It's true. January feels like the longest month every year. Why can't the lazy summer days of August drag on like the snowy ones of January do? Every year, Modern Mrs. Darcy commemorates this milestone by celebrating the little things in life that make us happy right now. What a great idea! Don't mind if I do.
1. International Eats.
A few Saturdays ago, we got invited to the home of an Indian family. They are from south India, and offered to make us an authentic meal from their tropical part of the world. The chocolate brownies we had for dessert tasted suspiciously like America's Betty Crocker, but I didn't say a word. The food, you guys. Chicken right on the verge of too spicy, but I wasn't about to stop eating it. An eggplant dish drenched in a rich tomatoey sauce. Goat meat, which my daughter politely ate (also ended up being her favorite part of the meal). All of this served with warm flatbread to mop up any leftover sauce on the plate. After dinner, the hostess walked me through her kitchen pantry. She showed me the items she can buy frozen at a local grocery that are very close to what she'd find fresh at home. I had their version of coffee (a certain brand of instant warmed on the stovetop with hot milk). She explained some of the spices for the marinating and simmering sauces really must come from home, so her mother sends her boxes of goodies from time to time. A key spice is gram masala, a mixture that can vary in flavor based on the family and region where it is prepared. She uses her mother's recipe; a dash of this, and a tad of that. Last week, she sent some freshly mixed gram masala home with my husband. Now, I have no excuse for not attempting my own Indian dish.
My daughter has developed a taste for spicy food. As a family, we've gone to a small Thai restaurant a few times now, and the big topic of conversation is what number of spice she and her dad will order. I'm perfectly content sitting around a 2 or 3, thank you very much.
Finally, I read The Dream of You recently, and the author Jo Saxton is the child of Nigerian immigrants in the UK. She mentions several traditional Nigerian dishes, including jollof rice. We have a friend at church who is from Nigeria, so I asked Joshua if he knew of this dish, and more specifically, if his wife from northern Michigan makes it for him? This turned into a discussion about an evening of eating. We're working on scheduling an African dinner night for the women of our church. Thanks Jo! I can't wait to try jollof rice.
2. Writing For Fun and For Work.
What a childhood dream come true! I just released my first e-book, Church Stories - A Collection, sharing believer's thoughts on church, all from responses to questions I've asked on my personal Facebook page. More than 70 people contributed to this collection! It was awesome reading through all of the responses again to identify some of the most thoughtful. This ties into my larger project of having my book, "A Church Story," traditionally published. It tells my own church story in much greater depth, and also ties in the stories of others. What rewarding work.
There's fun writing too. Like this piece I'm taking a few minutes to scratch out this morning. Also, the devotional style piece, "Tabitha is Kind," I had an opportunity to write for the organization, Christian Care Ministry. It met with good response, and I enjoyed exegeting lessons from this Bible story in Acts.
3. Scheduling Exciting Things On The Spring Calendar.
I'm a planner. It makes me happy to make travel plans, buy tickets to an event, and schedule things like double dates, coffee meetings and lunch with friends. We bought tickets to see The Lion King in Kalamazoo in a few months. I cannot wait to attend my third Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College in April. Basketball games to watch in March. Baseball returns in February.
There are a handful of writer friends I've met recently who live close to me. I've met a couple for coffee, and am making plans to meet a group of writers somewhere closer to the lakeshore. A friend and I are going to meet another lady at her work the day after Valentine's Day, to whisk her away to a 2-hour lunch. Who can get the winter blues when there's so much to look forward to?!