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 🙂

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 🙂

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
– publicize 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!

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?

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?

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?

thanksgiving + goals for the week of 12/1

happy thanksgiving

Happy December, friends! How was your Thanksgiving? I wanted to take a moment to say how thankful I am for all of YOU. Thank you for your kind comments and emails and “likes” and for taking the time to visit my little corner of the blogosphere. It is a privilege and joy to be part of your lives!

Thanksgiving in the Woodburn household was chaotic and wonderful. A bunch of my brother’s friends from business school came home with him for Thanksgiving dinner, so my mom and I made a TON of food to make sure all those boys got their fill. My favorite Thanksgiving dishes are always the sides: sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberries … yum! And don’t forget about the pumpkin pie {leftovers of which I have been eating for breakfast the past few days, not gonna lie!} Everyone was so grateful and complimentary and they all definitely left our house with happy bellies. The house feels quiet now without them, and Mr. Mur-dog is exhausted from all the excitement.

murray exhausted 

Yesterday I headed over to my cousin Amanda‘s new apartment to watch the USC football game. I brought “lucky” rice krispies treats decorated with USC cardinal-and-gold M&Ms … but unfortunately they weren’t so lucky, as our Trojans lost big-time to rival UCLA. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all! And I still had a lovely catch-up visit with my cousins.

cousins!

Today has been a relaxing Sunday. I had brunch with Erica and her boyfriend and sister … we made pecan cinnamon bun pancakes = aaaamazing! Now I’m planning to curl up on the couch with Jennifer Close’s Girls in White Dresses. But first, goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from two weeks ago:
write 15 pages of new material
submit fellowship application
– exercise at least twice
– finish reading Happier Endings: a meditation on life and death
connect with two friends

Here are my goals for the week of 12/1:
– write 15 pages of new material
– prepare for Steinbeck Center reading on Wedsnesday
– exercise at least twice
– finish reading Girls in White Dresses
– order holiday cards
– publicize Winter Writing Camp
– connect with two friends

Questions for the afternoon:

  • How was your Thanksgiving?
  • What are you thankful for in your life?
  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?

fabulous friday #3

Happy Friday! What fun plans do you have on the horizon? I’ve been battling a cold this week, but thanks to plenty of rest, green tea, and Grandma’s homemade soup, I am feeling much better … ready to embrace the weekend!

Here are five things I’m smiling about:

1. The USC-Cal Berkeley game! I’ll be heading over bright and early with some new friends from the East Bay Alumni Club. I’m so excited to tailgate and cheer on our Trojans! It’s been five years since I’ve been to a USC football game — crazy!

One of the last games I attended, back in college ...

One of the last games I attended, back in college …

2. Pumpkin spice English muffins are back on the grocery store shelves! YUM. Is it too much to slather these with pumpkin butter? Because you bet that’s what I’ll be eating for breakfast all week. 🙂

pumpkin spice english muffins

3. My Grandpap’s birthday is tomorrow! We’re all getting together to celebrate on Sunday. Bianca and I are planning to make these funfetti cookies {thanks for the recipe Sarah!} and Grandpap’s favorite dessert, cherry-cheese pie. Photos and recipe to come!

grandpap bday

4. Two new songs that I’ve been listening to over and over:

tswift dcoke

5. Whitney’s blog posts reflecting on her recent trip to Africa … wow, you guys. Read her words and gaze at her photos and prepare to be inspired. She makes me smile, she brings tears to my eyes, she makes me feel filled with grace.

Questions of the morning:

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

fabulous friday #2

Happy Friday, friends! And happy November! How was your Halloween? I had soooo much fun handing out candy to a ton of adorable trick-or-treaters. Lots of princesses, superheroes, and some amazing homemade costumes including a Medusa with hand-sewn snake hair! I hope your night was spooktastic and filled with more treats than tricks. 🙂

Here are five things I’m loving today:

1. Thanks to Robyn’s blog The Real-Life RD, I discovered this natural nutrition boost Vega One to add to my morning smoothies, and I’m loving it! I got the French Vanilla flavor and it’s very sweet, so I normally add just a quarter scoop to my morning smoothie. But it leaves me feeling satisfied for longer, and I love getting all kinds of plant-based nutrients and vitamins in my body first thing in the morning. It’s great way to wake up!

vega one

2. Two nights ago, I got to see the terrific writer Tom Barbash give a reading at San Jose State … I’ve been a fan of his work for a while, and I’m even more so now because he is such a warm, engaging and humble person. I am simultaneously devouring and savoring his new short story collection, Stay Up With Me. I’d highly recommend it!

3. Does anybody else watch the TV show Nashville? I got pulled into an episode the other night when I was drowsily getting ready for bed, and I’m now hooked! I guess I should have known this would be a show for me: after all, I love Nashville since it makes me think of Holly, I love country music, I love Connie Britton {Friday Night Lights!!} and I love romantic drama storylines, which the show has plenty of! Now I just need to get caught up on last season…

4. This evening I’m excited to hang out with a group of USC alumni to watch our Trojans play Oregon State … I’m all ready to cheer them on!

usc gear

5. I get to see my friend Dana on Sunday! We haven’t seen each other in a few weeks and I’m so looking forward to catching up. She always puts a smile on my face. Plus, I get to meet her sweet dog Heidi, which I am looking forward to!

Questions for the morning:

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