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Inspired by a tasty dinner prepared in Jon & Amanda‘s kitchen and the ensuing conversation. Thanks, friends.

My favorite gadgets I don’t own yet:

  • Pasta extruder (the aforementioned)
  • Burr grinder (if I could find one that was reasonably priced and smaller than a breadbox)
  • Citrus juicer (I’m tired of picking out the seeds)

This is by no means absolute, but in years of editing I’ve come to realize that most of us can simplify and tighten our writing by drastically reducing the frequency of these elements:

  • the word that,” as in, “I know that you are a fruitcake”
  • the word so,” as in, “She was so very embarrassed,” or “So you can see why she flung the cat”
  • the word up,” as in, “Bobbi Jean made up a mess of biscuits” (although perhaps this is a Southern thing, using “up” as an adverb)
  • exclamation points, as in, for the love of Pete, stop ending every third sentence with an exclamation point, and use actual words for emphasis
  • ellipses … as in … I’m kind of … like … really thoughtful … you know … so … I pause a lot …

Kindly welcome the long-overdue “Words and Grammar” category.

  • Get over my college-student-like aversion to putting holes in walls and hang some family photos around the house
  • Paint the canvas Mike gave me for my birthday and place it in an unassuming place so as not to draw attention to my heretofore un-utilized artistic non-skills
  • Thumb through every back issue of Southern Living currently stored in boxes upstairs and start a filing cabinet with neatly organized ideas for gardens, decorating, and travel
  • Complete the scrapbook I began two years ago commemorating my parents’ trip to Maine and get over the fact that I’m embarrassed it’s taken me so long
  • Write at least two chapters for my book
  • For a very close friend or family member: Buy a blank journal with 25-30 pages at a craft store, along with some fun pens and scrapbooking stickers. On each page, write abougiftt a memory you have with the person you’re making the book for. Decorate with doodles, stickers, or photos if you have them. Estimated cost: $10-12
  • For your mom or dad: Find old photos of yourself and your siblings and put them in a collage frame with a large white mat (these are always on sale at discount stores). On the mat, write a favorite Bible verse, a poem, or a quote about family or home. Estimated cost: $15-20
  • For your spouse: Plan a close-to-home weekend trip doing something your spouse loves like hiking, camping, playing a sport, visiting historic sites, or touring a free museum or art gallery. Atlanta has a great website for searching for free and cheap events; look for a similar site in your city. Estimated cost: $20-30
  • For anyone: Buy a set of white canvas place mats and fabric paint and create custom table linens. You don’t even have to be artistic – find an image or design you like and trace it onto the place mat, or paint basic stripes or circles, or print the person’s name or monogram. Estimated cost: $10-15

If you’ve read this week’s posts wondering, “Do Beth and Mike have something they need to tell me?”, the answer is no. I’ve just been on a parenting kick this week after finding out about the existence of a baby spa near my house. A baby spa. Like where three-year-olds get pedicures. A baby spa. Good gravy.

These are all names of actual ancestors, either mine or Mike‘s.

  • Lunie – pronounced “looney”
  • Estelle – I wouldn’t be able to get past the image of Sophia from The Golden Girls
  • Cicero – as much as I love Italy …
  • Azarah – was that Gargamel’s cat on The Smurfs?
  • Gertrude – that one might be a little close to home, but can you imagine calling a two-year-old Gertie?
  • Abigail Adams was one feisty girl. She once had a long exchange of letters with then President Thomas Jefferson in which she read (wrote?) him the riot act in defense of her husband, who had an on-again-off-again friendship with Jefferson.
  • The handle of one of my old saucepans now gets extremely hotmoon-jupiter-venus when in use.
  • When the moon is waxing in the US, it’s waning in the southern hemisphere. Thus, when Jupiter, Venus, and the moon aligned to make a frowny face in the US, it made a smiley face in Australia.
  • Gas may soon return to $1 per gallon. Heck yeah.
  • The reason our eyes get dry when we work on the computer or watch TV for a long time (especially if you wear contacts) is because we blink half as much in a minute when we’re doing those things as we do normally – about 7.5 times per minute as opposed to 15 times per minute.
  • Fires. Starting them, standing in front of them, throwing stuff in them, cooking stuff over them, and laying beside them.snowflake
  • Fleece pants. Buy a pair.  You’ll look forward to winter all summer long.
  • The possibility, however slight, of waking up and seeing the ground covered with snow.
  • The red cups filled with Caramel Apple Cider.
  • Football. I love Paul Johnson … so … much.
  • Traveling off-season and saving mucho dinero.

You tell me.

  • Bowl Crackers
  • Flecktones
  • Big Head Todd and the Monsters
  • Drivin ‘N’ Cryin
  • Cleveland Steamers
  • Dancing Nancies
  • Free the Hostages

ad*dict*ed – devoted to a practice or habit or to something psychologically or physically habit-forming

  • Solitaire (Thank you, 1998)
  • Candy corn (a seasonal addiction, but nonetheless an addiction)
  • Fantasy Football (must … check … stats)
  • Saltine crackers (Some people undergo surgery and get addicted to painkillers. I dig Saltines. But really just the salt.)
  • Cocaine (I made that up.)
  • Mike Nelson
  • Food
  • Technology
  • Information (news, websites, radio, etc.)
  • Pornography (outside the church … and sometimes the church just ignores it, which is just as bad as accepting it)
  • Gossip

What else?