goals + recipes for the week of 1/11

Hi there, everyone!¬†It’s been a lazy Sunday around here… which is nice, because things are going to pick up pretty soon when I go back to work/teaching/tutoring/church duties! Lazy Sundays at home with my parents remind me of lazy Sundays growing up — such a cozy feeling! Especially because it’s been gray and drizzling here all weekend. Hooray for rain! We can always use more rain here in California.

I just wanted to pop in and say hello ūüôā Hope you’re having a relaxing Sunday, too! This evening, Gramps is coming over for dinner, and right now Mom and I are watching the red carpet coverage at the Golden Globes. I hardly ever watch these awards shows, so it feels like a treat.

Now… time for goals!

weekly goals

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:

Рwrite a new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
–¬†compile tutoring worksheets
Рfinish reading Anna Karenina
–¬†go to two yoga classes
– connect with two friends

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
roasted cauliflower & freekeh with garlic tahini sauce via Cookie + Kate
power salad w/lemon chia seed dressing via Two Peas and Their Pod
loaded baked potato gnocchi via Two Peas and Their Pod
butternut ribbon goat cheese pesto pizza via Cookie + Kate
slow-cooker minestrone soup via The Pajama Chef
– my own honey-lime chicken enchiladas

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over this week?

MPM-Winter
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

fabulous friday #43

Happy Friday, everyone! Hope you’re having a great morning! I don’t know about you, but I’m having a hard time believing it is already Friday… not to mention already December 19th! Tomorrow is the lovely¬†Dana‘s birthday, and then on Sunday I’m heading home to So.Cal to spend the holidays with my fam! And on Monday, my amazing brother Greg turns the big 2-5! Birthdays galore around here, I love it.

I’m super excited for all the joy and festivities and family and friend time this upcoming week brings! In the meantime…

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Christmastime in San Francisco. Allyn and I went into the city for a date night, and it was absolutely magical. Union Square is lit-up so beautifully and we were lucky enough to score a table at Burger Bar that had a terrific view. After dinner we rode the glass elevators at the Westin St. Francis Hotel up to the 29th floor to look out at the entire city. Then we got hot chocolate to-go from a restaurant that was closing up. {The man was kind enough to give us the hot chocolate free of charge because he said he was just going to throw it away otherwise! How nice is that??} We sipped our hot chocolates as we held hands and watched the ice-skaters and listened to the holiday music. It was perfection.

union square

me and al xmas

westin xmas tree

union square xmas tree

2. Celebrity doppelgangers. I am fascinated by this! Perhaps because I’ve always had a hard time figuring out who my look-alike is. The person I’ve been told most often is Claire Danes, which I consider a huge compliment because I think she is wonderful. What do you think, do you see a resemblance? Could I be her much-less-glamorous kid sister?

me claire danes

I got onto this topic because when Allyn and I were watching the ice-skaters in Union Square, a woman said out of the blue that Allyn looked like a celebrity to her, but she couldn’t place who. I suggested Kevin Bacon, but she said it was someone else.

al and kevin bacon

We left before she figured it out, so I guess it will always remain a mystery!

3.¬†My Grandpap’s choir Christmas performance last night. They work so hard practicing for months leading up to the holidays, and it shows! They go all out with costumes and presentation, and the cheerful holiday music always brings a smile to my face. Plus, I love watching my Grandpap when he sings — he always lights up with joy! It was fun that Allyn could make it, too.

grandpap choir concert.jpg

4. This quote from Heather Waxman {especially apppropriate and meaningful during this time of year!}

“Healthy boundaries aren‚Äôt about building walls around yourself. They‚Äôre about building doorways of love around your energy field. Boundaries are not meant to separate you from other people. They‚Äôre meant to build doorways¬†for you to attract the¬†right people into your life.”

5. Tonight Allyn and I are going to see a local production of A Christmas Carol. It is one of my favorite stories. Though I have read the book and have seen a number of movie versions {including the classic Disney cartoon version!} I have never seen a dramatic performance of A Christmas Carol, so I am really excited ūüôā

Have a¬†terrific weekend, friends! And don’t forget to…

leave sparkle

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?
  • Who is your celebrity doppelganger?

goals + recipes for the week of 12/14

Hi there, everyone! As soon as I hit “publish” on this blog post, I’m heading off to church bright and early… I’m Worship Associate today, so I have lots of little duties to perform to get ready for the first service at 9:30. Today the children’s choir is performing a special concert as part of the service, which I am very excited about! The kids are way too cute ūüôā

It’s been a good weekend so far. Yesterday I taught my rambunctious group of kiddos; it was our final class! I’ll be starting up again with a new class in January, and¬†I hope that some of them¬†will come back and sign up for the new quarter. We shall see!

Allyn is in the midst of his final residency for the semester — he’s such a champ, powering through the long days with a smile on his face — and tonight his school is having a dance party in San Francisco. I went to the one held at the end of last semester and it was super fun! I’m looking forward to going tonight and celebrating the end of the semester. My sweetheart has worked incredibly hard the past four months and I’m really proud of him.

On the topic of working hard… time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from the past couple¬†weeks:¬†
write a new chapter of my memoir
finish holiday cards
–¬†finish student evaluations
finish reading short story collection
–¬†go to two yoga classes
connect with two friends
Woo hoo! It was a successful week around here! ūüôā

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
Рwrite a new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
–¬†compile tutoring worksheets
Рfinish reading three New Yorkers from my stash
–¬†go to two yoga classes
– connect with two friends

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
chocolate pb chip oat bars {vegan + gf} via the real-life rd
peppermint pattie brownies via Two Peas and Their Pod
chocolate-dipped toffee shortbread via Two Peas and Their Pod
green salad w/apples, cranberries & pepitas via Cookie + Kate
gingerbread muffins via The Pajama Chef
Рmy own white chocolate m&m pretzels

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over this week?

MPM-Winter
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

fabulous friday #42

Happy Friday, friends! Hope you’re having a good one!

It’s a typical Friday for me… this morning I headed to one of my fave yoga classes, now I’m getting some work done on the computer, and later this afternoon I’m tutoring a few great kiddos.

We have been getting LOTS of rain here the past couple days… they say it’s one of the biggest storms we’ve had here in five years! Fortunately we are all safe and sound here. If it’s stormy and bad-weathered where you are, please be safe!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. The Lucy Hale song “Mistletoe.” It’s been bopping around in my head off and on since I heard her sing it on the “CMA Country Christmas” TV program, and this week I finally went and ordered it on iTunes. Love it!

2. This interesting and thorough article Allyn sent me with tips for staying calm and managing stress {especially useful in this often-stressful holiday season}: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140805002649-50578967-how-successful-people-stay-calm

3. Speaking of the holidays, here are two socially impactful, beautiful gift ideas if you are doing some holiday shopping:

4. I’ve been craving veggies — carrots, celery, bell peppers, kale — even more than usual lately. For example: last night, I sliced up half a bell pepper as part of my dinner, and ended up going back to the fridge and polishing off the rest of the pepper later that night as a snack! I’ve never craved bell pepper before, but there you have it! I believe our bodies tell us what they need, so I’ve been riding the veg-tastic train all week. This is an interesting NPR article about how what you eat affects your mood:¬†http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/07/14/329529110/food-mood-connection-how-you-eat-can-amp-up-or-tamp-down-stress?

5. This quinoa veggie salad from Costco. Tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, lentils, beans, quinoa — healthy, light and filling. It’s made a great quick lunch on a couple days this week when time got away from me and I was a little rushed to get out the door.

quinoa salad

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I’m gonna leave you with this beautiful John Gardner quote my brother sent me:

greg quote

Questions of the day:

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

goals for the week of 12/7

Hi there, friends! Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend! Mine has been very busy, but a good kind of busy. Friday night I got together with Dana for dinner at a delicious Korean restaurant called Mixed Grain.

Mixed Grains

We sat there eating, talking and laughing for close to three hours and ended up closing the place down! One bonus of staying so long was that the waitress came over and asked if we wanted free cupcakes {I think they would have gone to waste otherwise…} We of course said yes and they were absolutely delicious! Not to mention beautiful — check out this delicate rose made out of buttercream frosting:

rose cupcake

Yesterday morning, I had a long catch-up phone call with my friend Janet before I ran off to teach my four back-to-back classes of kiddos! After a couple weeks away due to the holiday, they were more energy-filled than ever. Some of them said they missed me, which was quite sweet. I missed them too, but I was also more than happy to collapse on my couch last night and relax while catching up on two of my favorite shows, Nashville & The Newsroom!

This morning, I was up bright and early to tutor a couple kiddos, and then I headed over to church, where I took part in the holiday crafts faire held from 10 a.m. Р3 p.m. I sold and autographed copies of my books and everyone was very supportive, encouraging and enthusiastic. It made my heart so happy. I feel very grateful to be part of such a warm and welcoming congregation. I must admit, I was a little worried that it would seem like a long day {being from 10-3!} but the time flew by thanks to lots of delightful conversations and visiting with people.

After church I drove to my sweetheart’s apartment where we are now getting ready to make some veggie pasta for dinner.¬†But before I go… time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from the past couple¬†weeks:¬†
– write a new chapter of my memoir {this totally fell by the wayside this week}
– finish holiday cards {almost done!}
–¬†finish student evaluations {started, not finished}
publicize my¬†Winter Writing Camp {it’s halfway filled already!}
–¬†go to two yoga classes {I made it to three!}
connect with two friends

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write a new chapter of my memoir
– finish holiday cards
–¬†finish student evaluations
– finish reading short story collection
–¬†go to two yoga classes
– connect with two friends

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes?

MPM-Winter
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

thanksgiving weekend recap + goals for the week of 12/1

Wow, what a Thanksgiving!! I hope you all had a great one with yummy food and lovely company. I feel like I’m still getting back to reality… and acknowledging the fact that it is officially December. How did that happen so quickly?! {Silver lining: Christmas Pandora station, here I come!}

I know this is a bit delayed, but I still wanted to share some pics with you guys from my Thanksgiving weekend at home with my fam ūüôā

We hosted twelve of my brother’s MBA classmates for Thanksgiving dinner, which was incredibly fun. They could not have been more gracious guests. Many of them were international students far from home, and a few had never experienced American Thanksgiving before — it was a special treat to be able to introduce them to one of my favorite holidays!

Here’s a selfie Greg took of our whole group:
Woodsgiving

I loved helping my mom in the kitchen. Our menu included turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, corn, a sweet potato casserole that we refer to as “Henrietta’s yams” after my Grandma’s cousin who used to bring it to Thanksgiving every year, vegetarian chili, dinner rolls, a big ol’ salad… and, for dessert, pumpkin and apple pie and pumpkin muffins! Plus, some of our guests brought delicious brownies, black forest cake, and more pie!

greg thanksgiving

20141127_153033

Two of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes... Henrietta's yams and my mom's classic stuffing!

Two of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes… Henrietta’s yams and my mom’s classic stuffing!

While I enjoy turkey with cranberry sauce on top, my favorite Thanksgiving dishes are the sides! Anyone else the same way?

The Friday after Thanksgiving, we went out for a family dinner at Brendan’s, a local Irish pub {my parents are still hooked on Irish culture and cuisine after their trip to Ireland a few months ago!} I love everything about Ireland and was excited to try out this pub, which I thought was extremely authentic both in cuisine and atmosphere… it felt like being transported to Ireland! Definitely planning to go back when I’m in town for Christmas.

Irish pub fam

After dinner, I drove Greg back down to USC and stayed with him overnight, and on Saturday morning I tagged along to his MBA student tailgate before the USC-Notre Dame football game. It was a blast to hang out with his friends — such a fun group of people! And soaking up extra time with my brother is always a gift.

usc tailgate

The rest of the weekend was spent hanging out with my parents, reading, relaxing, going for walks around the neighborhood, visiting my Gramps, and giving lots of love to Mr. Mur-dog.

murray!

Look at that face! Such a cutie-pie.

Before I wrap-up Thanksgiving 2014 completely, I just want to say that I am SO grateful for all of you! Thank you for taking time out of your day to visit my cozy little corner of the blogosphere¬†ūüôā

Now… time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from the past couple¬†weeks:¬†
–¬†finish editing/preparing manuscript for submission
update my website
set date for Winter Writing Camp
–¬†go to¬†yoga class
connect with two friends

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write a new chapter of my memoir
– finish holiday cards
–¬†finish student evaluations
Рpublicize my Winter Writing Camp
–¬†go to two yoga classes
– connect with two friends

Finally, here are a few of my fave Thanksgiving recipes from the Woodburn family table:
my favorite mashed potatoes
– henrietta’s yams {recipe coming soon!}
– my mom’s classic stuffing {recipe coming soon!}
pumpkin pie

Questions of the day:

  • How was your Thanksgiving?
  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes?

MPM-Winter
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

goals + recipes for the week of 6/22

Happy Sunday, friends! Hope you’re having a great weekend. I particularly enjoyed sleeping in yesterday morning after a busy week spent teaching energetic 7- and 8-year-olds! Tomorrow I’m back at it with an even younger bunch {5- and 6-year-olds!} and while I really love teaching, I’m also soaking up as much rest as I can today! Also spending the evening with these two beautiful ladies:

annie and arianna

And yesterday I got to see another beautiful friend — Dana and I went for brunch at Sideboard and walked around downtown. Always so wonderful to see her, and especially this weekend since it’s my last one in town for a while. Next Saturday morning I’m hopping on a flight to New Orleans to see my sweetheart!

Okay, I should wrap this up and get ready for¬†church… before I do, let’s do a quick goals recap!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from a few weeks ago:

–¬†write ten pages
–¬†send out two query letters/submissions
complete final student evals + certificates for Dublin classes
–¬†read up to page 200 of new book
–¬†go to¬†the gym twice + yoga once
–¬†connect with three friends
write all birthday thank-yous

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
–¬†write five pages
–¬†send out two query letters/submissions
–¬†teach a successful week of summer camp for Communication Academy
–¬†go to yoga twice
–¬†connect with three friends
–¬†get all ready for my trip to visit Allyn + Greg !!! <– can you tell I’m excited? ūüôā

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
–¬†lightened up summer fare {particularly the southwest turkey burgers + honey almond fruit dip!}¬†via Peanut Butter Fingers
mango, strawberry & avocado arugula salad via Two Peas & Their Pod
–¬†bbq chicken salad w/jalapeno basil ranch dressing¬†via The Pajama Chef
–¬†mango coconut muffins¬†via¬†The¬†Pajama Chef
Рmy own 3-ingredient banana cookies {4-ingredient if you add peanut butter!}

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!

goals + recipes for the week of 4/6

Hi everyone! How is your weekend going? Mine has been lovely so far! Bianca came over and we baked some delicious pumpkin spice muffins. I got caught up on one of my fave TV shows, Nashville {thanks, Hulu!} Yesterday I went to morning yoga class and a women’s self-defense class. And¬†I got to see my dear friend Michelle after she’s been out of town for three weeks! It was SO great to reunite with her.

As soon as I hit “publish” on this post,¬†I’m heading off to morning church service, and then I’m going to the Oakland A’s game with Allyn and his family. It will be my first baseball game in forever and I’m really excited!

Before I head off for the day, it’s goals time…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
–¬†write 12 pages
send out newsletter {subscribe for *free* here if you want}
–¬†go to two yoga classes
–¬†prepare for my Steinbeck Fellowship reading {such an amazing night!}
–¬†connect with three friends
–¬†have a wonderful time with my mama in town! ūüôā

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
–¬†write 12 pages
–¬†read 100 pages of The Kitchen God’s Wife
–¬†go to two yoga classes
–¬†prepare for my¬†new teaching gig
–¬†connect with three friends

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
cheesy mexican chicken skillet via Lindsay @The Lean Green Bean {guest-posting @Nut Butter Runner}
–¬†oatmeal fudge bars¬†via Sarah @The Pajama Chef
–¬†homemade pizza using this crust recipe¬†via Danica¬†@It’s Progression
–¬†edamame & black bean salad¬†via Julie¬†@PB Fingers
–¬†dark chocolate + pistachio + sea-salt cookies¬†via Two Peas & Their Pod

Questions of the morning:

  • How has your weekend been so far?
  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over lately?

lessons i’ve learned from living with my grandma

I’ve been living with my grandparents for almost three months now. Daily life with these two full-of-life octogenarians has been such a gift. My grandparents are insightful, intelligent, kind, hard-working, and often hilarious people. And their love for each other warms my spirit.

I’ve learned a lot from watching and listening to my grandma. Here is a woman who graduated from college, earned a Master’s degree in Education while working full-time as a teacher, and also raised four children — often by herself, as my grandpap traveled a lot for his job. She grew up during the Great Depression and WWII and learned from her mother how to live with the utmost frugality. She is the matriarch of our family, always going out of her way to make sure her children and grandchildren are happy and well-fed and comfortable. She talks to her sister every day, keeps up with a wide network of friends, and volunteers her time through various organizations. I’m so proud of the woman she is, and proud to be her granddaughter.

My mom and my grandparents.

My mom and my grandparents.

I thought it would be fun to share some lessons, large and small, that I’ve learned from living with my grandma these past few months. {I’m sure there will be more posts to come on the subject!}

1. Love is more powerfully shown through actions than through words. My grandma isn’t one to say “I love you” all that often. She says she can’t really remember her parents ever telling her they loved her, but she always knew they loved her because of their loving actions. My grandma is always doing kind things for the people she cares about. Yes, I believe it is important to tell the people you love how much you love them, but even more important is backing up those words with loving actions. Without caring gestures and acts of love, the words “I love you” lose their meaning.

2. Always bring a jacket.¬†You never know when the weather’s going to turn, and you don’t want to be cold.

3. Always bring a snack. You don’t want to be hungry. Just stick a granola bar in your purse, at the very least.

4. Get to the show early to get a good seat.¬†My grandma is always the first person at the movie theater, picking the best seat in the house. Often she’ll change her mind two or three times before she finds the seat she wants.

5. The freezer is your friend.¬†My grandma hates wasting food. All leftovers are refrigerated. If she thinks we won’t eat them in time, she’ll put them in the freezer for later. Bread, cakes, cookies, pies — everything can be frozen and resurrected later. The woman wastes nothing. It’s amazing.

6. If you don’t know what to make for dinner, raid your fridge and make soup.¬†You can’t go wrong with a pot of chicken stock and cut-up veggies.

7. Take a walk every day. Every morning, even when her hip is a little sore, she puts on her tennis shoes and goes for a walk around the neighborhood. Even just fifteen or twenty minutes of exercise makes a difference. My grandma also believes in getting your exercise in early, before the craziness of the day sets in.

8. When the weather’s nice, sit outside. If the sun in shining and the breeze isn’t too cold, you can bet you’ll find my grandma outside on the patio, relaxing in her lounge chair, reading the paper or talking to her sister or enjoying an afternoon nap.¬†

9. Sometimes people are yo-yo heads. Forgive them. My grandma’s favorite term for someone who disappoints is a “yo-yo head.” According to her, we’re all yo-yo heads sometimes. That’s why we have to be patient with each other.

10. Strangers are simply friends you haven’t met yet.¬†My grandma is the Queen of Small-Talk, the friendliest person I’ve ever known. She talks to everyone — people waiting behind her at the post office, the barista at Starbucks, the person sitting the next seat over on BART. All the grocery store checkers know her by name. To me, sometimes the world can seem lonely or disconnected, everyone staring at their tiny phone screens or listening to their iPods. But my grandma reminds me every day that the world is a friendly place if you make the effort to be friendly yourself.
me and gma

Question of the morning:

  • What lessons have you learned from your parents or grandparents?

gorgeous day in san francisco with erica

Erica and I had a wonderful time exploring San Francisco on Tuesday! We lucked out with absolutely beautiful weather — gotta love the autumn sunshine — and had the best time walking around and window-shopping … and of course taking advantage of the amazing food options. Why hello there, sourdough crust tomato basil pizza and warm brownie Ghiradelli fudge sundae!

sourdough pizza

sundae

And look at this adorable sourdough bread lobster riding on the ginormous tail of a giant sourdough bread alligator …

bread lobster

We rode the famous cable cars from the Powell Street BART station down to Fisherman’s Wharf and walked all around the waterfront. As promised¬†in my blog post yesterday, here are some snapshots from our day!

cable cars

erica alcatraz

pier 39

golden gate

carosel

ghiradelli square

ghiradelli square

My favorite photo of the day was definitely this last one … can you tell why??

baby photobomb

Photobombed by a baby!!! Classic. Every time I look at this picture it cracks me up!

I miss Erica a ton, but I’m so grateful that she was able to get a few days off work to come visit me. Only a month until I’ll be back home for Thanksgiving and we’ll have one of our famous 3-hour Simone’s cafe catch-up chats.

Hope you’re having a terrific Thursday, friends! ūüôā