weekend fun {+ trying to stay cool!}

Happy Sunday, friends! Hope you are having a joyful, relaxing, rejuvenating day!

It has been H-O-T here in Southern California, and especially in my little beach community where few of us have air conditioning, this weekend has been all about trying to keep cool! I have been downing Gatorade, homemade iced tea, and smoothies.

As I mentioned the other day, I have been all about the smoothies lately! I am a little late to the smoothie party, and I don’t know why it took me so long. I think I was intimidated by the blender {and blender clean-up} but it really takes me all of five minutes to assemble my smoothie, blend it, and wash the blender. A smoothie has become my go-to breakfast! I normally blend some fresh or frozen fruit, a couple spoonfuls of greek yogurt, 1/2 cup of coconut water, a handful of baby spinach, and ice. Here are a few of my favorite fruit combos:

– strawberries, banana, pineapple
– peach, strawberries, blueberries
– mango, peach, blueberries
– raspberries, strawberries, banana, blueberries

Also, if anyone is like me and feels a little wary about adding spinach, trust me: you really can’t taste it! It’s a great way to get a little more green into your diet.

On a more decadent note, I also made these chocolate butter cups which are currently chilling in the freezer … I will let you know how they turn out!

me beachin

Yesterday I spent the afternoon at the beach with my dear friend Patty and her family, who were sweet enough to invite me out to their beach house. It was a beautiful day at the beach and the nice ocean breeze cooled things off a little!

Then, last night my mom and I kept cool in the air conditioning: we went to a local restaurant and saw my amazing friend Lauren Sexton in concert! She is such a talented songwriter, singer and guitar player. She just released an album and the concert was a celebration. You can check out her music on her Facebook page — two of my favorites are her songs “In the Morning” and “The Highway.” Her music is beautiful and I was so proud to be there last night! Congrats, Lauren!

lauren sexton concert lauren sexton

This morning began with a smoothie, the Sunday comics, a slobbery doggy kiss from Murray, and a beautiful sermon at church. Today’s sermon was about delighting in the abundance and joy of the summer and taking time to relax and recharge your batteries. After I got home, I’ve spent the rest of the afternoon sprawled out on the couch reading a great book — Abide With Me by Elizabeth Strout. {I love her! Her novel Olive Kitteridge is another great read!}

As I’ve written about before, sometimes I feel this pressure to be go-go-go all the time, like constant busyness makes my days more worthwhile, but I’ve found it’s really quite the opposite. On those rushed, forced go-go-go days I typically climb into bed feeling depleted and frazzled, like my gas tank is on empty. Not a good feeling. I’m learning to give myself permission, especially on Sundays, to just relax and savor this amazing life I’ve been blessed with. There was nothing I felt more like doing today and curling up with a book, and it has been a delightful Sunday.

What are you doing to relax and recharge your batteries? What are you delighting in this summer?

marvelous monday: strawberry chocolate-chip pancakes

Happy Monday, everyone! How was your weekend? Marvelous, I hope!

I had a fun, relaxing and productive weekend. It was a great balance of work and play! I did some grading and lesson-planning, worked some on the novel I’m writing for my thesis, and did some baking! {Delish new muffin recipe coming later this week, hooray!} The highlight of the weekend was definitely Saturday night, when I drove an hour to Indianapolis to see Bob Dylan in concert!!

It was a beautiful summer evening and the concert was held in an outdoor venue, so we got to enjoy the sunset just as Bob Dylan was beginning to play. I loved the casual, picnic atmosphere. There were no assigned seats {at least not in the back section where we were sitting!} Instead, people sat in blankets or lawn chairs in the grass. It was lovely.

And Bob, of course, was rockin’! It was so neat to hear him play so many of his classic songs live. For an encore he played “Blowin’ in the Wind” which might be my favorite of his songs. You can just barely make him out in this photo I snapped — in the middle of the stage in the black jacket, playing the piano. Can you spot him?

What a fun time! I had a blast. What are some of your favorite concerts you’ve ever been to?

I wanted to start the week off on a luxurious note, so for breakfast I made strawberry chocolate-chip pancakes. How can this not be a fantastic week with these babies kicking it off?

I love this recipe for homemade from-scratch buttermilk pancakes I found on the terrific blog Newfashioned Mom, but you could also substitute your favorite boxed pancake mix.

strawberry chocolate-chip pancakes

– 1 cup unbleached flour
– 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 5 tablespoons powdered buttermilk (or 1 1/4 c. fresh buttermilk, skip the water)
– 1 egg
– 1 cup water
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 cup chopped strawberries
– 1/2 cup chocolate chips
– butter for greasing pan

1. Heat pan or griddle on medium-low.

2. To make pancake batter: sift together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine buttermilk, egg, water, and vanilla extract. Add egg mixture to dry mixture and stir together until big lumps disappear. {Batter should still be slightly lumpy.}

3. Grease pan with butter and pour in your pancake batter. I use a 1/4 cup scoop.

4. If desired, drop in the chocolate chips and strawberries. I prefer to cook chocolate-chip pancakes and add the strawberries on top after.

Option 1 on the left, Option 2 on the right.

5. When batter begins to bubble in the middle, use a spatula to flip the pancakes over. Cook until golden-brown on both sides.

6. Serve immediately with warm syrup. YUM!

Whenever I make pancakes, my first batch is nearly always a hot mess. Still tastes good, but not as pretty as the others. At least this one kinda looks like a heart! ❤

Hope you have a wonderful week filled with strawberries & sunshine!

-Dallas

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-Time spent: 20 mins
-Cost: less than $5