fabulous friday #33

Happy Friday, friends! This morning started off bright and early with a bowl of fresh fruit & vanilla greek yogurt — my favorite breakfast right now!

yogurt and banana

Before I move on, just a little reminder: tomorrow is the last day to grab a copy of my ebook “Lost and Found” for FREE! I’d love for you to read it! Here’s the link: 

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Last night I got to see Erica for dinner — I always love getting to catch up with this lovely lady! We went to a terrific Italian restaurant called Giannfranco’s Trattoria and split two of the chef specials of the night: ricotta cheese & sausage ravioli and veggie risotto with cream sauce. YUM! Neither of us had any room left for dessert, but the selection looked so delectable that we decided next time, we’ll just split a salad and then have dessert! Or maybe just skip the salad altogether 😉

2. Oh my goodness, YOU GUYS. THIS BOOK. My mom leant it to me and I finished it within two days. It’s called One Plus One and it’s by JoJo Moyes, the author of another book I loved, Me Before You. This is one of those books that makes you feel better about the world. I smiled, cried, and felt like I became close friends with the characters — I was sad to say goodbye to them all at the end.

jojo moyes one plus one

3. Speaking of crying… this video made me cry. It’s only three minutes, but I guarantee it will stick with you: Compassionate Homeless Man Shares Meal With Stranger When Others Wouldn’t.

4. Homemade applesauce! I made it for the first time based on this recipe from Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean, and it turned out really well! It was much easier than I thought applesauce would be to make… all I did was peel and chop some apples, dump them into the crock pot with a bit of water and loads of cinnamon, cook on low for four hours, and then mash it all up with a potato masher. I was happy to use up some apples that were getting wrinkly and turn them into a really great, healthy snack!

homemade applesauce

5. These super-cool upcycled wallets, bags and totes made from former street banners by the company Upcycle it Now. They’re being offered as perks in a neat IndieGoGo crowd-funding campaign that my sweetie Allyn & some of his classmates are holding to raise money for a humanitarian trip they are taking to Kenya with the nonprofit organization Zawadisha. You can snag one of these upcycled goodies by making a donation to the campaign through the end of September.

upcycled wallets

mens wallets

I’ll sign off with this from Murray: “Have a wonderful weekend!”

murray paws

Questions of the morning:

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

fabulous friday #32

Happy Friday! We have a busy weekend in store around here — an end-of-summer pool party, a book-signing event for my dad’s book Wooden & Me, cheering on my Trojans, plus the usual errands and weekend catch-up activities!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My parents come home from Ireland today! I didn’t want to mention anything on here while they were gone, but I’ve been house-sitting/Murray-sitting for the past two weeks while they took a special anniversary vacation. From our brief email exchanges and Google Hangout chats, it sounds like they had an incredible trip and I can’t wait to hear all about their adventures and see their photos… and, of course, give them ginormous Welcome Home hugs!

lovebirds guinness

2. Early morning walks with Mr. Mur-dog! He is so excited about his walks, it warms my heart. His jaunty stroll down the sidewalk is so cute!

me and murray walk

I’m also loving my new running/walking shoes!

walking shoes

3. Big salads — I’ve been craving lots of veggies lately and these have been my go-tos for lunch and dinner lately. I’ve been throwing in some black beans and chickpeas for extra fiber and protein. Yum!

big salad

4. This fascinating article: “11 Things Humans Do that Dogs Hate.” I’ve definitely been guilty of a few of these {i.e. #2}… sorry, Mr. Mur! Now I know!

5. Just ordered this book on Amazon — HEADS YOU LOSE — and I’m really excited to delve into it this weekend! It’s a really neat twist on the murder mystery genre.

When collaborators Lutz and Hayward (former romantic partners) start to disagree about how the story should unfold, the body count rises, victims and suspects alike develop surprising characteristics, and sibling rivalry reaches homicidal intensity. Think “Adaptation” crossed with “Weeds.” Will the authors solve the mystery without killing each other first?

heads you lose

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!

fabulous friday #30

Happy Friday, friends! What wonderful things are you up to today?

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Being home with my sweet parents {who are celebrating their 32nd wedding anniversary next week!} and of course Mr. Mur-dog! He is so stinkin’ cute, even in his cone/Elizabethan collar. Poor guy should be getting it off soon, fingers crossed!

murray conehead

2. This quote from Carolyn Hax:

“Even those of us who learn from our mistakes will also repeat some. This business of being human is basically a jalopy ride over potholes, which is why it’s so important to ride with the best people you know, wherever possible, and to make sure you take note of any particularly beautiful scenery.”

3. I can’t get enough of strawberries with vanilla Greek yogurt. To me, this tastes exactly like strawberries with whipped cream — BUT it’s even better because it’s healthy for you! I’ve been having this for dessert all week. And since it’s actually good for you, you could even have it for breakfast! 🙂

strawberries and yogurt

4. This beautiful and evocative short story written by my friend, Rebecca McKanna: “A Chain of Tiny Disasters” in Narrative Magazine.

5. First USC football game tomorrow! I am all decked out and ready to cheer on my team! #gotrojans #fighton

go trojans

Questions of the morning:

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

fabulous friday #24

Hi from Ventura, and happy Friday!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Time with my fam! I head back up north tomorrow morning and am soaking up every last minute of time with my sweet family before I go. ❤

family timeme and daddy me and mom

me and Daddy

2. My parents got tickets for us all to see a play last night at the local Rubicon Theater as one of my birthday gifts. Called “Collected Stories” it was a play about two writers, and delved into conflicts of storytelling and questions about who has the right to tell whose story. Very thought-provoking! I was left wanting a little more at the ending, but it was still a very enjoyable night and I’m so glad my parents got tickets for us all to see it together!

collected stories

3. Erica stopped by after work, and it was wonderful to see her for a quick visit! She also brought these delicious homemade cinnamon muffins and strawberry vanilla jam — I’m going to try to get the recipe from her so I can share it with y’all. YUM!

cinnamon muffins

4. I made turkey chili and Gramps came over for dinner. Greg and I are headed out to lunch with him soon at our favorite fish and chips place at the Harbor. Always try to squeeze in lots of Gramps time whenever we are home!

chili

5. Dad got me sunflowers! He spoils me. 🙂 He was waiting for me with these beauties at the airport, which was made even more thoughtful and sweet because my flight was nearly two hours late and didn’t get in until 11:30 at night — he was the only one waiting at baggage claim! I love you so much, Dad!

sunflowers

Bonus: This cutie sleeping beside my bed. I love Mr. Mur-dog.

sleeping murray

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What do you have planned for this weekend?

year of kindness challenge: week 50

I am a little in awe of the fact that it’s already Wednesday, and just one week until Christmas! My past couple days have flown by so fast, it feels like some calendar squares simply disappeared. Anyone else feeling this way?? 

At least my days have been jam-packed with good stuff… teaching writing workshops at local schools, long walks and catch-ups with friends, cooking dinner for my family, sorting through and delivering donated books as part of my annual Holiday Book Drive {more on that later this week}… I’ve been collapsing into bed by 10 p.m. and sleeping like a rock!  

year of kindness button

Last week’s kindness challenge was to give a warm drink to a toll-booth worker, newspaper delivery person, or your mailman/mailwoman. I brought hot chocolate to the people working the security gate in my grandparents’ neighborhood. They were so surprised and appreciative, and it made me smile the rest of the day. 

The Week 50 Kindness Challenge is to donate a toy or book to a child in need this holiday season, and/or to drop off a donation at a local animal shelter. 

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 49 weeks!

Questions of the day:

  • How do you find zen in the midst of such a crazy-busy time of year?
  • What acts of kindness happened in your life this past week?

fabulous friday #4

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m writing this from the beautiful new John McKay Student Athletic Center at USC … so excited to be back at my alma mater for Homecoming weekend!

Here are five things I’m happy about:

1. Getting to hang out with my brother! This guy makes me laugh like no one else on the planet. I love him so much!

dal and greg

2. The USC Homecoming football game! I’m going with my friend Ben, who I haven’t seen in far too long … can’t wait to catch up. My parents are also driving down tomorrow morning and we’re going to tailgate with them and my brother’s business school friends. Should be a ton of fun! {Apparently last time my mom went to the tailgate with my brother, everyone thought she was a Dean, haha. She’s just such a dignified lady.} 🙂

Greg USC

3. This morning I had a coffee date with Erica at our favorite local coffee shop Simone’s. Nothing like a pumpkin chai latte and two hours of laugh-filled conversation with this beautiful lady to get my weekend off to a great start!

me and Erica at Simones

Simone's chai

4. My dad took me out for a sushi lunch date before I headed down to USC. He’s such a sweetie! When I was living at home we’d try to go on lunch dates every Friday, so it was extra special to continue our tradition when I was home today.

Dad at sushi

Pops says, FIGHT ON!

5. Mr. Murdog was oh-so-excited when I came home and gave me the most exuberant, tail-wagging welcome. And I got to take him out on a walk with my mom last night after dinner, which is one of my favorite rituals. I love walking and talking with my mama!

me and Murray

Murray!

If you couldn’t tell … I’m happy to be back home for the weekend!

Questions of the day:

  • What are your weekend plans?
  • What are you happy about on this lovely Friday?

marvelous monday: finding happiness in the details

Happy Monday, everyone! I admit it, I had a hard time saying goodbye to this weekend. It was just so nice! I always feel such energy and excitement in the air when summer turns over to autumn. {I won’t lie, I still had a hard time waking up this morning … more on that in a minute!}

On Saturday Mike and I went to Feast of the Hunters Moon, a Lafayette tradition. It’s sort of like a Renaissance Festival but for colonial times. People seize the opportunity to dress up — not just in colonial period costumes, but as pirates, animals, face-painted Native Americans {which always makes me cringe after taking a Native American History course in college} … there is singing, dancing, cricket-playing, marching. We saw a fife & drum troupe and a miniature horse pulling a carriage around, bells jingling. Tents were set up all around with people selling homemade goods; we walked past a blacksmith, a leather tooler, potters and jewelry makers. And there’s all sorts of delicious and interesting food {as one friendly lady told me and Mike, “That’s why they call it FEAST!”} We sampled bison stew, fried smelt, corncakes, an apple fritter, and croquignoles, which are cinnamon-sugar donuts. It was a gorgeous, crisp sunny autumn day and I think my favorite part was just walking around taking everything in.

On Sunday we had a relaxing workday and book-browsing at Barnes & Noble, then played a few rounds of pinball at this local arcade before heading home. Would you believe that yours truly actually scored high enough to win a free game?? Yes, I was proud. The Who’s “Pinball Wizard” may just be running through my head right now. 🙂

Maybe because it was such a lovely weekend, it was extra hard getting up this morning. My first thought was: “Monday? Waaaah!” But I diligently rolled out of bed, and as I brewed my mug of tea I thought of that saying, “The dollar is in the details.” I think it can apply to happiness, too. The little details of our days can bring us so much joy if we just take a few moments to appreciate them.

Here are a few details that brightened up my Monday morning:

1. James Taylor on the radio. I love you, James!

2. Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice tea. {My mom got this for me last Christmas and it is so yummy I’ve been trying to draw it out and ration myself to a cup or two a week, though I might end up caving and using it all up this week! … It’s so perfect for autumn}

3. Pumpkin pie. For breakfast. {I needed to celebrate the yummy pie I made last night after a true disaster of a pumpkin pie attempt on Friday … more on that later this week!}

4. The “good morning” text message from my dad … he’s so sweet and always sends me text messages before he goes to bed on Pacific time, so when I wake up on Eastern time I’ll find a good morning from him waiting on my phone. Always gets my day off on a good note!

5. Watching a hilarious episode of Arrested Development as I ate breakfast.

6. A sunny 58-degree day outside … cold enough to wear my cute boots and scarf, but not too cold that going outside means freezing my butt off.

7. Cute dog videos on YouTube … I miss my dog Murray so much {he’s our family dog and lives with my parents in California} and watching videos of adorable & funny dogs that remind me of him almost makes me feel like I’m waking up to him snoring upside-down on “his” couch in the living room.

8. The pretty autumn wreath I snagged last year at CVS pharmacy, of all places. I just adore it! I love coming home and seeing it hanging on my front door. I hope it brings a little smile to our mailwoman’s face every day, too!

I’m feeling a zillion times better already, ready to embrace the day! What details are making your day marvelous?

❤ Dallas