So, I kind of fell off the blogging wagon for the past couple of weeks. Well, more so the face-of-the-earth wagon, to be completely accurate. Not only have I not blogged recently, I have not skyped with the people I love from home (friends! family! hi there!), have barely cleaned, and have not put up laundry in three weeks. I blame midterms. Not that I’m taking them, but, well, y’know. It’s something to center my guilt around.

Really, though, I/we’ve been keeping really busy of late. Here are some highlights:

  • School has been going great, both for Nick and myself. Midterms just finished for both of us (he took them, I gave one). Nick did incredibly well on his midterms. I am so proud of him! After an insane amount of hard studying, late nights, and countless Red Bulls, he came out on top with 4 A’s and 1 B+. I’d like to think that my cooking helped with his success just a little bit. I’ve been making a lot of new recipes since we’ve been here, but this week, I went back to some of his favorites – Chicken and Noodles, Thanksgiving (with stuffing, of course), Meatloaf and Buffalo Chicken Burgers. I think I’ll be employing the same menu planning strategy for finals. Kind of “it may be a crappy week stress, emotion and brain wise, but on the flip side, it’s favorite food week! Yay!”
  • This past week was Canadian Thanksgiving, and even though it was midterms, we had a small Thanksgiving meal to celebrate. Because it was midterms we didn’t want to do a big entertaining thing, so instead of a turkey I roasted a chicken (but still brined, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without Smokin’ Okie’s Holiday Turkey Brine), and made stuffing, roasted parsnips, carrots and potatoes, and gravy. Instead of making a whole pie (because apple’s are expensive here) I made apple pie cookies. This is the first Thanksgiving I’ve made without any help, and it turned out really well. Nick was able to take a 30 minute break in studying to sit down and eat with me, which I was thankful for. It was wonderful, and we have so many things to be thankful for: To be living in this beautiful place, for Nick to be on the way to achieving his dreams, for the love and support of our amazingly friends and family at home, for our fantastic new friends here, for our health, for me to have work, for this life in general. I will say, as happy as having Canadian Thanksgiving made me, it made me a little homesick, too. And it’s weird, but it made me homesick not only for Canada, but also Oklahoma. In Canada, my family celebrates Thanksgiving with the same group of friends – the “Fennies” – every year, rotating the house it’s held at. These friends are our family, and the first (albeit only) time I took Nick home, I took him for Canadian Thanksgiving so that he could meet the people that had been so important in my childhood. So (Canadian) Thanksgiving is a time that I really miss being home. In Oklahoma, we had started a new tradition of celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving with our friends. During American Thanksgiving everyone is going a million different places, so it gives us an opportunity to come together, visit, and share an amazing pot luck meal. We host and make the Turkey (and stuffing, and gravy, and a dessert … basically every year I drive Nick nuts because there are 30 different things I want to make) and everyone brings a dish (typically, the person’s favorite thing that won’t be right to their taste buds unless they make it.) This would have been our fifth Canadian Thanksgiving, and I missed the tradition this year.
  • I got a second side gig that is keeping me happy, and busy. It’s an online freelance job, and I love it. I get to put my work experience/skills to work doing SEO, and it’s been a lot of fun. I can’t believe how lucky I am to have found not only one, but two jobs in which I truly enjoy the people I work with as well as the work I am doing. Actually, that’s been true of my career thus far in general. Add that to my list of things I’m thankful for!
  • I am training for a half marathon that will be held November 18th here in Grenada. My friend Katie and I have been hitting it hard, and I’m really impressed with our consistency and dedication in our training. Since we started running together at the end of August, we’ve run about 140 miles together. It’s pretty incredible what the body is capable of. Katie and I first met as a part of a running group at SGU, and on our first run, which was supposed to be 6 miles, we both made it about 3 before we both had to stop and walk. And neither of us were in terrible shape! Sure, I had slackened on my running a little over the summer, but had we been at home, we both could have finished the six miles. That’s just how hard the hills, heat and humidity are on running. Luckily we were running from campus to Lance Aux Epines, so even though we lost the group, I knew how to get where we needed to be. Since then, we’ve been training together (sometimes also with our friend Tee, who is crazy busy with term 2 med school but still wisely takes the time to train, and sometimes with the addition of other friends that join us), and resolutely have gone from 2.5 mile “long” run days to 8 mile “long” run days. Tomorrow we’ll be running 9 miles! When we first started training I couldn’t conceive of the possibility of running a half marathon, but now we’re over halfway there and you know what? It doesn’t seem that impossible any more. At one time running 4 miles seemed like such a daunting and arduous task, but now I look forward to 4 miles as a “short” run day. Crazy how perspective changes.

Some other running notes:

      • Nick has been incredibly supportive of my training. He even went on the 8 miler with us to clear his head from all the studying. Even though it may mean super simple, super quick meals on Wednesday and Sunday nights (our longer run nights), not to mention super stinky sweaty clothes hanging everywhere (I don’t think I’ve ever sweat so much in my life. I get home and my shorts are soaked like I went in the ocean. Whose leges sweat that much?), he does his best not to complain.
      • Running here has shown me how small the island really is. At least how small the portions with “manageable” hills are. We’ve been running out to the airport and back for our longer runs, just varying how far we go to get the distance we need, but last Sunday we ran out of land right when we were reaching the distance we needed. So unless some sort of miracle occurs and we start being able to run on water, we’re going to need to pick a new route.
      • I never thought that I’d put running gear before a fashion purchase, but I think I’m about to. We have a friend going home next week for a short visit that is very kindly letting us ship things to her there, and will then bring them back to us when she returns. While I was shopping for a new swimsuit (or three) on the Victoria’s Secret website, I think I’m going to actually end up getting a couple of new sports bras and shorts from Kohls instead. Who am I turning into?
  • We set this weekend’s hash, and it was (in my opinion) a great success. I always knew that hashes were labor intensive to put together, but I never realized how much so until this one. The theme was “a very crappy trail” as we were setting it with our friend Lynn, whose hashing name is Two Shits, and Nick’s hashing name is Oh Shit. We went out two Saturday’s ago to pick the trail, then again the following Monday afternoon to do some more scouting, then again Friday to lay paper, and finally, again Saturday morning to finish laying the paper and check the trails. We spent about/at least five hours each time we went out, and wound up setting a short walkers, short runners/long walkers, long runners, and iron man trail by the time we finished. After all of that, I was too exhausted to run the hash (and having set the iron man, had no need to do it again), so I had a great time walking it with our friends Katie, Patrick, Courtney and Brian, along with Courtney and Brian’s dogs Bella and Pita. Nick wound up sweeping the trails to make sure no one was left out there injured or lost, so he did it separately from us. The hash was a great success. The trails were great, and the lime afterwards was fantastic as well, with an awesome DJ and an incredible selection of food (we had the curried mutton and some of the best barbecued chicken I’ve had here). Other than all of the scratches, scars and bug bites now covering my legs, it was an awesome experience. I got to see parts of Grenada that I would have never seen otherwise, which was very cool, and I also got introduced to a new treat: Snow ice. It’s a delicious frozen custard that comes in a plastic bag, and you bite the corner off and eat the custard out of the bag. So refreshing and delicious. Oh, and I got a hashing name. Since I was setting the trail with the two shits, and as I was always taking up the rear when we were setting it, I am now Toilet Paper. Love it!
  • In addition to my running and hashing, I’ve also added a new activity to my roster: Kickball! Hard to believe because you know me and my lack of coordination/fear of things flying at my face? Well, it’s true. I’m by no means the ringer on our team, but I really enjoy the chance to go out, try something new, and socialize with friends. Plus, I do love to cheer people on and do awkward celebratory dances. When we moved here I was determined to challenge myself to try new things outside of my comfort zone (starting with making new friends, escalating to kickball), and I’ve actually managed to stick to that. Normally, if someone had asked me if I wanted to play kickball I’d say something along the lines of, “you must not know me at all. I am terrible at that kind of thing.” But now, I say, “if you don’t mind me being terrible, I’d love to try it!” I do still have some anxiety about messing up, but at least I’m trying!
  • We bought a giant spiny lobster (7 lbs. It is literally bigger than Nyla) that we cooked last night, and will be preparing dishes from all week. I think we’re going to do a lobster bisque, pasta with lobster and vodka sauce, and make sushi with the last of our frozen tuna and make a lobster volcano roll. There may even be lobster left over after all that. Not bad for $80 EC ($30 US)!
  • Last week Nick really wanted (as a part of Comfort Food Fest 2012) carnitas. Of course, this not being the US, where everything is available in bulk at the tips of your fingers, a pork butt/shoulder is kind of hard to find.Even the place we normally go to get special meat didn’t have it on hand. They did, however, allow me to order one, which we will be picking up today. So between the lobster and the carnitas, we should be set on dinners for this week.
    • Totally random aside, but as I was writing the part about stuff being available in bulk, it brought to mind a funny thing that Spence said about “the land of milk and honey” during our last dinner together, and I almost put “we’re not in the land of milk and honey anymore”, but then I realized that only I and five other people would get that there was humor there. So, I’m including it for you four here (hi Chelsea, Spence, Glenn and Michael! And if you’re counting, Nick, you’re the fifth). Spence, you just made me laugh for about five minutes to myself, so thank you! Also, curse you for bringing my missing of all of you to the forefront. And I’m now craving Mutts Amazing Hot Dogs, because that’s where you said it. Damn it, Spence! This is all your fault! Anyway …
  • With midterms finishing, they (and by they, I mean our first term friends’ husbands/boyfriends and Nick) finally have a chance to take a breath, relax, and spend some time with their honeys (their SO’s and me). We’ve been taking advantage of this rare bit of time. Friday we had a kickball game when we got back from setting the hash, and we went straight (well, after a short stop at home to get ready) from there to the University Club with Brian, Courtney, Katie and Patrick for drinks and cigars, coming back to our house after to smoke hookah. Yesterday way the hash, and today we’re going to brunch with the same crew, followed by a hike out to Hog Island, where there is a weekend beachfront bar. We’re capping the night off with another Kickball game.
  • Finally, I want to give a big, official, Internet-wide congratulations to my pseudo-twin and friend-beyond-words Tishey (and her fantastic husband Ryan), who just announced that their baby is going to be a boy! They are already incredible parents to G – the most amazing, smart, and adorable little guy – and I can’t wait to meet the new little boy when we get home! It makes me sad (seriously, I’m getting all misty eyed right now just writing/thing about it) that I won’t be able to visit right when he is born and see him in all of his newborn-y-ness, but it gives me something else to look forward to when I get there! Love you guys!

I think that’s mostly it for catching up. We’re both staying busy, happy and (mostly) healthy. What’s new (or good, and I’ve heard it said here) in your life?

much love, Cayley

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