fabulous friday #37

Happy Friday! I’m off to my favorite morning yoga class, then hoping to get a good writing session in at Starbucks before lunch, and then this afternoon I’m tutoring some really sweet kiddos. The rest of the evening will be spent hanging out with my grandparents and resting up for my crazy day tomorrow!

My Saturday = a full day of teaching + an evening reading in San Francisco for Arroyo Literary Review as part of the awesome Litquake events going on throughout the city + meeting up with Allyn and his MBA classmates for a “dare-e-oke night” fundraiser for their humanitarian trip to Kenya. {Any good karaoke song suggestions??}

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. This wise message on my green tea bag this morning, which reminds me of the namaste principle in yoga class:

tea message

2. The new NBC romantic comedy sitcom A to Z. You guys, it’s only been three episodes but this show is already something I look forward to in my week! If I were to write a TV show, I have a feeling it would be something like this. The show centers around Andrew and Zelda {get it? A to Z!} and chronicles their relationship from when they first meet. The episodes are organized by letter, for example the first one was “A for Acquaintances.” It’s a really clever and funny show, and I love the characters! I even got Allyn to watch an episode with me the other night, and he laughed out loud a couple times. My brother texted me after watching the first episode: Oh sweet Jesus this is a Dallas show! Haha. What can I say? I love love!

3. The pumpkin-pie fail that happened in my kitchen this week. I’m not exactly grateful for this disaster of a pie — something happened and it never really set, but the top layer sort of burned and peeled off the pie! Has that ever happened to anyone else? I followed my favorite recipe the same as I always do, but obviously something went wrong. The only thing I can think of is that I made it in a different oven than I usually do {I made it for Allyn at his place}… but other than that, I’m clueless! I need to make another one soon to make up for this pie.

gross pumpkin pie

However, the thing I LOVED about this pie was my sweetheart’s reaction. It was my first time ever making him a pie, and it smelled so good baking in the oven, filling the kitchen with spice and autumn. Anticipation was high! But then I took it out of the oven, and there was a huge air bubble on the top — the pie was like a dome, and as it cooled the dome deflated. It reminded me of that scene in Christmas Vacation when they cut into the delicious-looking turkey and it immediately shrivels up. Anyway, I knew right away that something was not right with this pie. I peeled off the top burnt layer and the insides were this mushy texture. So disappointing!

I’ll be honest: I was upset. And embarrassed. And confused. I was about ready to pitch this pie out the window! But Allyn just hugged me and said, “It’ll be fine! It’s still gonna taste delicious!” And when the pie cooled, over my protests, he cut himself a big slice and finished every bite.

We spent the rest of the night laughing about this pie. Now it’s actually a funny memory, and yet another reminder of why I feel so grateful and happy to be with this man.

4. This quote and beautiful photo from Courtney Carver at Be More With Less:

5. For my birthday, my friends Allyson & Henry got me a subscription to a superb and innovative literary magazine, McSweeney’s. Yesterday my first issue arrived! This issue is designed as a bunch of small pamphlets so it’s easy to just grab a story and slip it into my purse when I’m on the go. I’m so excited to dig into it this weekend!

mcsweeneys

mcsweeneys

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?

bruce bruce, homemade beignets, pumpkins galore & other weekend highlights

Happy Monday, everyone! How was your weekend? Mine was absolutely lovely and I couldn’t resist sharing some photos… I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s year of Wooden post!

Saturday morning I slept in a little and relaxed, reading a couple short stories while sipping on a mug of chai tea and noshing on a bowl of cinnamon oatmeal. Then I baked a batch of 3-ingredient banana cookies. Then I got ready to go teach a bunch of energetic kiddos for five hours!

Then I taught for five hours!

Then I was exhausted.

But I quickly perked up because I was meeting my sweetheart for dinner 🙂 We went to Tommy T’s, a comedy steakhouse — it was the first time there for both of us and we weren’t quite sure what to expect, but the food was tasty and the whole place was packed! Definitely a popular venue. The headline comedian was Bruce Bruce, who I had never before heard of but who seemed quite well-known among most of the audience.

I was a bit disappointed because he talked SO fast that I had a tough time hearing/ understanding what he was saying! The jokes I did catch I thought were humorous, and it was clear that his quick-talking was purposeful — it was part of his whole vibe. Maybe if I heard him perform more often and had a better sense of his speech rhythms, I would have been able to understand more of what he said. But in any case, it was still a fun night and I was really glad we went!

Sunday morning, Allyn and I tried our hands at making beignets! They’re the French-style dessert that we loved at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. Before he left NOLA, Allyn picked up a box of beignet mix and yesterday we decided to finally put ourselves to the test!

beignet mix

I’ll be honest: at first, I was quite certain they were going to be a disaster. The dough was super sticky and I was having a ridiculously difficult time rolling it out. I used a water glass because we didn’t have a rolling pin!

rolling pin water glass

Lots and lots of flour ended up being the secret weapon. Once the dough was rolled out thin enough, we cut it into small squares and placed them carefully in the frying basket. By the time they reached the frying basket, they usually looked more like distended blobs of dough than squares, but no matter. We pressed on!

beignet dough

making beignets

Then Allyn, who earned the name Mr. Pro Fryer, dropped the basket into the hot oil and … I was amazed! The blobs of dough actually looked like little beignets! Not as pretty as the ones at Cafe du Monde, but still respectable.

frying beignets

little beignets

We topped them with powdered sugar and they were delicious! Eating a Sunday brunch of beignets and fruit salad out on the patio felt super luxurious. Sometimes my Sundays start out way too fast, with me rushing off to church or tutoring commitments. When possible, I want to start waking up early enough to savor a slow Sunday morning breakfast.

beignets breakfast

Church was lovely yesterday. I was honored to do the chalice lighting {a symbol of our religious faith at the beginning of the service} and I read aloud these beautiful words by Joy Harjo:

joy harjo quote

After church, I met up with Dana for a catch-up coffee date, and we also stopped by this super-cute local nursery that was all decked out for Halloween! It was a really warm day yesterday, so the weather felt like summer, but the place definitely felt like autumn. I really love autumn decorations and Dana does too, so we had a great time admiring all the details.

Dana pumpkin patch

me pumpkin patch

pumpkins

sunflower

spider

halloween

There were baby goats, too!

baby goats

I was swooning over these beautiful hand-painted sunflower tiles. I told Dana that one day I want to buy one of these and hang it in my kitchen!

sunflower tiles

My Sunday ended with family dinner, where my Uncle Arn serenaded us with Steely Dan hits on his new electric drum set and my gorgeous cousin Arianna did a fashion show of her beautiful Homecoming dress and accessorizing options. Then I watched The Good Wife with my grandma, read a little of After Dakota, and collapsed into bed. A perfect day!

marvelous monday: making the most of long car rides

Hi everyone! Hope you had a nice weekend! As I mentioned on Saturday, Mike and I spent the weekend visiting his family, who live in the Chicago suburbs, about a 2.5 hour drive away from us. I miss my family — it is difficult living so far away from them! — but Mike’s family is warm and welcoming and I always love seeing them.

It was a fun weekend! Home cooking, lots of laughter and long conversation, and a visit to the pumpkin patch! Yesterday was a beautiful autumn day in Illinois and we took advantage of it!

If there is one thing I dislike about visiting Mike’s family, it is the long car ride there and back … I am not the biggest car person and five hours in two days feels long to me! I get carsick easily and can’t read or write in the car. I am someone who hates feeling unproductive and I get antsy sitting still in a confined space for so long. But it is obviously worth the drive to get to see Mike’s family, and also I’ve found that by shifting my mindset and implementing some easy car-ride strategies, it has actually become time I look forward to and enjoy! Here are some tips that work for me that I’m hoping might make your next long car ride or even your daily commute more enjoyable:

  • If you have company, savor it! Take the opportunity to have some nice uninterrupted conversations. I love the long, wandering conversations Mike and I have during our car trips together — serious, silly, deep, insightful. It’s quality time we get to spend together, just the two of us, talking. It reminds me of when we first started dating and spent so much time talking-talking-talking, soaking up each other’s stories.
  • Driving solo? Why not take the time to call up a friend or family member for a catch-up chat? {Of course, make sure to use a hands-free headset and drive safe!}
  • Listen to a comedy album. My current fave: the insanely witty Demetri Martin! {You can check out his new album here.} The drive goes by so fast when you are cracking up the whole way there!
  • Listen to an audiobook. I got this idea from my dad, who often runs to audiobooks. {He’s made his way through quite some impressive tomes this way, such as East of Eden and Huckleberry Finn!} Audible.com is a great resource for downloading audiobooks. Or go the free route and check out CDs from the library! When I drove cross-country with my mom to move from California to Indiana for grad school, this is what we did. The CDs are admittedly a little clunkier than your iPod, but they still do the trick.
  • Scan the radio for new-to-you stations. Mike and I found a station that plays Irish-inspired music, which we both love. It felt like a special treat to listen to songs we’d never heard before, and I was scribbling artists’ names down in my notebook to look up later.
  • If you’re not the one driving, spend a little time being productive: pick up any trash that’s found its way onto the floor or between the seats, write checks to pay some bills, etc. One car trip, I organized Mike’s glove box. {Which I will share in a later post!}
  • Do something crafty. I have found long car rides to be an ideal time to knit! I am halfway through a new scarf for Mike right now, thanks to car-ride knitting time.
  • Gaze out the window and daydream. Sometimes we all need some time to reflect and let our minds wander. Tap into your imagination and see where your thoughts take you!

Anyone else have any tips to share? How do you make the most of long car rides or daily commute time?

Have a marvelous week!
-Dallas 🙂