Tag Archives: friends

Virtual Coffee Date

Coffee please
If we were on a coffee date, we would probably meet at my house because my favorite iced coffee right now is my Aeropress-ed Candy Cane Iced Coffee. Plus, there’s almost always an open couch or deck seating. I would gladly make a coffee or tea or Italian soda for you, too.

If we were on a coffee date, I would ask about your creative outlets, things you do to stretch and express your creativity. While we were traveling so much over the summer, mine was photography both on my phone and point-and-shoot camera. I have also enjoyed gardening while we were home. I do not know how much time I will spend on gardening and photography now that school is starting or if I will move on to something else that inspires me. I have noticed that I do not blog as much anymore. During the summer it was because I was experiencing and enjoying and intentionally left my computer at home. During the last school year, it was because teaching took up so many of of my words that I did not feel like I had much to share in blog posts.

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What I’m Into: March 2015

What I'm Into Logo

Techie
OverDrive was one of my new iOS apps this month. It was my first audiobook app and I am loving it. With OverDrive, I can check out free audiobooks and ebooks from my local library with my library card. When I check out an ebook, I can select the Kindle format and download the library book right from the Amazon website. I really, really like libraries and technology so this has been a highlight of my month!

Travel
During the second half of spring break, Brian and I traveled to visit his parents and mine for a couple days each. While we were in his hometown, we caught up with his sister and two cousins over delicious homemade tacos. In my hometown, we joined my parents’ Friday night college study and helped out with behind-the-scenes work for the wedding of a couple former students. It was a busy end to the week, but lots of fun!

Products
I tried Tazo Sweet Cinnamon Spice Tea from my mom’s collection while we were visiting and it is delightfully cinnamon-y and very sweet. To my surprise, some of our college students tried and raved about it, too!

Since I caught a rare sale on Tazo teas at my grocery store, I tried Tazo Wild Sweet Orange Tea. It tastes like an herbal version of Tang when it is hot, but I have enjoyed it most when I make it iced. (1 tea bag + 2 cups hot water for 10-15 minutes, then remove tea bag and pour over ice. Delicious!)

Entertainment
On Netflix: On the one-year anniversary of the series finale of Psych, I rewatched the last two episodes. That finale is one of my favorite series finales ever!

Around the House
Over spring break, Brian and I built Cola a sandbox. I jokingly called it “a life-sized Zen garden” because the more she digs there, the more “Zen” the rest of our yard will be.
 Our Life-sized Zen Garden

Reading 
I liked The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith because it supports and expands on the homemaking philosophy I try to cultivate: I am a perfectionist and my home is never perfect and I am not a perfect hostess. I have to make a conscious effort to not strive for perfection in my home or my “entertaining” because “perfect” does not feel welcoming or comfortable. Trying for “perfect” also really stresses me out.

I know, I know, how have I never read The Giver (Lois Lowry) before this month? I have known about it for decades and always intended to read it someday. When I first began trying out Overdrive, I saw the audiobook available for check-out and jumped at the chance. I liked the imaginative, detailed story of an unusual boy growing up in a dystopian, homogeneous society. My favorite part was the way the story unfolds primarily from the boy’s point of view, even though an adult reader can read between the lines and guess what may be coming.

I also used Overdrive to check out the eBook of Nowhere to Hide by Sigmund Brouwer. This is an engaging young adult mystery starring three teenaged boys whose cleverness gets them into and out of crisis after crisis. A prevailing question from the main character, King, “When is it okay to lie?” is also the theme of the plot. If you read it, keep in mind that almost every character lies at some point in the story.

Blog
I posted my opinion of Trello Gold after using it for almost a month.

What are you into this month?

I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

Disclosure: Affiliate links are included in this post. If you click through, any purchase you make supports this site.

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Lows & Highs: Goodbyes & Adventure

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

 Sometimes Adventure Brings Goodbyes | StairStories.com

Over the past week, I began sharing a big, life-changing announcement with family, friends, and coworkers. They had mixed responses and I am experiencing again what it is like to tell people news that is exciting for me but sad for them.

The Sad Part

I resigned – with two weeks’ notice, of course – from the fun, fascinating English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher assistant job I have had for a year and a half. I have enjoyed working with students who do not speak English as a first language, working with a sweet (though constantly changing) department of ESL professionals.

The Happy Part

On Friday, I accepted the one job in town that I want most of all, the job I trained for, the job I muscled through three years of grad school for: College instructor.


Starting January 26, I will embark on a new adventure of teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). I am thrilled to have a job that fits my education and experience as well as the opportunity to work with students from a wide variety of countries and cultures.

Besides the job – naturally the best part of this change – I also get to work at Barton Community College, an institution I really like. I will freely admit that I am biased about the school. Over the eighteen-ish months I have lived in Great Bend, Brian and I have built a lively community of student friends through the Campus Christian Fellowship we lead with our friend, Clay. To support various student friends (and because we find it entertaining), we have attended concerts, plays, volleyball, basketball, art shows, and graduation festivities. I am looking forward to being on campus and being even more involved in campus life!

How has your week been?

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A Blu-ish Christmas & Happy New Year

Blu-ish Christmas

Ever since our last day of school on December 19, I have been on an unplanned hiatus from blogging and most social media. I caught a cold before school ended for the break but thought I was getting better. The first two nights of our Christmas trip to visit Brian’s side of the family in Tulsa, I spiked a moderate fever. On Monday, I went to an urgent care center and was diagnosed with a sinus infection. Even with three prescriptions, it took me nearly a week to feel remotely normal again. I still have a cough but have much more energy and no longer sound like a frog when I talk.

Christmas Eve Bows

Off My Game

Once on antibiotics, I was not contagious so I still joined in on game night, dinners, and other gatherings with friends and family. Much of the week was fun but I felt mentally and physically fuzzy. I slept in, took naps, and sat around watching Doctor Who. If I saw you in the few days before Christmas and seemed sad or cranky, I just did not feel well and struggled to think straight. I was so out of sorts, I didn’t even drink coffee for two or three days because the taste was completely unappetizing.

Christmas

On Christmas Eve morning, we found out my mom had the flu. Since she and Dad did not want to get anyone sick, especially my elderly grandparents or two-year-old nephew, they decided to stay home for Christmas. On Christmas Day, Brian and I had breakfast and stockings with his parents his sister, Shanna, and then drove to my aunt & uncle’s house three hours away. In Ottawa, we celebrated with my grandparents, aunt, uncle, five siblings (counting the ones who married in), and a nephew.

Christmas Day Prep
Christmas Day Eli

Since it was on our way, Brian and I picked up Dad and Mom’s gifts for everyone else and dropped off the gifts to them on our way back to Tulsa at the end of the day. We also Facetimed with them so they could see and chat with everyone during gift-opening time. We intended to stay with my parents from Christmas Day until Monday but they suggested we visit another time, when they are less contagious. Brian and I (and Cola) came home on the 26th and have spent several relaxing days at home, resting and recuperating. It has been very nice!

Cola sleeps with her new toy

Happy New Year!

By New Year’s Eve, Brian and I were feeling much better. We rang in 2015 by playing board games with a few college students who were in town. We taught them how to play our version of Golf-the-card-game, played a Battle of the Sexes card game, and then split into groups to play either Settlers of Catan or Life.

How were your Christmas and New Year holidays?

 

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Temporary But Worthwhile

Question Collection a New Random Question Every Week StairStories.com

Every Monday, I post and answer a selection from my collection of good questions. This week’s question is “What didn’t last forever but was still worth your while?”

madewithOver

College Friendships Didn’t Last Like I Expected

In my experience, most friendships are seasonal and do not last forever. This perspective never seems truer than in college. As students, we arrived eager to do something that mattered to us, to be who we thought we were, to belong to a community. From the beginning, we planned to be in college for a short time – a year, four years, six years. Most of us made friends despite the “expiration date” of graduation day. We made friends with people knowing not all of the relationships would last (or promising each other that we would be the exception). In the end, life and distance and a whole host of post-college experiences filled our time and most of those college relationships changed or faded away altogether.

Although I still chat on the phone or schedule in-person visits when I’m in the right area, most of those college friendships have faded into distant memories or maybe into keeping up whenever we appear in each other’s Facebook newsfeeds. I used to feel badly about not maintaining the relationships to the extent I had intended but now my philosophy is that it is natural for friendships to change.


We will never again be teenagers or twenty-somethings living in college dorms and apartments together, complaining about cafeteria food and joking about professors and asking each other hard questions. Nevertheless I value those inside jokes, hard questions and stories we lived together. I enjoyed my college years in a large part because of the friends I made during that season where our lives intersected in time and space.

If you are one of my college friends, I still remember you and tell stories about fun times and life lessons from our season together. College friends, getting to know you was undoubtedly worthwhile.

Now It’s Your Turn to Ask & Answer

Take the questions and ask your friends or family. I would love to hear your answers in the comments (seriously. that’s why I ask, after all)! If you have suggestions of questions for me to include, let me know.

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Lows & Highs: The Cold, Hyper Puppy

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

Low: Puppy Phase

It has gotten much colder here this week and Cola detests it. When we try to take her out, she hides in her kennel or by lying very still on the carpet and looking at us at us pleadingly. We tried keeping her inside more, but she needed more activity and invented games for herself like “Eat the Drywall” and “Chew through the Dryer Hose.” Sometimes it feels like she tears the house up faster than we can repair it! I keep telling Brian – and myself – that this is a phase and she will grow out of it. In the meantime, do you have suggestions for how to keep a pup from chewing on everything in sight?

Cold puppy trying to get warm

We have had to compensate with more people-puppy play time and more frequent brisk walks (making Brian say, “I knew I should’ve stretched [before walking with you and Cola]!”). We have also been making her go outside, even when she does not want to, so she can run around.

Walking the dog

High: Craft Day

A couple of friends came over and had a girls’ craft afternoon with me on Saturday, while Brian was out of town. The vague theme of the day was fabric paint and geometric designs. Veronica decorated a backpack and a pair of shoes, Lindsey painted a star on a sweater, and I decorated my new journal. As much as I enjoy and use technology for writing, I still will not let go of having a physical journal and pens for sketchnotes and journaling! Have you decorated anything lately?

In-process photos of our projects

How was your week?

 

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Lows & Highs: Video Game Edition

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

 

Lows

My low this week was the way my lower back has been cramping and aching from hours of sitting on the floor and cutting tulle as well as bending over various projects to make my costume. (It is getting better now.) A second low was that Brian’s costume, ordered online, arrived and was uncomfortably short. With my rudimentary sewing skills, I was able to alter the costume so he could wear it but that was a whole unplanned costume project to squeeze in before Friday.

Luigi & Princess Peach Couple Costumes |StairStories.com

Highs

Our Halloween evening was fun! We hurried home after work and got dressed because one of us was sure trick-or-treaters would start coming at four-thirty or five. (The waves of costumed kids actually began later.) We tried to make our house look welcoming with the living room curtains open and the porch light on. As families came to the door, we greeted them in our costumes (Luigi and Princess Peach). Sometimes the little girls would shyly tell me they liked my costume when I complimented theirs. The boys were funnier, gaping at Brian and telling him things like, “I like your game, Luigi!” and “Luigi, you’re my favorite.” Occasionally, we heard voices of kids who could see in the window before they reached the door, “Hey, look! Luigi’s in there!” He was extremely popular with the over forty kids who stopped by.

Around 9:30, we left to set up our popcorn table at the college’s dance party and to surprise students with our costumes. My favorite reaction was Lindsey’s. She saw us standing behind the table and said something like, “Oh, wow, you guys! I mean you, oh, and you, and… oh my gosh, you guys are just so adorable!”

How was your week? Did you dress up for Halloween?

Luigi & Princess Peach Couple Costumes |StairStories.com

 

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What I’m Into: October 2014

Techie

I finally got around to setting up custom typing shortcuts on my iPhone. They are marvelous for reducing the amount of typing I have to do!


DesignLoveFest has had some creatively artistic wallpapers lately that I’ve downloaded to use on my phone and computers.


I started a series this month, Abby’s Apps, about my favorite apps as part of 31 Days but did not post every day because things got hectic.
Reviews of iOS Apps | Abby's Apps at StairStories.com #31Days

Clothes

I made a purse! Okay, it is really more like I re-made a purse but I am very happy with the finished result. It originally weighed over two pounds – when it was completely empty! The new purse weighs a bit less than one pound. Now that is a healthy “diet.”

Purse Re-fashion | StairStories.comPurse Re-fashion | StairStories.com Purse Re-fashion | StairStories.com

I also made my costume for Halloween, which did not take any sewing, but involved lots of cutting and painting. We ordered Brian’s online because making it would have been outside the realm of my limited sewing skills. When it arrived, though, the costume fit uncomfortably and I spent an evening altering it anyway. Still, it was much easier than making the whole thing from scratch! If you are curious about our costumes, I will post photos on Twitter and Instagram tonight (Halloween night). We will be handing out popcorn at the college’s costume dance party and have refused to tell our students until then.

Food

We tried a frittata for the first time and it was a delicious way to use up some leftovers. with whole wheat spaghetti, ground turkey, baby ‘bella mushrooms, broccoli, and scallions.


Big batches of cinnamon syrup and gingerbread syrup always make coffee taste like fall to me!


I have been making apple chips for my snacks… and Cola’s. I read that dried apples make nice, healthy dog treats and store-bought treats concern me with what seems like a lack of quality control. Brian refuses to share my apple chip snacks because he thinks it is weird and gross that I make the same exact snack food for myself and our dog. What do you think?


Semi-homemade apple-cinnamon crescent rolls (of my own invented recipe) are a fast fall side dish or dessert.
Apple-Cinnamon Crescent Roll | StairStories.com

Watching

On TV: NCIS: LA has certainly had some fun twists this month! I will not give anything away but have enjoyed seeing more of Nell and Hetty’s character development. I am also enjoying Scorpion, about a team of almost antisocial geniuses who form a tight-knit group and end up working as government problem-solvers.

On Youtube: Consumer Reports channel, especially their “What to Get… & Forget” series. I also loved this sweet story that happens to be a scotch ad.


Friends

We held our Second Annual Classic Mystery Movie Night at Howe House this month. The Campus Christian Fellowship students come and bring friends for snacks and a movie that was probably made before I was born. The movie selection for the evening is never announced ahead of time because whoever is there at the beginning of the party gets to choose by consensus from the movies we provide. (This gets quite a few of them there “on time!”) This year, the three people who were at the previous Classic Mystery Movie Night wanted to watch Charade again and none of the others had seen it or had objections. Our CMMN may turn into an annual showing of Charade at this rate!
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Two of our college students decided to be baptized this month!
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We had twelve people eating pasta around our table for Sunday lunch last weekend but it was so crazy that I forgot to take a photo.


Around the House

Our adorable and [sometimes annoyingly] energetic pup is five months old now and has developed a bolder demeanor we are trying to train. We encourage chasing squirrels and rabbits out of the yard and discourage eating the tomatoes, tomato vines, and various other “people possessions.” We encourage making new friends and discourage jumping on people or furniture.
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Brian and I replaced the gutters along the front of our house so now there will not be a waterfall directly over the front door every time it rains. I really liked getting to climb up the ladder and use the drill to mount brackets while Brian handed me supplies. Even before our wedding, we agreed that I would get to do most ladder-climbing tasks because I enjoy it and Brian does not.

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What have you been into lately?


I am linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

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What I’m Into (August 2014)

Friends

College students back on campus & coming to our house for Sunday lunches. We are all getting back into the swing of school and campus ministry.
2014-08 Sunday Lunch

Food

I used to disdain iced coffee unless it was really, really hot. This summer, though, I discovered Pioneer Woman’s cold-brewed concentrate that I mix with almond milk and one of my homemade coffee syrups. It tastes delicious and the college students who come to our house think so, too!

French Toast Roll-Ups with blueberries and cream cheese… Brian and I liked these so much we rated them “let’s have it again every month.”
 2014-08-19 21.34.36

My tomato cages toppled from the weight of the vines, but they kept growing. Now I have what I call a “tomato thicket.” Rabbits kept eating the unripe fruit but my puppy decided they’re fun to chase. Now we have tomatoes!
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Watching

On TV: Rizzoli & Isles and Girl Meets World.

On Netflix: Doctor Who season 7. I like Clara, “the impossible girl,” who gets scared and plunges in anyway. “We never just walk away.” In addition, I’m working my way back through Haven (currently on season 2) because I missed having a new season this summer.

Music

Colbie Caillat’s Gypsy Heart Side A, especially “Try.”
The Likes of Us (self-titled album) from Noisetrade has been a fun addition to my jazzy weekend breakfast playlist.

Technology

Since school started this month, I’ve been using Quizlet to make free electronic flashcards for the high school students I work with. As an a added bonus, they can use my flashcards (as well as any they create) online or on their smart phones.

Now that the entire school email system is run through Google, I have been using Google Drive for sharing documents with coworkers (I had never used it for document creation before this month.)

I upgraded to a iPhone 5s and a waterproof, drop-proof Otterbox Preserver case this week and I am enjoying both! FYI: The Preserver cases appear to still be on sale for 50% off on Amazon.

Same-day Instagram prints from Walgreens, especially when I procrastinated making them until the day before I needed them!
 2014-08-18 17.54.41

Random Fun

I like the graphic design of the @HomeGoods Stylescope quiz to “find your home design personality“. I’m supposedly “The Traveler” and liked the graphic so much, I made it my iOS wallpaper.


What were you into in August?


Linking up with Leigh Kramer to share what I’ve been into lately.

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Lows & Highs: A Case of the Mondays

Welcome to Lows & Highs, a Stories from the Stairs weekly-ish feature! Feel free to join in by posting your lows and highs from the week in the comments or by posting a link to your own lows and highs blog post.

Low: Monday morning was rough at Howe House. I went to take Cola out at six a.m. and let her walk out the door on her own sleepy legs instead of carrying her. I usually walk around the yard with her, so I reached back in to close the door behind us when I heard a yelp. Cola had darted back into the warm laundry room and the closing door bonked her on the side! Startled, but not hurt, she ran to one of the rugs and started to pee on it. I scooped her up and ran to the grass, where she finished her “business.”

Later that morning, Cola was outside while Brian did yard work. She was still running in the middle of the yard when he headed inside. I heard the door open and then yelping – lots of yelping – and Brian saying, “Oh no, oh no, OH NO!”

“What is it?” I called on my way from the living room.

“I think I broke her paw!”

Cola had apparently sprinted across the yard, hurdled onto the deck, and gotten caught in the door as he closed it. When I got to the deck, Brian stood aghast by the door and Cola hobbled on three legs in the grass beside the deck.

I tried to comfort Brian saying, “If her paw is really broken, it’ll be okay. It’s Monday.” (I meant that the veterinarian clinic would be open. He thought I meant that bad things happen on Mondays.)

I picked Cola up gently and took her inside, where she started walking on all four paws before curling up on my lap. I looked at my very concerned husband, “I think she’s fine. It probably scared her and hurt a lot at first, but I don’t think she’s broken.”

2014-08-04 16.58.48

A couple days later, Cola still runs and jumps but is a little more cautious of closing doors.

High: On Friday, we had a game night with college students and played games like 5 Second Rule, Wits & Wagers, and Golf-the-card-game!

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What are your lows and highs this week?

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