Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Thanksgiving is probably one of my favorite holidays. Rather, I think it's become one of my favorite holidays as I've grown older and began to appreciate the holidays for more than a fat man in a red suit and a big bunny who brings me presents and candy. As I've grown older, I've realized how fast time flies. (Cliché, I know,  but so true!) Every year, the crowds change a little bit around the holidays as one cousin's off in Puerto Rico studying abroad or another brings their boyfriend/girlfriend to meet the family. Everyone has their own schedule, and unfortunately, family doesn't always take priority as sports, schoolwork, and just life gets in the way. So, I've come to be thankful for the moments I do get to spend with my cousins and aunts and uncles, because before I know it, either they'll be off in college and getting married or I'll be. And that's when things get complicated.

Every year we've spent Thanksgiving with my dad's side of the family, and so even after my parents split we've continued that tradition and my brother and I have spent Thanksgiving with my dad. I love hearing about all my friends' Thanksgiving traditions, where they head off to and some of the corny things they may do. For the past five or six years (I believe this year was my sixth), my family and I have run the Thanks4Giving Turkey Trot 5K in Lowell, a charity run towards the Alternative House, an abused and homeless children's refuge. Back when my mom and I first ran it in 2005 I believe, there were only 200 or 300 runners. This year, there were over 1000 pre-registered runners/walkers, and more came after! It's always a fun time, and there's always someone who comes in some festive costume. Each runner always gets an apple pie after, too, but if that's not enough incentive, then my dad will usually take me and my brother out to Dunkin Donut's after for breakfast (this year it was more for Owen than for me).

After burning all my calories for the day so I can gain them back later with my uncle's sweet potato casserole with mini marshmallows and toasted pecans, (If you've never had it, you can't judge. Because after you've tasted it, there's no looking back. Here's an easy recipe:

we might turn on the Macy's Parade to see what celebrities are on the floats this year.

Another fun tradition we have in my family is the Thanksgiving tree. It's really simple to make, and we've been doing it for years. Just find any stick thick enough to support itself and with enough branches sticking off to hang the leaves on. Find a small pot and place the stick in it. You can help it balance either by filling the vase with rocks or, like we usually do, get a block of styrofoam and stick it in there. Once your tree is balanced, cut different shaped leaves out of orange, red, and yellow construction paper approximately life-size, and hole-punch the stems. Tie yarn (preferably brown, but any color will do) around the stem to make a loop so you can hang the leaves on the branches. Space out the leaves among the "tree" and place in the center of the table. When everyone sits down at the dinner table, ask everyone to take a leaf and write what they're thankful for. When they're done, ask them to hang their leaf back on the tree. When all the leaves are back on the tree, have everyone randomly select a leaf (preferably not their own), and go around the table reading them aloud. It's always fun to try and guess whose is whose!

(I haven't made ours yet, but I just wanted to give you a visual. Don't worry...mine never looks this pretty.)

It's a beautiful day for Thanksgiving, at least where I am. Cool but sunny...classic fall weather! There really is so much to be thankful for. I'm thankful for my friends who are always there to make me laugh, my family who supports me, and this beautiful life God has given me! Today is a great day to tell you're loved ones how much they mean to you; I hope everyone has that opportunity! Happy Thanksgiving!

Megan xo

Thursday, November 10, 2011

When You're Bored...

So here's that Play-Doh post I promised you a few days ago! The recipe is really easy and a lot of fun to make! Plus, once you're done, you get to play with it! The fun never ends!

First, gather your ingredients. These are all ingredients that you can most likely find around your house (perhaps with the exception of "Cream of Tartar." Before I made Play-Doh, I would have guessed it was something to do with Tartar sauce. Apparently it helps with the elasticity of the Play-Doh, but we didn't have any in my house and it still worked fine.)
     1 c. flour (can be substituted for corn starch)
1 c. water
1/2 c. salt
1 tsp. oil
2 tsp. cream of tartar
Food coloring (opt.)
(Adjust the quantities of each ingredient based on how much Play-Doh you want. The recipe above probably makes about the equivalent of one container of Play-Doh.)

With the exception of the food coloring, mix together all these ingredients in a pot and stir over medium heat. Stir until the Play-Doh resembles mashed potatoes; it should be sticky and thick. Let cool.

Now comes the fun part, and that's the food coloring. There are multiple ways you could do this. However, if you don't mind getting your hands dirty, then I would recommend kneading in the dye, just because it's a whole lot more fun! Now, my friend and I didn't have any food coloring available, but we did have blueberries!

So, we substituted the food colored by heating up blueberries in the microwave (you could also blend them) to get all the juice out, and then rolled it in the juice as if we were making a snowman. Then, we really kneaded the dough. Let it ooze between your fingers. Roll it, twist it, smooth it, pound it, shape it, have fun with it! While mixing in the dye, if you're finding the dough to be too sticky, you can add more flour/corn starch.

After the dough is fully dyed, either place it in a plastic container or seal it in a Zip-Loc bag. Keep refridgerated. Enjoy your homemade Play-Doh!

Sweet Dreams,

Megan ;)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

LOVE/hate, love/HATE

I know I've been getting on my mom's nerves lately. Heck, I've been getting on my own nerves lately. The other day Mom told me I was probably the most contradictory person she had ever met...I think I have to agree.

Well, let's start with running, which is mainly what Mom was referring to. Running and I...have a love/hate relationship to say the least. Every day during the last month of track last season, I complained. I didn't want to run. "I'm done with this, I'm done with that. Give me my summer!" I chose not to go to Nationals, which I qualified for in two events. I just
wanted to be done, and done for a long time. A long time. But then I have a race like my 800 (remind me to tell you about that sometime), which I had been working all season to get sub-2:30. Every time I ran it, though, I made a different mistake: didn't run through the line, picked it up too late, looked at the clock the last stretch. Well, I had pretty much done it all, except for false-starting as my friend kindly reminded me. Finally, my last race of the season, I got the sub-2:30! And I was on Cloud Nine, 7th Heaven, whatever all those clichés are. At that moment I was assured why I was a runner. I wanted to be a runner. That feeling reminded me of why I run.

Last year, I was the number one girl on the cross-country team, and battled for first overall with two other boys. I won my league championship, my times were constantly improving. I was known for being "fast." Over the winter I trained, and come track season,  I was well-ahead of the majority of the team and ended up doing a lot of workouts by myself.

Where did it all go? Where's my urge to surge? Where's that competitive drive when someone passes me? That desire to push myself and get inside the "hurt box?" Where's the motivation, the desire?  Am I a one-hit wonder with my glory year?

Yet, if I were to answer myself honestly, I don't want to be number one. I don't want to be an Olympian or an All-American. I love to run to feel healthy, to feel strong. The winner of the Mayor's Cup Women's 5K was interviewed and said, "I didn't know the course,  but I knew I was going to do whatever it took to win. And therefore I knew I was going to have to make it hurt." I don't want to do what it takes to be number one, I don't want to put in the effort. And it's because there's other things I love and want to do, like drama and writing.

But I love to be known for  being fast. I love being able to keep up with the boys. I love to be known as a runner. I love, I hate, I do, I don't. But, you see, except, what if, although...see what I mean?

Friday, November 4, 2011

A Safe Shout-Out

Hi all! I hope this post finds most of you now safe, warm, and with power. It's certainly been quite the week for those of us in Massachusetts! Who would've thought when they predicted the snow for the weekend that it would turn into a week-long power outage for some places? Although I can't complain too much as I was at Cape Cod during the heart of the storm Saturday night, I was certainly kept in the loop from texting my friends and family all weekend. I was shocked that nearly all of them, ranging from Worcester to Athol, were all under the same predicament: powerless.

This week felt like a police chase, never knowing how much longer we could go without school. It was probably the first October Vacation in history! And I think it was probably one of the best vacations yet. Yes, I went without power for a day or two after coming home from the Cape. My family and I camped out in the living room by the fire place, my brother Owen and I on the couch and my mom and stepdad Michael on a futon mattress. It gave me the opportunity to wear those crazy Happy Feet sneaker slippers they sell (or used to sell rather, I'm not sure if they still do) with the thickest pair of fuzzy socks I could find. Going through my drawers for long-sleeves and pajama pants and sweatshirts, only in the morning did I actually see what long-sleeve I picked out; I was just determined to get warm as quickly as possible. I braided Mom's hair (or tried to with her many layers) as the rest of them played Go Fish. After, Owen found one of his old scary story books and read them by the one flashlight in the house. (Seriously, we have one flashlight in the house.) We also have a crankable lamp, but considering 100 cranks lasts about 5 minutes, we gave up on that pretty quickly.

This vacation gave everyone, or me at least, the opportunity to catch up. Not on laundry or cleaning the bathrooms or even my homework, which I needed the Internet for. It gave me the opportunity to catch up on life, on things I had been putting on hold for months. Like reading, my writing, and just plain family time. And I'm not talking about family time as in all being in the same room absorbed in our own worlds, Mom lost in the Provincelands with Mary Oliver, Michael grading college essays, Owen trying to become the new Fruit Ninja on his iPad, and me texting three friends at once. Family time as in talking. What else are we going to do when the power's out? Cell phones are dead, the Internet is down, everyone's scattered across Massachusetts trying to find a refuge. All we have is each other.

This week, I caught up with friends I hadn't seen in awhile, and I could really enjoy them. No homework hanging heavily over my shoulder, no nothing. It was like being in the middle of summer again; my time seemed endless. My friend and I made Play-Doh, for goodness sake! (I'll post directions for that separately.) I feel refreshed, recharged from this week. I hope all of you do, too!  I'm excited to go back to school Monday and hear about all the things people did while the power was out. One of my friends said they played musical chairs, another said he was in Starbucks for 7 hours. Please feel free to share your stories!

Sweet Dreams,
Megan ;)

P.S. I wish I had some pictures to post! I promise, I will try to do better with taking some of my own versus just getting them off Google Images!