February started off with a bang. I hosted a Super Bowl party for anyone we knew, but mostly people in Christian’s department. I thought of it as a practice for the IF:Gathering the next weekend. Then, I accidentally set my oven on fire. Ooops.
The IF:Gathering went much more smoothly than I anticipated (I did not set my oven on fire. Though, I did accurately predict that one of my children would pee on the floor.) The conference was good, (I was especially partial to Jen Hatmaker and Sarah Bessey.) and I took everyone’s advice and tried to keep the menu simple. We had make your own grilled cheese and I can say with certainty that sharp cheddar, cherry preserves and bacon is a winning combination. A few of my Story Sisters came to join me and hang out by my fire pit with my actual sister and some friends from church. It can be scary letting your life collide like that, I mean what if everyone comes away hating you? They didn’t. It was fine.
Breakfast Sandwiches– It isn’t the first time I have made an Egg McMuffin at home, but we have been on a kick. The kids love them too, so that helps. I even served them for small group dinner with a big bowl of fruit salad.
Steak and Pan Sauce- I have been loving everything I cook out of Shauna Neiquest’s Bread and Wine. She describes herself as “not a steak girl” and then raves about this steak and pan sauce. I am a steak girl, and I can tell you that the recipe alone is worth the book. The first time I made it without the pan sauce because “deglazing” sounded super complicated. (Spoiler: It just means dumping some alcohol into a pan.) The next time I made it I decided to give the sauce a try. If Christian and I weren’t already married, he probably would have proposed to me on the spot. It was that good. Buy the book, make the steak.
Wings- On the recommendation of my friends, Alison and Mary Beth I tried to make wings for my Super Bowl party. Mostly, it worked but there was the slight problem that I set my oven on fire right when the game kicked off. The wings were still fine, but I will stick with buffalo chicken dip next time. Same flavors, less smoke.
When I am feeling all the feelings like I was after the IF:Gathering, I like to read something familiar. I took the snow-week early in February and read Harry Potter 1-3. I am now half way through 4 and will probably finish them by the summer.They are, it turns out, still brilliant.
In my classroom I read Romeo and Juliet with my freshmen. I love teaching this play, it just never gets old. If your freshmen english teacher didn’t explain the dirty jokes to you, then you are missing out. Go back and read at least the first few scenes. You will be astounded you didn’t figure them out for yourself.
My tenth graders are reading one of my very favorite books, Another Place at the Table. It is the memoir of a foster mom and it is beautiful. I’ve written and erased about ten sentences that explain why this book is important. They just don’t do it justice. If you care at all about kids without families, or what safety nets are available and how and why they fail, just read the book.
There have been a few blogs that have been catching my attention recently. The Story Sessions website is always featuring one of the women in the community and they are always excellent. February featured poetry, if you missed it you should really go look. There was also the first installment of The Well, a Wednesday blessing written by Brenna. The first entry was truly water to my soul.
Speaking of my story sister, Suzanne Terry has been killing it lately, and I especially loved this post about where she stands. Osheta Moore has been standing her ground in prayer. I wish the church always did this hard work this gracefully. And Mary Beth Pavlik has been posting 5 awesome things on Fridays and I look forward to it every week.
Finally, if you haven’t been reading John Blase’s poetry you need to. Sometimes, his poetry gets delivered to my email box and I stop whatever I am doing and read it out loud to my class because it is just so beautiful. They particularly liked this one.
Christian and I are slowly working our way through the second season of House of Cards. I am a little jealous of all of my child free friends who are done with the season already.
I still adore Downton Abbey and was grateful that this season’s finale gave me all the hopeful feels and not all the sad ones.
I discovered Don’t Trust the B in apartment 23 when I need a laugh. I love campy portrayals of Midwesterners. I just do, especially when juxtaposed against a stereotypical New Yorker.
When I need all the drama, I have been hitting up The Borgias. It is a crazy show about the Pope and Rome and the Pope’s illegitimate children. Murder, illicit sex, buying papal votes. Good times.
Hair oil is changing my life. I know. I wouldn’t have believed it either. My hair has always been super oily and I would never in a million years think that putting more oil into it ever would be a good idea. But my friend’s insisted I try it when I was stuck at their house because of the snowpocalypse. Sure enough, that evening my hair was soft and beautiful. I didn’t even need to wash it the next day! My bangs even looked great. My hair is softer, shinier, and the color is even browner. You need the miracle that is hair oil. (Don’t buy it there though, it is only like five bucks at Target.) The more I play with my hair during the day the better it looks and the softer it feels. I know I sound like an infomercial. I can’t help it. I love this stuff.
If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, you may have noticed people tagging me in what seemed like the same pictures, or a variation on the same picture. I made a bunch of banners out of old book pages and sent them to a bunch of the women in Story Sessions because mail makes people feel loved and remembered in a very specific and much needed way. This is the one I kept for myself.
I am cooking up a spring version, so keep track of Twitter and Instagram for a sneak peek. Or you can like me on Facebook.
I took my friend Nicole’s class, Love and Making It. Perhaps it is weird that I am telling the internet that I took a sex class, but the way that Nicole speaks of sex and the body is so holy and so freeing. She has a gift y’all, and in a world where the lies about beauty are coming at us from all directions, you probably need Nicole’s truth too. She is re-running Love and Making it, which is designed for the married woman, and is starting a course called Babes in Godland for women wanting to explore their own beauty and sensuality in all stages of life.
March is in like a Lion
I signed up for John Acuff’s 30 days of hustle, just to see what the big deal with him is…I don’t know where I stand right now. I’ll let you know next month.
I am doing a nine day writers boot camp with Story Sessions and have decided to concentrate on a round of edits on my book. Don’t be surprised if you don’t hear anything from me for a week and a half or so.
For a Lent I will be fasting following the guidelines in Jen Hatmaker’s book Seven. So, I will be eating seven things: eggs, chicken, spinach, apple, avocado, sweet potatoes and whole wheat bread. I will be drinking water. Yes, it is going to suck, but I feel called to it. I have some stuff, that is related to food that is jacking with my heart. I am sure I will have some blog posts working through this, this month.
Aw, thanks for the shout-out, friend!
I have heard great things about this Argan oil. Maybe I will try it. I do play with my hair a lot.
Your Lent list sounds like a delicious sandwich. It will be interesting to see how it goes. I look forward to it!
Abby, today’s post is a treasure for me.
Dealing with the pain and narrowness of focus that comes from a life-threatening illness, it’s easy to lose the bigger picture, that there’s a world of life, love, engagement, and laughter.
You’ve given me a gift of hope and joy, and I’ll carry your loving descriptions in my heart.
You are in my thoughts and prayers often. Surely your furry friends provide you with laughter? I would love to hear those stories!
I do appreciate the prayers!
I had been thinking of human interaction – I went from a busy academic career, with heavy teaching and research schedules, to the solitary life of a very ill novelist in a very short time. I miss the kids; I miss the stories of what they did over the weekend, or the summer. (I do NOT miss university administrators.)
Yes, the guys do bring a lot of laughter. My two service dogs, Ladron the Heeler (very bossy, nicknamed Cruise Director) and Sylvia the Big Pit have appointed themselves the DVD Committee.
If I can’t sleep, I’ll put on a DVD, but they choose what we get to see. If i try to watch a romantic comedy they’ll object by trying to push the TV over.
Their preferences? “Saving Private Ryan”, “Black Hawk Down”, “Tears of the Sun”, and the like. When those are on, they’re happy.
Sylvia shows it in an unusual way. I have to sit on the floor, leaning lightly sideways on an ottoman (I can’t lean all the way back in a seat).
When a movie meets with Syl’s approval, she’ll jump on the ottoman, but her paws on my shoulders, and her rather large, blocky head on top of mine.
And she watches the movie. She doesn’t like the Germans in “Saving Private Ryan”, and growls at them. When the heroes are killed, she whines.
Syl and Ladron will also hide my tools when they feel I’m too ill to do the sheet-metal work I sometimes do. Watching a dog disappear around a corner with a large mallet in her mouth is something you don’t see every day.
Abby, thanks for the shout out! I’m so glad you are enjoying my weekly Five Things and I’m sorry you caught your oven on fire trying to make wings. That is wicked unfortunate.
Abby, Thanks for the tip on the hair oil but it is a little late. If only someone had told me sooner..