400F for the last 5 minutes of baking, keeping a close eye to avoid burning.

Wedding Wednesday: Syrtaki, Stanky Spanx, and Suspenders

13 Jan

Okay so today there’s good news and bad news: the bad news is that I had some technical difficulties this morning uploading all the party pics I wanted to use, so I may have to draw the reception out into two posts–sorry y’all. I tried to be a really low-key bride, so what I spared you in Bridezilla moments will be made up for in Blogzilla posts… okay? Great. The good news is that the upload failed pretty much right at the moment I was trying to teach JetSet how to Wobble, so he is spared one more week of embarassment.

So, after we rehearsed, said “I Do,” and MrKef got a major roasting, it was finally time to start the party. Clearly, there’s only one way to do it: Zorba (syrtaki if we’re being technical, but just go with it)! 1081

People tried–they really did–but eventually it devolved into a circle of clapping while the Greeks took care of the speedy bits.

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And then it was all party, party, party!

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Unfortunately, there is now photographic evidence of my doing the most STANDARD white girl dance post-college– one point in the “ChefKef-is-secretly-an-UGGs-wearing- PSL-sipping-basic-babe” column:

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Eventually, an epic dance-off between WokeUpLikeDisKef, RumNRedBullKef, and BabyKef broke out, which was amazing beyond measure.1173

No need to drop the mic– BabyKef threw down with her trademarked “Stanky Spanx” dance:

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Of course, MrKef and I had to then show off some of our signature moves, like Playing Dice:

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and “Ay! Ay! Ay! Ay!”

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and, my personal favorite, the Ashanti/JaRule Thug Love:

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Somehow, we forget to put Ma$e on the “Must Play” list, so MrKef had to do without his DiddyBop on his big night. Shame.

While all this was going down, there were beignets and baklava to be had!

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The beignets came from a random Cameroonian lady who turned out to be a total drama queen. The baklava came from the most amazing woman alive, Kat at Baklava Couture. Further proof that Our Greekness is Your Weakness? I think so.

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HomeBrewKef was surprised to find himself 100% on-trend at this shindig

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And that, sadly, is where my upload ends– more next time!

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
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.

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