fabulous friday #46

Happy Friday, everyone! I don’t know where this week has gone. Crazy that we’re approaching the weekend again already. Hope you’re having a terrific day, and if you’re back East dealing with the crazy weather, please stay safe!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My care packages love continues. I have such amazing, loving people in my life! This week I received Valentines from my parents, a wonderful card from Julie, and a card and poetry books from my friend Carand.

julie card

carand poetry books

2. My butternut squash chili turned out really well! It is so hearty, savory and warm. I have been enjoying a bowl for lunch the past couple days and it is the perfect midday comfort food.

butternut squash chili

3. My friend Peter Yobo has released an amazing ebook, The 7 Steps to Creating Your Masterpiece Day, now available on Amazon. Here is a brief synopsis:

“Peter shares the 7 steps, that, when implemented daily, will create true life transformation. If you share Peter’s passion for living fully and achieving greatly, then you’ll have a blast reading The 7 Steps to Creating Your Masterpiece Day.”

masterpiece day peter yobo

4. My grandma was going through old photos this week and she found some adorable ones of my mom as a little girl. Too cute! I also love when I can see glimpses of myself in old photos of my mom. ūüôā I think she is the most beautiful woman, inside and out, I have ever met! I love you, Mama. ‚̧

Mom first day of kindergarten

mom little girl xmas

5.¬†Tonight I’m meeting up with Allyn in San Francisco for a really neat event co-hosted by his MBA program: a screening of the documentary film Girl Rising and a panel discussion about “Girls, Women and Sustainability” with experts in the field, including a producer of the film. After first watching Girl Rising¬†with my brother a couple years ago, I was inspired to seek out books on the topic such as Half The Sky, which I detailed in this post. I have become more and more passionate about¬†women’s rights and girls’ education around the world. I’m super excited for the event tonight!

Questions of the day:

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

fabulous friday #38

Happy Friday! You know what this means, right?¬†One week till Halloween!! Do you have any ghoul-tastic plans yet? {Haha, someone is obviously a liiittle too hyped up on caffeine right now… sorry!} Earl Grey before yoga + post-yoga endorphins + pumpkin chai latte from Starbucks after yoga = this version of me you are hearing from right now ūüôā

Moving right along… this weekend, Allyn and I are going pumpkin-patching {don’t know if that’s actually a verb, but it is now} and I’m planning to hit up a craft store for a couple last-minute touches for my Halloween costume. If you’re looking for an easy, fun Halloween costume but don’t have any ideas, feel free to¬†check out this post with some costumes that have worked well for me in the past!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. This beautiful autumn bouquet from ProFlowers that arrived on my doorstep a couple days ago from my incredibly sweet and thoughtful dad! He sent them just because he was thinking of me and wanted to send some sunshine my way. How amazing is that? I am the luckiest daughter on the planet. I miss you, Daddy!

autumn flowers from dad

2. My favorite dessert of late: peanut butter toast topped with mini chocolate chips!

pb toast

3.¬†Every time this song comes on the radio I do a little happy dance: “Riptide” by Vance Joy.

4.¬†This heart-wrenchingly¬†beautiful and wise short essay my brother wrote for HuffPost called¬†The Girl Effect and My Grandmother. Read it, and believe me — you’ll be glad you did! Here’s a teaser:

“The agony of these missing parts applies not only to our deceased loved ones — it applies to when we allow fear to dampen courage; ignorance to imprison knowledge; and hatred to overwhelm love.”

5. My grandma’s soup. Her chicken tortilla soup just might be my favorite, but she also makes a mean split pea and curried lentil + barley. I’ll try to get the recipes for those latter two up on here soon!

grandma tortilla soup.jpg

Oh yeah, and one more thing that might explain why I’m feeling so dang happy and excited … I FINISHED MY NOVEL!!!

finished novel doc

Happy weekend, friends! Sending lots of love & joy your way! Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the blogosphere. It means a lot to me ūüôā

Questions of the day:

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

goals + recipes for the week of 8/24

Hi friends! Just wanted to pop in say hello ūüôā How is your weekend going?

Thank you for all of your prayers and good thoughts for my grandma and her hip-replacement surgery! She came through like a champ and is currently back at home, recovering very well. My grandpap has been very sweet taking care of her, and I have been trying to help out as best I can, however I can.

gparents gmas bday

My brother made it back safe from his summer internship in Washington, D.C. and is starting his second and final year of business school tomorrow. I love this photo of him and my mom that my dad snapped during Greg’s brief time¬†at home before moving back down to Los Angeles. Have a great first week back at school, buddy!

greg and mom margarita villa

Other big news this week was that my sweetheart safely arrived back home, hooray! I have been soaking up time with him after being apart all summer. I also got to attend a couple fun events in San Francisco with him as part of his M.B.A. program at Presidio Graduate School. Presidio is really unique because of its emphasis on sustainability and environmental issues. I am so inspired by the amazing, world-bettering projects all the students are involved in. A really neat project is in the works right now that I will be letting you know about next week, with a chance for you to get involved — stay tuned!

This week I’m hoping to get a LOT of writing done! I have a handful of works-in-progress that I am really excited about and now, since I have a few weeks off from teaching, I have more time to devote to my writing. I’m ready and eager to get to work! #takingcareofbusiness

Before I head out, it’s goals time…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:¬†
– revise 10 pages of my novel-in-progress
–¬†teach a successful¬†week of camp
–¬†help take care of my Grandma as best I can
–¬†finish reading Invisibility¬†by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan

Here are my goals for this upcoming 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

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
peanut butter avocado cookies via The Lean Green Bean
grilled zucchini, chickpea, tomato and goat cheese salad via Two Peas & Their Pod
–¬†pesto, roasted red pepper & cheese crescent rolls¬†via¬†Two Peas & Their Pod
coconut curry popcorn via The Pajama Chef
Рmy own coconut strawberry chocolate 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!

goals + recipes for the week of 8/17

Happy Sunday, everyone! It feels like it’s been for.ev.er since I popped in to say hi… I guess it’s only been a few days since my mid-week meditation post, but it was one of those weeks where a lot happened!

  • I got back to the Bay Area on Sunday night, and there were all sorts of little errands and such I had to squeeze in to get back into my everyday routine. You know how it is, getting back to real life after “vacation mode” ūüôā
  • I taught a wonderful week of journalism and public speaking camp to a group of super awesome fifth graders. I was so proud of all of them!
  • I’m housesitting/dog-sitting for my aunt and uncle right now, so there was a bit of schedule juggling involved to make sure the doggies were comfortable and cared for throughout the day when I was at work. Everything worked out fine in the end!

poodles

There were also lots of fun events:

  • I got together with Dana for dinner at Pizza Antica — yum!
  • I got my first-ever professional massage {more on that coming soon!}
  • We celebrated Makena’s birthday on Tuesday and Bianca’s birthday on Friday! We had a joint party for them both on Wednesday evening, and it was so much fun. They are such kind-hearted and beautiful young ladies, inside and out!

m and b bday

This week is looking to be even busier! Tomorrow my grandma is getting much-needed hip-replacement surgery; she’s in a lot of pain, so we are all excited that this procedure will hopefully provide a lot of relief. Still, getting an operation is always a¬†little scary, so we would be so grateful for your good thoughts & prayers! I will be sure to keep y’all posted on her recovery.

me and gma

Then on Tuesday, my sweetheart comes home!! He is currently driving back to the Bay Area from New Orleans… I think he’s somewhere in the middle of New Mexico right now. Your safe thoughts for his travels would also be very appreciated ūüôā I am over-the-moon excited to see him!

me and al bday creamery

This week is the last week of summer camps for Communication Academy. I’m teaching a public speaking class for teenagers and I’m really looking forward to it. Gonna be a great week!

Before I head out, it’s goals time…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: {I bit off a little more than I could chew, as I am so prone to doing!}
– revise 25 pages of my novel-in-progress
–¬†teach a successful¬†week of camp
–¬†connect with three friends
–¬†finish reading Invisibility¬†by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan
drop off donation to Goodwill

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– revise 10 pages of my novel-in-progress
–¬†teach a successful¬†week of camp
–¬†help take care of my Grandma as best I can
–¬†finish reading Invisibility¬†by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
salted caramel apple crisp via Panera Bread Co.
grilled zucchini and corn tostadas via Two Peas & Their Pod
–¬†chunky sausage and veggie pasta sauce¬†via¬†Chew Out Loud
dark chocolate chunk peanut butter blondies via The Pajama Chef
Рmy own coconut zucchini muffins

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!

grandma’s birthday dinner

Last night we celebrated my grandma’s 82nd birthday¬†with a nice family dinner out at The Club. It was a lovely excuse to dress up and Mom and I had a fun time getting ready together side-by-side in front of my bathroom mirror. This beautiful lady is not just my mom, she is also one of my best friends, and I’m so grateful to have her here this week!

mama and me

The evening flew by with excellent food and wonderful company. Whenever my family all gets together, there is plenty of hugging, talking, interrupting, laughter, storytelling, and picture-taking. Last night was no exception. ūüôā

the girls at gmas bday

me and arianna

me and al gmas bday

I absolutely love this photo of my grandparents:

gparents gmas bday

We missed my dad and brother, but they sent Grandma flowers — sunflowers! yaaay! — that are brightening up the living room hearth.

sunflowers

Now Mom, Grandma, Grandpap and I are curling up on the couch with some popcorn to watch Saving Mr. Banks. I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s year of Wooden post.

Question of the evening:

  • What was the highlight of your weekend?

goals + recipes for the week of 3/30

Aaaaaand just like that, it’s Sunday again! And the end of March! Where does the time go?

My mom is here! My mom is here! ūüôā I’m so happy to see her. Yesterday evening we had a nice, low-key celebration of my grandma’s birthday with the fam. Tonight we are going out for a fancier dinner to celebrate.

grandmas bday

me and gma

The cake turned out wonderfully! It was a big hit! Confetti cake mix + white chocolate chips stirred into the batter + homemade cream cheese frosting + rainbow sprinkles expertly sprinkled by my cousin Bianca.

bday cake

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

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
–¬†write 12 pages
– send out newsletter
–¬†go to two yoga classes {I made it to three! woooot!}
finish reading through three lit journals from my AWP stash
–¬†connect with three friends
bake an amazing cake for Grandma’s birthday! {perhaps¬†this one?}

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
–¬†write 12 pages
– send out newsletter
–¬†go to two yoga classes
–¬†prepare for my Steinbeck Fellowship reading
–¬†connect with three friends
–¬†have a wonderful time with my mama in town!

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
these 3-ingredient recipes via Buzzfeed
–¬†black bean pumpkin soup¬†via Sarah @The Pajama Chef
–¬†crock-pot salsa chicken¬†via Danica¬†@It’s Progression
–¬†flourless pb & j snack cookies¬†via¬†Robyn @the real-life rd
pumpkin toffee chocolate-chip muffins 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?

grandma’s tortilla soup

As I’ve mentioned on here before, one reason I love living with my grandma is getting to spend time with her in the kitchen — she is teaching me so many wonderful recipes! {such as: curried butternut squash & apple soup¬†/ asian chicken curried salad / apple cake with brown sugar glaze … mmm!}

Today I have a new recipe to share, one of my very favorites, perfect for the drizzly weather we’ve been having here lately:

grandma tortilla soup.jpg

grandma’s tortilla soup
– 2 tsp olive oil
– 6 scallions, thinly sliced
– 3 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 cup diced tomatoes {canned or fresh}
– 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
– ¬Ĺ cup chopped cilantro
– ¬Ĺ tsp oregano
– ¬Ĺ tsp salt
– 1 cup frozen corn kernels
– 2 tbsp fresh lime juice

1. In a large saucepan, heat 2 tsp olive oil over low heat.

2. Add half the scallions and the garlic and cook about one minute, until scallions are tender.

3. Stir in tomatoes, broth, ¬ľ cup cilantro, oregano, salt, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook ten minutes.

4. Add corn and cook another few minutes.

5. To serve, stir in tortilla chips, remaining scallions, cilantro, lime juice.

Bonus: this soup makes the house smell aaaaaamazing!! Enjoy!

tortilla soup

if you like this recipe, you might also enjoy:
savory pumpkin & kale stew
crock-pot chicken & veggie stew
shrimp & sausage stew
creamy blended cauliflower & potato soup

asian chicken curried salad

So, my grandma?

me and gma

Not only is this woman adorable and funny and kind, she is also a fabulous cook! {Check out her recipes for curried butternut squash & apple soup, apple cake with brown sugar glaze, and vegetable salad with honey-apple vinaigrette.}

Last week she tried out a new recipe for asian chicken salad that was an instant hit in our little household. Grandpap and I both went back for seconds — I think Grandpap may have even gone back for thirds! I took photos because I knew immediately that I wanted to share the recipe with all of you. So here it is:

asian chicken salad

grandma’s asian chicken salad
– 2-3 cups cubed chicken
– 4 oz can of water chestnuts, drained & sliced
– 1 lb. seedless green grapes, halved
– 11 oz. can mandarin oranges, drained
– 14 oz. can pineapple chunks, drained
– 1 cup toasted almonds
– 1 cup chopped celery

for the dressing:
– 3/4 cup greek yogurt
– 1 tsp. curry powder
– 2 tsp. soy sauce
– 2 tsp. lemon juice
– salt & pepper to taste

1. In a big bowl, combine chicken, water chestnuts, grapes, oranges, pineapple, almonds, and celery.

2. In a separate bowl, combine the dressing ingredients and whisk until well combined.

3. Toss the chicken mixture with the dressing until everything is well-coated.

4. Chill several hours, or even overnight.

5. Serve on lettuce for a salad, or on a roll as a sandwich.

20140122_185758

At first Grandma made different versions with either the pineapple or the oranges, but we decided we liked it best with all the ingredients!

 

Question of the evening:

  • What are some of your favorite recipes lately?

year of kindness challenge: week 49

year of kindness button

Hi, friends! I feel like it’s been for.ev.er since I’ve written a blog post … this past week has been crazy-busy! But the good kind of crazy, the filled-up-to-the-brim-with-good-things kind:

  • Last Wednesday I gave a reading at San Jose State as part of my Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, and it went wonderfully! I feel so grateful and supported by the university. The audience was warm and even laughed at the humorous lines in my story.¬†My dad also drove up from Ventura for my reading and it was so special to have him there!
  • On Friday, Dad and I went to a talk by Ken Burns, the amazing documentary filmmaker. It was fantastic! I was so moved by Burns’ passion and dedication to history, preservation, art and learning.

me and Dad

  • This weekend was jam-packed with friend and family time. Nothing like catching up with good friends after some time apart. Plus the gingerbread flavor is back at Starbucks! Bring on the gingerbread chai!
  • The sermon at church on Sunday was about “surrender.” I’ve been thinking a lot about it the past couple days, and a longer post is coming once I’ve gathered my thoughts together a bit.

And now… on to the kindness!

Last week’s kindness challenge was to help someone put up holiday decorations, write/address holiday cards, or wrap presents.¬†I helped my Grandma get the house all decorated for Christmas {and dusted/swept/cleaned} in preparation for a luncheon party she is hosting on Thursday for her bridge friends. Doesn’t the mantel look nice?

grandma christmas mantel

The Week 49 Kindness Challenge is to give a warm drink to a toll-booth worker, newspaper delivery person, or your mailman/ mailwoman. Alternatively, pay the toll for the car behind you in line.

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 joyful week!
– Dallas

P.S.: Head on over to this Year of Kindness Challenge page to see all the archived posts from the previous 48 weeks!

Questions of the day:

  • What were the highlights of your weekend?
  • What acts of kindness happened in your life this past week?

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?