March 29, 2013


What a perfect little reminder for a busy day... at the end of a busy week... at the end of a busy month. Is March really almost over already? It sure didn't stick around too long -- but with all the snow and crazy weather changes it brought, I have to say that I'm not entirely sorry to see it go. 
I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend -- lots to get done (as always), but I'm hoping that the chocolate bunnies and such will make up for it. Hope that you all have a very hoppy Easter (see what I did there?) with plenty of Cadbury eggs!



March 26, 2013

And Now for a Little Excitement...

Now that my fingers have thawed out a bit, I can recount our crazy, wonderful, chilly, ridiculous weekend.
It started out quietly enough (too quietly??) with a cozy Friday evening on the couch. In a sleepy haze that morning I had managed to put short ribs instead of pot roast in the fridge to defrost, so we had an odd but tasty dinner of slow-cooked short ribs over leftover mashed potatoes. It was actually so good that I might make that mistake again next time...
I got sleepy early and the hubby kindly shooed me up to bed so that he could play a video game without my constant requests to turn the machine guns down a little bit. I fell sound asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow, only to be shaken awake what felt like minutes later by Dan.
"Do you smell burning?" he asked.
"I don't smell anything. What the hell are you doing? It's still dark outside."
[I am not a very kind person in the middle of the night.] 
But something about Dan's dashing around made me sit up and sniff a little more... and then I definitely smelled it. Over the next few minutes, the smell got much stronger, but we couldn't figure out where it was coming from -- there was no smoke, no noise, and definitely no fire. Dan even poked his head up into the attic, where our resident squirrel (another story for another time...) got the fright of his life, but luckily didn't seem to have started a campfire. We hemmed and hawwed a bit, but eventually decided that Dan should call the non-emergency line for our county. I went to the bathroom quickly while he dialed, but as soon as I heard him start to recite our address, I started to get a little concerned. Dan mouthed to me "They're coming," and I'm not proud to say that my first reaction was a rather dramatic groan (safety first, all). I yanked on sweatpants and two coats, took a claw in the face while wedging one animal into a carrier, and we dragged one sleepy puppy, one furious cat, and our own bewildered selves outside.
In minutes we heard the sirens piercing through the frigid darkness, and I started to cringe. "The neighbors are going to hate us," I moaned, "Are you sure they really needed to come?"
Sure enough, we ended up with two large trucks, huge spotlights, and lots of flashing lights parked in front of our house while at least a dozen firefighters trooped in and out for an hour. Despite the fact that it felt like the middle of the night, this whole debacle actually started around 5:30 AM, so we stood in our driveway from about 6-7 (pre-sunrise), freezing and waiting for any sign of flames. Luckily there were never any of those, and the firemen eventually decided that the smell (which they smelled too, thank goodness... I was a little worried that our phone number might be destined for some kind of "boy-who-cried-wolf" list) was from a malfunctioning heat pump/air handler. Truly, I can't say enough about how kind and thorough these guys were -- they examined every inch of our house (I'm still recovering from the mortification I felt upon discovering the door to our "junk" closet wide open) and didn't complain a bit about the terrible hour or the awful cold.
In the end, we were left with a very cold house, no heat for a few days, and a lingering smell. Thank goodness for wonderful neighbors, friends, and family who checked in on us throughout the day, and one friend in particular who went way above and beyond, delivering a truckload of firewood and our two favorite little girls to play for a little while. We spent much of the day by the fire, napping off our early morning. Luckily the weather warmed up nicely, and that evening while Dan headed out to pick up dinner, I took the pup for a gorgeous long walk and dreamed of spring.
That evening, we set up camp in the living room:
(not the best picture, but you get the general idea)
I felt like a little kid in a fort, but a lot less comfortable... turns out, no matter how many blankets you put down, you'll still find at least one bone directly on the hard floor at all times.
Sunday was slightly less exciting, thank goodness (although it was my mother's birthday, and that's exciting! Happy birthday, Mom!) We slept in a bit, knocked out a workout, met up with some friends from out of town for a drink, drove around for a bit in the snow, and then headed home (with a hot cup of coffee) to get a fire going and settle into our makeshift sleeping quarters again. 
If Saturday night had been merely a little rough, Sunday night was pretty miserable. There was a lot of tossing and turning and poking my poor husband, hissing "The fire is dying! The fire is dying!" Thank goodness for him, because he got up several times each night to throw another log on and ensure my toes stayed warm.
Thankfully, after a (ahem) brisk few days (understatement), our heat was restored yesterday and I can feel my extremities again. There is still the matter of the "fixed" air handler that is now causing our kitchen floor to vibrate like a train might be passing through the house at any moment, but I am able to handle that minor hiccup much better now that the icicle at the end of my nose has melted.
Despite the annoyance, I do have to admit -- it was kind of fun to camp out with Dan and our furballs for a few days. Even though I certainly can't sleep on the floor like I used to (the days of birthday sleepovers are long gone, and you won't hear me protest), I enjoyed changing things up and hunkering down in front of the warm fire with my boys. I'd say my sore back was worth the extra puppy snuggles, laughter, and the billion or so episodes of NCIS. And now, I'm just enjoying the warmth and crossing my fingers that it will be a very long time before a fireman has to dig through my closets again.



March 22, 2013

Friday Favorites

Didn't I mention last week that my picks were a little all over the place? Well... you ain't seen nothin' yet. Today, we make last week's choices look positively coherent.

 -- First, a Friday Favorites dream-come-true: look what arrived on my doorstep yesterday...
Even cuter in real life!
decked out for St. Patrick's day
 -- The hubs and I are on a working-out-together kick -- he has come with me to the gym every day except one this week, and we've been doing stuff together while we're there. This means that for the first time in forever (forever) I've been doing strength training, core work, and all those other things you're supposed to add to the cardio for a well-balanced workout... yuck. I'm lucky to have my very own personal personal trainer to make me feel like a wimp encourage me to keep pushing, but I'm going to be very ungrateful here for a minute: this strength stuff is for the birds. I have been so incredibly sore all week, words truly can't describe it. Sitting down hurts. Standing up hurts. Breathing hurts. I can't even begin to get comfortable at night, so I've been sleeping horribly. And let. me. tell. you. I sneezed on Wednesday, and I swear my life flashed before my eyes. I was absolutely positive that my head was going to pop off in that instant. Dan keeps telling me that it will get better, and today I am finally slightly less achy (until I try to move, at least). All I can say is that this had better be worth it.
The "favorite" part of this little topic (I bet you didn't think there was one!) was that I've been able to spend lots of quality time with Dan. Because of his funky work schedule, sometimes I feel like we barely see each other during the week. But even when I was yelling at him to get out of bed already and we were glaring at each other as we got dressed for the gym before the crack of dawn, it was nice to get to see his face a little more this week. He hits just the right balance of encouragement and making me laugh like crazy... which would be wonderful if it didn't hurt so damn much.

 -- After our gym date last night, we headed to check out a new local grocery store and grab a few last minute ingredients for dinner. This place has a ton of bulk nuts, snack mixes, and candy (dangerous), and as we browsed I spotted these beauties.

I have not eaten or even thought about mustard pretzels in YEARS, but I used to love these things when I was little. I bought a little container, and oh my goodness, they took me right back to childhood. They are super salty but incredibly good.

 -- Speaking of childhood food, I whipped up another kid favorite for dessert last night. When we were grocery shopping last week, I pointed out the pre-made Jello version of the "dirt" dessert, and Dan's eyes got all wide. I sent him back for chocolate pudding mix, grabbed a container of cool whip, and even tracked down a bag of gummi worms. Last night, we indulged:

  -- On Wednesday, we took Teddy for his first real puppy class. We signed him up a month ago, but our class didn't fill up and eventually got canceled, so we're starting again now. Our new class includes a sweet Doberman, an adorable German Shepherd, and a teeny-tiny terrier mix. Teddy did pretty well and made it clear that he's going to be a teacher's pet: while the other puppies played after class, Teddy stuck close to the trainer and did his best to look cute. The trainer even picked him up (not exactly an easy feat, since he's grown so much) to give him some love, and Teddy was clearly in heaven. We definitely have a mooch on our hands. 
The best part, though? During a "puppy recess," Teddy meandered over to the other pups, picked up the leash of the little bitty terrier in his mouth, and dragged both it and the attached dog halfway across the room to us. He sat down right in front of Dan, leash still in his mouth and terrier still struggling to get back on his feet, and looked at us like "I brought you something, can we keep it??" Everyone (including the terrier's mama, thank goodness) got a good laugh.

 -- And in the interest of equal air-time for all furballs (no one likes a furry mutiny), we'll end with this little graphic that I whipped up the other day:

Truer than you can imagine... he is not a morning cat.
Happy weekend, everyone!



March 20, 2013


Back at the beginning of the year, I put together a few new years resolutions. Because that's what you do in January, you know? I have to be honest about it now: at the time, if someone had held a gun to my head, I could have told you exactly which ones I'd keep and which ones I would look back at to say "Oh, wasn't that a crazy nice idea?" I was sure that a few would fizzle before the first light of February (as so many resolutions do). I also pledged that there would probably not be any follow-up posts, because I'm normally not a big fan of measuring my failure in a public forum.
Well. It's a good thing no one held a gun to my head, because I have made a liar of myself in a big way. First, of course, this is the post I said I'd never write. I'm not exactly "recapping," but I am certainly revisiting one of those resolutions (in fact, I've done this a few times already, although I've tried to sneak it in without really admitting to what I'm doing). Secondly (and much more interesting-ly): one of those resolutions that I was sure I wouldn't be able to keep? I've been killing it. Well... except for January. But since finishing the-book-that-took-me-a-lifetime-to-read (All the King's Men), I've been rocketing through books like they're going out of style. Color me pleasantly surprised.
In a way, I feel like I've finally gotten back to myself again. I grew up with a book (or two) in my hands at all times. I read three at once. I always, always had an answer for "What are you reading right now?" So the past few years of slow, uncommitted reading have been odd and uncharacteristic for me. (I blame it on a combination of college assignments and the lure of free Kindle samples -- I've read hundreds of first chapters but precious few whole books.) But as soon as I made a little bit of an effort to pick the habit back up, there it was. I've been finishing books in record time, and I've rediscovered the fact that I'd rather read than do just about anything else.
In light of this, I've decided to up the ante a bit: for the rest of the year, my goal is to enjoy not one but two books a month -- two books that are somehow similar. I got the idea when I was browsing through a few of those Kindle sample that I downloaded recently, and I realized that some of them fit into perfect pairings. I started a list, and in the past few weeks I've gone on to plan sets of books for 6 of the next 9 months. Their common thread varies -- some share a setting, some a subject, some a type of writing. I don't doubt that as I read, more similarities will be revealed, and I'm truly hoping that ultimately, each book will enrich the other. 
Here's a quick hint at a few of the pairs I'll be jumping into this year:
can you spot the connections?

I first started to contemplate this idea when I had just finished what was originally my one-and-only book for March, The End of Your Life Book Club. Although I quickly got excited about pairing books for the coming months, I kept putting off the decision to jump in, thinking I wouldn't start in earnest until April. I really couldn't imagine a book that could hold its own alongside Will Schwalbe's story, and I couldn't find anything that seemed similar enough to truly pair. So I waited, picked out my April books, and was ready to get a jump on the first one when my second March book essentially walked up to shake my hand (ok, it definitely didn't, but wasn't that a nice visual?) So at the risk of starting off this project on a truly depressing note, over the next 10 days I'll be reading this book:

Written by a mom whose little boy was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease, a congenital and fatal disorder that left her childless just three years after her son's birth, it is sure to be a heartwrenching read (just like End of Your Life Book Club was), but I don't doubt that it will also be a celebration of life (again, just like its pair). I listened to a Fresh Air interview with the author just last night, and I knew immediately that this was my second book for March.
So 2013 will be the year of book pairs (although thank goodness I didn't think of this idea at the beginning, can you imagine how long it would have taken me to read a second All the King's Men??) If you've read any books that matched nicely, let me know -- I still have a few months to fill!
Happy reading!



March 19, 2013

Just a Note

Dearest Spring,

Anytime, really.

Love, Meg

(Although it is nice to know that someone is being held responsible for this ridiculous winter...)
March 15, 2013

Friday Favorites

It's that time again! My picks this week are a little all over the place (meet my brain), but they're all things I'm loving lately...

This song has been on repeat for the past week:

I'm grateful once again to Pandora for knowing my musical tastes better than I do.


As I get more and more frustrated with our little house, which is falling apart and poorly designed and thank goodness it's not actually ours, I spend more and more time daydreaming about our future home. We are hoping to buy or build in the next year or two (but please don't tell our bank account, I'd rather not scare it away just yet), and I've already started decorating and painting and buying furniture in my mind. One of the first purchases will most definitely be a comfy new couch to replace our current one, which is slowly sinking into the floor. I've got my eye on something like this...
[via, via]

You can't go wrong with Pottery Barn (again, please don't mention any of this to the bank account). I love the idea of a neutral couch so that we can swap out accent colors with pillows, curtains, etc. Of course a couch would certainly need a chair to go with it...
... and I can't get enough of this one. I love tufted armchairs and can see myself curling up in this with blanket and a cup of tea. We'd also need some art on the wall...
[via, via]
... and a lamp...

I've been searching for a blue and white porcelain lamp like this forever. One of these days I'll find an extra few hundred dollars and make this baby mine...


By some dangerous turn of luck (for my wallet, at least), Kate Spade has recently acquired my email address. I made the fatal mistake of clicking through an email the other day, and fell in love with these beauties:
The only reason I haven't hit that fateful "purchase" button is that I can't decide which one I like better, the mint or the striped. For once, that terrible indecision is paying off!
[There is also a bag that is tempting me but I will most certainly not be sharing it (or buying it), because while I think it's the perfect size, Kate seems to think it's actually perfect for someone with a baby... and a legitimate reason for carrying around 300 pounds of stuff on a daily basis.]


I just finished my March book (look at me go!), and this one has found a permanent place on my shelf of favorites (which is a real shelf -- one of these days I'll share the other books that live there). 
I'm not sure that any recommendation can truly do it justice, it is so beautifully and honestly written, difficult to read but rewarding and inspiring. More than anything in the past year and a half, it stirred up vivid memories of my father's last days, gently unearthing moments that I thought I'd rather forget but now am so glad that I didn't. 


And last but surely not least, a clip that absolutely made my day today. Grab a kleenex or two and meet Tim and his dad...

Happy weekend!


March 14, 2013

Just A Little Fluff...

Between new popes, big work meetings, and trying to figure out how to wrangle dinner out of our near-empty fridge for the past few nights, I'm not good for much today. It's taking everything I've got to keep from eating the entire contents of my lunchbox right now, and it's only 9:45. Subjecting you to any attempt at cohesive sentences would surely be cruel and unusual (as is the spaghetti sitting in the refrigerator, calling to me). Luckily I have a few friends who are always glad to help...

Hard to tell from the picture, but the other day puppy got so tired that he just couldn't hold his head up anymore... so he rested his chin on the coffee table (just the right height!) for a while.
In between loads of laundry, I discovered this scene.
Teddy insisted on carrying this stick for almost half a mile. He kept dropping it (not overly coordinated, my boy) and pulling on his leash like crazy until we went back for it.
This guy takes after his mama... always sleepy (and hungry... and ready for a good backrub...)
Blurry face because I had to zoom in close enough to capture the bit of tennis ball fuzz stuck to his lower lip. Concerned look because he couldn't figure out quite why I was laughing at him.
The best way to stay warm on a cold night: our own personal, purring heater.
 Hard to have a bad day with these two faces in it!



March 11, 2013

Speed Blogging

Time to play a little catch-up, since my vacation from work turned into a vacation from all-things-internet last week. It's always nice to take a break from social media, but nice to get back to it, too! In the interest of time and your attention span, here's the past 10 days, each in 100 words or less (kind of like speed dating, but less creepy): 

Made it to the gym early for the first time in forever, had a crazy day at work, then met Dan at the mall (my very least favorite place in the whole wide world) to do fun things like purchase a new suit and look at ties (yawn). Can’t really complain, since I was rewarded with Taco Bell for dinner. I call that a win. 

Worked out super early, then hit the road (in the snow!) for my college town. Met up with wonderful friends, had lunch, and checked into our suite. Freaked out upon discovering that the wedding ceremony was to take place outside in 30ยบ temps, was incredibly relieved to find that a last-minute change had been made and I would not lose a limb to frostbite. Enjoyed a beautiful ceremony, catching up with friends, yummy cupcakes, and dancing with my hubby. Headed back to the suite to celebrate our friend’s birthday. Just as I was getting into bed, the terrible sickness began. 
love this picture!
The terrible sickness continued. The morning was rough. Dan, who left at the crack of dawn for a day of military training, was also sick and was sent home, I was still 2.5 hours away. My wonderful friend kept me company while I considered dying and helped me finally prepare for the drive home. Drove an hour without pulling over to be sick (miracle), stopped at Wawa for a slushie that made me feel a billion times better, finally got home. Hubby and I crawled into bed and slept for 15 hours straight. 

Dragged myself into work, still feeling horrible. Didn’t get much work done. Struggled mightily to stay awake, not get sick, not hack off my aching head with a letter opener (that’s gruesome, sorry). Felt the best I had all day at 4:55, when I crawled into my car and headed home for another 15-ish hours of sleep. 

Felt a bit better. Went to the gym after work for a slooooow recovery workout, then grocery shopped for “snowstorm essentials” (ice cream, wine, wheat thins). Made amazing pasta for dinner. Stayed up way too late, much like a kid bargaining for a snow day -- I was absolutely sure that I’d wake up to 2 feet of the white stuff and a day off. 
lemon chicken, capers, and chives over angel hair
Woke up to 2 feet of snow, jumped for joy, promptly stopped when I discovered that my office was still open. Cursed under my breath while husband drove me to work over increasingly dangerous roads. Sat at my desk sad and alone, as everyone else was snowed in. Finally left around 1:00, fit in a quick workout, and finally plopped down in front of a beautiful fire to read and eat for the afternoon/evening. Snow day: salvaged. 
Slept late. Read in bed amidst husband/cat/puppy snores (heaven). Took Teddy for a long, snowy walk. Ventured out to pick up our favorite sandwiches for lunch. Spent another evening on the couch with a fire, a good book, and a glass of wine. Ate delicious breakfast for dinner, despite a sadly failed attempt at hollandaise sauce. 

Got up at a reasonable hour, hit the gym for a nice laid-back workout. Stopped at Whole Foods for gorgeous tulips (on sale!) and Dunkin for a humongous coffee. Got some work done, took the pup for a walk, cleaned up the house a bit, watched some Netflix. Headed out to see wonderful friends for the evening. Enjoyed great food and even better company.
looks like spring!
Gorgeous day, took full advantage with a run outside. Ran into this guy also out enjoying the weather:
Cleaned like crazy all day. Happy to report that our bedroom carpet does still exist. Completed five loads of laundry, scrubbed the bathroom floor, and spent at least three hours doing dishes, I’m pretty sure. Ate takeout since I couldn’t look at my kitchen for one more minute, watched How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days for the billionth time, and collapsed into bed.
Oh Andie Anderson, you get me every time.
Got up in time to sweat a little before kicking off my mom’s day of (early) birthday fun. Headed out to a vineyard for tastings and a glass of wine in the sun, then stopped at a great lunch spot. Saw a local production of Into the Woods (one of our favorites) that was extremely impressive. Finished off the evening at our new favorite Italian restaurant. Happy (early) birthday, Mom!




March 5, 2013

Checking In

The weekend started off wonderfully with friends and a beautiful wedding... but then took a steep downhill slide into food poisoning/flu/general yick. I'm finally starting to feel like a real person again, and discovering that I have a lot to catch up on. Luckily, I have Thursday and Friday off this week... although unluckily, it looks like our fun plans to see a concert on Wednesday night and spend a little time with friends might be thwarted by the FOOT of snow that we may or may not get tonight. Humph.

Wake me when it's spring?



March 1, 2013

Finally Friday

It's Friday!
Let's not talk about the fact that it's now March.
But this weekend, we are packing our bags...
(okay, okay, let's be honest...)
and getting the heck outta dodge
for a lovely friend's wedding.
I'm pretty excited to see some old friends and celebrate!

Hope you all have a fantastic weekend!



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