bits and bobs

Alert the presses! My husband and I slept in until after 8:00 this morning!

I woke up earlier than that, but I kept falling back asleep, dreaming fantastical dreams about bread. Bread on rooftops, bread stuffed with all kinds of nubby goodness, and five-gallon-bucket-sized loaves of bread. When I eventually woke up for good, I just laid there, luxuriating in the bright light streaming in the windows, the quiet house, and the knowledge that we didn’t have to take my older daughter to the farm this morning.

We went running then, my husband and I. It was such a treat, to run in the warm sunlight, unencumbered by flashlights and headlamps. I about died, but still. It was nice.


This week has been an exceptionally good writing week: four (!) blocks of child-free writing time, plus two (!!) meetings with my writing groups.

My mom tells me that I’ll never get any writing done if I spend all my time in writing groups. She has a point, but not a good-enough one. I get a huge boost from reading other people’s work, listening to their writing process, observing their style. Plus, I’m extroverted and the groups’ (relaxed) deadlines give me reason to push myself.


Food is a large part of every writers’ group gathering. Depending on the host, there’s often cheese and wine, or tea, or homemade sugar cookies, or a banana-cherry pie made in with a yonanas machine. Often there are pretzels and grapes, and the afternoon sessions always include copious amounts of coffee.

Anyway, I hosted both groups last week. For the small group, I made ginger cream scones, and for the large group, sweet rolls. I had also baked a tea ring earlier that day, but I kept that back for the family. They can get rather titchy about me giving away all the goodies.

It was good I didn’t serve the tea ring, though: the bottom half was gummy raw, oops.


Along with the two writing groups, I also have two other writing coaches/sounding boards/whatever: my brother and an out-of-state friend. One time when I was in the depths of despair about my work (and I mean that in the most serious of ways: curled up in bed crying my eyes out), I told my husband that I was afraid I couldn’t do this. I’m stupid, I said. I can’t even do basic organization. And then, as proof of my ineptitude, I cited all the people who are helping me.

My husband cocked an eyebrow. “Um, Jennifer? Have you seen the acknowledgment sections in books? There’s a reason they’re super long: most writers don’t write a book all by themselves.”

I felt a little better after that. And super-duper grateful for all my longsuffering cheerleaders.


I’ve been spending more-than-normal amounts of time at Panera, writing and drinking coffee, and I’ve got my visits down to a science.

1. Since they boot me off their internet at 11:30, when the lunch hour picks up, I make sure to get there by 8:30 so I have a solid three hours.

2. I buy a coffee and spend the first little bit checking email and blogs while the warmth from the drink seep through the cup to my fingers, prepping them for their work-out. Once the coffee hits my blood stream—I can practically feel my brain clicking into high gear—I shut down Facebook and open my Google docs.

3. After about an hour, I refill my coffee cup (light roast and half decaf) and buy a cinnamon crunch bagel, toasted, no butter, to go with it. Or, as in Thursday’s case, an orange scone.

4. I take bathroom breaks as needed. The trot to and from the loo gets my blood flowing and the wiggles out.

I find that when I leave home to write, I’m often more productive.

Of course, there’s the time lost driving there and back, so in the long run it’s probably no more productive than my at-home style of fritter-writing? On the other hand, when I write in public, I’m more focused.


I just finished reading Kitchens of the Great Midwest—such a fun book—and it reminded me of Olive Kitteridge. What should I read next?


Last night my older daughter and I binged on Parks and Rec. It’s so fun, finally getting to share my favorite shows with my kids. We are both huge April fans.

And then I watched some Portlandia. I was still laughing, even as I was falling asleep.

(All these Netflix are proof: I really need a good book.)


After yesterday’s frigid temps (didn’t get out of the 20s, I don’t think), this morning’s warmth made it seem like the whole world was cooing.

Naturally, I got a hankering for hot dogs. One thing led to another and now my brother’s family and my parents are coming over for grilled veggies and hot dogs.

So now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go whip up a batch of rock-my-world cocoa brownies to go with the ice cream and caramel sauce we’ll be having for dessert.

What are your supper plans?

This same time, years previous: chasing fog, one-pot macaroni and cheese, school: the verdict, addictive and relaxing, hauling wood, and my me-me list,


  • Anonymous

    Love Netflix and don't know when I last watched broadcast TV. Started watching Parks and Rec with my 13-year-old son–SO much fun belly laughing together.

  • Athanasia

    I thought KITCHENS OF THE MIDWEST was a cookbook, so was surprised to see it was a novel. Sounds like a cookbook. I heard a cookbook discussed on public radio this morning that sounded good…A MEATLOAF IN EVERY OVEN. It was, naturally, all meatloaf recipes. Our library system does not have it though, but I hope to find a copy to read.

    I read a very good youth book end of last year, THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE. Excellent. It was written by by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

  • Melodie

    Not to be a proofreader here (I enjoyed reading your writing process and envy your Panera time), cite is spelled like that in your usage here and not site. If that's worth anything to you. Very sweet of your hub to point out the Acknowledgement Page!

  • beckster

    Congratulations on having a good writing week and sleeping until 8am! Both scarce experiences for most, I reckon. I hope your streak continues. How did you like the pie made from a Younanas?

    • Jennifer Jo

      It was really good! Our host served it in an oreo crust, with whipped cream and oreo crumbles on top, but there was no sugar in the pie filling. (She said she once made a desert with just frozen bananas and a whole bunch of Reese's Cups—YUM.) I think it'd be the perfect little machine, especially in the summer and if there are lots of ice cream-and-popsicle-loving kids underfoot.

  • dr perfection

    Honestly, it always helps to paint your toes. I know. And Netflix. Don't get me started! I love Netflix!

    My dinner last night was quinoa and red lentils cooked in a previous potroast broth. Not very inspiring.

    Anyway, honey, I don't care if you never write that book. You said it–you are an extrovert. You are much happier with a live audience. So go get yourself in a play and I will come down to see it.

    • Jennifer Jo

      I paint my toes and I feel like a new woman. It's amazing.

      And yes, you are so right: I DO love me a live audience. I'd love to have another play!

  • Mama Pea

    Our dinner tonight was apple slices with peanut butter. Ate waaay too much for lunch and was still too full for much dinner. (That's what happens when you're expecting company for lunch and they have to cancel. Somehow we felt we had to eat it all. Burp. 'Scuse me.)

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