What I read in 2010: The completed list

1. The Evolution Of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly
2. French Milk by Lucy Knisley
3. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman
4. Breakfast In Bed by Robin Kaye
5. The Day The Falls Stood Still by Cathy Marie Buchanan
6. The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire LaZebnik
7. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man In The World by Abigail Reynolds
8. The Sweetheart Of Prosper County by Jill S. Alexander
9. Fat Cat by Robin Brande
10. Blankets by Craig Thompson
11. Austenland by Shannon Hale
12. A Match Made In High School by Kristin Walker
13. When She Flew by Jennie Shortridge
14. Walking In Circles Before Lying Down by Merrill Markoe
15. The Summer We Fell Apart by Robin Antalek
16. Boys, Bears, And A Serious Pair Of Hiking Boots by Abby McDonald
17. The Cougar Club by Susan McBride
18. The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
19. Almost Home by Pam Jenoff
20. The Next Thing On My List by Jill Smolinski
21. Raven Stole The Moon by Garth Stein
22. Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
23. The Dead And The Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer
24. Scarlett Fever by Maureen Johnson
25. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
26. Balancing Acts by Zoe Fishman
27. Just Like Me, Only Better by Carol Snow
28. The Girl Who Chased The Moon by Sarah Addison Allen
29. The Lunatic, The Lover, And The Poet by Myrlin Hermes
30. Something Blue by Emily Giffin
31. Cherries In Winter by Suzan Colón
32. Get Lucky by Katherine Center
33. Best Friends Forever by Jennifer Weiner
34. The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice by Abigail Reynolds
35. Rumor Has It by Jill Mansell
36. On Folly Beach by Karen White
37. Somebody Everybody Listens To by Suzanne Supplee
38. The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek
39. Life After Yes by Aidan Donnelley Rowley
40. The One That I Want by Allison Winn Scotch
41. The Short Second Life Of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer
42. Knit In Comfort by Isabel Sharpe
43. Lost by Jacqueline Davies
44. Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson
45. The Lies We Told by Diane Chamberlain
46. Rowan The Strange by Julie Hearn
47. The Truth About Delilah Blue by Tish Cohen
48. Good Things by Mia King
49. The Season Of Second Chances by Diane Meier
50. Hot Mess: Summer In The City by Julie Kraut and Shallon Lester
51. Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner
52. Sea Escape by Lynne Griffin
53. How To Be An American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway
54. One Day by David Nicholls
55. Short Girls by Bich Minh Nguyen
56. Write The Right Words by Sandra E. Lamb
57. The Other Mothers’ Club by Samantha Baker
58. Dangerous Neighbors by Beth Kephart
59. Bright Lights, Big Ass by Jen Lancaster
60. Top 8 by Katie Finn
61. Holly’s Inbox: Scandal In The City by Holly Denham
62. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
63. Maybe This Time by Jennifer Crusie
64. The Sky Always Hears Me by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
65. The Recessionistas by Alexandra Lebenthal
66. I Remember You by Harriet Evans
67. Marcelo In The Real World by Francisco X. Stork
68. Hummingbirds by Joshua Gaylord
69. I Heart New York by Lindsey Kelk
70. Extraordinary by Nancy Werlin
71. A Desirable Residence by Madeleine Wickham
72. J’adore New York by Isabelle Laflèche
73. The Debutante by Kathleen Tessaro
74. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger
75. Morning Glory by Diana Peterfreund
76. Friday Mornings At Nine by Marilyn Brant
77. Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani
78. Dating Mr. December by Phillipa Ashley
79. The News Where You Are by Catherine O’Flynn
80. Cover The Butter by Carrie Kabak
81. The Mischief Of The Mistletoe by Lauren Willig
82. The Love Goddess’ Cooking School by Melissa Senate
83. The Princess Of Nowhere by Lorenzo Borghese
84. High Tea by Sandra Harper
85. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees

write meg!’s 2010 reading honors

At the end of another year come all the mandatory reflections. Did I keep any of my new year’s resolutions? Am I happier now than I was last year — smarter, wiser, kinder? Did I make an effort to change my life in some positive way?

Or, you know, did I read enough books?

This year marks my third annual recap of the books I devoured in one year’s time, and this year’s tally stands at 85. Last year I awarded top honors to Justina Chen Headley’s North Of Beautiful; Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Interpreter Of Maladies; Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief; Megan McCafferty’s Second Helpings; and Eva Rice’s The Lost Art Of Keeping Secrets. I think I chose well — especially since the details of each of those novels are still crisp, clean and accessible to me — more than a year later. I loved them now as I loved them then.

I can only hope I’ll choose so well moving forward.

In 2010, my reading diet expanded greatly to include many advance reading copies and other novels I might not have picked up on my own — and I’m grateful for their appearance in my life. One of my top choices, Margaret Dilloway’s How To Be An American Housewife, was a review copy sent from Goodreads. As I’m often stingy about buying hardcovers, I might not have grabbed this one on my own . . . and I would have missed out on one of the most compelling reads of the year. I’m grateful that it landed in my mailbox.

This year, I read less young adult fiction than I did the year before — and more historical and women’s fiction, two of my favorite genres. Though I became busier in 2010 and felt like I was making less time to hunker down with a good book, I still managed to finish 86 novels — down only three from 2009.

In 2011, I want to concentrate on reading more of what tickles my fancy and less what I feel “obligated” to crack open. It will be The Year I Read Whatever I Want — within reason, of course! I have plenty of review copies in the queue and am looking forward to serving on the literature panel for the Indie Lit Awards. Beyond that? Well, I’m going to be completely subject to my own whims and fancies.

And without further nonsense from me, I bring you . . .

Meg’s Top Five Reads of 2010

1. Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s Life After Yes

As I wrote in June, “Every now and then, a novel like Aidan Donnelley Rowley’s Life After Yes finds its way into my life, and it’s moments when I’m reading a book like this — where I feel like my own face is reflected back at me — that I experience what I can only call literary magic.”

Six months later, those words are still true — and Rowley has only further endeared herself to me with her fresh, realistic dialogue and a protagonist with whom I could so sincerely relate. For all her quirks and craziness, I love Quinn — and I have the distinct impression that Life After Yes will be a book that I will grow to love more with each re-read. And it’s definitely one I’ll be opening again in the future.

Tell your sister, tell your girlfriends, tell your coworkers — for me, this is The Book. I loved it, pure and simple. It’s my Top Read of 2010.

2. Margaret Dilloway’s How To Be An American Housewife

There aren’t too many books that reduce me to tears in the middle of public places, but Dilloway’s glowing, masterful How To Be An American Housewife was one such book. I

In July, I divulged: “If it’s any further proof of my love, too, I completed Housewife on a long lunch break from work. I desperately wanted to finish it just as much as I didn’t want it to end. I wound up returning late to my desk, shame-faced and tearful, after the conclusion of an exquisite story.”

That’s right, friends: this book made me late for work. If you’re seeking a story about love and loss, the identity we create for ourselves and the one others craft for us, family, hope, grief and hope . . . well, it’s all here. I’ve shared this book with almost everyone I know.

3. Kathryn Stockett’s The Help

I suppose the inclusion of this best-seller comes as a shock to no one, but all the glowing items written about The Help are, in fact, true. Despite its size and weight, I couldn’t put this one down — and actually carried it everywhere for days, including on my way to a blind date in the spring. It occurred to me that my would-be love interest might think it was strange to see me walk up with a fat hardcover, but I figured that if he didn’t get just how into books I was, he probably wouldn’t be for me. (He wasn’t, and I met Spencer a few days later — everything works out.)

Maybe it was because Skeeter, a writer and woman who dreams beyond her world right now, reminded me of the best possible parts of myself — or the parts I hope to be. Maybe it was Stockett’s colorful, memorable characters, or the flawless way in which she wove so many alternating stories and voices together. Perhaps it was the compelling arc of this storyline — and the painful reminder of America’s less-than-just past.

Whatever the reason, The Help has earned a forever spot in my heart — and in my bookcase. Share it and discuss it, then see what changes for you. It’s an inspiration and, for Stockett, a triumph.

4. Robin Brande’s Fat Cat

It’s hard for me to believe I read this book back in February; the details are still so sharp. For all her struggles with weight and her feelings about Matt, the “object of Cat’s ire (and secret desire?),” Cat was someone I would have loved to chat with, walk with, learn from. She’s a realistic, compelling and positive role model — a truly awesome character to get to know.

Fat Cat is one of the most original and memorable young adult novels I’ve ever read, and one I hope to share with my own kids someday. It’s also a great example of the amazing work that can come from the YA community — and the perfect book to hand to a skeptical adult questioning why you, a full-fledged adult yourself, would be reading books “for kids.” It’s not about what’s “for kids” — it’s about books that strike a chord, are well-written, change lives. And this? This is good writing.

5. Melissa Senate’s The Love Goddess’ Cooking School

For as much as I enjoy eating, books and hot guys, The Love Goddess’ Cooking School satisfied me on all levels — plus, I got the happy ending I so crave in stories. With each new novel, Melissa Senate proves to me again why she’s quickly becoming one of my favorite authors — and I closed her latest book with a hankering for a steaming bowl of pasta and a kitchen of my own.

As I wrote earlier this month, “Since beginning this warm and engaging novel, I’ve been dreaming of tiramisu, spaghetti with Bolognese sauce, lasagna and ricotta cheese. As someone who feels she must have been Italian in another life (pasta, I love pasta!), the odd stains scarring the pages of my copy may or may not be drool. The prose was just . . . scrumptious. And Senate describes Holly’s creations so well, you’ll want to throw this one down and make dinner every time you finish a chapter.”

I couldn’t agree with myself more.

Most Surprisingly Awesome

Julie Hearn’s Rowan The Strange

When I first learned I’d be reading Rowan for the Nerds Heart YA tournament earlier this year, I was pretty much horrified. I mean, look at that cover. It’s so creepy and awful. And when I read the synopsis — a story about a disturbed teen sent to live at a mental hospital during World War II — my wariness only increased. What had I gotten myself into?

Well, I’d gotten myself thick into Rowan Scrivener’s world — and what an amazing place that turned out to be. While this wasn’t always a pleasant or feel-good read, Rowan The Strange is definitely a book that will go down in history as Proving Meg Wrong About First Impressions. We’ve all been advised to “not judge a book by its cover,” but I’d never realized how true that was until this book. Though hard to find in the U.S., I promise it’s worth the hunt. And Nicole, my partner in the competition, agrees.

Most Overhyped

David Nicholls’ One Day

Oh, expectations: they can really ruin you on books. Like The DUFF, my runner-up in this category, I went into this novel with such high expectations for greatness. In the end? Well, I wound up angry, disappointed and borderline disgusted. I felt like I’d wasted my time and money, to be honest, and the only reason I didn’t score this one lower than a three — my lukewarm rating that should be accompanied with a shoulder shrug — is because Nicholls is, for better (Starter For Ten) or worse (One Day), a brilliant writer.

And the reason I chose this title as my “Most Overhyped” over, say, Kody Keplinger’s book? Well, at least I could see where other readers were coming from with The DUFF and why they enjoyed it while I loathed it. When it comes to One Day, I seriously missed the boat. I’ll be frank: I just don’t get why people love this book. I truly don’t. (And if you’re in the “rah rah, this book is awesome!” camp, I hope we can still be friends.)

Book I Enjoyed In Spite Of Myself

Lindsey Kelk’s I Heart New York

Reading the first 30 pages or so of Kelk’s debut novel, I thought, “Okay . . . here we go with this again.” It seemed implausible to the point that it was ridiculous, and it never really got any better. Everything about it felt cliche and over-the-top, including the effortless way in which the main character achieved her wildest dreams . . . and landed a hot guy, of course.

But as much as I wanted to dislike this one, I really couldn’t. It was wildly entertaining and good for a few laughs, plus I really identified with Angela’s personal column and attempts at making it in the city. Plus, having gone to New York in May, I really loved seeing the city again — and through the eyes of a Brit. It wasn’t a perfect book by any stretch, it was still a good read. And I’ve been conducting a clandestine love affair with that cover since October.

Book That Awakened An Obsession

Cathy Marie Buchanan’s The Day The Falls Stood Still

So I’m a teeny bit obsessed with Niagara Falls. I visited for the first time when I was in college, then again in August with Spencer. It’s a place I think about often, dream about, read about — and one I’d nearly forgotten until I read The Day The Falls Stood Still,  a moving and melancholy look at a woman’s life on the shores of the famed waterfalls. After I finished, I was eager to consume anything I could find about the natural wonder . . . and when I found out that my new boyfriend was from the Niagara area, you can bet I was plotting a way to find myself up there soon. I loved it — and this lyrical novel.

Book That Made Me Glad I’m Out Of High School

Katie Finn’s Top 8

Back in the stone ages — or, you know, the ’90s and ’00s — email and the Internet were still a relatively new concept. No one had ever heard of Facebook or MySpace; in fact, neither had been invented yet. If we wanted to get in touch with our friends, we had to join an after-school club or group, like drama or cheerleading, then call home to talk to our buddies on our families’ land lines. I got my first cell phone when I was learning to drive at 15, but I never even turned the thing on. We were all safe in the bubble before texting and Twitter. And as much as I love those things, I consider that “the good ol’ days.”

Reading Finn’s Top 8 was enough to make me writhe in awkwardness. The opportunities for humiliation online are endless — especially when you’re communicating with tons of people you actually “know.” I’m glad I avoided all that, let me tell you. And darn if my kids will be all up on The Facebook (or its 2027 equivalent) someday.

Most Likely To Get You In Your Car En Route To Anywhere

Morgan Matson’s Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour

The perfect summer (and beach) read, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour had me wanting to sit around making mix tapes and traveling the country with a good-looking stranger — all while crafting a new life apart from the lonely one I may have led on a different coast. “Engaging, touching and ultimately hopeful,” it’s a book I’d highly recommend to anyone looking for a fun story to remind them about the restorative powers of travel . . . and true friendship.

Biggest Heartbreaker

Craig Thompson’s Blankets

If ever there were a book perfectly capturing the obsession, euphoria and eventual debilitating loss of first love, it’s Thompson’s Blankets, a hefty graphic novel that cracked my heart in two. Though rarely one to read a graphic novel in the past, it’s the sort of book that really makes you change your misconceptions about other genres. At least, it was definitely that way for me.

Even now, a year later, looking at the cover makes me happy and sad at the same time. Much like thinking about love we’ve lost and learned from — even when it hurt.

Not to be all melodramatic, but you know — losing your first love sucks. And Thompson knows that. And then sketched it. I cried and cried.

Other books I loved in 2010 . . .

The News Where You Are by Catherine O’Flynn
Friday Mornings At Nine by Marilyn Brant
I Remember You by Harriet Evans
Lost by Jacqueline Davies
The Summer We Read Gatsby by Danielle Ganek
Get Lucky by Katherine Center
The Summer We Fell Apart by Robin Antalek
The Evolution Of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Losing NaNoWriMo — but winning a solid start to a novel

The bad news: for the second consecutive year, I failed at NaNoWriMo.

The good news: I actually love the book I’m writing.

Okay — maybe not love. Love is a serious word. Love develops after putting in some serious hard work with some(one)(thing) and succumbing to a sensation beyond our control.

Let’s say I’m heavily in like with my book.

So what went wrong in 2010? Unlike last year, I didn’t have the ready-made excuse of a mid-NaNo vacation to fall back on. There were no trips to California, no incredibly taxing projects at work — just little old me sitting at my desk, staring at a calendar that was quickly filling up and losing my motivation to keep cranking out the words.

To be fair (or to further bury myself?), I did quite a bit of writing in November — just not on my as-yet-untitled novel. I cranked out columns at work and reached out with my audience, asking them to send me their holiday traditions in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I’ve loved reading everyone’s letters and replied to all of them — not to mention the 40+ handwritten Christmas cards I sent to you, my lovely friends, and friends and family.

I’ve written lists and addresses, letters and book reviews. Emails, rebuttals and love notes. Hundreds of tweets.

But books? No books.

My final word count for NaNoWriMo ’10 stands at 22,277 words. In the days since the project officially ended, I’ve added a few thousand words and left Josie, the travel writer with a bruised heart (and ego), in the hands of a new editor at the paper where she’s taken a part-time position. Thinking she’ll avoid having to travel to New York and catch up with her snobbish ex-boyfriend, Josie channels her energy into helping the floundering Sentinel outside Washington, D.C.

And everything is peachy until the reporter’s notebook is suddenly turned around on her. When her ex-boyfriend’s nude painting is accepted into a prominent New York art gallery, the whole world wants to know the name of the seductive-yet-innocent nymph captured on his canvas — and Nathan, bitter and angry at Josie for ending their melting relationship, is all too happy to tell them.

And then Josie’s behind is all over the art scene.

And she’s none too happy about it.

I’m not entirely sure where this is going — plus, I need a love interest in here . . . and STAT. A women’s fiction novel without a love interest? Let’s be serious. It’s not that the romance needs to be the central focus of the story, but it certainly needs to be there. And since I’ve pretty well burned the bridge between Nate and Josie (or did they burn it themselves?), there’s no going back there. I will have to have some resolution between them, though; everyone deserves closure. But I’ll focus on that after I’ve actually reached the denouement!

In short, I’m not giving up on my project — not at all. I just didn’t have it in me to crank out a book in record time, though I heartily congratulate all those who did! I do plan on participating in future NaNos — and maybe tasting sweet victory once again. If nothing else, I love that NaNoWriMo gets me writing daily and thinking about a major project . . . something beyond my short blog posts and 450-word columns. I like plotting and delving deep into a character’s psyche — and having the r0om to really do that. I like space.

Now let’s just see if I can fill it up with another 27,000+ words.

Meeting Hanson, my idols — and how I lived to blog about it

You know, I fancy myself a sophisticated woman. I talk easily with most people and feel reasonably comfortable networking. I have a full-time job, write religiously and am devoted to my family and friends. Though I might not be the snappiest dresser around, I carry myself with an air of confidence.

In short, I think I’m a good person. And a grown-up. And a decidedly logical woman.

Until Taylor Hanson shows up.

Hanson is a real-life fountain of youth, my friends. One moment I’m 25 and chattering with my sister and boyfriend, and the next I’m 12 and wallpapering my bedroom with posters while listening to “Middle Of Nowhere” on repeat. It doesn’t matter how many concerts I’ve attended in the past (seven, I believe); heat overtakes my body the moment my favorite band appears.

On Saturday at The Sound Garden in Baltimore, Md., I arrived with Katie and Spencer to find a crush of girls milling around a makeshift stage in the tiny music store. It struck me immediately how much we all looked alike: young women in leggings, jeans or boots; some of us in glasses and some with ponytails; many in lightweight jackets or flowing tops. We were redheads, brunettes and blondes. We were all in our 20s.

We were all obsessed with Hanson.

Getting there early worked in our favor: we were right near the small stage for Hanson’s in-store performance. And as it drew closer and closer to 4:30 p.m., the magic time they were scheduled to appear, my eye rarely left the door. My attentiveness was rewarded with a glimpse of the Hanson brothers pulling up in a cab, then disappearing; my mouth opened and closed like a fish. Not my most glamorous moment.

“They’re here!” I hissed to Katie. I figured yelling that any louder would be the equivalent of shouting “FIRE!” in a crowded movie theatre and, you know . . . that’s illegal.

While we were waiting and my excitement was growing like a sparkly weed, I had this uneasy sense that I didn’t want Spencer to see me like this. I mean, I’m his girlfriend — a writer; a daughter; a friend. I pride myself on being level-headed and poised. As a general habit, I don’t run around screaming and crying over . . . another dude.

But, you know. Some things are beyond my control.

When Hanson finally made their way toward us, camera flashes exploded from all sides. Voices lifted up in madness, shouting and calling and whistling. Someone screamed. It was something about being soclose to them, and in broad daylight, that sent a serious tremor through me. Just to the right of the stage, I could have lunged forward and grabbed Taylor’s boot. And when they launched into “Shout It Out,” the title track from their new album, Katie and I were dancing with the best of them.

The performance went on this way: me singing and shouting; Katie and I grabbing each other when Taylor looked right at us and grinned; me worrying that Spencer thought I was a total nutjob.

“Are you going to break up with me after this?” I asked him between songs, taking in the scared deer-in-headlights look on his face.

“Yes,” he deadpanned.

Continue reading

10-10-10: A Day (and the rest of the weekend)

It was a day many had anticipated for months, years — including a good friend of my sister’s, Alicia, who was married yesterday afternoon in suburban Maryland. Flickr members are sharing their photos of 10-10-10; football games were played; many more couples and families celebrated weddings.

And me? Well, I was cleaning. Over and over, more and more — the culmination of a weekend’s worth of hard work. Spencer is definitely to thank for most of it; he built a wood shelving unit for my mom’s closet, which was caving under the collective weight of her purses and clothes. From scratch. With wood and supplies from home improvement stores, and some tools borrowed from friends. Over the course of two days, he and my dad finished the construction and lugged it all upstairs, where it was assembled in place.

And I helped, too, even picking up power tools for the occasion! My new specialties include using a small handsaw to chop up dowel rods and wielding a power sander on some unsuspecting pieces of oak. I’m darn proud of myself, I have to say.

Bitten by the cleaning bug, I decided to go ahead and tackle my own bedroom yesterday. We sorted through piles of clothes before coming across a time capsule, circa 1996 — and it was there that I found boxes filled with my childhood “treasures,” including old school projects, snippets of poetry I’d written and pages upon pages of Hanson song lyrics. If I had a free moment in class, I’d begin jotting down the words to “Thinking Of You” or “Yearbook.” Why? I don’t know why. That was just the depth of my obsession.

It was fun and sad — all at once — going through those old boxes. I’ve sorted through items from school and my teen years many, many times, but it seems like there’s always more to organize and purge. What fueled the desire for us to clean and renovate was an overwhelming desire for a better space . . . and I think we’re going to have that now.

And if a few stuffed manatees had to be donated in the process, so be it.

So this is what Mom, Dad, Katie, Spencer, Eric and I were doing on 10-10-10: bagging old clothes, toys and purses for charity; flying around the house with the windows open, enjoying our last few warm days in Maryland; acting as bridesmaid in a friend’s wedding; covering a Redskins football game; putting the finishing touches on an elaborate, awesome closet system; refusing to wear a red tie and rocking a guitar-covered one instead; taking photos in the front yard, just as we’ve done for proms, homecomings and birthdays. And as we’ll probably do for weddings.

It’s tradition.

Where in the World Weds.: Cherry blossoms in D.C.

Considering how obsessed I am with all things pink, y’all know I wasn’t going to miss the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., two weekends ago! It’s Where In The World Wednesday and I just can’t seem to stay out of the District.

More than one million tourists visit the Tidal Basin annually to see our cherry blossoms, a gift from Japan in 1912. Last year was my first visit to see them and I was enthralled; this year was even better, considering Mom and I had time to wander for hours and take a billion pictures! (Or, okay, about 250. But it felt like a billion, especially when I went to edit them all in Photoshop.) These were all taken on April 2, right around their peak bloom date.

A few of my favorites from this year’s festivities are included below, and the full set is up on my Flickr.

Snowpocalypse: The extended version

So that little storm we had back in December, the one we called the “snowpocalypse” and panicked over just before Christmas?

That blip had nothing on this weekend.

Yes, friends, I’m snowed in again — for the third time this winter. Maryland isn’t exactly known for its crazy seasonal shifts, but this winter has brought more than 44 inches of snow to our region. And this snowpocalypse dumped 22 inches of the fluffy stuff on our cars, yards and weekend plans, basically “paralyzing” the Washington, D.C., region through tomorrow.

Everyone is milling about now, grabbing shovels and rock salt and trying to dig out. My sister, Dad and I attacked the driveway yesterday afternoon — just before another six or seven more inches fell — to try and clear up what we could, but the rest had to be done today.

At least the sun is shining — and those blue skies are a really welcome sight! I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much snow in my life, and I traipsed through tons of it to grab some photos and, you know, clear a path for us to actually leave the house. At some point. (Hopefully soon.)

Every muscle in my arms and back is aching, but I’m ignoring that and focusing instead on the fact that my “snow workout” means I won’t have to do any other running or exercising for a few days.

Or a week. Hard to say, really . . . I mean, that was a serious lot of shoveling! Heavy! Cold!

And I’m going to go make some cupcakes as a reward for all my hard work. (Pink, with pink frosting. I’m loving it!)