Holiday Ruminations

For the bulk of December, we were fortunate enough to experience fairly mild temperatures. In fact, as Christmas approached, the weather held solid in the 40s, making for plenty of outdoor time. This morning, as I sit here, a cup of coffee in hand, I'm watching large, puffy white flakes fall out of the sky at an ever-increasing rate. It seems Winter is finally here. 

I'm fortunate to have a job that shuts down for a week and a half over the holidays. Two years ago I had a wonderful break, but last year was so terribly disappointing that I went back to work in a worse mood than when I left. This year, then, I was determined to make this break everything I wanted it to be.

The first day of the shutdown was my birthday (Saturday), so I rented a cabin with a fireplace for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. 

This was Friday night, the night we checked in. I thought it looked perfectly of an opening shot to a horror film, which was wonderful in my book.

Saturday was my birthday so went hiking and exploring, starting with the large frozen pond behind the cabin. 

After a good hike, we made our way back to the cabin where the kids made me a birthday cake and we enjoyed listening to music, playing games, and enjoying the fireplace.

The next day, we went out for another round of hiking and exploring. It was a ton of fun. We enjoyed another peaceful night at the cabin before checking out on Monday. Monday was Christmas Eve which is the day we celebrate Yule at my house.

I made a delicious stir-fry with lots of veggies and tofu over a three-grain blend - not rice. We then opened presents. 

Early the next morning, I decided I wanted to take a solo hike. So, while everyone was sleeping, I snuck off to one of my favorite spots in the Iowa Mountains - Hitchcock Nature Center. Since I didn't have the kids with me, I took nothing but medium and hard trails and clocked in about 4.35 miles.

I ended the hike by climbing out and walking the boardwalk trail back to the main road.

I tried walking on the 26th, but it was raining pretty good and I wasn't prepared as it really started raining good as I started walking. Instead, Nature Girl and I headed to the stores to spend our gift cards. I bought a book I've wanted to read for years, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, and then I bought myself some base layers and an insulated hoodie for hiking.

Yesterday, then, since I had new, warm hiking/walking gear, I bundled up, grabbed my umbrella, and took a city walk. It was beautiful and rainy, although slightly chillier than the previous few days, but I stayed warm and dry.

And, I managed to clock in 5.33 miles. Unfortunately, because of the weather this month, I'm only halfway to my goal of 100 miles, but I have done a few days of cardio. That makes up for it, right? haha

My winter break has been really wonderful so far. Even as it snows heavily today, I will work on writing, read a few chapters of my new book, and cook some delicious food. I hope your holiday season has been wonderful so far. 

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