goals for the week of 1/5

It’s the first week of goal-setting in the new year! How are your new years goals and resolutions coming along so far? Here’s a post I did this week on my writing blog with some motivation tips {that are applicable for other goals outside of writing} if you’d like to check it out!

My new year has been off to a bit of a slow start because I came down with a pretty yucky head cold. It’s forced me to slow down, savor time with my family, rest a lot, and now that I’m beginning to feel better it’s made me appreciate my good health more than ever.

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
– write 10 pages
– donate purged clothes, books and magazines {doing this tomorrow!}
mail thank you notes & happy new year cards
finish reading Edible Stories and MWF seeking BFF
phone dates with two friends

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write 10 pages
– donate purged clothes, books and magazines
– complete first five chapters of copyediting project
– finish rereading The Architect of Flowers by William Lychack {a superb writer who I feel lucky enough to call my friend!}
– get together with three friends

Question of the day:

  • What are your goals for this week?

year of kindness challenge: week 43

The autumn decorations are up at my grandma’s house, and I love them!

autumn decorations

They make me smile every time I walk through the door. 🙂 I absolutely adore this time of year! The weather turned the past couple days and it truly feels like autumn. There is a cold crispness to the air and frost is expected here on the ground in the morning. I’ve busted out my cozy sweaters, scarves and boots!

Now, on to the kindness…

year of kindness button

This past week’s kindness challenge was to buy someone else’s morning java fix or afternoon caffeine boost. I gave $10 to the barista at Starbucks to pay for the drink of the next person who came in, and said to keep whatever change there was as a tip. Two acts of kindness in one! It brightened my entire day. 🙂

The Week 43 Kindness Challenge is to take a batch of Halloween treats to a nursing home, fire station, police department, or school … anywhere that could use some Halloween treats, not tricks!

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.

Have a marvelous week!
– Dallas

P.S.: Head on over to this Year of Kindness Challenge page to see all the archived posts from the previous 42 weeks!

Questions of the day:

  • What kindnesses happened in your life this past week?
  • Do you decorate your house for autumn?

saturday upsides: my favorite romantic movies

saturdayupsidesbutton

Happy weekend, everyone! Time for another edition of Saturday Upsides — today, in honor of Valentine’s Week, I’m excited to share with you some of my all-time favorite romantic movies. I came across an article on Cracked.com yesterday about how the weather influences people’s preferences when it comes to movies: when people are warm they generally prefer action movies; when they are cold they generally prefer romantic movies. Makes sense to me!

valentines week

Valentine’s Day + cold winter weather = the perfect time to curl up under a blanket and watch a good romance!

Here are a few of my top picks:

Serendipity

Serendipity

This is probably my favorite “chick flick” of all time! It came out when I was in high school and I think I saw it three times in the movie theaters alone. My friend Micaela and I were obsessed! I love the idea of serendipity {a fortunate accident} and love that is “meant to be.” This movie twists and turns and keeps you guessing until the end. I love the characters, the music, the settings, the dialogue. There’s also a lot of humor in the movie — Eugene Levy’s character is hilarious!

When Harry Met Sally

when-harry-met-sally-poster

This movie just makes me feel so happy and warm inside. You know those movies that make you feel like everything is right with the world? When Harry Met Sally is at the top of my list. Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal are fantastic together, and the dialogue and storyline are Nora Ephron at her best. One of my favorite things about this movie is the intersplicing of “real life” older couples sharing how they met. Best love quote of the movie: “At that moment, I knew. I knew the way you know about a good melon.”

You’ve Got Mail

you've got mail

Another Meg Ryan classic … I can’t even count the number of times I’ve watched this movie with my friend Holly. It’s just so sweet and wonderful! Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are superb together. I love the music in this movie; I love the book/reading theme; I love the backdrop of NYC. This movie is actually a remake of a Jimmy Stewart class, The Shop Around The Corner, which I have watched many times with my Gramps and would also highly recommend! The ending of both movies always gives me a grateful, goofy, teary smile–one of the best kinds of smile, in my opinion.

Win a Date With Tad Hamilton!

Win_A_Date_With_Tad_Hamilton

This is such a fun movie! I remember it came out when I was in high school, and I had a bad day at school and my sweet dad and brother took me to see this movie in the the theaters. {My mom was at work.} How lucky am I, right? Best dad and brother ever! I loved every minute of this movie that first viewing, and I love it still. This is the perfect rainy-day movie, sleepover movie, lazy Sunday movie when you just want to watch something funny and sweet. Which guy should she choose: the famous celebrity or her small-town best friend? {Okay, you might already be able to guess who she chooses, but getting there is the good part!} 🙂

The Notebook

the notebook

There’s something about the love story in The Notebook that really sweeps me away. The kiss scene in the rain is amazing!!

And of course, the perfect movie to celebrate Valentine’s Day would have to be …

Valentine’s Day!

valentines-day

It doesn’t get much more love-packed than this! While I don’t think this movie is quite as good as its Christmas-themed inspiration Love Actually, I still really enjoy the multitude of interweaving storylines, star-studded cast, and of course the day all the action revolves around: Valentine’s Day! This movie explores many different types of love in many different relationships. Plus, my girl Taylor Swift is in it! Love her.

What are some of your favorite romantic movies? Please share in the comments section!

Hope your weekend is wonderful,
Dallas

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you might enjoy these other valentine-themed posts:
easy + inexpensive valentine’s day cards
an adorable owl craft project
6 simple sweets to make your sweetie for valentine’s day
budget-friendly valentine’s day ideas
hand-crafted valentine’s day decor

year of kindness challenge: week 4

year of kindness button

Happy Monday! How did the #yearofkindness challenge go for you this past week?

The week 3 challenge was to send a kind note to brighten someone’s day. I sent quite a few handwritten cards this week — I aimed for one per day — and it put me in such a good mood! There’s something about sending good old-fashioned snail mail that seems extra-special these days. I slid the stamped envelopes in the mailbox and thought about the recipients opening their mailboxes in a few days to find a card from me, and it was the best feeling! This kindness stuff is addicting! 🙂

kind notes

Here are some good things that happened in my world this week:

  • I was alerted that one of my fellowship applications was incomplete with enough time to send in the required materials to complete it … they definitely did not have to take the time to email me about the incomplete materials, and I am SO very grateful they did not just throw my application out! {Whew!}
  • Funnily enough, I received some happy surprise mail this week — a letter and clipped cartoons from my Gramps! He is not very computer savvy and I am pretty sure he does not read this blog {I don’t think he knows what a blog is!} so it was serendipity that he participated in last week’s kindness challenge!
  • One of my best friends got an exciting {and very much deserved} job promotion. Woo hoo!
  • I bumped into a professor I had last semester, who thoughtfully told me that one of her current undergraduate students took my creative writing course over the summer and had great things to say about it. What a nice compliment that totally made my day!

Okay, now on to the Week 4 Kindness Challenge: give hot chocolate or coffee to someone out in the cold who could use a bit of warmth! Some possibilities: a construction worker, a toll booth operator, a crossing guard, a bus monitor, a mail deliverer … or I’m sure you can think of others!

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.

Have a marvelous week!
-Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note

saturday upsides: a cozy night in

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Monday is the beginning of a new semester at Purdue, and I’m gearing up to teach my two courses: First-Year Composition and Business Writing. Being back in Indiana means returning to below-freezing temps and snow on the ground, in addition to transitioning from festive vacation mode back to the everyday stresses and obligations of my normal life. Yesterday was filled with meetings and course prep, and {as often happens when I travel} I feel my body fighting off a little bug that I probably picked up on the airplane coming back from California. I’ve been downing green tea, Airborne, and plenty of water, which is seeming to help! Fingers crossed I fight it off and am feeling rested and energized come Monday.

My Saturday Upside is that I am reminded again and again that so much of happiness is based on not what happens to you, but what you make of it. {Or, as Coach Wooden so eloquently phrased it: “Things turn out for the best for those who make the best of the way things turn out.”}

Instead of feeling stressed or nervous for the start of the new semester, I’m choosing to feel excited and hopeful that it will be a great one!

Instead of dreading a long day of meetings, I chose to focus my mental energy on how great it would be to see my friends and colleagues again after a few weeks away. And it was!

Instead of feeling bummed about fighting off a cold, it’s been a great reminder at the start of this new year to slow down and spend time taking care of my body.

I had the perfect cozy night in last night: an easy homemade chicken-and-quinoa recipe I’m eager to share with you soon, M&M brownies for dessert, and snuggling up on the couch with a Redbox rental. I’m looking forward to a laid-back, restful weekend!

What are your plans for the weekend? I’d love to hear your Saturday Upsides!

🙂 Dallas

saturday upsides: a cozy rainy day

Happy weekend, everyone! I hope all of you, especially those affected by Hurricane Sandy, are safe and sound. You are in my thoughts and prayers!

After a week of such devastation, I wanted to make sure to post a “Saturday Upside” today {inspired by my blogging friend Bonnie at Recipes Happen} because I think it is these times more than ever that remind us what really matters and to be grateful for all of our blessings. Amongst a million small daily gratitudes, today I want to take a moment to be grateful for the big things: all my wonderful friends and family, my health, my warm safe home, enough food to eat, the opportunity to pursue my dreams. Love and laughter and hope and more love.

Today is cold and rainy here today in West Lafayette. Ordinarily, I might look out the window and yearn for sun, feeling nostalgic for summer or my hometown in California, where my parents report it is indeed warm and sunny today. But there are upsides to cold rainy days. The 38-degree weather outside makes cuddling up at home feel luxurious. It makes a small apartment like mine feel warm and cozy. {Bonus upside to a small apartment: it doesn’t take much time or energy to heat up the whole place!} The rain pattering outside is such a comforting sound. I’ve got a blanket on my lap, a good book and warm cup of tea on the table beside me. What could be better?

Don’t we always want what we don’t have? In summer’s humid heat we yearn for air conditioning and cold weather; now, in the cold weather, we yearn for warmth and sun. I’m going to make an effort to be happy where I am, wherever it may be, and whatever the weather is like outside my window. My Saturday Upside is to relax and enjoy this cold, rainy, cozy and marvelous day in November!

Hope your weekend is wonderful,
-Dallas

saturday upsides & healthy apple oatmeal muffins

Hi everyone! Hope you had a wonderful week and are gearing up for a lovely autumn weekend. I am pretty much over my nasty head cold, but am still feeling a little low-energy. As mentioned, I was {un}kind enough to share my cold germs with Mike, who has been battling the bug as well this week. I took him to the doctor yesterday, which was a good thing because he had a build-up of fluid in his ears that easily could have turned into a bad ear infection! He is currently on a regimen of steroids & antibiotics to clear up any infection and woke up this morning feeling much better.  It will be nice for both of us to get some rest this weekend and {fingers crossed} I will be feeling all better and will have an energetic Marvelous Monday post for you in a couple of days!

In the meantime, I was inspired by my blogging friend Bonnie over at Recipes Happen who has created a series called Saturday Upsides in which she posts each Saturday about looking at the bright side of things. {Check out her post today about the upsides of a busy Saturday!}

My Saturday Upsides today are numerous: both Mike and I are feeling on the mend; we get to see his family this weekend; fun pumpkin carving and Halloween activities are planned. And one bright side of struggling through a few miserable days while your body is battling a cold or flu bug is that it makes you more aware of what a blessing it is to normally be feeling healthy!

Before I sign off for the day, I wanted to share this recipe that I made earlier this week for healthy apple oatmeal muffins. I made a big batch of these on Tuesday evening and ate them for breakfast and snacks all week long. They are full of fiber and heart-healthy oats, plus double-apple goodness thanks to the apple pieces and applesauce. A perfect autumn treat! And they are easy to whip up {which was a requirement for me this week! This cold has seriously knocked me flat!}

I adapted this recipe from one I found on Frugal Homemaking for oatmeal chocolate-chip muffins. Hope you enjoy!

healthy apple oatmeal muffins

– 3/4 cup oatmeal
– 1 and 1/3) cups whole-wheat flour
– 1/3 cup brown sugar
– 1 tsp. baking powder
– 1 tsp. baking soda
– 1/4 tsp. salt
– 2 tsps cinnamon
– 1 egg, beaten
– 3/4 cup milk {I used nonfat}
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
– 1 large apple, peeled and cut into pieces {I used a honeycrisp, my all-time favorite apple, but you could use any kind you want}

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prepare a muffin tin with paper cups.

2. Blend together dry ingredients: oatmeal, flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

3. In a separate bowl, mix together the wet ingredients: egg, milk, applesauce, and vanilla.

4. Create a well in the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Mix together.

5. Stir in the apple pieces. Batter will be lumpy and thick.

6. Fill the muffin cups about 3/4 of the way to the top.

7. Bake for 16-18 minutes, until golden brown and a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

And that’s it! These muffins are like apple-cinnamon oatmeal in baked form. Warm, filling, healthy comfort food.

What are your plans for this weekend? Any autumn-inspired recipes you’re trying out?

Stay happy & healthy,
Dallas

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– Time spent: 40 minutes {including bake time}
– Cost: less than $5.00

marvelous monday: staying positive when you’re sick

Hi everyone! I feel like it’s been for…ev…er since I’ve posted. I’ve missed you! As you can tell from the title of this post, I’ve been sick with a nasty cold. Sniffles, coughing, congested, feverish, and soooo tired. You know that weary-bones, sandpaper-eyes tiredness you get when you’re sick? Yep, that’s me.

It can be hard to stay positive when your body is fighting a cold. You’re sick and tired and all you want to do is crawl back into bed and sleep the day away! But it isn’t always possible when Monday rolls around and work and obligations beckon. So, in keeping with the “marvelous monday” theme, I woke up this morning and tried to keep my thoughts on the upside. Here are some things that help keep a smile on my face even when I’m sick:

  • eating breakfast in my cozy Purdue Snuggie that my parents got for me when I decided to come to Purdue for grad school. So warm, and so functional!

  • warm green tea with honey … perfect natural throat soother.
  • snuggling up with a good book {right now I’m reading My Name is Memory by Ann Brashares — a unique, creative romantic read from the author of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series}
  • the beautiful autumn leaves outside my window and on my drive to school.

  • sweet phone calls and texts from my parents and brother checking up on me to see how I’m feeling
  • wonderful students who seemed to sense that I was feeling under the weather and were extra well-behaved and participatory in class discussions today.
  • a reminder that I am so fortunate to normally be feeling 100% healthy and energetic, and I need to be grateful for my body and take care of it! As a naturally go-go-go 24/7 type of person, relaxation can be a challenge for me. Sometimes being sick in bed with a cold is the reminder I need to slow down, rest, and take care of myself by making sure I spend some time in relaxation mode, even when I get back to feeling healthy.

Hope you are having a wonderful start to the week! Does anyone have any tips to share for staying positive when you’re feeling under the weather? How about ways you keep your body healthy through cold-and-flu season?

-Dallas

cranberry ice cubes & cherry-cranberry jello

I came down with the stomach flu last week and completely lost my appetite. But it has been so hot outside that I wanted to make sure I kept hydrated. What really sounded good to me were ice cubes {for the coldness} and cranberry juice {for the flavor and Vitamin C!} My sweetie Mike had the genius idea of combining the two things to make cranberry ice cubes. They are the perfect way to stay cool in the summer heat while also enjoying a pop of flavor!

cranberry ice cubes

-cranberry juice {we used 100% juice, a mixture of cranberry and apple}
– water
– ice cube tray
– toothpicks {optional, to make little popsicles}

1. Fill a large cup with half water and half cranberry juice.

2. Carefully fill the ice cube tray.

3. If desired, add a toothpick to each ice cube for easy removal.

4. Freeze until solid, remove, and enjoy!.

Mike also used these cranberry ice cubes to make Jello for me, which was hands-down the BEST Jello I have ever had! He used the sugar-free cherry flavor and combined with the cranberry ice cubes it was the perfect mixture of sweet and tart!

cherry-cranberry jello

– 1 package sugar-free cherry jello
– cranberry ice cubes
– water

1. Make jello according to package directions, except instead of using regular ice cubes, use cranberry ice cubes!

2. Put into the fridge to chill for an hour, until jello-jiggly!

YUM!

Hope you have a cool, relaxing weekend! Stay healthy!
-Dallas

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Time spent: 15 minutes, plus fridge & freezer time
Cost: $2.00