Mum’s the word

Field of mums

This field of mums is on a popular route in Southern Maryland — a corridor that takes you through a neighboring county, a road I’ve driven countless times.

Each October, we pass by in a blur of headlights and coffee headed for an early-morning flea market or photography club meeting — times we are rushed rushed and can’t stop to admire them. And they’re certainly worthy of admiration.

Spencer and I were out and about on Saturday with a few minutes to spare, and I realized this is the first year we have a home of our own — a place with a porch, an entrance, outdoor space — where said mums could be placed. We’ve stopped to photograph the field in previous years with my mom, but never taken anything home.

It was time.

After debating the merits of various colors, we eventually settled on two fat orange ones. I felt like a real homeowner out there, pacing the dusty paths, using flag markers to signal the staff who came to dig up our favorites. Others were choosing four, five, eight, but we figured a pair would suit us fine.


They make quite a statement on our porch — especially when combined with the trio of pumpkins we picked up at the farmers’ market, probably one of the last of the season. If I’ve dreamed about anything in homeownership, it’s probably decorating for autumn . . . and it’s here!

And then it will be Christmas. We have our holiday decorations organized in a basement corner, red and green boxes clearly marked and ready for Santa. Sparkly ornaments, tinsel, candles and trains . . .


All things in time.

We’ll start mums.

The early-riser gets the squash

Fresh beans

If the early bird catches the worm, the early Meggie . . . buys all the produce?

(I’ll work on that one.)

When I moved in with Spencer last fall, many of his habits became my habits. I guess this is, you know, normal for couples? I don’t know. But if there’s one thing to know about my husband, it’s this: he appreciates time. Time for projects, professional and otherwise; time to maximize and time to waste. My guy works and plays in equal measure, and he accomplishes these things best by getting up early.

I didn’t function that way.

Growing up, my sister and I had an early-riser dad who would accomplish more before 8 a.m. than many folks would all day. He despises “lazy” behavior, and rarely let us sleep past 9 a.m. I admired his up-and-at-’em qualities, but the last thing a teenager wants is a parent busting in to break up their beauty sleep by imitating birdsong and flashing lights.

I once took after my mom, you see: a night owl. I thrived in the wee hours of the morning, staying up to write or read or study. I worked long shifts at the bookstore during my last two years of college, and the dark hours after midnight were sometimes the only ones I had to get stuff done. Especially when I was too busy running around with boyfriends to work on math problems during the day.

Lessons learned.

Now that I’m staring down age 29 (on Friday!), I sense a marked shift in my schedule these days. Spence likes to turn in early and rise with the sun, taking advantage of our weekends for projects and fun. This has increased exponentially since we bought the house, because there is always something to do. Like, always. Never mind that we’re only partly through several major changes, like installing hardwood floor upstairs; the base level of laundry/dishes/vacuuming is enough to keep us moving much of the day.

And we don’t even have children yet.

Somebody hold me.


Lately? With my mind churning, a huge to-do list, a new house to nail into and paint? I’m all too happy to oblige Spencer’s go-getter attitude. I’ve started waking up at 6:30 a.m. without an alarm clock, even on Saturdays, and feel most productive before lunchtime. I crank out emails, tear through work projects, make lists upon lists and color code them all. It’s pretty awesome, actually — and only partly attributable to caffeine. Though coffee is awesome.

Last weekend was crazy, and we had more than enough to keep ourselves occupied. We hosted the annual family birthday party for my dad, my sister and me on Sunday (our birthdays are within a week of each other), which meant Saturday had to be spent cleaning, organizing and de-boxing whatever we could de-box in an effort to make the place look somewhat less crazy. We succeeded, I think, and the party was great! So much food, great family, delicious pasta salad.

But before all that, we hit the farmers’ market.

I’m kind of obsessed with vegetables. Since starting Weight Watchers last year and getting serious about healthy eating, I’ve learned all kinds of ways to prepare them that are addictive. Finding fresh, local produce at a reasonable price is fantastic, and we’ve stopped by the local farmers’ market twice in the last few weeks for all kinds of goodies.

And I bought a fruit bowl — a big, white, gorgeous fruit bowl. I keep it overflowing . . . and it is glorious. One of the earliest WW tips we received was to surround yourself with good food — food that’s good for you, food you actually like — and to have it front and center, where your eyes will always gravitate to it. No candy dish, you know?

That’s my fruit bowl.

By 10 a.m. on Saturday, we had met friends for breakfast, gone for produce at the farmers’ market and gotten a full grocery order for party foods and beyond, then gone home to unload it all and start party prep. We did so much before noon (Spencer installed a toilet! I did all the laundry!) that I kind of want to slack off for the rest of the day, but I forced myself to quit the laziness.

Also, I drank a lot of Diet Coke.

In terms of our haul, we came home with squash and zucchini, red onion and sweet peppers, bright red cherry tomatoes and baby varieties in purple, yellow, pink. For less than $10, we had enough veggies to last us the week — though most were chopped for salads and sides before the day was out.

I feel impossibly grown-up when I’m chopping vegetables. On a real cutting board. With an actual knife. It’s very soothing.

And then I nearly cut off the tip of a finger and feel ridiculous again (“Who let me use this knife?!”), but . . . y’know, that’s okay.

I’m learning.

And I have squash — and Spence — to thank for it.

Mind on the book


I miss my books.

In the weeks leading up to and since the big move, I’ve found myself in an unusual situation: I haven’t made time to read. (Notice I didn’t go for the popular “I don’t have time to read” because, you know, we all know about priorities and deciding what’s important to us and so forth.)

Specifically, I’m so full-out, drop-dead-tired at the end of the night that my normal thirty-ish minutes of quality time with a story is . . . well, it just ain’t happening. I’m usually asleep on the couch before I pour myself upstairs, and then I’m out before the bedside lamp even clicks off.

This has happened before, of course, but not like this. Even in the chaos of wedding planning or the aftermath of a death or any of the myriad other times we find ourselves not reaching for books, I’ve continued reading in some capacity — even slowly. But lately? Here in the messy confines of the new house? My mind is too scattered, my attention divided. I’ve started and stopped several stories because I just couldn’t focus on them . . . and I know it’s a personal issue, really. They’re perfectly respectable stories, you know? It’s me. I’m the problem.

Sometimes my husband can get my mind back on the book, if you will. When he wants to stay up reading in bed, I curl at his side with the contented sigh of bookish types everywhere. Old daydreams often had me imagining reading time with my special someone, but Spencer has never been into fiction (though he did inhale the Hunger Games series once). I never thought we’d get that reading time in together, and honestly? In my darkest weirdo heart, it used to worry me that I’d disturb him night after night with something I love so much. I was concerned I’d have to stop my nighttime routines.

That’s why the Kindle is so handy, I think. Even when I don’t really feel like reading, I can flip ‘er on and take in a few pages before I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. I’ve been reading Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.’s Empty Mansions for months at the recommendation of Andi, and I’ve loved it from page one! Huguette Clark is so eccentric and kind and fascinating. But I read, like, three pages each night. At this rate, I’ll finish around Christmas.

Just in time to ask Santa for more books . . . ones I’ll pile atop all my sad, lonely novels in boxes and bags around the house until the new library is ready.

Maybe the Big Guy’s elves can swoop in early and work on that one for us, too.

Where do you fit in reading time?
Are you a before-bedtime reader, a lunchtime warrior
or another sort completely?

Finding some (extra) time


Who knew so much could get done in 15 minutes?

The day our morning routines shake out, my husband leaves for work about an hour before I do — and I typically am ready in about 30 minutes, give or take, which often gives me an elusive 15-20 minute window to do whatever before I have to leave for work.

It doesn’t sound like much, but 15 minutes of focused energy on a single task is actually a lot.

Sometimes I clean.

Or watch a slice of “Good Morning America.”

Or pack up a lunch for the day.

Or grab my Kindle and read, read, read.

Lately I’ve been wrapping Christmas presents, participating in the 12 Days of Love Letters by writing out a card and packing up Etsy orders to ship.

My new favorite wind-down activity: reading magazines! As a lifelong book reader, I never bothered to pick up one of the many mags lining the tables at my parents’ house. But after a subscription snafu wound up granting me a year of Glamour, I’ve actually been sitting down with coffee — at home — and flipping through it before work.

It’s pretty glorious.

Lately I’ve actually been getting ready for work faster so I’ll have a little extra time to hang out on the sofa. As someone who once slapped her snooze button at least three times before finally pouring herself into the shower, then running around before eventually sprinting out the door, this new routine is surprising . . . but wonderful.

It feels nice to rush less, think more.

To have time for simple projects that mean something to me.

In the quiet mornings just after I wish Spence a good day, I sit in the stillness of our space and feel . . . good.

Whole. Happy.

And if I love my 15 minutes so much? Imagine how I’d feel if I had a whole hour.

Have a happy weekend, friends! I’ll be back Monday with a big, fat, sparkly post brimming with my tips on surviving — and thriving! — throughout the wedding planning process. Dec. 16 marks one year since we got engaged. Oh, how time flies! ❤

What time is it? Time for you to get a… cell phone!

I don’t think I’ve worn a watch in more than five years. If I’m at work, I have access to no less than four digital clocks at any given time: the little numbers in the bottom righthand of my screen; the clock on my work phone; my cell phone face; and a digital clock on the wall to my right.

My mom marvels at the fact that I walk around totally watch-less, but who really needs a watch when they have their cell phones? It’s really like a tic for me — I check my cell phone constantly. And do I actually call people? Rarely, other than the perfunctory “I’m on my way home” dials. I’m all about the lightning-fast texting! Plus I have a moderate case of phone phobia (or “telephobia,” apparently), crazy as that may be!

Booking Through Thursday: It’s about time

booking_through_thursLet’s go Booking Through Thursday!

1. Do you get to read as much as you WANT to read?

Actually, I probably have more time to read now than I have in my entire life. Until May 2007, I was a college student running around pouring through tomes of British and American literature, history books, court cases and Civil War journals. I rarely, if ever, had time to read anything that wasn’t for school.

And then I graduated . . . and started a full-time job at a newspaper, in addition to my part-time job at a bookstore! So reading time was still scarce. The good side was that, being surrounded by books most evenings, I read a ton on my breaks. And now that I’m gainfully employed at just my full-time job, popping into the bookstore every now and then? I have an immense amount of reading time! In fact, most weekends I’m not even sure what to do with myself. I know that’s probably not a popular answer . . . but I think I have plenty of time!

2. If you had (magically) more time to read — what would you read? Something educational? Classic? Comfort Reading? Escapism? Magazines?

I would like to discipline myself enough to be able to read more of the “classics” — specifically Austen. I have Pride & Prejudice dutifully waiting on my shelf, but I’ve only gotten about 50 pages in. As I usually read in the evenings and before bed, I have to have something . . . lively to peruse, or I’ll just fall asleep! For that reason (and many others!), I usually stick with chick lit and contemporary fiction. Reading some of the thicker volumes — complete with “old world” English — would require a lot of energy on my part. Maybe some day!