Sunday, February 26, 2012

Inspired by Oatmeal

This post is inspired by a blog inspired by another blog. The blog I was directly inspired by is The Magpie's Fancy by Gigi Thibodeau, who I can always count on for a post filled with something happy and beautiful: a new recipe, a walk in the woods, a beautiful free write, all of which are always accompanied by beautiful photographs. (Wow, have I used the word "beautiful" enough?) Yesterday, Gigi's post was inspired by another blogger by the name of Katie, author of Chocolate-Covered Katie, a healthy dessert blog. She blogged about one of Katie's oatmeal recipes called Peanut Butter Breakfast Pudding, which, I'm in agreement with Gigi, combines all of my favorite foods: oatmeal, peanut butter, bananas, and chocolate (which is optional but I will definitely try). Oatmeal and peanut butter especially are my two staple foods. I have them for breakfast at least five mornings a week, and they never fail to jumpstart my day. Usually I just have a bowl of oatmeal and slice of peanut butter toast on the side, but I've never figured out a way to combine them before. It's a crazy dream come true! Between Katie's ingenious recipe and Gigi's delicious photographs, I think I know what I'm making for dinner tonight.

So, this post is indirectly inspired by Katie of Chocolate-Covered Katie. What I love about her blog is that she doesn't only supply amazing recipes, but she also blogs about health, and how we shouldn't feel obligated to eat or not eat something because it's "healthier." She blogs about listening to your cravings, but finding healthy alternatives for them, too. Why make yourself miserable by depriving yourself of your favorite foods? What good are you doing?

Personally, I  know food makes me happy. No matter how terrible of a day I could be having, a dish of my favorite ice cream or a Reese's peanut butter cup (the one candy I always mark "Off-Limits" in my Halloween bag) can brighten my day. They always say "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." Well, I think my stomach is the gateway to my heart, too! This past week being school vacation, I had the opportunity to make myself breakfast more than usual. I love the mornings I can wake up leisurely and prepare breakfast. It always sets the mood for a happier and fuller day. I hate the mornings when I'm rushing out the door to catch the bus and have to gobble up my breakfast. I can't enjoy it. My brother always comments on how slow I eat, but it's because I don't want it to be over! Mealtimes are by far my favorite times of the day. When they come around, I want to savor every. last. bite.

In talking about food, I will admit that I can be very picky. Sure, I'll eat anything and I love most foods, but I do have a thing for the quality of a food. In my eyes, presentation is key. It doesn't matter if all I'm having for breakfast is a bowl of cereal. Just putting it in a special bowl and taking the extra time to slice up a banana on top makes it all the more appealing and all the more delicious for me. It's a treat for myself. The same way you may put on makeup sometimes, even if you're just lounging around the house all day; you're dressing up for yourself.

If you read my post about art class , then this is not the first time you have heard me say that I wouldn't consider myself a particularly artfully-inclined person. I love art and I wish when I was bored in class I could think of something other than a heart to doodle in my notebook, but alas I was not blessed with such a gift. I do love to decorate though, and this love for decoration comes out in my love for cooking and, to bring this post full-circle, my love for oatmeal.

What I love about oatmeal is that it never comes out the same and there are so many different ways to play with it. Decorate it. Eat it! Chocolate-Covered Katie has over sixteen different oatmeal recipes and tips that make me want to eat oatmeal for the next sixteen meals. In fact, as I was drooling over Katie's recipes this morning, I myself was enjoying none-other-than the comfort of a self-prepared bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal and a slice of peanut butter toast. In making the oatmeal, I couldn't help myself getting fancy with the toppings. 

Like how Chocolate-Covered Katie combined her favorite foods to make Peanut Butter Breakfast Pudding, two years ago my mom combined two of her favorite breakfast foods, yogurt and oatmeal. Old-fashioned oatmeal with a yogurt top-hat.

To make the oatmeal, all you need is rolled oats (approx. 1/2 cup per serving). We prefer milk as the base because it makes it extra creamy. Water works fine too, or even a combination of the two. As a general rule, I usually put in a little less than double the amount of liquid as we do oats because I like a thicker oatmeal. (So if you use 1/2c of rolled oats, pour in about 1c of milk or water.) It all depends on how thick or liquidy you like your oatmeal. Pour your milk/water and oats into a pot and stir on medium-heat until the oats absorb the liquid.


You can use whatever yogurt you want for the top hat. I always put on a dollop of plain yogurt because I like to leave the flavoring job to the accessories! Because now, here comes the fun part. Accessorizing!


For my oatmeal this morning, I sliced up half a banana and one fat strawberry. Then I sprinkled a little granola to add an extra crunch, and to top it off, I made an almond flower with a dried blueberry for the middle. If you're like me and love texture in your food, you will love this recipe. The smoothness and coolness of the yogurt contrasts wonderfully with the warm and hearty oats. The fruit gives you something to chew, and the almonds and granola add a nice crunch. It's the cherry on top.


Sometimes when I make oatmeal I drizzle a little honey or maple syrup if I'm in the mood for something a little sweeter. The best part about oatmeal is that the recipe all depends on your personal cravings. It is a food designed for YOU! 

Well I could write about oatmeal (and food in general) forever, but alas I must pull myself away to finish up homework before school tomorrow. Inspired by Gigi and Katie, I will certainly be blogging more about food in the future!

Happy Experimenting,

Megan ;)

P.S. I apologize for the quality of the images. I think investing in a digital camera might be a wise idea, especially because I love what pictures can do to a post...they really make it come to life! Until then, I guess that's what the effects in iPhoto are for!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A House Like Me

The other day on the bus, my friend pointed out that most houses are symmetrical. So of course I spent the remainder of the bus ride staring out the window testing it out. At first I didn't see it because so many houses have garages now, but then my friend told me to "cut off" the garages, and in the twenty minute ride home, I had difficulty finding a house that wasn't symmetrical!

http://yolo.net/ychm/
They were all so similar and...unimaginative. Which got me to thinking...

I do not want a symmetrical house
        I do not want a typical house.
                  Instead I want a Seussical house
                             So whimsical and comical
                                            Individual, unusual
                                                        Inspirational, unmistakable.
                                                                  A house that makes you go "hmm..."
                                                                  A house with personality.
                                                                  A house you can't exactly explain
                                                                  A house to represent me.

P.S. Did You Notice? is updated. Thanks to all those who participated in the last one! :)
                                                                             
                                                                                      
                                             










Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Heart Rocks/Heart Stones

http://cambriansea.blogspot.com/2009/08/heart-rock-beach.html

In honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd share a piece I've been working on for quite some time now. Besides the moon, I also have an obsession with hearts. I see them everywhere! Today especially, being Valentine's Day and all; in my pancake, in a box of chocolates, in Valentine's Day carnations. But more specifically to my obsession with hearts, I have an obsession with heart rocks. My mom started collecting them years ago when she and her friend were kayaking and she found a heart rock the size of a bowling ball. I've found that once you find one, all of a sudden you see them everywhere! My favorite thing about heart rocks is that they're all different. Some are jagged, some are fat, some just barely classify as a heart. One day when I was with my friend, I got to thinking that they all had different personalities, too...


           Heart rocks or heart stones. Only at the title and I'm already stuck. "Heart stones" is more...poetic on the tongue. The sharpness of the "s" and the "t". The repetition of the "tuh" in heart stones. "Heart rocks" is...ordinary. "Stone" cuts through water; rings out like a cymbal on a tile floor. But, crisp while "stone" may sound, it is dark, like from a fairy tale by The Brothers Grimm. The title should be welcoming, encouraging. The word "stone" associates with too many negative terms.
        “Heart rocks” is smoother; no rough edges or sharp corners. While “stone” cuts through water, “rock” meanders along the edge. “Stone” limits the items associated with its strict syllables, while the long “aw” in “rock” welcomes any shape or size, similar to the toys from the Island of Misfit Toys.  “Rocks” is ancient, a reminder that beauty remains even amidst some of the darkest ages. Like humans, each heart rock carries independence. They have unique personalities because they all belong to a different person.
        There is the pancake heart, belonging to the fat man. Big, flamboyant, always smiling. Just a happy-go-lucky type, like a Golden Retriever. Some say his tongue hangs out the window as he drives Old Yellow, singing Jason Aldean with his authentic Southern accent. The grammar school kids crowd to the front begging him to do that funny shaky thing with his voice just “one more time!” Taped to his dashboard are the pictures the kids have drawn him, with bowling ball hands and big, orange-slice grins. Just a guy who loves life and everything and everyone in it. So his heart keeps getting larger as he makes more room for the people and places and things that he loves.
       The puzzle heart is that of the divorced man, trying to reassemble the broken pieces. He sits cross-legged on the floor of his little apartment, the moving boxes still stacked high to the ceiling. None of the furniture has arrived yet, and that single lawn chair looms over him as a heavy reminder of how alone he is.  It is one of the set of four him and his ex bought with their first house, before Joe even peeked his teeny head out. Chance would have it they only conceived two children, and their oldest was always tenacious when it came to who sat where; he himself sat in the same chair for nearly five years. When he picked up Joe for his T-Ball game, he wasn’t surprised to see the remaining three rocket lawn chairs on the side of the road with a “FREE” sign taped to their blue, pin-striped backrests. At least no one new will take his seat physically, even though someone will undoubtedly take it emotionally. His children are so young, after all. Still, he can’t bring himself to unpack everything (to open those boxes would make it all seem too permanent) except for one that sits on the floor in front of him.  In his hands is a 4x8 framed photograph of his children.  It captures a typical family Sunday from last fall; he and his wife had taken the children apple picking, and in it Joe lifts Lexie to pick an apple off the lowest branch. He moves around the photograph, trying to find the perfect place for them on his windowsill. He then attempts to place the photograph of him and the kids on the ferry they took to Portland last summer. Gradually he is finding their new positions, making a new puzzle, forming his new life. Picking pieces off the floor and trying to put himself back together; finding where the pieces fit.
       The almost-heart dances in the young teenage girl. Thinks she's in love. Maybe she is, maybe she's not. Playing games of, “He loves me, he loves me not.” Just trying to figure out this crazy word called LOVE. That new boy seems so...perfect. Maybe he could be the one?? Hugging him feels so natural, holding his hand feels so...right. And he shows her off to his friends in her T-shirt and jeans, holds her hand for all to see. Notes in her locker and a slow dance in the street, no music; all the clich├ęs from every Nicholas Sparks novel and Taylor Swift song. And when he tells her she’s beautiful, she believes it. Because the last guy only ever texted it; he looks her in the eye and says it.  But she is unsure. “Is this love?” she asks herself. “Is it possible to be in love at this age? To feel this...happy? Does a Romeo really exist?” Thus she remains a "kind-of" heart, not exactly in focus but on the right track.
              The nearly-perfect heart rests in the old married couple. They say the “right person” is out there waiting for you, that you are “destined” to be together from the start. Five years older than she is, he served his country while she finished high school. While she was in Canada keeping a book of quotes, he was over in Puerto Rico doing the same. Destiny. In college they met when he went back for his Masters degree, and shy man though he appeared, she saw through the taciturn diffidence to the sweet and brilliant marshmallow underneath. Four kids later, the honeymoon phase died down inevitably, but they still had their annual one-night excursion to the Cape. And while at times they may have feasted on fried bologna and mashed potatoes for dinner, they made due with what they had. But then he lost his job, and with that he lost all he thought he could contribute to the family, and began to pull away. Like a cramp they worked through it, until they were the last ones remaining on the dance floor for the “Who’s been married longest?” contest. When he sets the table so her engagement with Jane Austen need not be disturbed; when he returns from the market with two unexpected bags of Utz potato chips. “Oh mon dieu! You shouldn’t have!” she gushes, never too old to get butterflies. So after years of chipping away at it, their nearly-perfect heart is defined.
The doodle heart flutters in another teenage girl. When she draws it in her notebook, when she signs a card, someone’s yearbook...she’s always drawing hearts. The lines cross so it looks like a bleeding heart flower. She starts from the left and draws the half, then crosses over so there is a dividing line between the two halves and then draws the right half, finishing with a little tail. Her friends make fun of her for her hearts. “You always see hearts!” they tease. Clouds, leaves, boulders, shells, mustard on her sandwich...hearts. Because she just wants to hit the target and find that one boy, hoping in doing so she may succeed in placing her heart amongst the billions of other hearts in this world. She wants the heart of her old grandparents, the unpretentious Southern “thang” of the bus driver, to repair her divorced father’s broken puzzle, to shed her “almost heart”. Her doodle heart splits in half because she constantly feels torn in two. She wants to please everybody; she hates making decisions. Mom’s world vs. Dad’s world. And the tail represents her longing to stay in the past: to relive the 2010 track season, to go back to when her family fit in a perfect box. It is the anchor that ties her down as she tries to sail away and voyage new seas and explore fresh lands. But then, where the tail hangs down, there leaves a gap, which allows her take in the sugar but also drain out the acid. Which is why my heart is not a rock or a stone, but a doodle. Because my heart is constantly changing and being changed and forced through tight alleys and taken on a roller coaster and inflating and deflating. And you can’t set that in stone. 

Here's hoping you all will find your heart someday, whether it be a doodle, stone, rock, or a heart-shaped pancake.

From my heart to yours,

Megan xo

Monday, February 13, 2012

Following vs. Google Friend Connect

Hey, Crazy Dreamers! So I've received feedback that people are confused about how to follow my blog, and also the difference between following and Google Friend Connect. So I thought it might be helpful to do a housekeeping post about the two, but I promise I will post later in the week with something much more fulfilling!

First of all, let me clarify that following and becoming a member is 100% FREE. Now that we have that out of the way, let's start tackling some questions. What does it mean to follow a blog? By following a blog, you will receive email notifications every time I post, so it will help keep you updated!

The easiest way to follow is to type your email into the Follower gadget in the sidebar.


After you type your email in, click "Submit." A FeedBurner window will pop up. Type in the word in the text box and click, "Complete Subscription Request." 


You'll receive a verification message in your email. 

                              

Click on the link to activate your subscription. Congratulations! You are now a follower!

There's also something called "Google Friend Connect." Google Friend Connect goes one step further from following a blog, and that's becoming a member. When you become a member, you also receive email notifications every time I post, however you become a part of the blog and the blogging community. It's a way to show the blogging community what you're reading, and a way to connect with other readers. You can click on each icon to read a little bit about the other members (if they typed a bio), and also see what other sites they joined if you're looking for another blog to read.

Some of you may have noticed the list of followers in the sidebar.


Some of you may have followed by email, but may be wondering why your name/image isn't under the "Followers" list. This is because the people whose names appear under "Followers" are members of the blog. A key point to highlight is that following a blog does not make you a member.

To become a member, click on "Join this site." A window like the picture below will pop up. 


Unfortunately, Google Friend Connect only works with emails under Google, Twitter, or Yahoo. It's really easy to sign up for an account on any of them if you don't already have one and wish to become a member. Once you have your account, click on your email user and it will ask you to sign in. Then, it will have you sign up for Blogger, where you can choose a display name for yourself.


Congratulations! You are now a part of Blogger! This does not mean you have a blog though, it just means you have a Blogger account (which is, again, FREE). Feel free to do with it what you wish!

The easiest thing to do from here would be to go to my blog again and click "Join this site." You should already be logged in. You'll get a pop-up that asks you if you want to follow publicly, or privately. "Publicly" will display your image under "Followers" (although you don't have to have an image). "Privately" will keep your subscription private, but still allow you to stay updated. 


Then, just click on "Follow this blog" and whallah! You're a member!

I would love to be able to see who my fellow crazy dreamers are, but of course if you don't feel comfortable following or becoming a member, I'm still thrilled to have you stop by! To read more about the difference between "Follower" and "Google Friend Connect," follow this link. Please leave a comment or email me if you have any questions! 

Sweet dreams and happy noticing,

Megan ;)



Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bippity-Boppity-Boo



Surely they have died and gone to heaven. Like little girls they squeak and race to find the prettiest dress in the warehouse. Frills, lace, beads, jewels, gems, sequins, pearls, ruffles. Dresses that poof and dresses that hug your waist and dresses that hang like a pillow case. Short-cut, floor-length, above the knees, all in-between. Cinderella and Belle and The Little Mermaid. Princess-locked-in-a-tower-saved-by-a-prince.  Medieval, colonial, modern, prehistoric. They've got it all. Pulling dresses off the racks, they rush behind the curtains to change. 

I'm not interested in prom queen or America's Next Top Model. I can wear that any day. I select a blue. Pale blue like Alice in Wonderland. But when I slip on the petticoat it is definitely Cinderella. With a curtsy and a bippity-boppity-boo, the costume attendants turn into mice and surely the car outside is a pumpkin and all I need are glass slippers and a prince to waltz with and I, too, will live happily ever after. Swoosh. Swish. Swoosh. All I can do is swoosh, and when I spin and twirl and swirl my skirt is like a carousel fan and when I sit it poofs up to my nose and all I want to do is prance through the aisles bopping people with my magic wand and make snow angels in a field of daisies because I feel pretty, oh so pretty. Pretty in a petticoat and I never, never want to take it off because I am a princess and I am four-years-old again, slipping on long white gloves and wobbling on plastic heels. Putting on talent shows and dance recitals for my parents, forcing my little brother to dress up and dance with me. I am four-years-old again and innocent and the world is at my fingertips for I can be anything, do anything, go anywhere and nothing matters except this pretty pretty dress. No matter how big our feet may grow, they are never too big for a glass slipper.

("Did you notice?" link)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

3,2,1...Blastoff!

 ~Brian Littrell

A very appropriate quote for all you crazy dreamers. But I chose the quote for an additional reason. Its reference to the moon. 

I have an obsession with the moon. In fact it might be fair to say I'm as obsessed with writing about the moon as I am with writing about boys. Okay, maybe not that much. But I love to describe it, personify it. Come up with new metaphors and rhyme it, alliterate it. It's sprinkled throughout my writings like a "Where's Waldo?" book. 

"Moonlight through my window..."

"The moon is dressed in her evening gown, vibrant blend of orange and pink, a ladybug against a green leaf."
"Its trunk was sturdy and dependable, so you could climb to the moon if you so desired and pluck it like the fattest grapefruit and still, it would not sway."
This week was the perfect week for moons. All week the moon lay on its side, smiling down on all the shooting star wishers. And as the week progressed, its smile got bigger and bigger. Welcoming us to hop on our rocket ships and blast off!


Sunday night was what's been called a Cheshire Cat moon, like from Alice and Wonderland.
Most people find the full moon to be their favorite, but my loyalty lies with the cat. A mischievous crescent grin floating freely in the sky.
Monday night the grin widened to a banana. Ripe and yellow. Perfect for picking.
Tuesday night was disorienting. How is it some nights, the moon seems so close? Magnified by a thousand. The nights i
f my arms were only a bit longer, I could scoop it up in my hand. Then other nights (like Tuesday), the moon seems so far away? Like looking through the wrong end of a magnifying glass.

It's nights like Tuesday I question if the moon is too big of a reach.


Wednesday night was an orange-slice grin. Foolishly big and bright and childish but undeniably happy. They remind me of the days when I only used to eat my orange cut into wedges so I could fit the entire rind in my mouth, taste the sweet fruit, and grin a big, happy grin as the juice dripped down my chin.
Thursday (tonight) the moon hides somewhere behind the clouds. Instead, my Thursday night sky is lit by the toothy grins of a blue-eyed toddler. We're babysitting my little cousin this weekend, and her bubbly personality is infectious!


So shoot for the moon, even on the nights it seems far away. Especially on the nights it seems far away.
Because even if you miss, you'll land among the stars. And if the moon's smiling down at you, don't even wait for the countdown.


Sweet Dreams,


Megan ;)


P.S. Thanks to those of you who responded to the "Did you notice?" challenge last week! I loved reading about the moments that caught your attention. I've updated the page with my findings for the week. If you have time, I'd love to read about what your senses picked up this week, too!