Blogtober Day 7: Vacation Memories

I feel like I should have a more clever way to start these blog posts for Blogtober. Just starting it with the prompt is boring but I also feel like I’m trying too hard to come up with an intro…

Today’s prompt: Best/worst vacation!

I don’t think I can definitively say that I have a best or worst vacation, but one vacation that sticks out in my mind as being particularly great is the trip to London and Paris that I took with my parents and sister in the summer of 2009. It was just one week, with about 4 days in London and 3 in Paris, but it was my (and my dad’s and my sister’s) first time to travel overseas!

We flew straight to London from DC, and the flight was pretty miserable – it was an overnight flight, and I just cannot sleep on planes. Once we got to London, the excitement took over and I (sort of) forgot how jet lagged I was. I completely fell in love with London on that trip, and have so many great memories of exploring the city and taking in all of the sights. We went to a lot of art museums, too – that’s something my family does everywhere we go.

One of my favorite memories from the London trip was actually the day trip we took out to Windsor Castle, via train. The train ride was so beautiful, and so was the castle, but what I loved the most was walking through the small town (Eton, I think) surrounding the castle. It was an absolutely enchanting little English town (or at least is was in my memory!) and I remember feeling like I was just in the right place there. I felt the same way on my family’s week-long trip to Ireland in 2012 and during my time in Ireland this summer. I would love to live in a place that gives me that same feeling someday!

Our trip to Paris was short, but so exciting. I took French for a few years in high school, but was never great at speaking it, so being in Paris was definitely a challenge! Prior to the trip, I tried to teach my family a little French to get by, and they supplemented that with audio tapes in the car. I was nervous about the language, but we got through the trip just fine, and were able to speak in French when we needed to. I remember the food in Paris being amazing (hello, crêpes!) and enjoying every bit of tourism that we did. We went (part of the way) up the Eiffel Tower, climbed up a seemingly never-ending staircase to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, visited a lot of museums, and most importantly, spent time eating fresh almond croissants on the balcony of our hotel, overlooking the streets filled with gorgeous Parisian buildings.

It was an exciting, eye-opening, and fun trip for my family to take together. Although we have our moments of arguments and clashed opinions, I think we travel pretty well together. I feel so lucky to have the privilege to travel the world with my family, and will hopefully never take that for granted. There are definitely some memories I have from that trip that I still laugh and smile about, and I won’t forget it for a long, long time!

Helene in Between

Thanks for reading! Margaret

Blogtober Day 5/6: I love lists!

Yesterday got the best of me, and I missed out on posting my Blogtober Day 5 post! So, to keep things simple, I’ll do both Day 5 and Day 6 in one snazzy new post full of lists.

Day 5 – Your Fall Bucket List

I absolutely love fall. Stereotypical white girl, amirite? I’m not a fan of Pumpkin Spice Lattes though, don’t peg me in just yet!

I do love the change in the weather, the colors of the leaves, the layers and layers of clothes I get to wear, and the different “activities” that go along with the change in seasons. This might be my last fall season in New England for a while, depending on when Ben gets his orders to move next year, so we’re trying to make the most of it! With a little bit of his help, here’s my bucket list for things that I want to do this fall:

  • Go to Martha’s Vineyard
  • Drive around Massachusetts just to look at the changing fall leaves and beautiful houses: I know, I know, the leaves change color everywhere where there are trees. There’s just something about the colors of the leaves combined with old New England houses and little small towns that is so wonderful and romantic and feels exactly like fall to me.
  • Drink lots of chai lattes in cozy cafes: chai is my favorite warm drink (sometimes tied with hot apple cider) and is best enjoyed in a cozy local cafe
  • Rake leaves (you’re welcome in advance, Mom!)
  • Roast pumpkin seeds: I’m not one for carving pumpkins, as my artistic abilities can be hard to find, but I love roasting the seeds from freshly cut pumpkins with a little salt and pepper (and maybe some garlic powder, too)
  • Go on lots of long walks all bundled up, before it starts to get too cold and snow
  • Make pumpkin bread: I always forget how easy it is to make breads like pumpkin bread, or my favorite banana bread (see below) but this year, I want to master the art of making pumpkin bread! One year, I made a really awesome and delicious vegan pumpkin bread that I couldn’t get enough of, but then I lost the link to the recipe, sad face. I’m not vegan, but I found a recipe for vegan pumpkin bread over on Averie Cooks that sounds amazing that I can’t wait to try!

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Saturday night baking! Banana chocolate chip deliciousness

A post shared by Margaret (@whollymargaret) on

Continue reading “Blogtober Day 5/6: I love lists!”

Marriage Equality in VA!

Image courtesy of the ACLU of Virginia
Image courtesy of the ACLU of Virginia

As some of you may know, I’ve been relatively involved in LGBTQA+ activism since high school, when my amazing brave awesome wonderful sister Claire came out. I’ve been president of my high school’s GSA, marched in DC Pride with Metro DC PFLAG, and have been on the executive board of Wheaton’s LGBTQA Alliance since my freshman year. I consider myself an ally, while not a perfect one, and am always trying to learn more about the issues facing people who identify as LGBTQA+ and be a better ally. My mom is super involved with issues like marriage equality, and has been in charge of our church’s equality group for the past few years. She also helped to start a group for LGBTQA+ teens in our hometown of Arlington, VA, and is active in the Metro DC PFLAG circles as well. My dad is involved in this activism as well, and my sister is always helping me challenge my preconceived notions and learn more about issues in the LGBTQA+ community. I think it’s safe to say I have an awesome family.

I wanted to write all of that, not for “props” or to get recognition for anything, but to explain how much it means to my family that marriage equality was just legalized in our home state of Virginia.

It’s pretty dang cool!

My mom is already posting pictures from the Arlington courthouse, where gay couples are starting to get married, and she is posting up a storm on Facebook and Twitter. She’s more active on social media than I am!

(note: while I was writing this, an article popped up in my feed from the Washington Post – my mom is in a few of their photos!!!)

Photo courtesy of my awesome mother
Photo courtesy of my awesome mother

It’s nice to know that my sister now has the same rights as me, in terms of the ability to get married in our state. It’s just one small step towards equality; one boundary that we’ve crossed over.

There are countless other issues and rights that LGBTQA+ people are fighting for, and marriage equality is just one of them. For example, there are no laws in Virginia that prohibit workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. Someone could be fired by their employer, just because of their (real or perceived) sexual orientation. I don’t think this shouldn’t be legal in 2014!

There are so many people working every day to help make changes around these issues, and they definitely don’t get enough credit! I’d imagine that working on issues like these in states like Virginia is pretty exhausting work, as it can take a while for real change to be seen in our laws and in the daily lives of LGBTQA+ individuals and families. There are lots of organizations that need our support, and if you’re feeling generous, take a moment to donate to their causes!

Thanks for reading! Margaret

An evening on Martha’s Vineyard, feat. the best donuts ever


Ben and I decided to spend two days and a night on Martha’s Vineyard as a part of our attempt to make the most out of our short time left in the Boston area. We had visited once before for a day trip with people from his office, and loved it so much that we’ve been trying to find a time to return ever since!

We went the “adventurous” route (not really that adventurous – it can just be hit or miss sometimes) by booking a room on Airbnb for the night. We used Airbnb a lot when we were in Ireland, with mixed results, and wanted to test it out here in the states. A lot of Airbnb postings are for a single room that someone isn’t using in their house, so it’s not expected to be like a “true” B&B type experience, and there’s always the chance that the hosts are nutballs!!

I think we lucked out with this one – while a lot of the exterior of the house is under construction by the owners, and a bit of the bathroom is too, it’s so cozy. The construction actually gives it a nice fresh wood smell! Our bed is a king size memory foam mattress, and I had never slept on one before – AMAZING!!! It was a rainy, humid day, so a perfect day for an afternoon nap!

The hosts are really friendly, and immediately gave us tips for places to eat. The first thing they said was, “You have to try back door donuts!” Apparently, Martha’s Vineyard Cafe & Bakery, regular bakery by day, opens their back door by their kitchen from 7 pm to 12:58 am to serve fresh-baked old fashioned donuts, apple fritters, and more. So, no brainer, we went after dinner. I apologize for the crappy photo quality!!



Martha’s Vineyard on a rainy Saturday evening in October is not exactly hopping, and felt a little desolate, but as soon as we rounded the corner behind post office and bakery to find this “secret” place, there were a good ten people all standing around in line and eating donuts! There’s info about it online, like on Yelp, but there are signs at the door telling customers to keep it a secret – it’s just too good to keep quiet about!!


I got an apple fritter, and Ben got a cinnamon roll. They were about $4.00 each, so I had high hopes but wasn’t sure what to expect. And man, those hopes were met, to say the least! The fritter was the size of my head and was warm and fresh, and probably the most delicious dessert I’ve ever eaten. It was crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, glazed, and had chunks of apple throughout it. I may have finished the whole thing myself…

It was so fun to find a hidden (delicious) gem while we were on this short trip. The food was awesome, quick, and it was pretty cool to be able to watch them make everything in the kitchen while we ordered! I’m pretty sure we’ll need to come back to Martha’s Vineyard again – if not just for the donuts!

Thanks for reading! Margaret