Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Best

Oddly, this post is inspired by a visit to the dermatologist. Doctor's appointments, orthodontists appointments, dentist appointments...appointments are rarely exciting. But I can honestly say I don't mind going to the dermatologist, and that has to do entirely with my dermatologist. She's always smiling and in a good mood and is the type of person that always looks like she's happy to see you. She doesn't overanalyze. I'm in and I'm out within fifteen minutes, and she has never once made me feel self-conscious about my skin. "We'll take care of it," she always says. (Plus, I found out today she also loves theatre...if I liked her before, I certainly like her now!)

It got me to thinking that you don't have to be famous to be the best. You don't have to be famous or even receive any kind of recognition to make a difference. And I'm not saying my dermatologist has "transformed my life." She just got me to thinking that there is incentive to be the very best you can be. My English teacher this semester is undoubtedly the best teacher I've had in awhile. His passion for literature is infectious, and his intellectual insight and connections are spellbinding. I often find myself laughing in class as he highlights another parallelism in the works of Ernest Hemingway, T.S. Eliot, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The definition of "best" is entirely subjective. Our friend Buddy the Elf comically reminds us of this when he barges into a coffee shop in New York City, praising them for their honorable title of "world's best cup of coffee."

Those of you who are familiar with the movie, may remember that he later takes the character Jovie (Zooey Deschanel) to the coffee shop on their date, who puckers her lips at the taste and labels it as just a "crappy cup of coffee." 

You can't base your opinions on what others claim as "the best." Likely, half the reviews are bias and most likely paid for by the company. Don't sit around waiting for someone to stick a #1 on your chest; go out and just be the best person you can be. 

"Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Falling into Fall

Fall...I love everything about fall. Apple picking, apple cider, apple donuts...warm. Sweaters and moccasins and boots and cozy pants. Football games, rosy cheeks, dragon's breath.

And pumpkin. Everything pumpkin. Pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin iced coffee at Dunkin's, pumpkin muffins, pumpkin donuts, pumpkin oatmeal. If only I had my license, I would make a special trip to the Oliver Garden for a slice of their pumpkin cheesecake.

Last Sunday, Mom and I had a baking day. It was one of the first real fall-like days we'd had. The thermostat read 60ยบ in the morning, chilly enough for a sweater and chilly enough for baking. You can bake in the spring and you can bake in the summer, and of course you can bake in the winter, but fall is by far my favorite time to bake. Crisps, pies, cakes, breads, all those comfort foods that fill you to the brim with happiness like a steamy cappuccino.

Right now we have more kale in our garden than we know what to do with. The worms decided to take the load off our back and start nibbling away so now our kale leaves look like swiss cheese. Before the worms did any more work, we decided we better take advantage of this super food, especially because we now (thanks to a friend of my grandma) have a copy of The Book of Kale by Sharon Hanna, a recipe book with over 80 different recipes for kale. (You can only make so many salads.)

We started the morning off with Savoury Kale and Pumpkin Scones. I went out to the garden in my slippers and sweatshirt and salvaged what kale I could. In the kitchen I washed the leaves and I didn't even need to put it in a strainer, what with all the holes they practically strained themselves.

In making the scones, one direction that particularly confused me was: Step 3: Blend or sift the flour, salt, soda, baking powder and sugar together. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or your fingers (Hanna). 
"Cut in the butter?" While we love to experiment, we are only that. Experimentalists. We measure with our hands and our eyes...a little bit of this, a pinch of that, and always a dash more sugar. (Rather, I'm learning to be more like this.) In other words, we are amateurs in the kitchen, and the most high-tech kitchen appliance we have (excluding the standard oven, stove, and microwave) is a blender and a food processor we got at the Free Store that we're not sure even works. Which meant I was just going to have to use my hands. But cut in the butter? I had never heard of the term before. I took it to assume that it meant mix in the butter...cold butter, the recipe specified. After a minute or two of using the fork, I plunged in with my hands...and of course licked every finger clean afterwards. 

Anything you can mold with your hands is so much fun.

Now what to have these scones with? Cream cheese? Butter? Jam? These scones aren't very sweet, but they're very healthy, and have the classic scone consistency. They're delicious with cream cheese, butter, and jam (we tried them all), but even more delicious with soup. Particularly, an orange soup. 

Doesn't it almost look like it has veins? 

A Winter Squash Soup. I won't even both linking this recipe, though, because we hardly followed it. Sure, we steamed and boiled the squash and peeled and tossed in an apple. But we also added the remainder of the canned pumpkin from the scones, a carrot, and the rest of the kale. 

It's a soup with a very thick consistency. It's filling and fulfilling. It's the kind of soup you want to eat curled up on the couch with a book, wearing your biggest, coziest sweater.

Alas, we ate it outside on our deck, but with the birds chirping and the wind blowing, it was still just as satisfying. And of course, I had to take the opportunity to have a little food photo shoot. Seriously...I think at least half the pictures on my phone are of food. 

We're reading T.S. Eliot's poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" in English class. In his poem, the narrator says, "I have measured out my life with coffee spoons" (51). Cooking with Mom reminded me of that line. My parents are always telling me not to get hung up over details; to just go with the flow. With their guidance, I am learning to not measure out my life so precisely. I'm learning to be okay with a dash, a pinch, and a splash. 

What's your favorite part of fall? Or, if you don't like fall, what's your favorite season?

Happy fall, everyone!

P.S. "Did you notice?" is updated.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

What to Do When You Can't Sleep

Don't ask me! 10:30pm on a Sunday night, and I am wide awake. I've been wide awake for the past two hours actually. It is not often I get nights where I have the opportunity to go to bed early, so when I do have them––tonight being one of them––I like to take advantage of them. I was in bed at an impressive time of 8:30 tonight, not particularly tired but figuring I'd fall asleep soon enough. 30 minutes later, I found myself staring at the bottom of my brother's bunk, listening to the achy springs as he tosses and turns. My brother and I share a room at my dad's place...never again will I buy a metal bunk bed. I say my prayers...multiple times. Still nothing. I try counting sheep. This I don't understand. They say counting sheep helps you sleep, but you still have to think to count sheep and I'm personally trying to turn my brain off at the moment. Regardless, I count to 100 and get bored.

9:15 and my stomach growls. I'm starving. STARVING. I get up and eat a rice cake with peanut butter, hoping maybe now that my stomach has something in it I will be able to fall asleep. Very funny. 15 minutes later. Nothing. I throw the covers off, roll onto my side. Fluff my pillow. I can't figure out what my body wants to do. It's like in the mornings sometimes when I can't figure out what I want for breakfast. I take out the peanut butter, the oatmeal, the yogurt, the bread, the pancake mix, the eggs. One time I couldn't decide, so I seriously made a little bit of everything.

Finally I can't stand just laying in bed any longer. I flick on the lights and take out my journal and write. We're reading a poem in my English class called "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot, where Eliot tries to capture his character's stream of consciousness. Well, I figure I would try to capture my own stream of consciousness, hoping it may lull me to sleep. It's a lot harder than I thought. There's just too many thoughts to capture on the page, many of them so brief I hardly even notice I am thinking about them. 45 minutes later. Nothing. I give reading a shot. 10:20 now, nearly two hours since I first tried going to bed. I'm starving again. I really didn't eat enough at dinner. I get up and grab a bowl of ice cream. I'm done eating for the night. I don't care how much my stomach growls. I'm not eating after this.

My grandfather can fall asleep anywhere. I remember he fell asleep reading to me once. It was impressive. I asked him to play cards with me instead next time.

I need some turkey. I know I said I wasn't going to eat anymore. I'm just saying that isn't there something in turkey that makes you sleepy? Isn't that why people feel like they need to nap after Thanksgiving dinner? I think it's a myth...but still.

Do you usually have a hard/easy time falling asleep? I used to fall asleep really easily, and sleep soundly through almost anything. Do you have any tricks to help you fall asleep? Are you a light or a heavy sleeper?

Here's hoping you're all dreaming sweet dreams,

Megan :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Where I Belong

All summer I prepped. I strutted in glitzy gold heels, recited to a mirror, spent thirty minutes trying to learn the basic cha cha step, recorded myself singing on PhotoBooth (and then deleted it in the occasion someone were to get a hold of my laptop), highlighted my script in multiple colors, scribbled in the margins, watched YouTube videos (included Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech and Kellogg's All-Bran commercial), and I even (most notably) sat through the 2 hour, 14minute long 1978 film version of "The Wiz." I woke up this morning five minutes before my alarm went off, unable to sleep any longer. Today was the first rehearsal for our fall musical, "The Wiz," and for the first time ever, I have a lead! Presenting Megan Lovely as.....Ms. Wiz! Rehearsal was all I could talk about all day. I was in such a good mood between the excited anticipation, the actual rehearsal, and reflecting on it afterward. For the first time in awhile, I felt I was truly where I belonged...and it felt great.

Here's hoping you all find your place, whether it be on stage, on the field, in the wilderness, wherever it may be.


Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Moonrise

If I told you this was a moonrise, would you believe me? The picture quality isn't great. My phone camera always makes things appear so much smaller than they actually are. We finally found the charger to my brother's camera, so it's about time we charged it and started taking some real pictures!

In my 15 years, I've had the privilege of experiencing several sunrises and sunsets, and I've seen many a full moon. But I never gave the moon much thought as to how it actually got there. It's just always...appeared. It's like God just flicks the switch and there it is, nature's nightlight.

This evening, as Mom and I were changing for what would end up being a moonlight run on the beach, Michael ran in. "Quick!" he said. "You've got to check out the moon!" And there it was, but a baby's bonnet on the horizon. It rose, just like the sun. The moon full in her brilliant orange evening gown. We took off for our run and it guided us all the way home.

I suppose the moon has always risen, but I've never taken the time to notice it. It reminded me to slow down and take more time to notice. I have lived 5760 nights; the moon has risen every one of those nights. And I've never noticed it until now. It encouraged me to take the time to reflect upon other things I've noticed. What have you noticed lately?