Enduring Potter magic

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Guys. Did you know that this July marks seven years since the final installment in the Harry Potter series was published?

Seven. years.

I was a freshly-minted college graduate working at Borders when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was released, leading our store’s midnight party with trivia, activities and more. All with the grace and aplomb you’ve come to expect from me, of course.

Kidding. I was acting like a total lunatic, dressed in a black gown I’d originally purchased to wear as the wedding date of a man who would ask me to be his girlfriend in one of the most public, cringe-inducing moments in Megan History.

But that’s another story . . . and one I am totally not putting on the Internet.

(Don’t worry: that man is happily married now — to someone else. No permanent damage done.)

But back to HP. Given I still run an Etsy shop stocked exclusively with Hogwarts fashions (and still sell ’em!), I remain enmeshed in the Potter world. But for the average person? Well, I guess the magic has worn thin.

Or has it?

When Amber recently wrote she was finishing up the first book in the series (for the first time!), I was reminded of all the excitement that came with experiencing the stories myself in 2007. I’d resisted the allure of Potter as my dad and sister, both huge fans, eagerly devoured each new tome in the series.

Dad and Katie were such huge fans, in fact, that I kind of figured that was their thing — and just stayed out of it. As an English student, I guess part of me also thought I was above a “children’s” fantasy series.

I didn’t get it.

Until I did.

Pressed into leading the Deathly Hallows activities that July night, I wanted to have a darn clue who these characters were so I wouldn’t embarrass myself. Given we had almost 1,000 people show up that night, I wasn’t too keen on looking dumb on a microphone — and knew I needed some background knowledge.

I’d seen the films released to date, of course — so it’s not like I couldn’t pronounce “Hermione” or something. But the details? The bigger picture? I didn’t have that. And I wanted to be as excited as everyone else.

I’ve written about this night several times, which is sort of funny. It was a blip in the grander scheme, I guess — the night of this book’s release. But I had just started as an assistant editor at the newspaper, keeping Borders as a part-time job because I loved the atmosphere and adored my coworkers. I started working evening shifts and weekends, dividing my time between the office and the bookshelves.

Fresh from college with my bachelor’s, I was savoring the freedom of reading whatever I wanted whenever I wanted — of no term papers, no homework, no long commutes to school. My family had just returned from Europe, my graduation gift, and I’d fallen in love with London so swiftly that it startled me.

I’d just turned 22 — just two days before.

They were happy times. Pretty carefree times. We all have our problems, sure, but I felt young and free in a way I never had before. And when my manager asked me to be our store’s “mistress of ceremonies,” I was flattered — and took my job super seriously.

Hence my reading of the series.

Flash-forward seven years . . . and I’m still at the newspaper, albeit in different roles. Borders has shuttered and re-opened as a Books-a-Million, which has the bones of the former place but not the soul. My relationship with a coworker there has long since ended, and I met and married a wonderful man in that time.

But I carry those memories with me. Even if I’ve lost touch with the people and customers who filled my days with so much fun and joy, I’ll always look back on my years there — years painted brightly, too, with Harry Potter — with happiness.

On a recent dash into the post office, I learned about a limited-edition book of stamps featuring The Boy Who Lived, along with his friends and enemies. Now — in 2014.

I bought it. I’m using them.

The magic does live on with us. Every day.


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The more I create, the more I keep creating

I measure my days in scarves.

As the weather gets cooler and Halloween approaches, I’m seeing the return of a fun time in my yearly schedule: scarf-makin’ time. Strangely enough, people aren’t too interested in cozy outerwear during the hot winter months, but October? Now is my time to shine.

I’ve been fortunate to see a boom in my Etsy business, which is where I sell my crocheted scarves. I’ll be perfectly honest: I don’t know any stitch but the afghan stitch, so I’m not a very versatile crafter. But the one stitch I know? Well, I can do it well. And I’m putting it to use while making scarves I hope any Hogwarts student would be proud to wear.

I can’t say I set out to make Gryffindor and Slytherin scarves (with the odd Ravenclaw here and there) exclusively, but what started out as a hobby has quickly taken over my free time. I’m very thankful to have orders pouring in, no doubt about it, but I’m almost getting to the point of needing to outsource my work. Coupled with lifelong hand and wrist issues, I’m having myself quite the time.

But it’s a great way to keep the Potter love alive while still feeding my Etsy addiction. While others may see autumn as a time of pumpkins, apple picking and “Hocus Pocus” screenings, I see only crochet hooks and yarn in burgundy and gold. My supplies cover the couch and travel with me everywhere, just in case I have a moment to finish a few rows. The more I create, the more I want to keep creating.

Constantly running through my head? “I’ve finished a Gryffindor but have two more to make,” I think. “And I need to put tassels on the Slytherin. And the Ravenclaw. And one’s going to Canada, and one’s going to Virginia. Need to get them in the mail.”

Between all my Postcrossing cards and scarf packages, I’ve become quite chummy with the folks at my local post office. I’d say we’re almost on a first-name basis.

And considering how annoyed they usually seem, I consider that quite an accomplishment.

Crocheting at Miss Remmers’ Review

Pop over and visit Reagan at Miss Remmers’ Review and you’ll see a familiar face — er, body! I’m a guest blogger at the site and chat about crocheting, my love of “Harry Potter” and my Gryffindor-and-Slytherin-inspired Etsy business. I talk about learning the craft (thanks, Mom!) and other good things about my illustrious start in the world of crochet.

I have to cop to being lazy about the whole thing, though, if I’m being honest. (And y’all know I try to be.) I learned one stitch as a child — the afghan or “Tunisian” stitch — and I’ve never branched beyond that. Mom and I have sat down, hooks in hand, as she showed me others, but I became easily frustrated — like, you know, usual — and gave up. Last spring, I did learn to make flowers and was quite excited that I could make this scarf with my newly-acquired skills, but I’m pretty sure that floral knowledge is gone now.

Crocheting is like riding a bicycle — or so I’m told. Once you learn and do it enough, your muscles remember the movements and you could finish a project years after beginning it. But I can’t imagine not crocheting long enough to test that theory!

Slytherin scarves now join the ranks

When I started my Etsy business in February, I never dreamed that I would someday spend all of my time making . . . “Harry Potter” scarves! And let me say this: I love every minute of it. I sold my first two scarves — in Gryffindor colors — to a customer for a movie premiere in July, and I couldn’t even begin to recreate the Supreme Dance Of Joy I did when that order came through. Especially since I was just about to throw myself an epic pity party and begin whining about how things just don’t seem to work out for me (which is patently untrue, but sometimes it feels true — trust me).

Since that fateful day, I’ve made more than twenty “Harry Potter” scarves for Halloween costumes, birthday gifts and just-for-me presents for people all over the U.S. and in Canada (!). Each has been in the classic burgundy-and-gold color scheme of the Gryffindor House at Hogwarts, the boarding school which teaches witchcraft and wizardry to its magically-inclined student body — which includes one Harry Potter himself.

I’m a huge fan of the series and originally created my first Gryffindor scarf to be worn by yours truly! I was still working at the bookstore when Harry Potter And the Deathly Hallows was released, and I got the great idea that I would dress as a Hogwarts student . . . until I was named mistress of ceremonies for our store-wide event. Because I’m awesome. (And, well, because no one else was willing to speak publicly and lead themed games for more than a thousand people in a very confined space. But let’s just go with I’m awesome.)

So the Gryffindor scarves have been a hit, and I’m very thankful — having projects to complete each night adds a totally new dimension of productivity to my evenings! And getting emails from folks who opened my work and are thrilled to death with the final product warms my wizard-loving heart. But this past weekend? I decided it was time to expand my product line. I have other scarves for sale, sure, but nothing else in the HP line. Allow me to present . . .

The Slytherin Scarf.

Will evil now triumph over good? I’ll keep you informed . . .


“Potter” scarf up and ready to rock

scarf_tableI’ve finished my latest “Harry Potter”-inspired creation! Fresh off the heels of selling my first scarves at my Etsy shop — both for burgundy-and-gold “Harry Potter” creations — I’ve crocheted a scarf with the newest design from the films. I’m very proud of it!

me_scarfAnd as a devoted fan of the series myself, if for some reason it doesn’t, um, fly off the shelves, so to speak, I’ll look forward to wearing it around town this fall! As the colors are the same as those of hometown team the Washington Redskins, I doubt anyone would even blink.

If you crochet/knit (I guess it would work for knitting?) and are interested in the pattern, I started out by chaining 18 across. Next, I crocheted ten rows of burgundy, then two rows of gold, two rows of burgundy, and two rows of gold again — and then started all over with the ten rows of burgundy, etc. It’s a pretty simple pattern and goes fairly quickly, especially with my favorite stitch — the afghan stitch! It’s the only one I use; it involves no real counting, persay, and I never lose a stitch anymore.

Meg’s Summer Movie Preview

Summer is full of excitement — standing in line at the ice cream shop; my stubborn wearing of flip-flops, even in the rain; the beach vacations; the suntans and barbeques and fireworks. Even though I haven’t had a whole summer sprawling before me, open and uncommitted, in years, I can definitely work up some enthusiasm for summertime!

Especially when I have so many awesome movies to catch! There’s just something about the season that makes me want to plunk down in a cold, sticky theater and lose myself for a couple hours. And if the next few months are any indication, I’ll be able to do just that time and again.

A few of highlights between now and August?

 

Summer Movies Meg Can’t Wait to Catch



my_life_ruinsMy Life In Ruins • Opens June 5 • PG-13

This comedy featuring “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” star Nia Vardalos and Richard Dreyfuss promises to feature everything I love about a great summer flick: awesome scenery outside the U.S. (here, the gorgeous Greece), a little steamy romance, funny characters and plenty of comedic timing. I’m a huge fan of Vardalos — and good on her for going from indie lady to star! — and can’t wait to see what she cooks up for this one. Plus, have you seen her character’s Greek love interest? Check out the preview — I’ll be there!

 

 

away_we_goAway We Go • Opens June 5 (limited) • R

I don’t think I could really love delightfully awkward and handsome actor John Krasinski (of “The Office” fame) any more, so I’m fully devoted to finding a theatre playing his offbeat new movie “Away We Go.” Krasinski and Maya Rudolph play an expectant couple who travel around the country looking for the perfect place to raise their family, running  into old friends and family members on their quest. It looks touching and just . . . different. Guess I’m headed to Virginia to get a glimpse of this one!

 

 

year_oneYear One • Opens June 19 • PG-13

A caveman comedy starring Michael Cera and Jack Black? Okay, I don’t really have to give much explanation here . . . because who can resist Cera’s deadpan comedic charm? I have to admit that “Juno” didn’t really do much for me, but his loveable baby daddy character completely saved the day. And Jack Black is a genius! I know that his films can be either, um, hit or miss . . . but since seeing his awesome, sensitive character opposite Kate Winslet in “The Holiday,” I’m a huge fan. And “Nacho Libre” was quite underrated! The preview already has me cracking up, so I don’t think I’ll be too disappointed.

 

 
my_sisters_keeperMy Sister’s Keeper • Opens June 26 • PG-13

I know it’s going to be just about impossible to find someone to see this with me, but I’m still (a little) determined that I’m going to check it out. Based on Jodi Picoult’s novel of the same name, “My Sister’s Keeper” looks to be the tear-jerker to end all tear-jerkers. Though I’m not completely sold on the idea of Cameron Diaz as the mother of a brood of teens (seriously? Cameron Diaz?), I’m willing to set that aside and let myself have a good cry. We’ll see how long I can make it without shedding a tear . . . I’m betting five minutes.

 

 

harry_potterHarry Potter & The Half Blood Prince • Opens July 15 • PG

Yeah, I won’t bore you with any descriptions here. I’m beside myself with eagerness to see this one — along with everyone else in the world! But each movie brings us a tiny bit closer to the end of the franchise . . . doesn’t it? I don’t even want to ponder that!

 

 

 

 

julie_juliaJulie & Julia • Opens August 7 • PG-13

Based on a blogger who embarked on a year’s journey preparing the recipes of famed chef Julia Childs, this film starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep (love them!) looks awesome. Of course, they had me at the mention of the blog . . . and since I’m ever the aspiring gourmet who just can’t bring herself to really buckle down and cook something, I’m hoping “Julie & Julia” will give me some needed culinary inspiration! It seems to fluctuate between the life of Julia (Streep) and modern girl Julie (Adams) as they separately fulfill their destinies. Yes!

Musing Mondays: Re-reads

musing_mondaysHere’s this week’s question:

Have you ever finished a book, then turned around and immediately re-read it? Why? What book(s)?

Of all the awesome books I’ve read lately, I can’t say I’ve re-read a book at any point — other than for school. Many times I’ve finished a book and thought about everything that happened in the beginning — all of the signs I might have missed, the clues that were there and I just couldn’t see — and wanted to read it again, but I have so many books that I haven’t been able to justify doing that!

Some books I’ve loved so much — like the Harry Potter series — I’ve wanted to go back to the beginning and start anew, if only just to experience them all over again. But again, I’ve neglected to do so! Once to slim down my TBR stack, I’d like to return to some of those beloved series. If only!