happy mother’s day!!! + goals for the week of 5/11

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone! I feel so lucky that I get to spend part of today at home with my amazing mama. She is one of the sweetest, most kindhearted people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing, and getting to grow up {and, let’s be honest, I’m still learning and growing!} with her as my mom and role model feels like winning the lottery. I love you, Mom!

me and mom balloon festival

I hope that you are getting to do something extra-special to celebrate the mothers in your life today! We are making brunch for my mom: nothing fancy, just toast, bacon, fruit salad, and her favorite scrambled eggs with veggies + potatoes. {But if you’re looking for fancy, scroll down to the end of this post for some drool-worthy brunch recipes!} Here is a post I wrote a couple years ago about trying to do little things to celebrate Mother’s Day every day.

It has truly been a fantastic weekend at home with my family and friends, celebrating my cousin Julie’s wedding! Recap post coming soon, stay tuned. 🙂

In the meantime… it’s time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
– write eight pages
– send out three query letters/submissions
– finish midterm evals of students
– finish reading The Kitchen God’s Wife
– go to one yoga class
– have an amazing time celebrating Julie + Chris’s wedding!

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write ten pages
– send out three query letters/submissions
– finish midterm evals of students
– read up to page 400 in Wolf Hall
– go to two yoga classes
– connect with two friends

And here are some fantastic brunch recipes:
cornmeal waffles with blackberry compote via Two Peas & Their Pod
raspberry almond scones via Two Peas & Their Pod
blueberry multigrain french toast bake via The Pajama Chef
healthy vegan banana bread via the real-life rd
sweet potato muffins via Peanut Butter Fingers
snickerdoodle bread via Chew Out Loud
my own french toast bake based on The Pioneer Woman’s recipe {I need to make this again sometime! it was ridiculously good!}

french toast

Questions of the day:

  • How are you celebrating Mother’s Day?
  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over lately?

MPM-Spring
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

fabulous friday #20

Happy TGIF! Can you believe it’s already May? I am in awe of how quickly this year is flying by. A reminder to make the most of each and every day we are blessed with!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. The gorgeous, summer-like weather we’ve been having around here … warm and sunny, the days are long, and I can sit out on the porch with a book and a glass of iced tea reading even after dinnertime. On Wednesday Allyn and I went to a Giants game and I didn’t even need a jacket! I didn’t know San Francisco EVER got that warm, especially down by the water. It was glorious! And I love the energy and happiness in the air at this time of year, like everyone is more carefree and open to the world.

giants game

2. The latest collection of short stories, The Color Master, by one of my favorite writers {and people!} Aimee Bender, author of the previous best-selling novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Aimee was my professor at USC and she is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. She definitely was, and continues to be, a huge influence and inspiration for my own writing. I am savoring her new book–the stories are by turns delightful, dark, funny, serious, and always surprising. I would highly recommend putting this on your summer reading list!

the color master

me and aimee

3. I wrote a short story that has been published in the online literary journal Superstition Review! I’m so excited and honored to have my work featured as part of this publication I have long admired. You can read it here. {Note: the story is fictional, and a little dark/sad… just be warned!}

4. These berry + cream cheese muffins I made a few days ago and have been enjoying as breakfast, snacks, and dessert … zero refined sugar, zero white flour, and absolutely delicious! I will be sharing the recipe on here next week, stay tuned!

cream cheese muffins

5. This picture, shared by my dad on Facebook:

reason someone smiles

BONUS: Vote for my friends Mike & Bob Bryan, who are amazingly kind and generous Philanthropists of Giving and are in the running to win $100,000 for their charity! You can vote up to 3 times a day and it takes less than a minute! https://givkwik.com/campaigns/2014-asu

fabulous friday #18

It’s Friiiiiiidaaaayyy!! Hope you’re having a great one!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My new part-time job teaching writing and public speaking classes for middle school kids! I taught my first classes on Wednesday afternoon and had an absolute blast. I feel so lucky to be able to spend time teaching and building confidence in these amazing young people! I’m already getting excited to teach my seventh annual Write On! Summer Writing Camp this July.

writing camp

2. The informal “book club” that my mom and I have started. A couple years ago, my mom made it her New Year’s Resolution to read more, and she started reading every day at work during her lunch break. Now she reads dozens of novels a year and she always recommends the best books to me! I love reading and talking about books with her. It’s a great way to stay close and connected even though we live far away.

me before you

One of my favorites of the books she’s recommended is Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. This is a tear-jerker {you’ve been warned! grab the tissues!} It is such a beautiful, well-written story — and extremely hard to put down, especially once you get to know the characters! Mom recommended it to me and once I finished it I passed the book along to my Aunt Annie, who said she was reading it at her hair appointment and two other women came up to her and raved about how much they loved it. When Annie finished it she gave it to my grandma, who just finished it last night, so now she and I have been talking about it too. I think it’s safe to say that we would all highly recommend this book!

3. My cousin Arianna rocked her drama performance last night! I am so proud of her. She absolutely *shines* onstage! Here is a video I took of her singing “Seasons of Love” for the show’s finale.

arianna performing

4. Speaking of great singers: Sara Bareilles’ new single “I Choose You” has been bopping around on the radio {and in my head!} all week. Oh my goodness, you guys, I can’t get enough of this song! It’s so catchy. Love her.

5. Baseball season! I had such a great time at the A’s game last weekend with Allyn & his family. Sunshine + hot dog + A’s win = happiness!

a's game

Now I’m off to tackle my to-do list before the weekend! Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for this weekend?
  • Have you read any good books lately?

fabulous friday #16

Happy Friday, friends! Hope you are having a delightful #TGIF. It’s been a little damp and drizzly up here in the Bay Area this week, which is wonderful because we need all the rain we can get! And even with the gray skies, I’m in a sunshine-y mood. Which brings me to…

5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My sweet mama is coming into town tomorrow!!! I haven’t seen her since Christmas and I’m sooooo excited to pick her up from the airport and give her a ginormous hug. It’s gonna be a great weekend!

Mom and Me

2. Tonight Allyn and I are going to a play! I haven’t been to a play since September, and I’m really excited. There’s something about live performances that I just love so much. Plus, it’s opening night, which makes it all the more fun! We’re going to see this mystery play called “Sleuth” in Walnut Creek.

3. Look at this mini library in Allyn’s neighborhood! How amazing is this?? I want to start one of my own!

mini library

4. One of my favorite local cafes has lovely photos & quotes on the back of their order numbers. This was the one I received when I was there with Emy over the weekend. It warmed my heart. Such wise & true words! And the elderly couple dancing — swoon! “Love doesn’t make the world go round, but it makes the ride worthwhile.”

love quote

5. Baking time! I need to make my grandma a birthday cake {the current front-runner is funfetti! with cream-cheese frosting!} aaaand these bananas are just screaming to be made into banana muffins, don’t you think?

spotty bananas

**BONUS! {Because it seems there’s just too much to love on this Friday!}: This adorable video documenting a woman’s growing baby bump and her husband’s sweet serenade to the new member of their family: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJ7-v7xVm3I

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What’s on your agenda for the weekend?

fabulous friday #11

It’s TGIF! You know what that means…

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Independent bookstores. I could spend hours wandering through a bookstore, and have a special place in my heart for cute little independent ones. My new favorite: Rakestraw Books in Danville. Look at this framed quote they have on the wall {so true!}

book quote

And this book made me laugh out loud. Poor pups!

dog book

2. Walks with Dana. Exercise always flies by with this girl because we talk and talk about anything and everything. {Don’t you love friends like that? I’m so blessed in my friendships!} This past weekend she took me on a beautiful path by her house, and we saw chickens and this super-cool birdhouse display.

birdhouses

chicken

3. My amazingly supportive hometown community and incredibly kind friend {and fellow writer} Ken McAlpine, who interviewed me for Our Ventura TV a few weeks ago … the interview is now available to watch! Here’s the link: http://ourventura.com/empowering-kids-through-writing-and-reading/2737/

4. This Broccoli Slaw & Kale w/Chicken Salad from Trader Joe’s. I know I already gave a shout-out to TJ’s in last week’s fabulous friday post, but this salad deserves its own spotlight. You guys. I could eat this salad for days on end and not get sick of it. {Actually, that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing this week… LOVE it!}

broccoli salad

salad

5. My friend Shane’s blog, Day by Yoga, that chronicles his experience as a budding yogi. Shane is an “old soul” … super wise, super inspiring, super down-to-earth. His blog posts always brighten my day!

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • Any fun plans for the weekend?
  • What is your favorite Trader Joe’s find?

goals for the week of 2/2

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! I hope you have fun plans for today. I’m off to church soon, but before I go … it’s goals time! 🙂

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
write 10 pages
– finish new short story I’m working on
go to two yoga classes {I made it to three!}
complete two chapters of copyediting project {It was a great copyediting week… I made it through four chapters!}
– finish reading all of the old Narrative Stories of the Week in my email inbox {read five of these stories + got into two excellent short story collections, Orientation by Daniel Orozco and Power Ballads by Will Boast}
connect with three friends

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write 10 pages
– finish new short story I’m working on
– go to two yoga classes
– mail Valentines
– complete two chapters of copyediting project
– start final fellowship application, due Feb. 28
– finish reading all of the old Narrative Stories of the Week in my email inbox and Orientation by Daniel Orozco
– connect with three friends

Questions of the morning:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What have been your highlights of this weekend?

a year of Wooden: week 4

Happy Monday, friends! I’m enjoying a special day today with my cousins Makena & Bianca, who are off school for a teacher inservice day. We baked delicious apple cinnamon muffins this morning, and this afternoon we’re going to the movie theaters to see “Frozen.”

bianca makena

Last night we had a lovely family birthday celebration for my cousin Arianna. I really liked this new tradition we started while eating dinner: everyone went around the table and said one word they would use to describe Arianna. It was such a sweet & heartfelt way to celebrate her!

arianna bday

This year I am doing “a year of Wooden” following the teachings of Coach John Wooden, and in particular his 7-Point Creed.

a year of wooden

I’m beginning the year with the Creed’s first item:

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.

This past week I read Coach Wooden’s children’s book, Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success. Even though I’m not a child anymore, I still deeply enjoy this book. I think sometimes grown-ups — more than anyone! — need to be reminded that true success isn’t money or material possessions or the amount of Instagram followers you have. True success trying your best, day by day, little by little, and being authentic to your own unique self. This charming picture book is perfect for the child in all of us.

To summarize this month’s challenge of “drinking deeply from good books” we read:
Wooden & Me: Life Lessons from My Two-Decade Friendship with the Legendary Coach & Humanitarian to Help “Make Each Day Your Masterpiece”
Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off The Court
Inch & Miles: The Journey to Success

Since Coach Wooden was also a devoted Christian, I’m also going to work on reading more of the Bible this year. I’m participating in #SheReadsTruth, an online community of women that sends out a daily email with a Bible verse and contemplation questions.

Next week, moving into February, we’ll move on to the second monthly challenge in this year of learning from Coach Wooden!

Questions of the day:

  • What are your final thoughts on the books we read this month?
  • What is your personal idea of “true success”?
  • Do you have any fun birthday traditions in your family?

a year of Wooden: week 2

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope your weekend was filled with good things.

a year of wooden

As announced in a post last week, this year I am doing “a year of Wooden” following the teachings of Coach John Wooden, and in particular his 7-Point Creed. I’m beginning the year with the Creed’s first item:

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.

This month, I’m going to focus on reading books by Wooden and about him, a new one each week. This past week I reread my dad’s wonderful new book Wooden & Me: Life Lessons from My Two-Decade Friendship with the Legendary Coach & Humanitarian to Help “Make Each Day Your Masterpiece.”

Rereading my dad’s book was the perfect way to start off this new year. Not only is the book a testament to John Wooden and a beautiful portrayal of his friendship with my father, it is in many ways a history of my family: from the early days of my parents’ marriage to the births of me and my brother to many milestones and memories we have shared as a family over the years. John Wooden’s teachings of love, kindness, balance, discipline, integrity, perseverance, and faith have been woven into the tapestry of my life since I was a baby. To be sure, I feel very fortunate for the loving and supportive family I have been blessed with!

For this next week, I’ll be reading Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, written by Coach Wooden with Steve Jamison. Here’s a little about the book:

In honest and telling passages about virtually every aspect of life, Coach shares his personal philosophy on family, achievement, success, and excellence. Raised on a small farm in south-central Indiana, he offers lessons and wisdom learned throughout his career at UCLA, and life as a dedicated husband, father, and teacher.

Looking forward to hearing your comments about it next week!

Question of the day:

  • What are some of your favorite family memories?

a year of Wooden

I gained so much from doing my year of kindness challenge this past year, that I decided I wanted to take on a new year-long project in 2014. When I was brainstorming ideas I kept coming back to my blog’s title, Day-by-Day Masterpiece. It was inspired by one of my favorite sayings, “Make each day your masterpiece” from the late great basketball coach John Wooden. The saying is part of Coach Wooden’s 7 Point Creed, which was given to him by his father Joshua Wooden upon his graduation from high school.

My dad gave my brother and me copies of the 7 Point Creed, which we both carry around in our wallets. As I was reading over the creed an idea began to form. The more I thought about it, the more excited I became. The past couple days I have been on the edge of my seat to share this with you!

This year {and perfect timing, in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Coach Wooden’s first NCAA basketball championship title} I present to you …

a year of wooden

This year I am going to focus month-by-month on a different item from Coach Wooden’s 7 Point creed, rounding out the other months with his “two sets of three.” The goal will be to add on a new trait each month while continuing to do the items from the previous months … so that by December 2014, I’ll be doing all the items, bringing everything together to “make each day a masterpiece”! I’m going to start off with the first item on Wooden’s 7 Point Creed:

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.

This month, I’m going to focus on reading books by Wooden and about him, a new one each week. I’m kicking things off this week by rereading my dad’s wonderful new book Wooden & Me: Life Lessons from My Two-Decade Friendship with the Legendary Coach & Humanitarian to Help “Make Each Day Your Masterpiece.”

If you’d like to follow along with me, you can pick up a copy of Wooden & Me here or on Amazon — both print and ebooks are available!

Have a masterful week!

year of kindness challenge: week 51

Happy Christmas Eve, everyone!

Today I brought some chocolates and cards to the local nursing home in honor of my dear friend Jewell, who passed away in 2011. I miss her every day, but especially at Christmastime. She was one of the most genuinely sweet and kindhearted people I’ve known! I’ve started a tradition of bringing holiday cards to the nursing home every year as a way of remembering her.

me and jewell

To make the cards this year, I upcycled wrapping paper scraps by cutting out holiday designs — Christmas trees, gloves, snowmen, snowflakes — and gluing them down to blank white notecards. Then I wrote holiday messages on the back, such as:

  • Hope your holiday season is filled with joy and laughter!
  • Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
  • A friend is sending you lots of love and blessings this holiday season.

candy for nursing home

upcycled cards

It made my heart happy to think of the residents smiling when they receive the holiday cards.

I finished wrapping all my presents yesterday, so I’m all set to go! The rest of my Christmas Eve was spent visiting with relatives, taking care of my poor brother who is sick, and baking! I made a pumpkin pie and funfetti cookies.

funfetti cookies

Now … on to the kindness challenge! We’re down to our final two weeks, can you believe it?

year of kindness button

Last week’s kindness challenge was to donate a toy or book to a child in need this holiday season, and/or to drop off a donation at a local animal shelter. I dropped off five boxes of new books {donated through my annual Holiday Book Drive} and three new basketballs to the local Boys & Girls Club.

The timing worked out perfectly — the manager told me she was expecting to get a large donation of children’s books from another source, but then didn’t receive nearly as many books as expected so she was left scrambling to pull together enough gifts for all the children. And the holiday party was that very afternoon! I could tell from her tone that she was feeling pretty desperate.

“I was hoping you would come,” she said as she helped me unload the books from the car. “I remember you from last year. You’re our book angel!”

I can’t put into words how joyful and fulfilled the experience made me feel. The universe is magical and things truly work out for a reason!

book drive

The Week 51 Kindness Challenge was inspired by Martha Richards, the Executive Director of the WomenArts Foundation. In a recent newsletter, she wrote: “If you are like me, you are being deluged with funding requests at this time of year. If you are able to make cash gifts to women artists and women’s organizations, I hope you will do so. Most of us {including WomenArts} are working on a shoestring, and your cash gifts will really make a difference.  But I also believe there is a currency of kindness that we can use to lift each other’s spirits whether or not we have any spare cash on hand. I have seen it over and over again at WomenArts and in other parts of my life — you can often give someone the courage to keep working or try something new just by listening to them carefully, acknowledging their hard work, and finding kind, supportive things to say.”

So this week’s kindness challenge is to reach out to an artist whose work touches you and tell him or her what you love about their work.

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn AT gmail DOT com.

Merry Christmas!
-Dallas

P.S.: Head on over to this Year of Kindness Challenge page to see all the archived posts from the previous 50 weeks!

Questions of the day:

  • What are you doing to celebrate Christmas?
  • What acts of kindness happened in your life this past week?