fabulous friday #52

Hi friends, and happy Friday! It’s been far too long since I’ve done a Fabulous Friday post… I’m excited to bring this back today! Hope you’re up to something fun this lovely autumn weekend. 🙂

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Being in Lake Tahoe! This is my first time traveling to this gorgeous vacation destination that so many people rave about, and I must say it has lived up to my expectations and then some! It is a beautiful time of year to be here, with crisp fall weather and so much greenery. I snagged a postcard for you guys!

Lake Tahoe postcard

I am loving being part of the Tahoe WordWave Festival. There are so many talented, creative writers and artists all around and it has been a privilege and pleasure to attend the workshops and events. Additionally, I am SO excited for the premiere of my one-act play “Woman, Running Late, in a Dress” tomorrow night at the Valhalla Boathouse Theatre! The cast of my play took a selfie for you. {How adorable are they??}

my cast

2. Backing up a little bit, this past Tuesday Dana and I attended the Taste of Walnut Creek, a fundraiser for a variety of local organizations, including my church! Each attendee got a little booklet of coupons and you would walk around downtown and stop at various restaurants to get a sample.

taste of walnut creek booklet

Each sample was quite small, but at the end of the night we were definitely full! {And we didn’t even make it to all of the restaurants offered!} If your town offers something similar, I would for sure recommend attending. Here is a list of the different eats & drinks we enjoyed:

I had an absolute blast strolling around downtown Walnut Creek, eating and chatting with beautiful Dana! I feel so blessed to have such amazing people like her in my life.

me and dana taste of walnut creek

3. I can’t get enough coconut butter lately! Have you guys tried this before? I first had it smeared on my morning bagels at Key West when I was there for the Key West Literary Conference a couple years ago, but I kind of forgot about it because I never see coconut butter in the grocery store, just coconut oil. But coconut butter was on sale at Swanson’s Vitamins last week, so I bought a tub.

coconut butter

You guys, I can’t get enough! My favorite thing of late is to prep a slice of toast with half coconut butter, half almond butter. Mmmmm I could eat this all day.

coconut almond butter toast

Aaaaand I am pretty sure my love for avocado toast will never die. Bring on the healthy fats!

avocado toast

4. I recently discovered Susan Hyatt {thanks to my girl Alex Franzen} and I am loving her short weekly “GO!” podcasts. Susan releases a new episode each Monday, with the goal of helping you get your week off to a great start. Topics range from your finances to your family to your business/career. I love how these are short enough to listen to as I’m getting ready for the day, and they never fail to give me a burst of inspiration. Susan is like that funny, no-nonsense, motivating friend who gives you the honest kick-in-pants you need. I binge-listened to all of her episodes last week, and now I am kinda bummed I have to wait each week for a new one!

5. Allyn and I got our pumpkins! Fingers crossed they last till Halloween; we are planning to have a pumpkin-carving party with Allyn’s sister on Halloween day. Since I like to name EVERYTHING, I of course had to name our pumpkins. Let me introduce you to Harold and Maude! {Have you seen that movie? Such a great one.}

our pumpkins

Questions for the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What do you have on the agenda for this weekend?

fabulous friday #51: recap edition!

Hi friends, and happy Friday! Sorry for the radio silence around here the past week or so… it’s been an especially busy time, filled with lots of emotion! I thought I would make today’s Fabulous Friday post a recap version of all the neat things I’ve been grateful to experience and celebrate recently.

Happy weekend! Hope you’re up to something fun!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Memorial Day weekend was Céline’s Celebration of Life, which was basically a big party honoring her memory and celebrating the amazing, one-of-a-kind, treasure of a person she was.

celine celebration of life

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect or how I would be feeling, and while the evening was bittersweet and there were certainly tears shed, it was an overwhelmingly loving and beautiful experience. It was a gift to be with my friends from college, and to spend time talking to and connecting with other people who knew and loved Céline from all different facets of her life. The party was themed “Around the World” and I dressed up as Ireland — an excuse to wear my gold dress from college that I always associate with Céline and our college parties.

celine celebration group

me and holly

I think Céline would have really loved it. I miss her every day.

2. My 28th birthday yielded all sorts of sweet surprises. One of my students wrote me this lovely card, and another gave me a piece of her own artwork — a stunning painting of birch trees! She is nine. NINE. I am in awe.

rosalie card

birch trees painting

And my darling Dana surprised me with these gorgeous sunny tulips! They make me smile every time I walk past. Thank you, Dana! ❤

bday tulips

bday tulips 2

3. For my birthday, Allyn surprised me with a cooking class in San Francisco at Sur La Table! It was my first time ever taking a cooking class and it was so much fun. Normally the class would hold up to 16 people, but we lucked out that we were the only two people who showed up — it ended up being a “private” class just for us! I think we got to do a lot more “hands-on” cooking ourselves than we would have if it had been a full class. And when the instructor found out it was my birthday, she brought me a cupcake with a candle in it and everyone sang me “Happy Birthday.” So thoughtful!

cooking class

We learned to make grilled pizzas with homemade dough and toppings. That’s right, pizza cooked on a grill pan over your stovetop! It was much easier than I expected and turned out amazing. My favorite part was the thick, chewy crust. We made a classic margarita pizza; a Greek-influenced bell pepper and chorizo-topped pizza; and a pizza topped with seasoned lamb and mint pesto. They were all fabulous!

pizzas

Allyn had a fun time too and we are definitely hoping to take more cooking classes together in the future. Such a unique and cute date!

sur la table date

4. The evening of my birthday, my extended family gathered at my Aunt Annie’s house for dinner. It was wonderful to get to spend time with them all. As always, there was lots of laughter and storytelling around the table. And my grandma baked and decorated my birthday cake herself! Have you ever seen a more adorable cake?

birthday cake

ally and gparents

me with my aunts

me and seeeees

allyn with poodles

5. On May 30, Allyn graduated with his MBA! He has worked so hard the past two years on his degree and I could not be more proud of him. If graduating were not enough, he was also honored as the Outstanding Student of the Year, chosen by faculty and fellow students. Congrats, sweetheart!!

allyn graduating

20150530_163011

me and al graduation

Questions for the evening:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What do you have on the agenda for this weekend?

fabulous friday #50

Aaaaaand just like that, it’s the weekend! It is a warm one around here and we are all trying to stay cool, and also soaking up some gorgeous sunshine outdoors. I get to meet up with this pretty lady in a few hours for dinner.

me and dana sideboard

So excited to catch up with her! Hope you’re up to something fun!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My favorite dessert of late: organic vanilla greek yogurt + fruit {raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries are my faves!} + mini chocolate chips.

yogurt dessert

2. My wonderful minister gave me a copy of this little book, which takes its title from a beautiful Robert Frost Poem, Nothing Gold Can Stay:

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

nothing gold can stay

I’ve been reading through the short essays in this book when I wake up in the morning and before I go to sleep at night, and it has been a source of comfort.

3. Last weekend I drove to Marcus Books in Oakland to attend a talk by Tavis Smiley about his new book chronicling his 20+ year friendship with Maya Angelou, My Journey With Maya. Tavis’s talk was filled with humor, wisdom, and his trademark insight. He is one of my role models! And I am savoring this book. I would definitely recommend picking up a copy — I think it would make the perfect Mother’s Day or graduation gift!

my journey with maya

I also loved these beautiful murals on the outside walls of Marcus Books:

marcus books

marcus books 2

4. My friend Jess sent me this lovely ring and a nice card in the mail, out of the blue! It was really sweet and made my day. It’s an infinity ring, symbolizing the everlasting bonds of friendship. She sent them to our friendship group from college, as a way of honoring Celine.

infinity ring

5. This *free* April reflection worksheet courtesy of Nicole at Life Less BS. It’s the perfect way to say goodbye to April and hello to May! Nicole never fails to make me feel inspired and ready to tackle my goals and BIG dreams for my life.

Questions for the evening:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What do you have on the agenda for this weekend?

christmas tree lane

This past weekend, Allyn and I had a really fun and festive time celebrating the holiday season! On Friday night we went to a fantastic production of A Christmas Carol. I was blown away by the quality of everything — the acting, singing, set design, special effects, costumes — it was superb! I nearly cried at the end when Tiny Tim said, “God bless us, every one!”

me and allyn

On Saturday we had a picnic lunch overlooking the city of Oakland and the San Francisco Bay, which was beautiful even despite the fog.

picnic view

Then we went to the famous carousel at Tilden Park, which was decorated for the holidays. One thing I love about my sweetheart is that he’s up for anything, even a mid-afternoon carousel ride alongside a bunch of toddlers and little children.

tilden park carousel

me and allyn christmas

On Saturday night we celebrated my dear friend Dana’s birthday, which was so much fun. Allyn and I headed out early for the party, and on our way we stopped at Christmas Tree Lane in Alameda. Neither of us had been there before, but I heard many great things about it when I did some poking around online for “holiday things to do in the Bay Area.”

We went hoping for lots of Christmas lights… and let’s just say, we were not disappointed!

christmas lights

christmas lights

christmas lights

christmas lights

christmas lights

I loved seeing all the different themes of the houses and the characters they featured… Snoopy, Sesame Street, Disney, The Night Before Christmas… one house even had Christmas karaoke going! There was a man dressed as Santa Claus for the kids to take pictures with, and at one point a parade of people dressed as Christmas trees danced down the middle of the street!

Allyn and I bought hot chocolate from some adorable girls selling homemade treats in front of one of the houses, and we sipped it as we strolled along the street admiring all the lights. It was absolutely lovely. I definitely want to go back next year!

Hope you are having a delightful Christmas Eve, my dear friends! I am sending light and love to every one of you ❤

Questions of the morning:

  • Are there any amazing light displays in your neck of the woods?
  • What are some of your favorite holiday traditions?

a year of Wooden: week 38

Hi there, everyone! Hope you’re having a great morning! On my agenda for today: run a few errands, finally get a flu shot, go to the gym, and bake something yummy. Tonight I’m going to Dana’s house to watch the World Series game! GO, GIANTS, GO!!

Before I hop in the car and head out, time for this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January: Drink deeply from good books
  • February: Make friendship a fine art
  • March: Help others
  • April: Build a shelter against a rainy day {financially}
  • May: Be true to yourself
  • June: Give thanks for your blessings every day
  • July: Love
  • August: Balance
  • September: Drink deeply from good poetry
  • October: Make friendship a fine art {new friends}

Our October challenge is a reprise of our February challenge, from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Make friendship a fine art. For October, we’re focusing on nurturing new friendships.

Last week’s challenge was to ask a stranger out on a “friend date” like Rachel Bertsche does in her book MWF Seeking BFF. I exchanged numbers with a new woman at church in the hopes of meeting up for coffee sometime. Also, I am slowly trying to become friends with my favorite yoga instructor. We chatted for a bit after class this week, and I definitely feel like she’s someone I’d love hanging out with! But it felt too soon/too pushy to suggest getting together outside of yoga class. I’m going to play it cool and keep building momentum, and maybe in a couple weeks I’ll feel better about asking her out on a friend date! 🙂

are you my friend

This week’s challenge is to nurture and celebrate one of the new friendships you’ve created this month! Send a note, card or email to your new friend or acquaintance. Invite them to do something else together. Tell them why you think they’re awesome and why you’re happy to know them. As Coach Wooden used to say…

to have a friend quote

Question for the day:

  • What new friend will you reach out to this week?

my weekend in a nutshell

Hi, friends! Hope your Monday is off to a great start! It is a beautifully drizzly day here today — here in California, we are thankful for EVERY drop of rain we receive! — and my grandma is making soup. I’m feeling cozy, warm, and so so grateful for what Mary Oliver refers to as this “one wild and precious life.”

What are you grateful for today?

I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s year of Wooden post, but for now I wanted to share some scenes from my weekend…


My reading on Saturday as part of San Francisco’s LitQuake went really well! The folks at Arroyo Literary Review were so kind and welcoming. I was honored that they asked me to be one of the readers. I always get a little nervous beforehand, but the audience was super warm and attentive. We were all happy with the turn-out — standing room only, woot woot! I also loved listening to the three other talented readers: Keith Ekiss, Rachel Howard, and Mike Larkin. Here’s a pic that someone snapped of me while I was reading:

me reading arroyo

Alson on Saturday night, I had a super fun time with Allyn and his classmates at karaoke! It was a fundraiser for their humanitarian trip to Kenya, so it was a unique format called “dareaoke” — a person would place a bet for someone else to sing a specific song. If the person didn’t want to sing it, they could “up” the bet to get someone else to sing the song. It was a blast, and a great idea for a fundraiser! It was a big group and no one bet me to sing a song {for which I was grateful} but my sweetheart rocked a rendition of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme song that had everyone cheering 🙂

Brownies! For half the batch I made pb cup brownies, for the other I tried a new recipe. I had a carton of strawberries in the fridge that were all ripening at the same time, so I decided to experiment and throw some chopped strawberries and chocolate chips into the batter. It was a success! Fudgy chocolate goodness with bursts of strawberry. I think the trick was to cut up the strawberries into very small pieces. I always love topping brownies with fresh strawberries, so these brownies were right up my alley.

brownies

As far as eats go, I can’t get enough veggie egg scrambles lately. I like to saute a panful of veggies with one or two eggs — I prefer my veggie-to-egg ratio to be very veg-heavy, egg-light. This one had zucchini + bell pepper + tomato + spinach. Serve it on top of a piece of whole-wheat toast for a delicious and healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner!

veggie scramble

My friend Dana just got two kittens! How adorable are these little fluffballs? Can’t wait to meet them in person!

dana's kittens

Aaaaaand that’s a wrap! I’m heading out to meet up with my sweetheart soon for a work session and a night in, making dinner and watching a movie. Enjoy the rest of your day!

fabulous friday #34

Happy Friday, friends! My morning started off with a relaxing, restorative yoga class… and it’s been a little stressful from then on. My cell phone is having battery issues and I’ve been on the phone with tech support all day trying to get the issues worked out. It’s amazing how much our lives are tied to our phones — I use mine not just to get in touch with people, but also as my GPS navigation system and to check my email when I’m out and about, etc. Really hope I get this solved soon!

But at the same time, I’m reminding myself to breathe and be grateful for this “first world problem”… so many people have much bigger issues and problems to worry about. I’m lucky to even have a cell phone in the first place!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. This “Green Goodness” juice that is on sale at Safeway this week … two bottles for $5, score! I grabbed some for a post-yoga snack this morning. The first time I got this drink, I misread the label as “Green GODDESS” and that’s always how I think of it in my head. So much good-for-you green stuff in this bottle, you’ll feel like a goddess after drinking it! 🙂

green goodness

2. Like a complete knucklehead, I forgot my retainer at home in Ventura when I came back up north last weekend. Well, my sweet parents didn’t even tease me or make me feel bad for being so forgetful — they just wrapped it securely in bubble wrap, slid it into an envelope, and 2-day-mailed it to me. This probably sounds silly, but I was ridiculously happy to be reunited with my retainer — I could feel my teeth shifting without it and it was stressing me out! I didn’t go through three years of braces — plus headgear — for nothing! Any other retainer-wearers out there?

3. This quote from Mother Teresa {which came to me thanks to the always-enlightening Heather Waxman}:

4. My grandma got this ginormous container of peanut-butter filled pretzels at Costco. This is dangerous, my friends. Dangerous.

pretzels

5. I got to see Dana for dinner last night at one of our fave spots, Chow. I got a cup of their fall vegetable minestrone soup and a spinach/apple/walnut salad. Yum! Great food and great company! I feel very grateful to have such thoughtful, wonderful friends in my life who build me up and make me feel so loved. In fact, Dana just now texted me: “I wanted to tell you that I loved your shirt and your bag yesterday, but I forgot to tell you! Super cute.” Sweet texts like that completely brighten my day! Thanks, Dana! ❤

me and dana sideboard

Now, I’m off to tutor a couple of adorable kiddos, and then we’re having a family dinner tonight because my Uncle Frankie is visiting! Happy Friday, everyone!

Questions of the day:

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

fabulous friday #31 {dana’s visit to ventura!}

Happy Friday! I’m looking forward to a weekend of relaxation, writing time, cheering on my Trojans, and dinner with friends. What wonderful things are you up to?

Today I want to give you a recap of my sweet friend Dana’s visit to Ventura! We had so much fun, and the weather was gorgeous — I couldn’t resist sharing these photos with you!

Here are 5 highlights from Dana’s visit:

1. Fish & chips at the Harbor! We went to a local favorite, Andria’s {longtime readers may remember it as Gramps’s favorite, too!} We also spent some time walking around the Harbor, looking at the boats and listening to live music.

Dana fish and chips

harbor

2. Going to the beach! It was a relatively calm, quiet morning — seagulls were pretty much our only company as we stretched out on the sand. After soaking up the sunshine for an hour or so, we went over to The Deck and had lunch. Their fish tacos are amazing!

my feet and sand

Dana beachside

deck fish tacos

3. Soaking in the sunshine at the Santa Barbara Pier. It was a gorgeous Memorial Day and after a delicious lunch we walked all along State Street and ended up at the pier.

dana sb

me in sb

santa barbara

4. We met up with Erica at Food Truck Tuesdays! I ordered an amazing gourmet grilled cheese with herbed gouda, butternut squash, cranberry compote, and walnuts on 9-grain bread. {My taste buds are already craving fall, I guess!} We had so much fun talking and laughing until the event closed down. I was so busy talking and enjoying our visit that I neglected to take a photo, whoops! Though here’s an older photo of Food Truck Tuesdays:

food trucks

5. Murray was SO in love with Dana! He would come sit next to her and place one paw on her lap, like he was trying to hold her hand. We joked that he was “courting” her. I love this picture of the two of them!

dana and murray

Questions of the morning:

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

goals + recipes for the week of 8/31

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone! Hope you have something fun planned. 🙂 Hard to believe tomorrow is September already!

I’m super excited because Dana is visiting me in Ventura for the long weekend! I’m happy to get to show her around all my favorite restaurants, hang-out spots, and childhood haunts.

me and dana sideboard

Plus a now cone-free {woo-hoo!} Mr. Mur-dog is ecstatic to have a new friend! Haha he is pretty much beside himself.

cone free murray

Last week I said I was hoping to get a LOT of writing done, and I was very successful in that goal! Now I’m hoping to continue that momentum into this week! #takingcareofmorebusiness

Before I head out, time for goals…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: 
revise 75 pages of my novel-in-progress
– complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
connect with three friends
– do yoga twice
– read through three back issues from my New Yorker stash

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– revise 100 pages of my novel-in-progress
– complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
– submit three pieces to journals/publications
– connect with three friends
– do yoga twice
– read through five back issues from my New Yorker stash

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
pumpkin oatmeal bars via The Lean Green Bean
mixed berry granola muffins via Two Peas & Their Pod
– peanut butter honey yogurt dip via Two Peas & Their Pod
slow-cooker cinnamon applesauce via It’s Progression
– my own gluten-free oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies

Questions of the 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!

mid-week meditation #5

Hi, everyone, and apologies for my {unexpected} blogging break! I was not really planning to take time off, but life just worked out that way with my visit home, teaching final classes and then prepping to teach a couple summer camps for Communication Academy. And THEN Holly visited me all of last week which was absolutely wonderful and the perfect excuse to unplug for a bit. We lounged, talked, cooked a delicious impromptu frittata, ate lots of veggies {and yeah, some pizza too!}, talked some more, explored San Francisco, met up with Dana for dinner, had a sleepover with Arianna, skyped with Allyn, and just generally had a magical time.

holly and dana

So special to have two of my favorite ladies together in one place! ❤

Whenever Holly visits me or I visit her, it always feels like we instantly fall back into our rhythm from when we lived together in college — it feels so normal to be together in everyday life. Now it’s weird not to have her here. I love you and miss you so much, Holly!

me and hol brunch

Now here’s a quick mid-week meditation to hopefully brighten up your Tuesday!

gandhi happiness quote.jpg

Have a joyful day, friends! I’ll be back again soon, I promise. 🙂 Thanks for sticking around and being patient with me. I missed you guys!