A Small Recommendation

I have recently found a new addiction (a little later than everyone else…): Downton Abbey. Oh, yes friends. It is everything that was promised and more. I’m sure that’s partially because I am exactly within their target viewership, partially because Julian Fellowes is brilliant, and the rest simply because I was sick and forced to sit still long enough to watch it.

This post is NOT, however, about the show. You can read reviews elsewhere. This post IS about the resulting rekindling of an older and far more beloved addiction.

I watched every single episode of Downton Abbey available to me in the span of 3 days (the entire first season in one night) and am now awaiting the newest episode to air on Sunday. In the interim, I decided to read something that would keep my mind in a similar “feeling.”

I ran through a list of highly appropriate novels, the kind that if there were a list, “If you love ‘Downton Abbey.’ you should read…”
they would all be on it.

For example…

If you love “Downton Abbey,” you should read:
1. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
2. Atonement by Ian McEwan
3. Behind the Scenes at the Museum by Kate Atkinson
4. The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood
5. Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
6. Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
(Oh, look! This is almost directly from Dr. Reed’s Contemporary British Fiction syllabus!)

The list continues… There is such a wealth of literature from those dear isles and any time I think about picking up one of those books, I can feel a deep settling in my soul, like I have found a comfortable chair in front of the fire with a cup of Russian Caravan tea at my side. They speak to me in ways I cannot articulate (although I’m sure the PhD I dream of pursuing would change that…)

So I’m going over the list of all these wonderful novels I love so much and I realize that either I have read them recently or my copy is in storage. Dilemma!

I am racking my brain for an engaging, satisfying British read…and then I realize I haven’t read through the Harry Potter series in awhile! It may not be anywhere near the vein that I was striving to find but by goodness, it is BRITISH.

People, it wasn’t just genius, it was next to divine intervention. I don’t think I’ve read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” since before college. Merciful heavens! I reread many of the later novels as the movies were released but I hadn’t revisited the first few in what now feels like ages.

The richness of this rereading moves beyond rewarding. It has been so long, it is almost as if I am reading them for the first time. I have no recollection of experiencing that before. It’s fantastic! I am absolutely going to reread the whole series. What an utter delight! Such a sweet and unexpected pleasure to be able to pick the book up again and have to get reacquainted. I am looking forward to this immensely and it should carry me through a few weeks if I don’t sacrifice sleep to read (yeah, right).

So my recommendation to you this week is to go back to a book you love or find a new one that you just KNOW will speak to you, read it and feel loved and honored that someone out there in the world chose to share their story with you. It is more precious than we realize.

Cheers, friends and happy reading!

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Resourcefulness turns tasty

I would love to be like the Pioneer Woman and have enough recipes and enough (interesting) stories that people decide to pay me to just be myself and blog about it. So I’m blogging about dinner tonight. Probably should have taken a picture to make it legit but the leftovers are already in the fridge.

I have been sick, Eva came home from school with a fever, so dinner needed to be simple and quick. Enchiladas!

We had enchilada sauce, tortillas and chicken that we’d cooked in the crock pot a couple days ago. I got everything out and shredded the chicken and quickly realized that three ingredients were NOT going to make a yummy dinner. So I go to grab some onion or peppers or something… we don’t have any. But I am hooked on this onion idea. What could I substitute? Vidalia Onion dip leftover from Super Bowl Sunday. One of my mom’s signature dishes and a family favorite, it’s made with cream cheese, vidalia onions, water chestnuts, and dry white wine. Yes, creamy oniony goodness. So I warm that up and toss it in with the chicken.

…not satisfied. Wait, I have frozen chopped spinach! Success is near! Thawed and drained and thrown in the bowl. I fill the tortillas with my creamy chicken and spinach mixture, cover with the enchilada sauce, and toss in the convection oven at 375 degrees for 12 minutes.

Oh, people. It was divine. The Vidalia Onion dip had just enough savory creaminess to make the chicken and spinach really balanced and smooth and the enchilada sauce spiced it up and gave it another layer of flavor depth. And the best part is we probably would have thrown the leftover dip away in a couple days so I prevented some waste in the process! Yay me! Dinner adventure for the win.

And now I’m going to cuddle my feverish baby and prayer we wake up healthier. Good night, folks!

Brainpower

Irony is always appreciated, isn’t it? After posting about how I’m too young to this and too young to that, my best friend and I had a long conversation about how old we feel because our twenties are basically over and we would rather have a full night of sleep than get dressed up for a night out on the town.

Let’s just be honest; I don’t stay positive for long.

I recently rediscovered my writing portfolio from college and naively decided to read through a paper which I was particularly proud of for my Shakespeare: Tragedies class. All I could think was, “Wow, I was really smart.” Really, Abby? I have the same brain, don’t I? Actually, I belong to the school of thought that believes–dare i say, KNOWS–that women’s brains are transmogrified during childbirth into barely recognizable mush that only desires babies, food and Pinterest. So it is in fact, NOT the same brain that wrote those papers. How sad. My vocabulary is probably 40% of what it was in college. 15% if you include foreign languages as well. (I shudder!)

Today at lunch, I utterly bemoaned my sad mental descent into stupidity. To which my astute friend replied, “You just need to work on being smarter.”

Indignation exploded!

Wait… he was right. (Somebody owes me a cookie for saying that…)

Moms, how do we do that? I would ask my single, childfree friends but most of them are currently working on Master’s and Doctorate degrees and I probably couldn’t hold a conversation with them about this without sinking into the deepest depths of despair and jealousy.

I think blogging is probably good for me. Reading great literature? Watching Downton Abbey? What else is there? I don’t even remember what life was like without Eva. Which is probably God’s gift to me so that I cherish this way of life for what it is instead of focusing on what it’s not.

I’m just asking. If you know, let me know. Although, I will remind you lucky SAHMs that I do have to tackle a 40+ hr a week job in the mix, too. Going back to school isn’t an option right now or believe me I would already be there.

Suggestions welcomed. Comments always enjoyed. Hope you are all having a good Monday.

Why yes, I am too young to ____. Thanks.

“Aren’t you too young to be selling me wine?” –concerned/comical wine shop buyer just last week.

What a compliment! Thanks! At 27, that question means that the gray hair I can’t afford to color isn’t too noticeable.

Score :  Abby: 5; Life: 743.

The last memorable experience I had of someone inquiring about my age was during my pregnancy. I was 22 and waiting tables and an older woman asked, “Aren’t you a little young to be having a baby?”

“Why, yes ma’am. I am in fact too young. But that isn’t stopping me.”

Being a single mother ages me in ways that I still don’t fully comprehend. And that’s ok. I wouldn’t trade it for hundreds of hours of free time, a third of my income allocated to fun instead of childcare, or anything else in the world. It is the most rewarding and challenging thing I have ever done. And I am constantly learning more about parenting, Eva, and myself. Those are good things to write about. I know a bit about wine and food, a lot about literature, but I know a whole heckuva lot about being a single mom.

So there will probably a happy mix of things but I will *attempt* to focus it on the way Eva and I impact each other’s lives. At the end of the day, it’s about keeping a positive perspective which is one of my life’s greatest challenges. If I get negative, call me Eeyore and tell me to buck up. Now that Eva is (almost) 4 years old and the dreaded “K” word looms in our Fall 2013 future (hint: it involves enrollment and packed lunches… I can’t speak the word yet because it brings me to TEARS), I feel there is the possibility of stability ahead. If you know me well, you know we’ve kind of been through the ringer thus far and my heart longs for a period of rest. My guess is that it won’t involve extra sleep but we may be able to enjoy a little less drama. Like…maybe no more incarcerated fiances? Maybe?!? Less drama should mean more time for writing, exploring, and adventuring. I’m crossing my fingers. Because Eva and I are both too young not to have fun.

Cheers, friends. We like walking through life with you.