Of holiday decorating and skinny pants


I used to think we were the only people who decorated so early.

Then I got an iPhone — and an Instagram account. My feed has been flooded with others’ Christmas trees, presents, stockings and ornaments since Friday — and I’m firmly in that camp! After the excitement and good eats of Thanksgiving, we plunged straight into Black Friday shopping and getting the house all decorated for the holidays.

My family almost always puts the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving — and that held true this year. Ours went up Saturday, and Spencer’s tree (with many of my favorite ornaments, and a few we’ve purchased together) was finished yesterday. With Spence’s mom and dad in town for Thanksgiving, we took advantage of their presence to get his place decorated together. It was great having them here — especially because his mom can totally get him to do things his girlfriend can’t. Like put a balsam swag on the front door. (Hey, it’s not a wreath — the least masculine of all decorating devices, according to the dudes. So whatever.)

With four days off from work, I’m slowly getting back into a groove — and trying to get my head screwed on straight. I’ve been so preoccupied with holiday prep that I’ve neglected my space here and my reading. Ack. I feel completely out of sorts when not immersed in a book, so I’m making my books a priority again starting tonight. Hopefully I’ll re-enter the literary world without issue.

Also, apropos of nothing, I’m wearing a pair of “skinny” pants today. Well, the pants are skinny . . . I am not, of course. It feels really weird to have pant legs hugging my ankles, but I decided I’m too young to look so completely unfashionable — and I needed to ditch my ill-fitting black slacks for something that didn’t make me look like I was wearing harem pants. Eh. Though I’m still undecided, I’m trying something new — and I think I like them. Or have the potential to like them, anyway.

I’ll take it.

—-

How are you this Monday? How was your Thanksgiving? Did you put up your Christmas tree last weekend, or do you wait until the week before to dig out all your decorations? So many questions. And you have all the answers.


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Thoughts this Thanksgiving week


Excuse my unexpected absence, friends — I managed to catch some weirdo stomach virus that knocked me flat for a few days. At first I thought, great — super sick and stuck on the couch, but at least I can get some awesome reading done! I’m behind! I have, like, 200 books in my bookcase — and just looking at those piles is starting to make me anxious!

Then I realized I was too sick to move, let alone focus on anything on a page. I wanted ginger ale, a cold washcloth, a quiet room and . . . that’s about it, really. So Roland Merullo’s Lunch With Buddha, no matter how lovely, would have to wait.

But the sickness has passed. I’m back on my feet. Spencer’s parents have arrived, kicking off our week of festivities, and I’m preparing to feast with family, Black Friday shop and drag out the Christmas boxes next weekend. (Well, all right — let’s be fair: my dad or Eric will drag out the boxes. But, you know.) It’s hard to believe we’ll segue straight from Thanksgiving to Christmas, but that’s the natural way of things. And since I’m crazy behind on my holiday shopping this year, that will be my next order of business.

I don’t know about you, but my Facebook feed has been flooded with friends’ “today I’m thankful for . . .” posts this month. While I haven’t participated publicly, I have been thinking about gratitude. When life feels stressful and I’m trying to hold my head above water, I remember how lucky I am to have been born in my country, my family and my world. I’m thankful for my amazing boyfriend; my job; my creative outlets. I’m thankful for this blog. I’m thankful for all of you. And I’m really just . . . thankful to be here.

In a year that has personally proven tomorrow is guaranteed to no one, I’m grateful for life. That’s cheesy, but it’s true.

This week? I will be making Spanish green beans, corn casserole and cupcakes. I will be addressing my Christmas cards on Thanksgiving morning, as is my tradition, and watching the parade with my sister. I will spend time with visiting relatives, who I’m so excited to see, and celebrate an “early” Christmas with my boyfriend’s lovely family. We will be decorating, eating and talking. Favorite movies will be watched. Hot chocolate will be consumed. I will be merry.

I’m thankful. And happy. And here.

And hey, after last weekend? I’m just thankful I don’t have to expect to spend Thanksgiving isolated in a darkened room, sick and angst-filled and without even a book to comfort me.

Some serious gratitude right there.



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?

Merry Christmas from write meg!


It’s that time of year: the moments I attempt to sit back and smell the hot cocoa. I’ll be finishing up the work week before getting ready to spend Christmas with my family and welcoming Spencer’s parents in from New York. Though I have a tough time stepping away from the laptop, I’m determined to soak up the season and am looking forward to watching “A Christmas Story” and vegging out for a few days. It’s been a busy month.

I hope your stockings are hung by the chimney with care. Thank you for spending 2011 with me — I’m looking forward to checking in next week with my “best of” book list (it’s mandatory!) and a recap of my yuletide. I’m wishing you all a very, very happy Christmas — have some eggnog for your girl.

Puckering up for Hershey Kiss Cookies

In addition to being a year I began earnestly writing my own newspaper column, tearing my way through books and falling in love, something momentous happened: I finally earned an invite to my family’s annual cookie exchange.

It’s a ladies-only affair and features the baked goods of my mom, grandmother, aunts and family friends. Until this year, I’d been relegated to the dessert equivalent of the kids’ table: the oldest grandchild on my mom’s side, still a kid. And, you know — that’s okay. But when my grandma finally extended a formal invite to the exchange and let me pick a name for our family’s Secret Santa, another adults-only activity, I was stoked.

But that led to some pressure, of course. My Maw Maw, a master baker, recently sent me a hefty stack of recipes — and I’ve enjoyed looking through them all. And in addition to my obsession with several food and recipe sites, my friend Sandy frequently shares her trial-and-error recipes with me. (And I’m totally not complaining.) I was still waiting to find The One, though — that cookie that made me salivate just skimming the ingredients. Plus, it couldn’t be too tough to make.

After reading a guest post over at Book Journey, I fell in love with Kim’s family recipe (and tradition!) of Hershey Kiss Cookies. Since I’m still a little skittish about baking and cooking, the simplicity of the directions (and minimal ingredients) appealed to me. And I’m happy to report back that, according to friends and coworkers, they were a success!

Your basic ingredients here are flour, chocolate and Hershey Kisses. I’ll say this: I expected that, once in the oven, they would spread . . . much like other cookies do. But when baking, those babies stayed firmly in their original shape. So when you place them on a cookie sheet, make sure each little ball is as pretty as you’d like it to be when serving! After the first (ugly) batch, I learned that lesson the hard way. Also, I used way more than a teaspoon of dough to surround each Kiss . . . I was worried they would scorch if the chocolate was uncovered. I think there’s something to that. Plus, with my oven, each tray took about 17 minutes until finished. Just keep your eye on these little guys and pull them when the bottoms are brown.

Simple, delicious and very, very chocolatey, these are great treats to snack on while slurping some milk! And who knows — maybe they’ll be Santa’s new favorite variety. Give them a whirl.


Hershey Kiss Cookies

Recipe from Kim at Sophisticated Dorkiness

1 cup butter
1/3 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 cup mini chocolate chip morsels
14 oz bag Hershey’s kisses

Cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar. Add vanilla. Add mini morsels. Stir in flour. Take approximately 1 tsp of dough and wrap around 1 kiss. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.