Five things on Friday

photo

1. My potluck rut has ended! For months (years?), I’ve been toting cupcakes and pistachio fluff to work gatherings — but no more. At a going-away party for coworkers this week, I was tasked with bringing something “healthy” to, um, supplement our pizza — and fruit salad seemed an obvious choice. But because I can’t just throw fruit in a bowl, I fell down the Pinterest rabbit hole and discovered an easy addition: dry vanilla pudding mix. Genius.

Sliced strawberries, a pint of blueberries, canned pineapple with just a little of the reserved juices . . . and half a package of Jell-o vanilla pudding mix sprinkled atop, then stirred and chilled until delectable. I didn’t come home with a completely empty bowl, but close enough.

People just really love pizza, man.


2. We have a cardinal who “visits” with us every morning, and I was so charmed by him — in a very “Snow White” kind of way, you know? He sings us a little song as we get ready for work, then taps on the window glass at the base of our stairs. Like, he sits there, looks in at my solar-powered corgi toy and raps his beak — as if trying to communicate. This whole routine was magically captured by my mom below. In reality? We’re pretty sure he sees his own reflection and is trying to peck at a fellow bird, but I’d prefer the bird-to-human communication theory.

Cardinal Friend

He’s around so much that I just asked Spence if he could think of a friend or relative who’s recently passed — someone who might have been reincarnated as a feisty red bird and needs to get in touch with us. The cardinal has lived at our residence longer than we have, and I can’t step outside without seeing him near the driveway. He’s usually darting around like he’s on fire, noisy and petulant.

Well, said friend — whom we’ve creatively dubbed “Cardinal Friend” — has taken to perching on Spencer’s driver’s side mirror . . . and, um, using the bathroom. Repeatedly. Every day. I thought it was sort of funny and ultimately harmless until he started doing the same thing to me. Now he “uses the facilities” from my mirror and apparently continues to land in it, leaving little disgusting feet marks all over my car door. I’ve washed it twice already.

Oh, Cardinal Friend.

At least he’s pretty.

And I think he likes us?


3. I’ve made this cucumber salad twice in two weeks with no end in sight. I’m obsessed with it. Our fridge this week was so crammed with sliced cantaloupe, cut-up strawberries, steak and veggie soup and cucumber salad that we barely had room for beer and diet soda, two other important food groups we can’t really live without.

Need to make some changes around here.


4. I don’t want to jinx it (have I already jinxed it?), but we’re supposed to be out tomorrow taking the hot air balloon ride we’d originally scheduled for our November honeymoon and had to cancel due to weather. It’s out in Virginia, and I’m crossing all the fingers because it’s a trek and hard to find another time to get out there. It was a LivingSocial deal I purchased rather impulsively, and I do not want to lose the coin I blew on that! Sigh. Send out no-rain-East-Coast thoughts for me this weekend, will you?!


5. My preoccupation with finding a small ottoman for our new closet is taking over my waking hours. I want something script-y — like this — because that’s apparently my style? I have script-covered fabric all over the house. But then I think . . . am I going to get sick of this in a year or two? Shouldn’t I do something in a bold color? I don’t know. I don’t know much about decorating.

When it comes to furnishing the house, I’ve finally accepted I need to go room by room and case by case . . . basically, look at an empty patch of wall and think, What do I think should go in this specific spot? For a while I was doing dumb stuff like looking through pages upon pages of artwork on Wayfair (affiliate link) and feeling totally overwhelmed. That happens to me on a good day, so I finally backed up and took a new approach.

I’m much happier now.

So far, I found a console table for the hallway and a small landscape canvas for the master bathroom. I’m taking a break now because money, but I’ll be looking for artwork for the living room next.

Sweet progress.


Advertisements

To all a good night

Tree bokeh


I think it would feel a tad bit more like Christmas if temperatures hadn’t soared into the 60s and 70s this weekend, but it’s definitely holiday time here at write meg!

The holiday season crept up on me, really, and I’ve been running around the last few days to get everything ready. Spencer’s parents arrived on Saturday, and we had our annual family cookie exchange last night. I’m happy to report my Linzer cookies — and inaugural run of the Kitchen Aid mixer! — turned out well, even if I floured half the kitchen and found the heart-shaped centers were far less wonky than the stars.


Cookies


Details, details.

I’m looking forward to a few days off with family before returning Dec. 30 with a look back at my year in books — and in life. Come January I’ll be sharing the full details of our book- and science-themed wedding, too; I’ve been totally remiss in sharing all the literary glory! I hope my novel-loving friends will appreciate our way with words.

I really do love this time of year . . . the warmth of time with family, making new traditions, exchanging stories and making new memories. But for as pumped as I am for Christmas, I get just as excited about New Year’s: the chance to usher in change. I embrace reflection and love a freshly-scrubbed month to put away the decorations, clean, reorganize and focus on what’s next.

I don’t know what that is, but I’m excited and eager to usher in 2014.

Wishing you all a very happy holiday brimming with all of your favorite things! Have an extra glass of eggnog for me, and see y’all next week.


write meg! turns three

Well, friends, it’s that time again: a moment to celebrate write meg!’s birthday. This little blog is now a plump, adorable three-year-old — a toddler ready to tackle the world and evolve in exciting ways.

When I started blogging, I didn’t have any real vision for where life writing in a public forum would take me. I simply wanted a forum in which to talk about my life and books with others, fill long afternoons and connect with people outside my office walls.

Years later, I’m proud to have this little corner of the Internet to call my own — and am incredibly thankful for all the friends and colleagues I’ve made along the way. Experiences like the Book Blogger Convention have only strengthened my ties to our bookish community and made me incredibly grateful to know all of you.

Chatting about books, life, food and love has enriched my life in countless ways, I can’t imagine what I would be doing if I didn’t have recipes to share, books to rave about or photos to splash onto the screen. If I thought I loved  writing and reading before, those devotions have now reached the point of obsession. But I like it that way.

Thank you all for your kind words, encouragement, support and friendship — and thanks for just being here.

Me? I’m super happy you came.

~~~

Because, like Kim, I love statistics and lists, here is write meg! in numerical form:

June 3, 2008 — the date write meg! was born
240 — books I’ve reviewed to date
8,194 — number of comments to date
881 — posts, in 28 categories
4,555 — hits on my busiest day ever: July 27, 2010 (for this recipe)
256,720 — total number of hits to date


Most read posts of all time:
An ode to my favorite fall music
Key Lime Cupcakes bring the tangy and the sweet
Where’s Waldo? Stirring up controversy, that’s where!
The email that got me hungry — to help others


Most popular book reviews:
The Princess Diaries X: Forever Princess by Meg Cabot
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
Something Blue by Emily Giffin
Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner

A pint for you — off to England


Friends, neighbors, countrymen — I’m headed back to England. And added to my vacation experience will be tours of Wales, Scotland and Ireland. I’ll be everywhere and keeping busy, and hope to take approximately 4,000 photos and make countless memories.

I’m taking my “holiday” as a chance to unwind and unplug — and, you know, an international phone plan would be way too rich for my blood. So I’m going off the grid. It’s super exciting, but I will miss you all — and won’t expect to be back at my keyboard until Wednesday, April 27. Look forward to a ridiculously long post(s) and countless Wordless Wednesday shots upon my return!

As per previous arrangements, I’ll have a few book reviews posting in my absence. Otherwise, look for your girl Meg in a few weeks. I’ll make my triumphant return just in time for the Book Blogger Convention!

I’ll have a warm pint for you, friends. Cheers!

A giveway for a milestone week

It’s been a big week here at write meg! In addition to getting a makeover (complete with new layout, header and color scheme — but not sense of humor), my post on food drives was featured on WordPress.com‘s Freshly Pressed on Dec. 2-3. Welcome to everyone who clicked through that way, and to new subscribers! (And old ones. “Make new friends, but keep the old . . .”)

And, you know, I also happened to read 200,000 visits on Dec. 2. No big deal.

I promised I’d be doing something special in honor of that milestone, and I’m a woman of my word. We’re wrapping up the reading year and, to date, I’ve read 80 books. I’ll be doing a huge wrap-up post in coming weeks but already have my top choice for favorite read of the year. There was some fierce competition, yes, but one book stands out above all others for me: Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s Life After Yes.

This novel — Rowley’s debut — hit me like no other novel in 2010. It’s one of those books that found me at just the right time in my life, and it was like an arrow to the heart.

I won’t say much more about it now — a post is in the works. But you can read a summary and my full review from June right here.

And in honor of write meg!’s milestone week, I’d love to give a new copy to you! It’s a book with universal appeal that had me laughing, crying and seriously thinking about life. It’s not to be missed. And I don’t want you to miss it.

One copy of Life After Yes is up for grabs internationally to anywhere The Book Depository ships! See the list of countries and make sure yours is on it, then head over to this form to enter.

Comments on this post are welcomed and appreciated, but will not count as entries. One additional entry each may be earned by sharing a link to the contest via Twitter, Facebook, a blog post, etc.

The giveaway will run until 12 p.m. EST on Friday, Dec. 10, and the winner will be selected via Random.org and emailed by yours truly. I’ll share the results here and on Twitter, too.

Thank you to everyone who has visited, commented, emailed and/or passed along my link — this week and every week prior. I’m honored and proud of the space I’ve carved out for myself here, and can’t wait to share 2011 with all of you.

Update on Dec. 11: Congratulations to Jessica, my randomly-selected winner! Jess, I’ve emailed you.

New look!

As you might have seen, I’ve got some changes shaking up here at write meg! Please bear with me as I switch to a new look and make all the appropriate adjustments.

It’s clean and sleek, right? And I still have my trademark pink in splashes. We’ll roll with it and adapt, friends. Looking forward to some fresh content and a fresh appearance as we wrap up 2010 — and I prepare to hit 200,000 visits since write meg! began in June 2008.

Get a holiday card from Meg!

As we’ve discussed before, I’m big on mail. I’ll give total credit for this to my grandmother, with whom I still write letters and pour through old handwritten notes. She recently shared with me letters my great-grandfather wrote to my great-grandmother when he was serving abroad in World War II, and do you think I was completely absorbed in those? I was. I love the written word: the personal nature of holding in my hands something another has touched; the vibrancy of ink on paper; even the mystery of deciphering someone else’s handwriting.

And even more than that? Well, I love sending mail, too. I’m hopelessly addicted to Postcrossing, an international postcard project, and take time almost daily to write notes to others around the world. I love selecting a postcard for a stranger, then describing why I chose it — and photographed a place or event in the first place. It’s exciting, personal and fun. It’s another way to form a connection.

In that vein, I’m proposing a project for myself this holiday season! In addition to sending cards for the Book Bloggers Holiday Card Exchange, I will be mailing holiday cards to anyone who requests one for themselves in the U.S. (one per household, please — and I’m sorry, my international friends! It would be too cost-prohibitive to send many notes overseas). No need to send me one back, unless you would like to . . . and in that case, just drop me an email for my snail mail address.

There’s no catch here — ask for a card and you’ll get one. I’ll do my best to honor each request and get it in the mail to you soon! Should I be crushed with recipients, this may turn into a New Year’s or Valentine’s project. Or St. Patrick’s Day . . . or Independence Day . . .

Kidding. Only kidding. (Maybe.)

Fill out this form by Friday, Dec. 10, and then check your mailbox! Of course, this information will be seen by my eyes only. I won’t be sending you anything other than a holiday card, and I definitely won’t be sharing your address with anyone else. This is just for fun and non-creepy — promise.

Comments on this post are most welcome, but please don’t include your address or any other sensitive information! Submit that to me privately by filling out this form.

Happy (early) holidays, my friends!