Posts Tagged ‘love thursday’

I love getting mail. And sending it. Especially in this age of email, Facebook, texts and Twitter, receiving something tangible in the mail feels even more like a gift. Related: it’s always fun to make tangible connections with those you meet on the Internet. And who couldn’t use a little extra sparkle in their days? So when I read about Kaileen Elise’s Sparkle Swap, I was in.

I put together a package to send off to Chelsea in Iowa, and about a week later, I got my own parcel in the mail, all the way from Sharni in Australia:

Delicious lemon-ginger tea, two literary pencils, fun postcards, sweet treats, a music mix, a pretty notepad, and other little bits of sparkle. Such fun.

Happy Love Thursday, friends. May you be the recipient of some unexpected (and sparkly) love today.

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Last weekend, J and I hopped in my car and took off for a third anniversary weekend getaway on the Cape – which we’ve been meaning to visit since we moved here. And, well, it wasn’t quite what we expected.

First of all, we got a super late start on Friday, due to too many errands left undone till the last minute. Planning to leave mid-morning and not getting off till 1:30 does not make my clock-watching husband a happy traveler. (Even if, as I reminded him several times, we are not on a schedule.)

Second, as we drove, the weather threatened rain – gray, misty, grim skies – and kept threatening until mid-afternoon Saturday (when it finally decided to shape up and clear up).

Third, who knew you had to pay to go to the beach at Cape Cod? (Clearly we didn’t.) Since it wasn’t beach weather (see above), we didn’t want to shell out $15 for a day pass, so we didn’t actually set foot on a beach the whole weekend.

However, here’s what we did do:

-watched the Orleans Firebirds play baseball on Friday night (on the mistiest field I’ve ever seen)

-ate delicious pizza at Zia’s in East Orleans

-browsed at the delightful Main Street Books in Orleans

-drank hot chocolate at the Hot Chocolate Sparrow

-fell asleep in a little peach-colored room tucked up under the eaves at the lovely Inn at the Oaks, and played Frisbee in the backyard

-toured the Cape Cod Light, and gazed openmouthed at the views of beach and hill and ocean

-quizzed each other on Trivial Pursuit questions and drew on the butcher-paper tablecloth with crayons, while waiting for our dinner at the Saltwater Grille

-played miniature golf at the Gift Barn

-enjoyed exploring and laughing and being together – and rolling with it when a few doses of the unexpected came our way. Because that’s really what marriage is about, isn’t it?

Happy Love Thursday, all. May you have an adventure this week with someone you love.

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Since my beloved Bethany, college roommate and friend extraordinaire, got engaged in December, I’d been anticipating her wedding weekend in Nashville. I bought a dress, booked a plane ticket and hotel room, found her some pretty lingerie and a custom cake server, and packed a suitcase with warm-weather clothes (and, ahem, four books). We woke up waaay before dawn on Thursday to catch a 5:15 flight out of Boston. And the next three days were pure friendship and fun and giggles.

(Bridesmaids. Yes, I know we’re cool. Don’t be jealous.)

Of course, the ceremony was beautiful; they’re so much in love; I’m thrilled for them; etc. But what makes these wedding weekends so much fun is being there for your friends – decorating, chauffeuring, helping make decisions and fix makeup and set up tables and straighten veils and reassuring the bride’s sister that, no, the cake is not going to fall. (It didn’t. Though it did lean.)

(I don’t know what Abi is saying. But I love these faces.)

I loved all of it. All of it. Walking down the aisle to “Africa” (which is, for some unknown reason, Chad’s theme song) and taking goofy pictures before and after the ceremony and making sure the garter stayed where it was supposed to and calling the groom from the bride’s cell phone after she left it at the church. (Fortunately, they were only a few miles down the road, so they circled back for it, still with birdseed in their hair and lipstick on their car windows.)

The other best part of these weekends is being there with your friends. Namely, five of us squishing into a hotel room and quoting Friends all weekend; relaxing with the girlies as we all sat side by side getting spa pedicures on Friday; catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in six months or a year or three years; grabbing frozen yogurt with a newly-returned-to-Nashville friend and her husband, who grew up in a town 50 miles from mine. It felt so good, all weekend, to be with old friends, and to relax into being known.

(Amanda and her daughter Virginia came up from Abilene, to hug the bride. Abi, Kelsey and I, on the right, were all bridesmaids.)

(Stealing kisses from the bride, who has called my husband her “roommate-in-law” for years.)

Happy Love Thursday. May you spend at least part of this day with people who love you.

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This year, Valentine’s Day coincided with my first day at a new job. We hadn’t planned a big splash, anyway, since it fell on a Monday, and we’d celebrated early with a yummy dinner date in the North End at the weekend (the best lasagna I’ve ever had, finished off with cannoli from – where else? – Mike’s.)

However, I’d been hankering to make Jen’s Valentine sugar cookies, and I was also brain-tired and longing to do something tactile when I got home on Monday. So I tied on my favorite striped apron and began pulling ingredients out of the pantry.

The first thing I noticed? We had no powdered sugar. So I shed the apron, pulled on my coat, and dashed to Walgreen’s, just up the street. No dice. They had regular sugar, but no powdered. I headed home, and discovered via the Internet that if you don’t have powdered sugar, you can in fact make your own – by whizzing regular sugar and a little cornstarch in the blender. Excellent.

When I opened the flour canister, I realized there was no way I had enough flour to make a whole batch of cookies. So I halved the recipe. (The hubs doesn’t have a raging sweet tooth anyway, although I do.)

Problem #3: Not enough shortening. So I substituted butter, hoping it would work. (It did.) And started to wonder if I should have even bothered – but by then, of course, I’d poured half the ingredients into a bowl. So I pressed on, mixing, chilling, whisking up some pink icing (no sprinkles, but the pink looked properly festive), rolling and baking.

And when J walked in, as I was putting the cookies onto sheets, his face lit up. And – bonus! – he had brought me a Valentine cupcake from their office potluck.

I could have given up on the cookies for lack of flour, sugar, shortening, sprinkles, energy or the will to fuss with it. But I’m so glad I didn’t. Because even with limited, imperfect ingredients, I was still able to make something special for my love. And – true to form – he walked out of the kitchen later, munching on a cookie, and declared, “These are delicious.”

Happy Love Thursday, all. May you find some sweetness today.

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Today I have to tell you about my friend Serenity.

We’ve never actually met in real life, though I hope to remedy that someday. She fought cancer a few years ago, while pregnant with her third son, and won – by which I mean, she was declared cancer-free, and Jake was born healthy (and has remained so, I’m happy to say). Serenity has been fighting the cancer again this winter, first with surgery and then with a few rounds of chemo. And through it all, she has remained her honest, brilliant, loving, optimistic, thoroughly plucky self. The woman’s got spunk. And she can write.

If you are the kind of person who prays, please join me (and others) in praying that her cancer goes away and never comes back. And if you enjoy thoughtful, funny, sparkling, well-written posts about books, Hollywood, family, travel, the writing life and “trying to matter,” head on over and check out her site. And drop her a comment. And let her know that you’re thinking of her, as she fights her way through this journey.

Happy Love Thursday, all. May you treasure those you love today – and from me to you, here’s a midwinter bouquet.

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This is my Bethany.

We lived together for two years in college, in a little red-brick house on 16th Street in Abilene. We took lots of classes together (after I and several other friends finally convinced her to become an English major). We stayed up late at night talking and laughing and writing papers, and we watched Pirates of the Caribbean and The Emperor’s New Groove and You’ve Got Mail repeatedly (and we still quote them copiously). We also wound up living together the summer after college, in my sister’s little house a few blocks away, while we both job-hunted and worked our student jobs and tried to figure out what the heck we were going to do with our lives. We called that our “borrowed time,” and oh, it was sweet and fun and generally wonderful, if a little stressful at times.

Bethany lives in Nashville now, for the second time, after moving back to Abilene in ’08 and living near the rest of our little crew for a blissful year and a half. (More “borrowed time” – how many people are lucky enough to have their best friends right down the street?) We stopped in and stayed with her on our way to Boston this summer, and we keep up on Facebook and Twitter and by phone, though I do miss her keenly.

A few weeks ago, Bethany (who has been dating Chad seriously for a while now) called both Abi and me on a Sunday night, and when we called her back (because we suspected something was up), she exclaimed over the speakerphone, “I’m engaged!” And there was much squealing and congratulations and bubbly joy from all three of us.

Then, this week, she called me, and we talked for an hour and a half, about Christmas and families and weddings and all sorts of lovely things. And in the middle of it all, she asked me to be her maid of honor when she marries Chad in June.

Of course I said yes.

I am so honored to stand next to this lovely girl who has gone through all sorts of things with me, and who stood up with me at my own wedding, two summers ago. It will be a day to remember. And one more lovely milestone in a friendship that has changed my life.

Happy Love Thursday, all. May you find love wherever you look today.

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As you may remember, I turned 27 a couple of weeks ago. J and I celebrated with a dinner date in the North End – pasta and some yummy pastries – but I wanted to have a party too, a chance to gather with friends and play games and laugh. It’s what our House 9 crew did in college, what our Abilene crew did every time it was someone’s birthday. And I miss having people over to our house – it’s been a rare thing so far in Boston, since we’re still getting settled and our friends are scattered all over the city.

So we threw a party. A Tex-Mex festival, actually. With chicken burritos and my guacamole, Nate’s homemade salsa and lots of tortilla chips. Daniel brought seven-layer dip, Shanna brought queso and everyone brought chips. And Abi made decadent chocolate cupcakes, frosted with cream cheese icing, each one topped with a single raspberry. (She knows me so, so well.)

It was a curious but wonderful mix of old friends and new ones, friends from Abilene and friends from Boston. It felt, as Abi said, like old times in Abilene – and yet it felt new too.

We missed the rest of our party group from Abilene – Kelsey and Jake and Sarah, Bailey and Luke and Bethany, Lawson and Morgan and Drew, and others. But it was such fun to have Daniel and Isaac and Shanna, and Beth and Scott, with us.

Everyone hung around the table, dipping chips into the four dip bowls and talking and laughing. We devoured burritos and chips and cupcakes and Beth’s chili-powder-laced brownies. We played Encore (always a gamble with a new group of people) and sang crazy song lyrics and hooted with laughter. And when it was over, I had that warm glow that comes from spending time with good friends.

We’re still adjusting to life here in Boston, still finding our rhythm and settling in. But I am so glad we’re already finding our people. We brought some of them with us, of course – but it’s great to be living the Boston life together, and making new friends along the way.

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I love Dr. Brene Brown’s blog. She writes about her research on shame, guilt, courage, authenticity and related topics at Ordinary Courage. She also writes about her family, her adorable kids and her love for Texas, and does occasional wacky inspiration interviews and frequent TGIF (Trust Gratitude Inspiration Friday) posts.

Anyway, in honor of the launch of her new book, The Gifts of Imperfection, she’s invited us all to share in protesting perfection. To stand up and say, boldly and bravely, that being our best selves is not about being perfect, but rather about being authentic, messy and wholehearted.

So here’s my perfect protest sign – scribbled on the back of a piece of used computer paper. (Also note the flyaway hair, the lack of makeup and – though  you can’t see them – my ripped jeans, my own ragged, beloved “traveling pants.”)

Won’t you join me in speaking out against the myth of perfection today? What would your sign say? (If you write your own sign and want to post a photo, you can also go to Brene’s site and leave a link to your site.)

Happy Love Thursday, all. May you find more freedom in authenticity today than you ever found in perfection.

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I’m thinking today about the in-between places, since we’re heading into one right now. Our current transition, of course, involves moving from one home to another, changing jobs, churches, etc…but I’m thinking about several physical places I’ve landed when I’ve been in between jobs, houses, school years or chapters of life.

One summer in college, I house-sat for my friend Sarah and her sister Mary, taking care of their little town house and their dachshund, Andie. I was working at my beloved Ground Floor Coffee House, and I treasured those long, quiet days alone. I slept on navy-blue satin sheets and ate my meals in a kitchen covered in bright scraps of origami. (Mary had one of those Origami-a-Day calendars, and the results were all over the place.) I played with Andie, who was sweet and brown-eyed and snuggly, and one or both of us spent many evening hours outside, in the freestanding porch swing, rocking back and forth and watching the stars.

I also used to house-sit for my friend Kendra, and take care of her big, goofy black lab, Jerry. Their house was north of town on Tejas Street, with a backyard for Jerry to run and dirt roads where we could walk or run together. My friend Jamie would come over and we’d cook dinner, and I burned mix CDs of country music off Kendra’s computer. And I’d watch the sunrise out my driver’s side window as I drove south down Big Spring St. to open up the Ground Floor.

The summer after college, I moved into my sister’s pink room in her college house, three blocks from my college house, while she was in Midland for the summer, and I was drifting. My sweet Bethany wound up moving in too, for the summer, into Leah’s purple room across the hall, and Leigh Anne lived in the room next to mine, and the three of us became firm friends. We watched Pirates of the Caribbean and Clue and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants; we ate copious amounts of chocolate; we agonized with Leigh Anne over her summer classes and B and I applied for jobs and worried about where we’d go next. We all cried when we had to hug good-bye. It was a perfect summer, a safe, happy one, cradling us before the big scary beginning of life after college.

I moved from that room into Mary Kate’s little green room in Tim and Julie’s house, while I searched for a job and an apartment, and found both within a month or two. I loved living with them – eating dinner with Tim in their cozy kitchen, talking to Julie about work and books and life, hearing Lucy (their other daughter) listening to the Dixie Chicks and the Indigo Girls in her room. Most of all, I loved watching the sunrise through their kitchen window, as nectarines and avocados ripened in the morning light. And knowing I was safe and loved – that was best of all.

I’ve been blessed in my in-between places. And today I’m remembering that, as I head into yet another one very soon.

Happy Love Thursday, all. I hope you love and feel loved today.

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My sweet husband and I celebrated our second anniversary with a long weekend trip to Houston and Austin. (The official date was Monday.) I know I’m a few days late – been unpacking, doing laundry, catching up with friends, tending to my plants and house and soul. It was a good, rich trip. And it’s been a good, rich two years. Better and bigger and more complicated and more fun than I ever dreamed.

Happy Love Thursday, all. More soon.

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