Archive for the ‘What I’m Into’ Category

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The thing I’m into the most right now? These boots.

Most of the month has involved making and talking about plans for the year. What I spent most of January doing was talking about what I’m going to be into, so it seems fitting to discuss both here.

I got off to a slow start with my reading this year. I only read four books, but I enjoyed them all. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson were beautifully written. Andi Cumbo-Floyd’s first novel, Steele Secrets, is officially coming out on February 9, but I got a sneak peak, and I loved it. Thursday, I’ll post an interview with Andi in which she talks more about the book and the characters, but you should just go ahead and order your copy now. I also read Jen Lancaster’s The Tao of Martha, and she was hilarious and fantastic as always (except for that part about her dog. That wasn’t funny. I know – spoilers. I just want you to be emotionally prepared, if that’s even possible.).

I enjoyed The Tao of Martha so much that I am reading her My Fair Lazy now with Maggie. We used to read books at the same time, and I’m happy to be doing that again and even happier that it’s a book by someone we both fangirl pretty hard over. I’m pretty sure I’ve read this one before, but it’s been a while. The details are fuzzy in my memory.

 I’ve begun stacking books that are on my next-to-read list on top of my liquor cabinet.

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Making an appearance this month (probably) are Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, Shonda Rhimes’s Year of Yes, Oriah’s The Invitation, and Kate Bolick’s SpinsterPreston Yancey’s Out of the House of Bread might be the book I’m most excited about right now. I took his Sacramental Baking course one summer, and this is the book that came out of that course. In fact, he’s going to be teaching through the book in late February, and it will be worth every penny.

A lot of my specific goals for the year mostly involve getting up off the couch – you know, going out and talking to people. As humans do. I also got a slow start on that, but I made it to Mallorie’s make-and-take oils party Friday night. I was a little congested on Saturday, but the chest rub we made helped that a lot (and also left my skin super soft, because coconut oil). In February, Michelle and I have a Galentine’s weekend planned, and she and Tammy both have birthdays coming up, so I foresee outings involved there. And at long last, supper club returns the last Sunday of the month!

January was a blur. Maybe I’ll be more present in February. That, too, is something to look forward to.

 I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer. Hop over and tell us what you’re into!

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In no particular order, here are the highlights of my December.

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 1. Advent –

Quite possibly my favorite season of the liturgical year. Or maybe it’s just the only one I’m good at. I understand what it’s like to wait. Oh, how I understand waiting and all the complications that go with it. I put journal prompts in the pockets of my Advent calendar, and I got to go to mid-week services this year, which at least made the waiting less lonely.

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 2. A lesson in carols –

Our choir prepared extra songs for one of the services. It reminded me of being part of Christmas cantatas when I was younger. I didn’t even know I had missed doing that until this month.

 3. Person of Interest –

I LOVE THIS SHOW. I have watched through Season 4. If I cave and get cable, this show might be the reason.

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 4. Holiday snacks –

Another great thing about this time of year is the delicious snacking. I have had a ridiculous amount of sugar this month.

 5. A finals week without finals –

Finals week was pretty much just another week at work. It was a little busier with people handing in their keys before they left for the break, but no classes meant no grading, no constant barrage of emails from students who waited until the last possible moment to care about their grades, and no voice messages from the department secretary telling me that a student called because I hadn’t answered their email (that they sent an hour ago) and could I please call them back. It was such a peaceful week. I could get used to that.

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 6. Poetry class –

I am loving Beth Morey’s Poetry Is course (and her My Fearless Year 2016 mini-course – check it out – only $12) and the books that go with it. I have had sort of a dry spell with reading, but Poemcrazy and Writing Down the Bones have been an indulgent retreat.

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 7. Stephanie getting married –

My friend Steph got married! I am so happy for her and thrilled that I could be there for her special day.

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 8. Spending time with family –

Growing up, the picture you see above never would have happened at my parents’ house. Animals belonged outside, and if you wanted to play with them, you would just have to go outside, too. Now, Lola has her own special spots in the house where she likes to sit. Dad’s lap is one such spot.

 I went shopping with Tammy yesterday and found all sorts of treasures (Christmas tree – $20!). Then we spent the evening watching Once Upon a Time. We’re almost through season three. I cannot handle how much I like this show.

 9. Two weeks of vacation

I’ve had a restful (well…more restful. My neighborhood is loud and obnoxious) two weeks. Monday, I go back to work and have a little over a week to ease back into being there before the residents return.

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 10. Not putting up a Christmas tree –

Apparently, I used all my decorating energy on the Advent calendar, because I could not get motivated to put up a Christmas tree this year. About a week before Christmas, I finally admitted that it wasn’t going to happen. The candy canes on the curtain rods would just have to do.


 I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer. Hop over and tell us what you’re into this month!

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Superheroes and villains. Family and pie.

In other words – the essentials.

I spent NaNoWriMo fleshing out a new story wherein the main character is a superhero who currently has telepathy and mad combat skills. Her powers are up in the air – I had a lot of fun writing different scenes where she has different powers and seeing how that would play out. In the end, my favorite scenes (or the ones that I can actually piece together and make into a story) will probably dictate what her powers will be. I only finished about 10,000 words, but I love her, so this will be a story I revisit.

Of course, this meant I watched a lot of Smallville. You know, for inspiration. And trips down fandom memory lane. And eye candy.

Thanksgiving was fun but seemed rushed. I took the whole week off last week so that I could have two days of getting-things-done and be able to relax when we went to see the parents on Wednesday instead of spending the holiday making lists of all the things I needed to remember to do when we got home Sunday. Of course, like a fool, I then told people I took the whole week off, and because I would much rather have dinner and hang out with people I miss than clean my nasty apartment…well…that’s how that went.

You’re right. I totally told them on purpose.

To-do list completely not done, we left around noon on Wednesday to travel to the parents’ house. This was my view:

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Love that sky.

But I still managed to relax a little at Thanksgiving, although my lists on my phone are out of control now and I might never get them done. We had traditional fare and lots of dessert. I ate four different kinds of pie (over the course of the weekend, to be clear). There was coconut cream pie and chocolate meringue pie and lemon pudding pie and because that went so well (and so quickly), a chocolate pudding pie. There was also a pecan pie, but I am not a fan, so I left that one to others.

I really love pie, y’all.

The weather is finally exactly how I like it. Cold. And not the “cold” that some people start complaining about in late October when it dips slightly below 70. Like…ice has formed. I mean, not here. But at my parents’ house –

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Ice on the kitchen window.

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Frozen vines and icicles on the trellis in the backyard.

I didn’t read a lot this month, but it definitely had a theme to it. Holidays apparently make me want to look at my relationship with food. I picked Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi for my memoir/biography discussion for book club. She already had me at this:

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This is the best, rawest, most honest capture of what it’s like to have an eating disorder that I’ve ever read. Sometimes, it was like reading pages out of my own journals from my late teens/early twenties. It would be tempting to write a memoir on this subject from a heavy now-looking-back perspective – to rush to lessons learned and mountains moved. But she didn’t do that, and that’s why this book is so important. She takes you through the details of her thoughts and feelings, which, if you’ve ever thought and felt similar things, doesn’t give you the chance to say, “Well, that’s not me.” It hits you in the gut and makes you deal with it. I cannot recommend this book enough.

I also read a lot of Mireille Guiliano. I loved the food philosophy (i.e., common sense) of French Women Don’t Get Fat, so I tried French Women for All Seasons (I liked it…and found it charming that she included sections on how to tie scarves in each season…but otherwise meh) and Women, Work, and the Art of Savoir Faire (I found some parts very useful and some parts very baffling). She reminds me a little of my mother.

So that’s what I’ve been into this month. What have you been doing/eating/reading?

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – click the button below and join us!

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Because Fall.

Fall food is my favorite food. October didn’t have quite the sharp coolness that I wanted, but I feel like I ushered in the season in my heart with food and habits.

I made so much beer bread last month. I used a slight variation of my friend Mel’s recipe, which is super easy – Mix 3 cups self-rising flour and one beer (I use Corona or a similar beverage), put it in a greased loaf pan (that’s right – no kneading necessary), pour half a stick of melted butter on top, and bake it for about an hour at 350 degrees. It is good with soup (and also with gravy, but we won’t talk about that).

I also made a lot of lasagna and stacked enchiladas, and I quite possibly ate my weight in kettle corn. It was not a health food month.

For someone who spent almost every day blogging about books, I certainly did not read that many. Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones was nice. I enjoyed that.

I spent most of my TV hours watching My Boys (ah, that takes me back) at home and Once Upon A Time at my sister’s house. Whoever told me that I would loooooove OUAT? You were utterly correct. It’s so clever and awesome, and I want all of the evil queen’s clothes/costumes. Also…Hook. I don’t care if he’s bad, I am a big, big fan.

But the main thing I was into this October? Knitting. I knitted like a madwoman.

I finished a blanket that I started over three years ago:

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I started and finished a whole new lap blanket:

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I made several scarves:

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All of these projects barely made a dent in my yarn stash. I don’t know what triggers these knitting frenzies, but I’m glad I have them every once in a while. My house would be overrun with yarn.

What have you been into this October

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Right now, I’m into anything that keeps me cool. I’m dreaming of boot weather and soup while wearing sandals and eating sherbet. I feel like I’m living multiple lives.

In face-to-face life, the sister has started physical therapy and is progressing. We may take tap lessons when she’s up and jumping again. School has started, and part-time staff is hired and trained (HALLELUJAH). I have finished slicing off the unnecessary parts of Feast, and now I’m writing new words again. I am teaming up with two other folk from my supper club to write/read/edit. It will be my first primarily in-person writing group (if you don’t count English classes in college, which I don’t).

In reading life, I’ve been working on the reading challenge (very slowly) and have become enamored with The Goldfinch. I have also read two friends’ books this month, and you should check them out – L.V. Smith’s Remember Us and Andi Cumbo-Floyd’s Writing Day In and Day Out.

In Instagram Life, I’ve been participating in Susannah Conway‘s August Break Challenge. Here are some of my favorite shots from the month:

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In online reading life, here are some of my favorite pieces:

“This table is large enough for every one of us. There’s space for you and for me, there’s room for my quirkiness and space your solemnity.  Even our messy, big, sometimes embarrassing emotions can’t rob this table of its nourishment.  Jesus’ is never scared away by our truest selves.” There’s Room at this Table. Come – Osheta Moore

“But then I shook hands with the woman who tore hate from the sky, and I knew that I didn’t have a choice. I knew that I would have to take a stand.” Grit Calls Out to Grit – Abby Norman via SheLoves Magazine

“Governor Kasich thinks the problem with teachers is the teacher’s lounge. The problem with teachers is this: we are having to deal with laws that are being passed by people who have not one single clue as to what our job entails or how we do it.”  What Teacher’s Lounge? Some Information for Governor Kasich by Abby Norman (who is on fire this month)

“I am an angry, black woman. What I am not is irrational, fickle or immoral because of my anger over oppression. I am an angry, black, Christian woman and proud of it. I am proud of all those who are angered over injustice and oppression. I am proud of all those who resist, protest, write, march, rap, organize, and advocate out of a deep belief that no one is worthy of oppression. May we be as angry as God at the powers and principalities that let injustice thrive.” God is Not Sad – Austin Channing

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This is going to be short and sweet. I’m not that into July. Because OMG hot. I’m into July being over.

Y’all.  Y’ALL. You know how much I love Nina Simone.

Well. WELL:

Here, there was originally a great video of Lauryn Hill singing Feelin’ Good on the Tonight Show, but it has been taken down. If you haven’t seen it, you’re going to want to Google it. If you have seen it, you know you’re going to want to Google it again.

God bless Lauryn Hill. I need that album. NEED.

(I will make real sentences soon.)

To watch (other than that video, of course):

My sister and I have been watching White Collar. I just love this show. My heart cannot accept that it was canceled.

I blame the charm of Neal Caffrey for my sudden need to watch old Robert Redford/Paul Newman movies (think The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) this month.

To read:

My favorite thing I’ve read this month is Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. If I were to be an advice columnist, this is exactly the advice I would give. I have never agreed so fully and adamantly with pretty much everything someone said in a book as I did with this one.

To do:

It’s been a busy month, but I’ve been into the usual things – book clubs, supper club, random outings with friends. I did make time to enjoy this glorious thing:

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It’s a cold brew from Harvest House with a little vanilla bourbon tucked inside. HAPPY.

And that’s pretty much been the month.

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – join us and tell us what you’re into!

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Every year, June tries to make me love summer. It doesn’t succeed, but it’s persistent in its effort. This summer it almost had me.

I mean – just look at it –

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June, you gorgeous thing.

Of course, now the temperatures are climbing, and I’m in a constant state of being a snack for bugs, so any potential goodwill I had toward summer is now out the window. But June tried. Oh, it tried!

I started the month off at my parents’ farm. I originally planned the trip to help with their planters, but they had already finished the ones they are going to put out this year by the time I got there. So I helped them watch TV and eat a lot of food. I am very helpful in both those regards. It was such a relaxing week.

I saw two movies in the theater this month. Of course, I had to go see Pitch Perfect 2. It was pretty funny. Before I went to see it, my friend Kim said, “I just want to say two words – We Belong. Best part.” It really was. I laughed and laughed. I also went to see Spy. It was hilarious, but that’s not even the thing I liked most about it. When I read that Melissa McCarthy was cast as an agent, I expected the movie to make her out to be this bumbling, lovable character who succeeds despite her incompetence. But no. She kicked ass. They specifically cast someone who doesn’t fit the physical stereotype of the role and then make her awesome at it. Also, Jason Statham is adorable and funny. Favorite thing I’ve seen in a theater in a long time.

It has been a roller coaster of a news month. Between the police incident in McKinney and the shooting in Charleston and all consenting adults actually being able to marry the consenting adult of their choice in all 50 states and black churches burning…whew.  I really have to get a computer at home again, because my poor little phone just can’t keep up. I’m going to write more about this tomorrow, but this month, I’m really into my church. The way they have brought these stories to the foreground of our discussions and have not shied away from the parts that make us uneasy and constantly ask what work we have to do – I just love it there.

Another wonderful thing that happened this month is a little cherub named Savvy turned three:

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She started out pretty subdued at her party, but before long, she was a little burst of joy:

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I just love that giggle.

I read so much this month. Most of the things I read has some sort of justice theme running through them, which seems fitting. My favorite novels were Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor (AMAZING end to this trilogy) and Peaches for Father Francis by Joanne Harris. I also bathed in the poetry of Nayyirah Waheed – Salt was my favorite collection.

My dad and I bond over The Chew, so I took a couple of Carla Hall’s cookbooks with me when I visited. I liked Cooking with Love, but I liked Carla’s Comfort Foods better. I blame her for my newfound obsession with tarragon (particularly in a lemon cream sauce). And if I ever meet her, I’m going to thank her for teaching me what no one else in my life has before – how to get perfect rice by baking it. Did any of you know how to do this and just not tell me? It’s so simple, and it makes so much sense (basically, bring water and rice to a boil and then cover it and put it in a 350-degree oven to steam). How have I lived this long and not known this?!

You can see more of what I’ve read this month (and this year, for that matter) at my Goodreads page.

My favorite thing about this June is that it has been infused with dance.

I read Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit, and seventeen pages of notes later, all these stories of dance have kicked my writing life back into gear. I am going to be processing it for a long time.

As always, I am loving So You Think You Can DanceI haven’t made it through all the auditions yet, because I keep rewatching the ones I like. I get so excited for them when they get that ticket to Vegas!

And I don’t know if you heard me squealing with delight all the way from where you are, but Misty Copeland, one of my favorite dancers of all time, became the first black female principal dancer of the American Ballet Theater.

This June made a beautiful case for summer.

I’m linking up with Leigh Kramer – come join us and tell us what your June was like!

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