My fantasy Halloween basket

Candy pumpkins


Now that we’re living in an apartment complex (which sometimes feels like hotel living), this is actually my first Halloween without trick-or-treaters.

Which means I totally could not buy candy and pass it off as “for the kids,” then down pack after pack of Twizzlers with my feet up watching “Hocus Pocus.”

Not that I’ve done that.

It’s kind of strange, being in a kid-free zone. As I have no children, don’t live in a neighborhood and have no nearby cousins or nephews or nieces to coddle and prod and take pictures of, this year’s celebration feels oddly . . . dull. Plus, you know, it’s a Thursday; not too much good times chaos happening over here.

All the same, it’s a holiday I have so many fond memories of as a kid — especially when I think about all the carefully-crafted costumes my mom made over the years. It’s still a day I look forward to (and we’re having a Halloween party at work!).

But let’s get serious: it’s really all about the candy.

Everyone has their favorites, and I am certainly no exception . . . though my recent weight loss and commitment to healthy eating have meant detouring far, far away from the coveted candy aisles at Target.

But if I could create my perfect Halloween candy basket now, right this minute, I’d have that baby assembled quicker than you could say “sugar rush.”

Come, come . . . gaze into my witch’s cauldron . . .


Halloween candy


Meg’s Fantasy Halloween Basket
(Because She’s Too Old and
Also on Weight Watchers)


• Twizzlers. They kind of taste like plastic — if plastic tasted awesome.

• Candy corn. It’s not Halloween without some of that waxy goodness — especially in the form of miniature pumpkins! Would you believe I couldn’t find a pumpkins-only mixture this year? Blasphemy.

• Twix. I had a friend in high school who ate a Twix bar every single day for lunch (oh, teenagers), and I can’t think of that delicious candy without remembering her. (Hi, Mallory! Also, you have fantastic taste in candy.)

• Jolly Ranchers. I used to fight for the apple and cherry varieties, but really any will do.

• Tootsie Pops. You can’t have just one — and don’t bite it.

• Marshmallows. Do people give out marshmallows? I don’t know. But this is my candy fever dream, and we’re going with it.

• Snickers. And really anything with peanuts.


What you won’t find in this magical pot of awesome?

Good and Plenty. Because really. One of my earliest memories of childhood is of gagging on one and spitting it out a car window (always a lady), and my opinion hasn’t changed much over the years.

Pretzels. So boring.

Toothbrushes. Just mean.

And . . . that’s about it. Because I love most candy, and I’m pretty equal-opportunity about sweets.

And now I’m starving.


Happy Halloween!


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Memories of Easter candies past


So yes, I’m trying to lose weight. Like 90 percent of the general adult population. Like many friends and coworkers, all of whom conspire to keep me on the straight and narrow. Like my poor boyfriend, who is constantly trying to get me to embrace his healthy(-ier) lifestyle . . . and has faced my hungry, annoyed face on more than one occasion. Especially as I explore the theories set forth in Cynthia Sass’s S.A.S.S. Yourself Slim, a diet book that is both enlightening and profoundly upsetting.

Because I seem to be doing All The Bad Things.

And I know a tough holiday is coming up, friends: a holiday in which I sacrifice myself at the altar of hollow chocolate bunnies. When I was a kid, Easter was all about family (and it still is, of course), worship and, well . . . presents. Edible presents.

I’m talking candy, y’all. Real, sugary, honest-to-goodness candy.

Like Christmas morning, Easter Sunday back in the ’90s would always begin with my sister and I huddled together while my parents prepared to capture our shrieks of delight as we ran down the stairs. Many years featured the Easter Bunny hiding little toys and plastic eggs around the living room, leading us into a small scavenger hunt, and we tore through the downstairs seeking our prizes.

This went on for a while — years and years. Until Katie, reaching the age of reason, finally looked at me with wide, blinking eyes. “The Easter Bunny’s handwriting sure looks a lot like Mom’s,” she scoffed, holding up a folded index card with scavenger hunt instructions. And being the older, bossy sister I was, I could only shrug with what I imagined as an impassive expression on my face. It was probably the mocking “I know something you don’t know” look all siblings despise.

At 26, I still look forward to Peeps and chocolate bunnies and robin’s egg bubblegum. And Reese’s eggs and Pixy Stix and Cadbury cream eggs. As long as I don’t get any NECCO wafers (blech, seriously — what are those?), I’m a happy girl — and no amount of faux-dieting I convince myself I’m doing will keep me from diving headfirst into my basket this year.

I’m Meg, a sweets addict. As evidenced by the time I posed in Dylan’s Candy Bar in New York City — quite possibly the most insane shopping experience I’ve ever had. In the twenty or so minutes we prowled the store, we saw and heard two glass containers full of sugary goodness smash to the floor . . . and trying to check out was enough to give me a panic attack. And all I wanted was a little porcelain container shaped like a cupcake.



And candy, of course. I don’t remember what I got, but there’s no way I left empty-handed. I must have brought home some sort of sweet for Spencer, who lives and dies by Jelly-Belly jelly beans. Pear flavored, to be exact. I tell the man he’s sweet enough already (aww), but he’s hopelessly addicted.

I don’t worry about it, though. I’m definitely not one to judge.

——

So tell me, friends: What’s your favorite type of Easter candy? What did you love as a kid? Has your sugar-covered palate changed over the years?

Boys like candy better than poetry, it seems


I love Valentine’s Day. I know some dismiss the holiday as another ploy for retailers to steal our hard-earned cash, but I really can’t find fault with a day designed to celebrate love. I mean, who doesn’t want it? Who doesn’t need it?

As adults, Valentine’s Day is a chance to ply our significant others with chocolates, cards and flowers. We share a smooch over a romantic dinner; we talk about the years gone by, experiences we’ve shared. It can be as crazy or as low-key as we want. Last year I was sick as a dog, so our plans included me mustering up the strength to go out for sushi and then falling asleep on the coach with some chocolates. And Spencer.

When we’re young, though, Valentine’s Day is a crisis waiting to happen. And if you think it’s no big deal whether you receive valentines in school, you’ve never been a 7-year-old.

I totally have. In second grade, Mrs. Brown orchestrated a way for us to leave each other notes: in the pink and red mailboxes we designed. Like many little girls, I had a massive crush on a classmate. He was blonde and blue-eyed. We met in the first-grade classroom next door, our hands touching over a shared bottle of Elmer’s Glue (or some such). His name was Daniel.

After loving him from afar for more than a year (a whole year!), I somehow decided that Valentine’s Day in Mrs. Brown’s class was D-Day. No more hesitation. Time to get bold and do something crazy. Looking back, it’s funny to see shades of who I am now in that tiny body. If there’s one way I have always hoped to win a man’s heart, it’s through a letter — or poem. I’m all about seduction through the written word, baby.

Daniel couldn’t have known what was in my heart of hearts, of course. The night before Valentine’s Day, I sat down with an array of cards my mom picked out. In the early ’90s, we’d reached a point of equality: each student was to bring a valentine for every member of the class. Regardless of how we feel about it, no one was left out.

But which valentine to assign to which kid was vitally important, you know — the wrong message to the wrong kid could prove lethal. I mean, what if you gave a “Be mine, Valentine!” to the boy who throws rocks at you on the playground? He could think you like him. And that is so gross.

Choosing Daniel’s valentine was tricky. After writing out every card but his, I had to find the perfect one. Valentine’s Day is all about love, I figured; how could I do anything but express my feelings for the boy with whom I was irrationally obsessed? Um, as a 7-year-old?

After much deliberation, I finally chose a card featuring Barbie with arms outstretched to Ken, her face split into a smile. “I Love You,” it read. My heart was pounding as hard as it ever had, but I wrote his name and signed my own. Our fates were sealed.

Passing out our valentines the next day, I crept up to Daniel’s mailbox and slipped the life-changing note inside. This was my chance to open up to him! To let him know how I felt! He’d see Barbie and Ken, read that “I Love You” and think . . .

Nothing. From the corner of my eye, I watched as classmates sifted through their sparkly bounty, enjoying the lollipops other kids had dropped in their mailboxes. If Daniel read my card, I couldn’t tell; he was probably too busy eating candy.

An early lesson learned: poetry’s great and all, but the way to a man’s heart is actually through his stomach.

And these, my friends, are my terrible downfall

Halloween is a dentist’s worst nightmare — or biggest paycheck. And whenever I begin to wonder why I’ve been cursed with terrible teeth — including one nasty Devil Tooth — and how it is that I am now single-handedly funding my handsome dentist’s Caribbean vacations, I look at things like this wicked holiday.

Things like this.

And this.

And maybe some of these.


And then I grin from ear to ear, because I enjoy (almost) every second of it.

Until disgusting words like “cavity,” “root canal” and “gold crown” spill from the lips of Dr. Bob — and that drill comes a little too close to my mouth. And I’m on a liquid diet for days, hopped up on painkillers and misery.

This is my life.

Peeps hateration, pranks and other things I won’t stand for

As with many things in my life, my obsession with Peeps is known far and wide. And it probably doesn’t hurt that I recently wrote a column about my love of the sugary candy in the newspaper for which I work. In an unexpected twist of fate, turns out people actually read my articles, which run twice a week in our local papers.

And you guys will love this: my column is called “Right, Meg?” Not to be confused with write meg!, my blog, but . . . right/write, ?/!

Cute, right? …Right?

Ahem.

So Peeps. Yes. I dig them. So much so that some people who shall remain anonymous — probably because I still don’t know who it is — decided to put this little gem of a paper in my work mailbox, pictured at right.

Did I get angry, friends? No. No, I didn’t. Anger would be a wasted emotion, and I’m most definitely not getting mad at a Peeps hater. Because Peeps? They’re awesome. Delicious. Light and airy. Covered in sugar. They turn your tongue weird colors. They’re indicative of spring. And what’s wrong with any of those things?

So I love Peeps so much that I actually went to the only Peeps store in the world last weekend with Spencer, where we took photos of candy-shaped things and I generally wandered around like a lunatic. Located in National Harbor just outside Washington, D.C., Peeps & Company is a shrine of magnificence. When one of the sales clerks asked me if I needed any help, I grinned like a homicidal maniac and practically shouted, “No, I’m just really, really happy to be in this Peeps store!”

Yep.

Spencer was a good sport about the whole thing. He totally humored me as I wandered to all sorts of Peeps-shaped things and quickly bought a ton of the chocolate-covered varieties. And then I posed with stuff. A lot of stuff. And my boyfriend, dear heart that he is, took photos of this entire adventure.



While at this wondrous shop, I went ahead and bought myself a little souvenir, too: a yellow chick Peeps mousepad. Which I brought to work. And proudly showed everyone. And giggled and petted lovingly, feeling so happy and satisfied to have a Peeps-shaped mousepad.

And then it got stolen.

Yes, friends, the Peeps hateration just continues. It’s not enough to leave me “PEEPS SUCKS” notes, is it? Now my coworkers* have to delight in pranking me and pilfering my beloved Peeps mousepad.

When I got back from my lunch break last week and noticed it was missing, I genuinely had no clue who was at fault here. My cheeks started to burn as I grilled Sandy over who had swiped it — just before I considered sending out a mass email demanding my chick’s return. Was I seriously angry about it? No. It was obviously a joke. But let’s just say I wanted that mousepad back quickly.

After an hour or so, Kelly called me from the front desk. “You have an urgent package up here,” she said cryptically.

So I mosied myself on out there and was handed a thick manila envelope. Inside? My mousepad. With instructions to check Facebook for details on a little adventure he had made.



Yes, it seems my Peep got into a little trouble with the popo. I’m glad he’s safe, but I hope he learned his lesson. I mean, honestly… I thought his father and I raised him better than this. And it’s a good thing he had ID on him, because I was totally not bailing his marshmellowy behind out of jail.

Again.



*Gretchen, I’m on to you. Watch your own mousepad’s back — that’s all I’m sayin’. Not a threat, just . . . a helpful suggestion, friend.

Ask for my firstborn, but not one of my Peeps

My obsessions are infamous. Whether we’re talking places (oh, London!), people (John Mayer, le sigh), colors (PINK!) or beverages (pumpkin spice lattes — you can’t ever have enough!), the items over which I lust and discuss endlessly are the things that really make up my days. Friends and family know me as much for the phases I pass through — some healthy, some not so much — as anything, and I’m always thrilled to find a new item upon which to pour my never-ending devotion!

The latest in my string of bizarre but serious infatuations is nothing new to my mother, who has the (almost) thankless job of finding this item every holiday and making sure plenty of it winds up in our stockings at Christmas. I’m talking Peeps, friends — those delicious, smooshy and melt-in-your-mouth fantastic confections that appear in a variety of seasonal shapes and colors several times a year!

But not just any Peeps. Because anyone can find the typical, generic green Christmas trees or white snowmen at Wal-Mart or Target and toss them under the tree. Those are for sissies. What I want isn’t quite so easy to come by, but when they’re discovered? That’s PURE and UNADULTERATED JOY you’ll see etched on my face. Something no first kiss, iPod or book deal could achieve! (Well, maybe the book deal. But I’m still waiting to test that theory.)

They’re Gingerbread Peeps — and they’re sugar cookie flavored. They come in packages of six. They give me a reason to get up in the morning and keep living my life. Think I’m being dramatic? Allow me a moment of your time to recount this little scenario:

It’s a Thursday evening in November. My sister, a busy college senior, has just gotten home from a particularly grueling day. Judging by the fact that she’s barely uttered two words since walking in the door, I know not to make any sudden moves — like trying to have a conversation with her. In any capacity. Earlier in the day I’d made a stop at a local supermarket where I discovered — OMG OMG — that holiday Peeps were out for the season. I bought two packages and placed one where I knew she would find it.

As Kate wandered into the living room, eyes glazed over with exhaustion, there was no way I could miss that quick intake of breath as she realized — OMG OMG — she has the greatest sister in the universe. She stumbled to where I was sitting with a smug look on my mug, her own face totally morphed as she clutched the Peeps, utterly speechless. You’d have thought I gave her a one-way ticket to Hollywood — and marrying Zac Efron. That’s the power of the Peep, folks. Making sucky Thursdays pure magic.

My coworkers were intrigued by my own package of Peeps last week. I’d opened and quickly devoured two, then set the box aside in an attempt to ration myself. My gut instinct was to gobble them up before anyone would have a chance to ask me for one, because who am I kidding? I’m not sharing my Peeps. Need to borrow a pen, want some change for the vending machine, need me to spell an oddball word for you? No worries. But my Peeps? I apologized to Sandy after she expressed interest in them, but could only offer her a gingerbread foot — parting with a full Peep is simply too much to ask. You’d have better luck asking for my firstborn.

Just, you know, food for thought. Literally.

Sprinkle Photography Addicts — not so anonymous

sprinkle_cupcakeSo I fake like my sister Katie is the one who absolutely loves sprinkles — obsesses over them, pours them on everything, can’t get enough of them — but I’m beginning to think it’s really me who shares such a serious, rampant sprinkle obsession! I don’t like to eat them, mind you — ick, just give me plain vanilla ice cream, please! — but to photograph them? I’m all over it!

My macro photographer’s eye immediately goes to the colorful candy that basically begs to be captured — and I spend a ridiculous amount of time photographing Katie’s desserts before she can actually eat them. Last night was no exception. My grandparents called me in the afternoon to tell me that Rita’s, a local ice cream shop, now has pumpkin pie Italian ice. Oh yes, I know — good God, I’m talking about pumpkin again! But I promise, that’s just a sidenote to the actual story . . . which is the sprinkles. Again. Katie had them layered over her custard and, before she could really take a bite, I pulled the dessert out of the poor kid’s hand and immediately dug around for my little Canon. And, you know, shot about twenty photos. Outside. In a October cold breeze. While it drizzled and people stared at me.

Hey, no one said sprinkle photography was easy.

Need a visual aid? Behold some recent sprinkle photos I’ve taken. And I’d like to publicly call Jill out for encouraging both Katie and me in our sprinkle-related exploits! The links she sends both delight and frighten me. It’s a sprinkly world out there!

And just a gentle warning? If you happen to be spending (wonderful) time with me any time soon, make sure you don’t order anything with colorful candy on top. Or just, you know, hide my camera or something. Otherwise? You’re my next sprinkle victim.


pink_cupcakes

patriotic_sprinkles

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