fabulous friday #48

Happy Friday, friends! Hope you have some fun things on the agenda today and are enjoying the lovely spring weather!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My friends and family and all the love they bring into my life every single day. Losing Celine not only made me reflect on all the ways I am so grateful for her and how fortunate I feel that I got to be her friend — the loss has also made me more deeply appreciate all the people I love. This week specifically I am grateful for: phone calls from my parents and Greg; a Skype date with my friend Chidelia, who lives in China; a phone call with Ben {who actually met up with Greg when he was visiting NYC for a few days}; a phone call with Janet before she left for an amazing writing residency in Scotland; texts and emails with Holly; a dinner date with my sweetheart; and celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Dana.

st pattys with dana

2. Later daylight hours thanks to Daylight Savings Time. There’s something about this time of year that always gives me so much energy and hopefulness. It feels like the start of new beginnings. I can feel the long summer days on the horizon. I love driving home from my tutoring appointments in the daylight and being able to watch the sunset out the window as I make dinner.

3. I had my first physical therapy appointment yesterday, and it went great! I’ve been having some pain in both of my legs, and wasn’t sure what was wrong, so I went to an orthopedist who recommended PT. The physical therapist was so knowledgable, helpful, and optimistic about my recovery, which made me feel SO good! She watched me walk {apparently I have a collapsed arch, which might be at the root of my problems} and gave me some exercises to do at home with this resistance band.

physical therapy

She also gave me a deep tissue massage to loosen up the tight, painful area on both my legs, and taught me how to do an ice massage afterwards. I’m also going to order orthodics for my shoes, which I’m hopeful will help.

Have any of you done PT before? My parents both have, and it really helped both of their issues {my mom’s knee and my dad’s shoulder.} I walked away from my first appointment feeling VERY impressed, and looking forward to my appointment next week! Thanks for all of your kind words and good thoughts. 🙂

4. Last week, when I was smack in the middle of a pretty nasty head cold, Allyn cooked me dinner and rented this movie I’ve been wanting to see, titled What If? It stars Daniel Radcliffe of Harry Potter fame, and Zoe Kazan who you may have seen in Ruby Sparks … I just love her. Anyway, the movie was one of my favorites I’ve seen in quite a while. Cute, funny, sweet, the right amount of quirky. I’d highly recommend it for your next date night rental!

5. One of my goals for 2015 is to work on setting healthy boundaries, something I’ve never been all that great at. I thought this article by Lissa Rankin was on point: http://lissarankin.com/can-you-navigate-love-with-healthy-boundaries. For me, saying no and setting boundaries is much easier said than done, but I’m working on it!

BONUS: If you’re looking for a great veggie dinner recipe, I made these butternut squash & black bean enchiladas the other night for Allyn and I, and we both loved them. They were also inexpensive, easy to throw together, and you can make them in advance and store them in the fridge until you’re ready to bake & serve.

enchiladas

Apologies for the bad lighting in this pic… but trust me, they were delicious!

BONUS #2: Major CONGRATS to my cousin Julie who matched at UCLA to become an OB/Gyn! So proud of her {and excited she’ll be moving back to California!!}

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Questions of the day:

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

pumpkin carving & other weekend highlights

Hello and happy Monday, everyone! My day started off in a very special way… I stopped by Target to pick up the Deluxe version of my girl’s new CD!!

t swift 1989 cd

I have been a fan of T.Swift since her country music “Tim McGraw” days. She was one of the {many} things Holly and I bonded over in college 🙂 Longtime blog readers might remember when we went to her concert in Nashville last year as the final stop on her RED tour! It was a blast.

red tour bus

I listened to the first six songs driving home from Target, and now I’m taking a little break before listening to the rest… I’m trying to savor it. Nothing like listening to new music from one of your favorite artists for the first time!

Look what else I found at Target: my favorite English muffins! These babies are seasonal, so I need to enjoy them while I can!

pumpkin spice english muffins

Pumpkin in the autumn is a total weakness of mine. I may have also been swayed to purchase some Tazo pumpkin chai tea and a box of pumpkin spice oatmeal. Is anyone else pumpkin-obsessed like I am?

Speaking of pumpkins… yesterday I went to Clancy’s Pumpkin Patch in San Francisco with Allyn and our friends Justin and Fawn. It was a gorgeous, sunny day and everyone in the city seemed in a great mood after the Giants’ win on Saturday night! {And they won again last night, too! Only one game away from clinching the World Series title!} We had a fun time wandering around the pumpkin patch, inspecting pumpkins and admiring the adorable, creative costumes worn by numerous little kids running around with their parents. We saw lots of Ninja Turtles, Elsas {from Frozen}, and Power Rangers — which made me happy, as I was a huuuuuge Power Rangers fan back in the day! Yellow Ranger all the way.

I did not take pictures of any of the little kids, as I did not want to be a creepazoid, but here are some photos I snapped of the patch!

pumpkin patch

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IMG_20141026_121946

After the patch, we stopped by a picnic that one of Justin’s former coworkers was hosting in Alamo Park, right across from the famous Painted Ladies — the houses featured in the opening credits of Full House. I completely forgot to take pictures because I was too busy enjoying the conversation and noshing on a chocolate pastry that Allyn & I got at a farmer’s market on the way there.

But I did take lots of pictures of our pumpkin-carving once we made it back to Justin’s apartment! We did it old-school with knives and our imaginations. In the previous few years I’ve carved with a template, so this was a new adventure! Instead of a traditional Jack-o-Lantern or Halloween design, I decided to carve a cheerful sunflower. {I’m sure you are not surprised!}

sunflower pumpkin

Allyn made a googly-eyed face with a snazzy, slightly off-kilter mustache! Haha, the off-center mustache was driving Justin crazy, but I think it adds to the pumpkin’s charm!

allyn pumpkin

We had a LOT of pumpkin guts when we were done!

pumpkin guts

It was Fawn’s first time ever carving a pumpkin, and she did an amazing job! Her design was so intricate — all those little teeth! — but she carved it flawlessly. No toothpicks were needed in the creation of this Jack-O-Lantern!

Fawn's pumpkin

And here are Allyn & my pumpkins, all lit up:

lit up pumpkins

It was such a fun day!

The rest of the evening was spent doing work {schoolwork for Allyn, getting-caught-up-on-emails-etc for me} and chatting with Allyn’s roommates while making veggie & black bean tacos for dinner. All in all, a truly wonderful weekend!

Before I head out, I want to wish a heartfelt congratulations to our family friends Peter & Brooke, who got married yesterday! The wedding was down in L.A. and since I had to work on Saturday, I was unable to attend, but the rest of my family went and had an amazing time. I love this picture of them from the reception. So much love and joy for you both, Brooke & Peter!

peter and brooke wedding

Questions of the evening:

  • What was a highlight of your weekend?
  • Did you carve pumpkins this year?
  • Who are your favorite music artists?

goals for the week {a day late!}

Hiiiiii friends! Wow, can you believe that tomorrow is already Christmas Eve? Time is flowing by crazy-fast! This past week has I think been one of the busiest weeks of my entire life. One of those weeks where every day feels packed-to-the-brim with important, meaningful stuff.

I’ve been able to meet up with a number of dear friends for coffee dates and dinner dates and hiking dates … special time to talk-talk-talk and catch up with people I love and don’t get to see nearly enough. The fam and I watched some of our favorite holiday movies: Serendipity, Love Actually, and It’s a Wonderful Life. {<– my all-time favorite movie EVER.} I was honored to teach writing workshops at three separate schools {one elementary school, one middle school, and my alma mater high school} in addition to my Winter Writing Camp on Saturday. Nothing inspires me quite like being in a room full of young writers writing!

In addition to all of this, we celebrated my brother’s birthday yesterday {happy 24 Gregburn! I love you!} and threw an absolutely lovely and fun bridal shower for my cousin Julie. Plus the typical holiday cookie-baking, card-writing, present-wrapping, etc! Here are some photos from my week:

family with gramps

The girls with Gramps before Julie’s bridal shower.

cupcakes

I made two dozen cupcakes for Julie’s shower … a dozen chocolate with peanut butter frosting, and a dozen red velvet with cream cheese frosting!

loving murray

Murray lovin’!

brothers

Brothers!

And now … on to my goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals for the week of 12/15:
– write 10 pages of new material {yeah, this didn’t even come close to happening this week…}
– take cookies & cards to the nursing home {doing this tomorrow!}
– exercise at least twice
– finish reading The Tea Rose {less than 100 pages left}
order holiday cards
teach a fantastic Winter Writing Camp
throw a wonderful bridal shower for my cousin Julie
connect with two friends

And here are my goals for this week:
– soak up time with my family and friends!
– journal/reflect on this past year
– set my goals for 2014, wooooohoooo!

I’ll be back tomorrow with the week 51 year of kindness challenge!

This post is linked up with Menu-Plan Monday.
MPM-Winter

goals and meal-plan for the week of 1/27

Hi everyone! Hope you’ve had a lovely weekend! A few snapshots from mine so far:

blueberry oatmeal

Oatmeal + blueberries … my favorite cozy wintertime breakfast!

blender

Blender all ready to make homemade hummus!

Here’s how I did on my goals from last week:

  • write 10 more pages of my YA novel
  • blog about Week 3 Act of Kindness Challenge & complete it myself this week
  • finish reading Best American Short Stories 2012 {I got side-tracked with a Judy Blume adult novel I checked out from the library!}
  • finish grading first assignment for both classes {Professional Email assignment}
  • knit 25 rows of the scarf I’m working on
  • go through stack of old magazines and purge!
  • send thank-you notes to the lovely people I met at the Key West Literary Seminar

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:

  • write 10 more pages of my YA novel
  • revise first 3 chapters of my thesis novel
  • blog about Week 4 Act of Kindness Challenge & complete it myself this week
  • finish grading the next assignment for both classes
  • submit at least 3 pieces to journals or theater companies
  • finish reading Best American Short Stories 2012
  • knit 25 more rows of the scarf I’m working on
  • clean out & organize filing cabinet

Finally, here are some recipes I’m planning to make this week:

hummus-crusted chicken
wheat-berry mock risotto
cilantro-honey-lime salmon
pumpkin pie

What are your weekly goals? What’s on your menu plan? Hope it’s another masterpiece of a week!

-Dallas

10 ways to save money on date night

Happy Friday, everyone! For many people {including my sweet parents!} Friday tends to be date night. Date night is a wonderful way to have some special one-on-one time with your sweetie and remember what it was like when the two of your first started dating and you walked around with butterflies constantly flitting around in your belly.

The downside to date night is that it can get pretty expensive! However, here are some small ways to save money while still having a super fun and romantic time together.

1. Instead of dinner then a movie, try going to a movie first and then having dinner. Most movie theaters offer matinee prices, and a late-afternoon movie rather than a nighttime movie can save you a few bucks a pop. Over the course of a month or a year of movie outings, those few bucks add up!

2. Cook a romantic dinner at home and rent a movie to watch. Because I tend to cook tried-and-true, quick-and-easy recipes during the busy workweek, date night in is a fun time to try making a new recipe I’ve had my eye on. A recent favorite was turkey enchiladas updated with green chile enchilada sauce and bell pepper. And for movie rentals, Redbox charges only a dollar or so for a night’s rental {extra money-saving tip: there are one-time-use free-rental codes available online for most major retail chains that have Redbox kiosks}

3. Whether having date night in or out, an inexpensive bouquet of fresh flowers is a guaranteed way to make the night feel special.

4. Going out to eat? Instead of ordering wine or beer at the restaurant, why not order water instead and have a glass of wine or beer when you get home? In college, my roommates and I had fun concocting homemade margaritas or Kalua milkshakes or fruit-filled sangria. This can also be a way to tweak the ingredients of your drinks to be slightly healthier, and also to ensure that you don’t order one drink too many and then get behind the wheel when you shouldn’t.

5. Same goes for dessert — get more bang for your buck by making something to satisfy your sweet tooth at home rather than splurging on an expensive dessert in a restaurant. I am a huge fan of Betty Crocker mix brownies — it only takes five minutes tops to pour the mix and water and oil in a bowl, crack in an egg or two, mix everything up and pour it into the baking pan. Then curl up on the couch with your honey to watch a movie {maybe in your jammies with a glass of wine, too!} and in about half an hour the brownies will be ready!

6. If you do get dessert out somewhere — like, say, ice cream — why not split a medium size instead of getting two small sizes? For example, at my local Cold Stone, the “love it” size is only about a dollar more than the “like it” size, so getting one “love it” instead of two “like it”s saves a few dollars … which, like the matinee movie tickets, does add up over time!

7. You don’t need a restaurant for a special date night… at least, not in the summertime! Why not pack dinner in a cooler and go for a picnic?

8. A lot of restaurants, especially chain places, will occasionally offer gift card deals — most often I’ve seen them around holidays. As an incentive to buy their gift cards as gifts for people in your life, restaurants will throw in something extra for you — say, a free $10 gift card when you buy $50 worth of gift cards. If the restaurant is a place you go often, and the gift cards don’t expire, this can be a great deal for you to buy and then use yourself.

9. Google the restaurant to see if they have coupons available online — many do!

10. Be on the lookout for fun, alternative date-night ideas. Groupons are often terrific deals! In the past, I have gotten amazingly discounted deals for dates like dinner and a magic show, a murder mystery dinner, and an art museum.