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“All sorrows are less with bread.” – Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

To prolong the celebration of Michelle’s birthday, we spent a morning at Quixote Bakery Cafe in Richland Hills. It took us a minute to find it. We were looking for a pink house, but there were several pink houses. The Facebook page has a picture with a bicycle on it, but I presumed the bicycle belonged to a patron. Turns out, it does not. It’s an adorable part of the outdoor decoration, and the cafe just gets cuter as you walk in.

As the name suggests, the decor is a visual ode to Don Quixote. There are many drawings on the wall (which you can purchase). There is paraphernalia that relates to various scenes in the book. The wi-fi password is a nod to Dulcinea. I was utterly charmed.

The menu is a pretty standard bakery menu, but the pastries are not standard bakery fare. They are fresh and delicious. We originally ordered two croissants but hastily returned for more and continued to gorge ourselves. I recommend doing the same (but only if you have time for a nap later). We finished with a cream puff and their creme brulee. Heaven.

And now the part you’ve all been waiting for. How is the coffee? I was prepared to receive a mediocre cup, because usually when a shop excels in one area (i.e., the delicious baked goods), something has to give somewhere else. Not so at Quixote. The first sip was the perfect complement to the chocolate croissant I was in the midst of devouring. They use locally roasted beans (Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters, if memory serves me correctly), so their coffee is as fresh as their food.

The owner and the staff are friendly and unrushed. They seemed to delight in taking the time to answer my questions. I think I even noticed a twinkle in his eye when he was describing the coffee. My people.

If you are near Glenview Drive in Richland Hills, stop in for a snack at Quixote. You won’t be sorry!

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Friday Five 4

Drive-by posting after a long week. Here are some fun things from the intrawebs this week:

  1. 50 Mums, 50 Kids, 1 Extra Chromosome. I defy you to watch this and not get sniffly.
  2. Save your mascara wands to save wildlife. There’s an address at the end of the video.
  3. The music lessons your parents forced you to take did good things for you. The thing missing from this list? They gave you music.
  4. I have long been skeptical about microwaved mug brownies. Leigh Kramer proved me wrong. This brownie is awesome.
  5. And I know it’s not for a while, but APRIL 5 IS NATIONAL CARAMEL DAY AND BETH MARIE’S IS DOING A THING.

This weekend, I’m going to rest and read and probably watch The Wire. Have a good weekend, everyone!

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Friday Five3

YAY IT’S FRIDAY! And not just any Friday but the Friday before Spring Break, which means that (while we don’t get a full week off) even staff still get a three-day weekend. I’m taking full advantage of the free Monday to go to the goth club for old school night on Sunday.

Today’s list is a rich collection of things I’m excited to see and make and do and think about.

  1. UNT (and SFT, the building where I used to work) alum Bola Ogun’s short “Are We Good Parents?” is at SXSW. It was awesome to read her interview here.
  2. Lin-Manuel Miranda is a delight. I love watching him watch Weird Al’s Hamilton polka. I am also very excited about Mary Poppins Returns!
  3. That embarrassing moment when your dentist calls you out on the internet for breaking your retainer, followed closely by the amazing moment the person you broke it over offers to pay for it.
  4. Some reminders that I needed that self-awareness is harder work than it seems and that there is a way to get news that does not break your soul.
  5. Have I mentioned (this month) how much I love Joy the Baker? Her weekly Let it be Sunday! posts are gems. This week’s post has me craving parmesan pecorino biscuits.

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope your day has been great and your weekend is even greater!

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Last month went by super fast, and it looked a lot different from January. In January, I read, walked, wrote, and played voraciously. Feverishly, even. In February, I fell into more of a sustainable rhythm, and I think it’s a good one. I didn’t read as much as I wanted to, but I have plotted out some time in the near future to remedy that.

Three Favorite Meals:

  • I made taco spaghetti for my Masterminds writing group gathering, and it was delicious. You can check out the recipe, but basically take all the things you put in a taco shell and throw it on top of pasta. DELICIOUS.
  • My brother-in-law made omelettes and buckwheat pancakes for my sister’s birthday. It was super filling and glorious.
  • I have been craving peanut butter and jelly all month. In related news, I think I ate more bread in February than I ate in the previous three months combined. Not the healthiest choice, but my bank account sure liked it.

Three Favorite Events:

  • My supper club met after a loooong hiatus. We came to my house and had waffles. There may have also been croissants and Nutella. So. Much. Nutella. It was good to hang out with folks.
  • I finally got to see the Communication department’s production of What We Talk About When We Talk About Race. They wrote the production together based on conversations they had over dinner (and many wines). It did not disappoint.
  • My sister turned 40! We spent the day together, eating and shopping and watching The Greatest Showman.

Three Random Favorites:

  • Redken’s No Blow Dry Just Right Cream. It tames my waves without making my hair crunchy, and it makes my head smell like a bouquet of gardenias. I am in love.
  • The blanket I’m knitting (see above). I have been looking for something to put on my bed, and I can’t find anything that I like, so I just decided to make it. A year later, it’s almost finished.
  • Midweek Lenten services. We are using Holden Evening Prayer, which is one of my favorite services of the year. I even got to cantor last week, which was a neat experience.

Three Things I’m Looking Forward To:

  • March is a great month. Not only is it Staff Appreciation Month at UNT (i.e., free food aplenty and lots of events on campus), but it’s also my birth month! Happy!
  • I get a little break starting next week. I’m going to use my days off to go to the old school reunion at the club one weekend and visit my parents the next.
  • I’ve started my final push to finish my Fishbowl manuscript. I’m averaging 1,000 words a day until it’s done. So far, so good!

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer. Hop over and see what others are into!

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THE BEST DAY!!!

New Year’s Day is easily one of my top ten favorite days of the year. Maybe even top five. I love setting new goals or revising old ones. I love – if even for just a day – looking forward and being intentionally cheerful about what the year might bring. I looooove breaking in my new planner – saying my official goodbye and thank you to last year’s calendar with its scuffs and battle scars and breaking out the shiny new one.

My word for the year is “core.” I have a pretty strong sense of what is important to me and what traits I want to cultivate the most, but this year is devoted to saying those things out loud (or at least on the internet). I am going to talk more about this later this week, but by the end of the year, I want to see a marked improvement in how my core values shape my goals, commitments, and strength.

I have listed a lot of goals and dreams for the year in my 52 Lists journal, and I won’t bog you down with all of them. But here are the key ones:

  1. Read 100 books. That’s just two a week with a couple of weeks off. That’s how much I read when I am reading consistently. Reading grounds and calms me. I fall out of the habit when I over-commit to other things that leave me drained and stressed, so ideally this goal will help me do more reading and less stressing this year.
  2. Make some of these books really long ones. Specifically, I want to read Don Quixote, Infinite Jest, and Anna Karenina.
  3. Finish the first draft of Fishbowl. My hard deadline for this is June 15, so the year’s end may even find me in revision mode. But the first step is just to finish.
  4. Finish Epic Meal Planning edits. Possibly even publish?
  5. Continue learning Spanish and read at least one book in Spanish (with minimal dictionary usage) by the end of the year.
  6. Take a solitary writing retreat. Criteria: 1) outside Denton, 2) two days minimum, and 3) no Internet.
  7. Go to a coffee shop or wine bar at least once a month. Write more about coffee shops.
  8. Build up my emergency fund and get back in the habit of paying off credit cards fully every month. I’ve lapsed a little, and I don’t like it.
  9. Financial/health combo goal – actually use my gym membership regularly or cancel it. Paying for something I don’t use is ridiculous. So is being sedentary.
  10. Try at least one new recipe a month. My meal planning is in a rut. I need new ideas. Feel free to post your favorites in the comments section.

What do you want your 2018 to look like?

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Friday Five2

I spent today shopping for future book club books and completing my meal planning, budget, and writing calendars for January, so I am prepped and ready for the new year. I will complete the obligatory year-in-review post on Sunday, but I’m looking forward to the year ahead. Here are some things that resonate with my 2017 and some things I’m excited about in 2018.

  1. I LOOOOVE this piece by Jess Zimmerman on Catapult on claiming your complexity. This sums up a lot of what I have journaled secretly in this year of wild. I’m still picking apart what to let loose and what to keep, if not hidden, then at least secluded.
  2. My favorite food author this year (and easily top five every other year I’ve been reading her) is Joy Wilson. I haven’t done as much cooking this year as in the past (my kitchen and I haven’t quite meshed yet. We have issues.), but her writing has made me remember that I do love it and will find my groove and get back to it someday. I love her blog. I loved both Over Easy (coffee, breakfast, and cocktails) and Homemade Decadence (soooo many desserts – it almost has me convinced I can make a cake and not screw it up).
  3. Modern Mrs. Darcy has her reading challenge for 2018 posted! Yay!
  4. So does Book Riot! Yay!
  5. And the thing I am looking forward to the most next month? The 24in48 Readathon! Good time to get a jump start on those reading challenges. Sign-ups are open. Let me know if you sign up so we can read together. I mean, not together. Separately in our own houses. But at the same time.

What are you looking forward to in the next month?

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TW: eating disorders

I read a book tonight called Binary Star by Sarah Gerard. The main character was anorexic and bulimic, so it had the potential to be a little triggery for me. It wasn’t. I didn’t come away with a need to binge or starve. I ate dinner. I finished my water. I did a couple of loads of laundry. And now here we are.

I was prepared to put it down, though. It would have triggered something earlier in my life. I’m glad I didn’t have to, not only because I like to finish books when I start them but also because not getting triggered was an amazing experience. It’s one I’d like to have again.

I haven’t dabbled with consistent disordered eating or lied about my eating habits in a long time (like, the kind of long you can measure in decades). But I’ve wanted to. At some times more than others. It’s always been there, that unstable feeling like I’m standing at the edge of a canyon and need to concentrate very hard on not toppling right on in.

For a moment, it wasn’t there tonight. I saw the character’s behavior for the downward spiral it was.

Tonight I feel like I’m in my right mind, which is a new feeling for me regarding food issues.

I had a post scheduled to write today about being judged for my weight, both when I was thin and now. More accurately, I had planned to write the first of my nostalgia posts where I take old blog posts and reorganize them slightly to shed new light on the subject. I am going to take rampant liberties with this one.

The original post was about external messages that people (women, specifically) receive about weight and its ties to their perceived worth. That is a conversation I have often, and it is a conversation worth having. These messages are a plague. They’re dangerous. Particularly when they come directly from people we love. And the people who bear the heaviest burden of the effects of these messages are hardly ever the people actually responsible for them.

Tonight, however, I’m thinking more about how people in general and I in particular absorb(ed) messages about body image, process(ed) these messages, and turn(ed) that processing into behavior that’s not always healthy.

I have always suspected that problems can be alleviated but never really go away. I assumed that my history of disordered eating and all the messages that helped to lead me there would mean I’d always be stuck in doing the work of the cycle:

  1. A message is sent. It could be one of the abominable judgy messages, or it could be a message like a book with a character who has some serious eating disorders. It might even be a great message, like body positivity statements.
  2. The message sticks because I absorb it as a trigger.
  3. I reframe my internal reaction to the message. To me, reframing is different from adapting a positive attitude. For starters, the term reframing doesn’t make me want to punch the person who suggests it in the throat. To me, reframing is about getting to the truth of a situation rather than just throwing a blanket of sunshine over it, blindly hoping it will smother anything untoward that lies beneath. I filter through the message’s layers, attempting to separate them into piles of true and false, healthy and unhealthy, helpful and destructive. For the record, this doesn’t always go the way it ought to go, despite very good intentions.
  4. I react/respond with external behavior. Sometimes, I process, and the truth does set me free, and I behave with sanity and reason. More often, there’s no time for that, and the chances of making a good vs. bad choice are about 50/50. Sometimes I think it out and still make bad choices, such as eating more than my body is comfortable holding just because it’s there and I can.

Whew. Are you exhausted? I’m exhausted. If you’ve ever wondered why a person with an addiction or mental health issue can’t just get over it, this is why. Getting over it is hard work. If it weren’t, it never would have been a problem in the first place.

Tonight I caught a glimpse of what it was like to arrest the cycle at stage two. I received a message, and my gut reaction was to see the truth of it. No trigger. No exhausting process just to get through the night intact.

This must be what people with a healthy relationship with food and good body image feel like all the time. It’s incredible. I highly recommend it.

And I have no idea how it happened. I mean, I suspect it has something to do with the years and years (omg the years) of working through that cycle (with and without qualified professionals) with varying degrees of success. But even the thought of that is exhausting, so if you are reading this and it hurts you more than it helps, let me just carry that to the unhelpful pile for you.

Nor am I done. I’m not saying that I’m cured and that I’ll never struggle with food issues or the temptation to engage in disordered eating again. I have no way of knowing that for sure. I kind of doubt it, actually, although that would be really nice. I learned tonight, though, that moments of right-mind, true, gut-reaction, health are possible. And that I want a whole lot more of that.

For all of us.

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