busy bee

Oh hello there.

It has been a busy week!! How busy, you may ask? Well, all of these things happened in the past week:

  • I accepted a second part-time job {that I am SUPER excited about}
  • I worked a Christmas Eve closing shift at the coffee bar {people get a little, um, difficult to deal with around the holidays…}
  • Ben & I flew to DC on Christmas morning to see my family
  • We had a packed 3 day trip that included lots of food, movies, & sitting around the table and telling stories
  • We flew back to Dayton, & with delays, didn’t get back home until 1:30am
  • I worked the next day
  • We unpacked & packed up again…
  • Aaaand now we’re in Cleveland for 3 days visiting some of Ben’s family!

So yeah, just a little busy.

I’m looking forward to starting my new job next week and hopefully finding a good routine to settle into. One of my favorite Christmas presents that I received was an Ink & Volt planner – I have loved planners for as long as I can remember – and I’m excited to use it in the new year. I have a gut feeling that 2017 will be a year full of change and growth and exploration. I think it’ll be a year of being busy and I just can’t wait.

The lost photos of Ireland 

Two years ago, I was lucky enough to spend the summer living and interning in Dublin, Ireland. It was an unforgettable few months and I miss the city every day! If I could live there again, I’d do it in a heartbeat. Being surrounded by the beautiful green countryside, friendly people with great accents, and a city full of life was incredible – I felt so alive in Ireland. But anyways, enough of me professing my love for the country.

After my program ended, Ben came to visit me for a week and we took trip allllll the way around the coast of Ireland, stopping each night at a B&B in a different town. It was magical. And what made it even more magical was that he proposed to me right in the middle of the trip, on August 6th, at the Cliffs of Moher! It was a complete surprise and he even hired a photographer to capture the moment. (another anniversary in August!)

Ben Margaret- 9
Credit to http://michellebgphotography.com/

I loved having those photos of us, and I took photos with my DSLR the whole trip as well – it’s so nice to have those to look back on, and to have prints of them around the house. Like all millennials, we have lots of phone pictures too, but the quality of those just can’t compare. On top of all of those photos, that took me so long to go through, it turns out that we have even more Ireland photos – from Ben’s camera!

Continue reading “The lost photos of Ireland “


It’s been almost a year since Ben & I got married, and a few days after that will be a year since we moved to Dayton. What the what?!?????

Time is FLYING by, and I’m not sure if it’s because life has been generally good and we’ve been keeping busy, or if that’s just what it’s gonna be like as I get older. Either way, I still can’t believe it.

It’s been quite a year. We got married (duh), moved to Ohio, bought a house, have been slowly furnishing the house and making it ours, adopted two cats, I started a new job (almost a year ago there, too!), Ben started grad school, we’ve traveled, made new friends, found communities, and have explored this new area that now feels so familiar.

I feel like the only thing that could have made this year even crazier would be having babies, but don’t worry, that’s not happening for a few years. (Really Mom, I’m not pregnant, I promise!)

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about where I was (both physically and mentally) last year, how many aspects of my life have changed, and how Ben & I have grown together. It’s been a wild first year, but there’s no one I would rather have spent it with. Here’s to many more crazy years ahead of us!


Look at this cat, isn’t she neat?

The only pets I’ve had in my short life have been a hamster and goldfish, and sadly, neither of those lasted very long.

Enter Saoirse, a fluffy orange tiger kitten, about 10 months old.

It was really “Enter Tori,” since that’s how we found her at the local Petco one evening on a stroll to the library. She was at the store, up for adoption by the Dayton Humane Society. She immediately caught our eye because of her coloring and crazy amount of fur, and then were further reeled in by her tiny meows and attempts to be pet through the cage bars. She was friendly but unsure, and oh so beautiful.


We talked about putting in an application, just to see if we’d get approved, and to go from there. This was definitely impulsive, but we had been talking about getting a pet for a while, and this little one just seemed like she could be a good fit. I wanted to think a little more and make sure we were ready, but we went ahead and filled in the application.

Ben had another idea; a sweet surprise – the next day, when I came home from a closing shift, this is what I was greeted with:

Needless to say, I was overwhelmed, but EXCITED! We had a cat! Ben had gotten the “yes” call from the Humane Society earlier in the day, bought all of the necessary cat things earlier in the day, and brought this little bean home.

I had so much to learn, and it’s definitely been a process, but this sweetie has really become a part of our family. I can’t imagine life without her greeting me in the morning with a wet-nosed kiss and her tiny meows. If I’m in a bad mood, nothing cures it quicker than a cuddle on the couch with her silly faces and positions. And even just having her sitting at my feet as I write this feels so reassuring and perfect.

Of course, it hasn’t been easy, per se. She is a handful. And it took her a while to feel comfortable around us, Ben especially. She used to run away at the sound of him walking into a room. She hasn’t yet totally learned the whole “don’t bite/scratch the hand that feeds you even as it is literally feeding you a treat right now” deal. And she can get a bit crazy. She LOVES sprinting around the room and up and down the stairs and going insane on her toy mouse. She will happily destroy any toy if you let her. And sometimes she tries to destroy our furniture in her crazed spells, but luckily has not been successful yet.

And she’s given us a few health scares, too. When we got her, she had a fairly big scratch on the side of her face that we didn’t know what to do with. She also was having some bouts of diarrhea, sometimes on the floor because she couldn’t get to her litter box in time… and her latest problem has been a sudden loss of fur around her neck, cheeks, and ears. We found an amazing cat-specific vet in the Dayton area, and he has been excellent in working through all of her issues. The scratch was actually more like a puncture wound, sadly, but he gave us antibiotics that cleared it up in no time. She was also on probiotics for a bit, which LUCKILY fixed the poo problem. And he put her on allergy meds to see if that would help with her intense scratching and fur loss, which has mostly done the trick. I can’t totally tell if she’s still having that issue, because she’s not scratching nearly as much, but her fur is (sadly) nowhere near to the fluff level it was when we first got her. She looked like a tiny fluffy tiger, and I miss that! Her health is the most important thing, but it’s still a little sad that she looks so different. We’ll be bringing her back soon just for a check-up to make sure she’s 100%. Fingers crossed!!!

Saoirse’s favorite past-times include: licking her butt, playing with destroying her toys, staring out the window at birds, licking herself in weird positions, meowing a lot, staring at me while I cook, hunting bugs in the basement, trying to eat shoelaces, and sleeping upside down.

And now, her newest favorite past-time is definitely watching Samson.


Who is that other cat, you might ask???

A beautiful, spur-of-the-moment decision that Ben and I made while visiting the Humane Society on his birthday earlier this month.

So enter Samson, originally Alfred and then Jose at the shelter, a 10-year-old dark brown tiger, who is juuuuuust a little bit bigger than Saoirse… just kidding, he’s like twice her size. He is one of the most chill cats I’ve ever met, and he’s missing some front teeth, so his tongue sticks out in a blep after he meows or eats. It’s freaking adorable.

The shelter let us do a “foster to adopt” scenario, where we had three days to take him home for free, and if it didn’t work out, there were no penalties. We chose to do this because we weren’t sure how he would fit in our household, and were definitely unsure how Saoirse, the queen of the house, would react to his presence. Answer: we love him, she is not so sure.

But she’s getting there…

The first few days were insanely stressful to me, with every interaction between the two ending in hisses and creepy growls from Saoirse. Samson, on the other hand, could not give a hoot and a half about her.

We separated them almost 100% of the time the first few days, with Samson reluctantly in the basement. The heartbreaking meows and scratching at the door made it so difficult! We fed them on either side of the door, swapped items with their scents, and let them peek at each other through a cracked door with supervision. Still, the hisses persisted, until one day, Saoirse seemed to realize that this big guy might not be trying to murder her.

At the same time, though, she also realized that OH HEY I CAN PLAY WITH THIS CAT and MAYBE HE WANTS TO PLAY and MAYBE IF I ATTACK HIM HE’LL WANT TO PLAY and OH MAN HIS BUTT SMELLS GOOD and WOW HIS TAIL IS FUN TO TOUCH. (I’m fairly sure that she would speak in all capitals if she could, seeing as that’s the volume of her meows most days.) And Samson is not a huge fan of that kind of attention. Who would really like to get jumped on every time they rounded a corner or to get swatted at when they tried to pee? Not most people, and probs not most cats.

So at this point, we’ve been having to separate them when it gets too aggressive or when the hisses come out again – this time, only Samson – and while I think Samson likes the safe haven aspect of the basement, he loves people and cuddling and just sitting in one spot for hours on end, so it’s also kind of torture. The sad meows are definitely torture to me and Ben. They did spend one night out in the open together, and took turns sleeping between me and Ben, which was wonderful.

Progress is being made, albeit quite slowly, but we’ll keep sticking to it. Any and all advice is welcome!!! We know we’re probably not doing everything right, because hey, these are our first cats, but we’re lovin on them plenty, feeding them good food (if I don’t want to eat food with carrageenan and meat by-products, why should they?), scoopin their poops, and doing the best we can. Fingers crossed for these lil sweet companions to stay happy and healthy for years to come.

NOTE: As I was doing final edits on this post, these two crazies both lay down at my feet under my desk to sleep. Very close to each other. With no hissing or fighting. And then the magic happened – Samson started grooming (aka loudly licking) Saoirse’s head and she LOVED IT and fell asleep. EVERYTHING IS GREAT AND PERFECT AND BEAUTIFUL.

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret

15 things I learned about myself in 2015

Another new year, another great moment to reflect on myself and how I’ve grown and where I can still improve. In no particular order, here are 15 thing I learned about myself in 2015!!

  1. I miss being in school a lot more than I expected (it’s a big change since I’ve been in a classroom since I was 3)
  2. I’m not so good at making new long-lasting friendships (maybe this will improve in 2016! I have hope!)
  3. I’m really not so great at keeping in touch with people – sorry, Mom! (and Claire and friends and everyone)
  4. I’m good at customer service and getting better at making coffee drinks (yay barista job!)
  5. I am capable of teaching a class full of young children and maintaining classroom management – but maybe it’s not my destined career path? (yep, typical post-grad confusion)
  6. A part of my soul will always be in Ireland (and I can’t wait to return)
  7. I’m good at baking, and getting better at cooking! (and I’m becoming obsessed with cookbooks)
  8. I have an addictive personality (I knew this before but it’s been hard to ignore in 2015)
  9. I am capable of working chaotic 8/10 hour shifts at the coffee bar (maybe because of the loads of free caffeine)
  10. I freaking love Gilmore Girls (how had I not seen this show before?)
  11. I need structure and the motivation of a class to be able to exercise often (yay Pure Barre boo expensive)
  12. I’m an okay driver! (licensed driver, baby)
  13. I’m loving married life and all that adult-ness (hi Ben!!)
  14. Blogging consistently is not my strong suit (so many ideas, so little time so bad at putting in the time that it needs)
  15. I’m not as good at dealing with change as I thought (granted, I’ve had a lot of huge life changes in 2015, but still, it’s helpful to know about myself)

I challenge you to come up with 15 things you’ve learned about yourself in 2015 – it sounds like an easy task, but might be harder than you’d think! It’s been a nice way to reflect on my personal growth, and lack thereof. I’m looking forward to discovering all that 2016 holds in store for me!

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret

Here we come a-caroling

I grew up singing – in school chorus, church choir, and of course, at home. In high school, I was in my school’s a capella group called the Madrigals. When we were at our best, we came together and created beautiful harmonies and lifted up our souls together. Of course, no group of teenagers can function without a crap ton bit of drama. I loved singing with this group most of the time, but especially around the holidays. Christmas and holiday songs are just the best to sing with a group of people.

Some of my favorite memories singing with the Madrigals are from this time of year. We learned probably 15 or more Christmas and Hanukkah songs, traditional and modern, and were the most focused during practice that we had ever been. We had our regular holiday concert, but were also booked to sing at events. We sang at country clubs, rich peoples’ dinner parties, DC parties held by government people (I honestly can’t remember who or where but I remember it was a block from the White House), and we even sang at the Robert E. Lee House in Arlington National Cemetery. Twice, we wore big old hoop dresses and tuxes for these performances. After performing in downtown DC, we all walked through the city in our get-ups and caroled on street corners just for fun, because we loved the way we sounded together and didn’t want to stop singing! One night, we all got together and caroled through our neighborhoods to spread the cheer, practice our songs, and actually hang out together outside of the other mandatory performances. When a group of ~15 high schoolers all voluntarily meet up to walk around in the cold and sing to random people on a weeknight, you know something’s going right.

So needless to say, I have a soft spot for choral music and Christmas carols. It wouldn’t be surprising to find me in the middle of July listening to one of the Pentatonix holiday albums on repeat for a week straight! Now that it’s mid-November, I think I can start listening to Christmas music without shame… so here’s one of my favorites to get you into the right mood for the season!!!

Thanks for reading! ~Margaret

Blogtober Day 9 & 10: Halloween and blogging thoughts

Another 2-in-1 Blogtober post, how lucky are you?

Day 9 prompt: Best or worst Halloween memory #tbt

I’ve gotta say, halloween definitely isn’t my favorite holiday. I enjoyed it a lot as a kid, but as I got into middle school, I had a harder time finding costumes I liked, and my friends and I stopped trick or treating. I’m not one of those people who particularly likes dressing up or wearing costumes. So I’m having a hard time thinking of my best or worst Halloween memory, since most of them are from my childhood and they all kinda blend together!

My favorite memory of Halloween isn’t just from one year, I think. I have lots of happy memories of going trick or treating all over my old neighborhood with my best friend, Marissa. Our parents usually “chaperoned” us even though we were in a safe neighborhood, but we went up to the houses by ourselves. I remember it was so exciting to pick your candy or see what they different houses are offering, what costumes the adults were in, and looking through our bounty at the end of the night. Organizing the candy, trading it around with the other neighborhood kids, and attempting to ration it out over the next month (probably less) was always awesome!

At our elementary school, we also always had a Halloween parade during school and parties in our classrooms. It was overwhelmingly exciting to see all of your friends in their costumes, and the teachers too. We paraded through the neighborhood streets around the school, grade by grade, led by the high school marching band and color guard, all in costume. Parents and younger siblings lined the streets, and the feeling of community made it one of my favorite Halloween traditions from year to year.

(I’m the pumpkin in this photo)

Day 10 prompt: I never thought blogging would…

I never thought blogging would be something I would be something that I would do. I’ve never really thought of myself as a writer, or as someone who would share their personal life online. Granted, most of the people who read my blog are people that I know in real life, but I’ve definitely shared things here that I didn’t think I would share with anyone other than my really close family and friends. It’s given me an outlet to be vocal about things that are important to me, to improve my writing, and to share my travel adventures with my family and friends. It’s pushed me to be more creative, to think more about myself, and to not be afraid to share those thoughts!

Helene in Between
Thanks for reading! Margaret

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