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Playing Catch-up

welcome to maineI realized that it’s been nearly a month since I have logged on to give you an update. It’s been a hectic month indeed! I’m not making excuses, I’m just saying I have been neglectful. So I’m going to do this post as a general what’s happening one and a second one for all the books I have been consuming, which I’m sure is the real reason most of you read this.

In the last few weeks, I have moved back to my home state of Maine. Hurray for no longer being a displaced New Englander. Whether or not the move is permanent, we will have to wait and see. But I’m relatively certain I will be here for the next six to eight months. And thankful that it is cooler here than the D.C. area. Plus I was able to go strawberry picking and picked about 30lbs of them with my dad! strawberry picking

I have also completed a summer course on YA literature, which was pretty phenomenal. We were allowed to choose almost all of our own books for the course from a wide range of genres. We studied how teens choose books and why certain themes might be appealing to them. We also wrote a final paper on the topic of our choosing and I am proud to say that I earned a very high grade in the class.

I started a new job!! Yay me! I officially have my first library job at a smaller, local library and it’s going pretty well. I’m still in the learning process and a lot of what I do on a daily basis is a bit repetitive but I’m enjoying it. I get to talk about and look at books all day long plus interact with the regulars who are all very nice. It’s great to be back in an environment where people who aren’t your coworkers know your name, I’ve missed that.

Additionally, I have been dealing with all three of the weddings in my life again. First and foremost was my best friend’s bridal shower which went very smoothly, I am happy to report. Next on the list will be dress shopping with one of my sister and my friend’s bachelorette party 😉

sconeI am planning on using the next six weeks or so to really have some “me” time and focus on getting back into a healthier lifestyle, reading books for fun, and maybe doing some puzzles. I’ve also taken up cooking, well, baking, again and my first two trials (scones and garlic cheese biscuits) went pretty well. No complaints from my taste testers aka mom and dad.

I’ve been really busy settling back in but now that I’m more or less settled, I want to get back to this blog and my other writings. After all, NaNoWriMo is only 4 months away! So hopefully, you’ll be hearing a lot more from me in the coming months. But I make no promises once September hits, that’s sure to be a doozy.

Oh and did I mention that I was able to see Monticello, Colonial Williamsburg, AND Mount Vernon before I left? I am definitely one lucky nerd!

mt vernonmt vernon panorama

An Extreme Tale

An Extreme Tale.

As much as I hate Dickens, I have to admit that this opening line pretty accurately describes my life at the moment.

“It was the best times, it was the worst of times.”

Let’s start with all the reasons it is the best of times:

  • I am officially less than 2 weeks away from (successfully) completing my first semester of grad school
  • I was granted two great groups for the projects I have to complete for class
  • I’m all done with homework for the semester
  • Christmas is in less than a month!! which means that everyone is in higher spirits and just generally being nicer than usual
  • Speaking of which, I already have most of my Christmas shopping done
  • I scored tickets for myself and my family to see Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s new show in 19 days
  • I was able to complete NaNoWriMo for the 2nd year in a row (while in grad school!)
  • I’m healthy compared to the other germ infested creatures that dwell on this campus
  • I get to see two of my best friends on the same day, 10 days from now

Now on to why it is the worst of times:

  • I am so homesick that I’m having trouble concentrating on my work here
  • On that note, I want all the snow that is currently residing at my parents’ house
  • It’s the end of the semester which means that I have lots to do in terms of final papers, etc., resulting in a higher stress level and quicker boiling point to my temper
  • I have been recently (and extremely) distracted, for multiple reasons, by the appearance of someone from my past
  • Winter boots are nearly impossible to find at this time of year and I need new ones

Overall, I’d have to say that I have more to be thankful for/happy about than things that are frustrating or stressing me out. But it’s still pretty split on best times and worst times.

Writing 101: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!

Writing 101: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!.

For me, it would be Happy Spending Time with Grammy!

My favorite meals are both cooked by my grandmother. One of them can be made by anyone (meat pie) and often is but the best childhood memory of a meal that I can possibly think of that never fails to fill me with joy (and homesickness) is my grandmother’s meatloaf. Now I know most of you are probably puking on to your keyboards right now but to me, that is the ultimate comfort food.

I have had many meatloaves over the years. Barbeque ones, bacon ones, salty ones, mushroom ones, and even one filled with mac n’ cheese. And while each meatloaf is probably good in its own right, my grandmother’s is something special. Most people think of meatloaf and think of dried bricks of hamburg, excuse me, ground beef, and that it must be swimming in gravy to be any good at all.

Well, I’m here to tell you that you are wrong to think that. This meatloaf comes in your standard 9×13 baking pan. It is about 2 inches high, smothered in tomato paste of all things, and filled with chopped onions and love. It’s a little greasy but warm and perfectly cooked. The smell makes you mouth water the minute you enter the house. And if you go peak in the oven door, you can see the perfection at work.

The homemade mashed potatoes with real cream and butter sit on the counter having just been finished and the green beans (substitute peas, carrots, or corn as necessary) are warming in the microwave. The plates are paper and the cutlery is plastic but it’s all waiting for you. There is a bag of fresh rolls sitting in the middle of the island table with a dish of butter and one of margarine to spread as you like.

We would all gather around the table and say our blessing for food and family, health and happiness and then it was time to go serve yourself. Get a plate and fill it up. Two pieces of meatloaf, each no more than a 2×2 square. A big dollup of mashed potatoes and vegetables so mom didn’t yell at you.

Get a cup of milk or water. Grab a roll and split it open with your fingers, letting the crumbs fall onto the plate. Slather on some butter and close it back up. Fork in one hand, roll in the other, it’s time to begin the meal.

The mashed potatoes slide off my fork into my mouth with ease and smoothness. The green beans crunch in the perfect pitch. And lastly, the meatloaf is salty and filling. Not overly salty mind you but the perfect amount. It has a little tart bitter type taste from the tomato paste and a nice after taste of onion. It isn’t dry or super thick. It’s a mouthful of perfection.

I sigh with happiness and plow my way through the meal. I continue to munch on the roll in between bites, scooping little bits of mashed potatoes onto it as I do. I reach for and butter a second roll and use the end of it to slop up any leftovers on my plate.

I slug down my water and sit back on the stool with a contented smile. My grandmother looks at me and laughs. She knows how happy her meatloaf makes me.

And she continues to make it when I visit now. Even a grown-up can use comfort good every once in awhile.