what’s your word for the year?

Happy Wednesday, everyone! It is a brisk, clear day here in Northern California… a little break from all the rain we’ve been getting! I’ll take the rain anytime — a welcome respite from the drought we’ve been under the past several years — but it is nice to have a string of sunny days in the forecast.

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts yesterday, Susan Hyatt’s weekly GO podcast, and it struck a deep chord with me. Susan’s no-nonsense words never fail to light a fire in my belly, and this episode was no exception. She was talking about setting an intention for your year that is just a single word or a short, memorable phrase. Examples might be: steady, rise, slow, patience, shine.

I love this idea because it feels both manageable and highly motivational. While I am a sucker for setting goals and taking baby steps, sometimes — especially at the beginning of the year — having a long list of goals can seem overwhelming. Setting a one-word intention is simple. It is a touchstone you can come back to, again and again, as you move through your day and week and month. Instead of a long list of goals, a one-word intention is more of a habit or a mindset: something that all of your other goals flow out from. The center of the pinwheel; the eye of the storm.

When I look back on 2016, I think a word for my year would have been CHANGE. From my personal life to the larger world, there was so much change and upheaval in 2016. For me personally, that change was wonderful and celebrated — moving in with Allyn, getting engaged, getting married. But even happy change can be stressful, and now as I take stock of where I hope 2017 leads, I find myself wanting to slow down and settle in a bit, getting comfortable in the routines of this new chapter in my life.

me-and-al-holding-hands-married

So, my word for 2017 is FOUNDATION. {Which always puts this song by Kate Nash in my head… but I digress.}

I want to work on getting the foundation of my life in order. For me, that is broken down into four main areas: my health; my relationships; my writing; my home environment.

Health

For health, when I think of foundation, I think of building a solid exercise routine and working more plants into my diet. I already take yoga class every Monday; now, I am striving to do yoga every day, even if just fifteen minutes. I am also hoping to start a routine with my hubby where we got to the gym twice a week before he heads off to work. I think this would be a really great practice for us to undertake together, and I know that doing it together will be really good for my motivation!

I also am experimenting with quitting sugar. I have been curious about this for a long time and have been wanting to try it out, but have been too afraid to take the leap. In 2017, I am bravely giving it a go. After all, I can always go back to sugar! But I want to see how my body and brain feels without it.

Relationships

My relationships are the most important thing in my life and they bring me so much happiness. I want to continue to nurture old friendships and establish new ones. In 2017, I am making time to visit my family and friends who are far away. I am also making more time for phone calls and emails to stay in touch. And, I am reaching out to fledgling friendships to help nurture these new relationships and create stronger bonds. As far as my marriage goes {hee hee, it still gives me butterflies to type those words!} Allyn and I are making time every Sunday for our “check in” with each other about how we are doing, what is on our hearts, what we might be struggling with, and what we are grateful for.

rehearsal dinner

Writing

This is a big one for me! I just returned home from a marvelous writing conference, the Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway sponsored by Murphy Writing, and I feel rejuvenated and bursting with ideas for a new huge project I am embarking upon. This book scares me, but I think that just means I need to lean into it more — it scares me because it is pushing me to grow, because it feels braver and bigger than anything else I have tried to write before. Instead of worrying about how many pages I want to write each day or what writing projects I aim to complete by the end of this year, FOUNDATION reminds me to focus on the process of writing. If I make writing a part of my daily routine, then the pages will get written. I will move forward on the projects I want to complete. All I need to do is put my energy in the daily process and show up every day. That is why I am committing to spending the first hour or so of each day working on my own writing projects, whatever they may be.

Home

I have this image in my mind of what I would love my home to look like: clean, comfortable, simple, organized. I feel like I am on the road to getting there, but I am not there yet. A part of me was resigned to never quite getting there. But then I thought, “No — this is your life. You deserve to create an environment that makes you feel wholly calm and at peace. You don’t have to settle for your slightly-messy tendencies.” I was also thinking about what wonderful writer and life coach Maggie Reyes once told me: “My home is my sanctuary.” My apartment is my sanctuary as it is right this very minute, but I want to help it become even more so. To do that, my intention of “foundation” motivates me to finally go through those old papers and receipts, donate the rest of those clothes and items I do not need or want, and incorporate a more regular cleaning routine so chores do not feel so overwhelming.

bookshelves

Above my desk, I have made a sign that has my word on it. FOUNDATION. Every time I see it, I feel inspired and centered.

What will your word be for 2017? I would love to hear in the comments!

a year of living simply: week 19

Hi there, everyone! I feel like it’s been a year and a half since I wrote to y’all, because this past weekend up till now was a DOOZY in my little corner of the universe. Flashback to the weekend before last, I went to the doctor for a mild infection and was put on an antibiotic, which I took twice a day. Everything seemed fine. Friday night, I still had three days left of my ten-day prescription. Allyn and I made plans to meet up with Dana and Brad for a fun evening of mini-golf. {I had purchased a Groupon for a foursome round of golf at a fun local Halloween-themed place, Ghost Golf.} I felt kind of sluggish all day and in the afternoon decided to pop over to the gym for a quick elliptical/exercise bike sesh. Maybe I just need a little perk-me-up, I thought.

As soon as I got home from the gym and showered, I knew I had made the wrong call. Now in addition to tired, I felt feverish and achey. But I didn’t want to call off our plans to meet Dana and Brad at the last minute, so I drove to Ghost Golf. When I arrived, Allyn felt my forehead and immediately confirmed that yes, I felt warm. The four of us went ahead with our round of golf and I had a great time despite feeling under-the-weather. {And I even lucked into a hole-in-one! That never happens to me!} Dana and Brad were sweet enough to let me bow out of our plans for after-golf ice cream, rain-checking for another date.

ghost golf

IMG953605

I went to bed Friday night thinking I was coming down with a virus. I hoped beyond hope I would wake up in the morning feeling better, because we had made plans months ago to attend the Renaissance Faire on Saturday to celebrate Allyn’s mom’s birthday. I had never been to a Renaissance Faire and was SO looking forward to going with Allyn’s family! We all had pirate costumes and everything. But I tossed and turned all night, feeling feverish and chilled, and in the morning I felt exhausted. I knew there was no way I could go along to the Faire. I ended up sleeping until after noon, but when I woke up I noticed I had a rash all over me. That was when I called my dad…

… and thank goodness I did! It hadn’t even occurred to me that something could be going on with the antibiotic I was taking, because I’d already been taking it for a week by that point! But Dad said, “I once had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic. I think you should go to the doctor and get it checked out.”

Thankfully there is an Urgent Care clinic nearby my house that is open on weekends. I made an appointment and skedaddled over there as soon as they could take me. A doctor examined me and quickly confirmed that, yes, I am indeed allergic to the antibiotic Sulfa. Good to know!! She told me to immediately stop taking it, and that I should begin to feel better soon, though it could take up to a week for it to get out of my system. I was relieved to know what the problem was.

On Sunday, my rash got much worse. I have always had sensitive skin and have gotten a few all-body rashes before, but this one was by far the worst. It has been a long time since I have been so sick. Allyn came over and brought me popsicles and Benadryl, but the rash seemed to be getting worse, not better. So Sunday afternoon he took me back to Urgent Care. Another doctor took one look at me and said, “Oh honey, Benadryl isn’t gonna help that.” I pretty much looked like a bright red lobster! {I told Allyn that I am his lobster. Haha.}

So I got a steroid injection and a prescription of steroid pills to calm down my poor freaked-out skin. Today is the first day I don’t feel itchy! Yay! Traces of the rash are still visible, but it is much better. And I finally am beginning to feel back to my normal energy levels and normal self. I feel so grateful for “normal”!!

What I learned through this whole ordeal:

  • Allergies to antibiotics can kick in after 7-1o days, not just when you first start taking a medicine! In fact, the doctor said I could have possibly taken the whole round of this antibiotic and been fine, but then had to take it at some point in the future and been hit with an allergic reaction within the first couple of days. If you are taking a new medication and start to feel “off” or get a rash, go to your doctor!
  • Listen to your body. I am so glad I went to Urgent Care over the weekend instead of waiting until Monday to go to the doctor. If I had continued taking my antibiotic, or if I had not been able to get the steroid medicine when I did, I would have been SO much more miserable and sick than I already was.
  • Plans can be cancelled and postponed and remade. Your health is most important. I had so been looking forward to the weekend because I had all these fun plans: Ghost Golf, dessert out, the Renaissance Faire, fancy dinner with Allyn’s fam at the Country Club, church community circle, double-date in the city with another couple from Allyn’s grad program… and everything except for Ghost Golf was left on the “cutting room floor” so to speak. I missed out on everything I had been so excited about! But, we were able to reschedule the most important things, and now I am able to look forward to them again. There will be another Renaissance Faire next year. I hate to think what could have happened if I had tried to push my body to do all.the.things this weekend. I think I would have simply collapsed!
  • Love is in the details. I had been looking forward to enjoying a weekend of fun activities with my sweetheart. Instead, I was feeling sick on Friday, we were apart all day Saturday, and Sunday I looked like The Creature from the Black Lagoon. No matter. Allyn came over to simply sit by my side on the couch, watching golf with my grandpa and chatting with my grandma. He held my hand and kissed my forehead. He told me it was going to be okay. He refilled my water glass, brought me dry Cheerios and saltine crackers, and still looked at me as if I was beautiful, even though I was covered in a gross rash. He drove me to the Urgent Care and sat with me while they gave me a steroid injection because he knows how much I hate shots. He came with me to pick up my new prescription. In a lot of ways, I feel even closer to him after this weekend than I would have after our planned weekend of sharing all those fun activities together.

Which is all to say… I am so so so happy to be on the mend!

Moving on to our year of living simply challenge

year of living simply

Last week’s challenge was to examine your nighttime routine. I have been trying to get to bed earlier because I have been waking up earlier, which has been a challenge for my natural night-owl self. I’ll often find myself trying to fit in “one more thing” before I wind down for bed… and then looking at the clock and an hour has passed and I’m already past my “goal time” of falling asleep.

I’ve been trying to work on creating a relaxing nighttime routine that I will look forward to. For me, this means at least an hour before I want to fall asleep, I change into my comfy PJs and get all ready for bed: wash my face, swap out my contacts and put on my glasses, etc. Then I brew a cup of warm tea like chamomile or fall spice, look over my to-do list for the next day one more time, and climb into bed. I like to call my family to say goodnight, and then I give myself thirty minutes to an hour of reading in bed. It feels luxurious and is the perfect way for my book-loving heart to wind down after a busy day. I sometimes will watch TV, but only if I have a special show I want to watch — not just to watch mindlessly. I find that reading calms me for sleep much more than watching TV does.

When it’s time to fall asleep, I keep my phone on silent and plugged in across the room, turned face-down so that I can’t see the little blinky blue light if I get a message or an email. I also like to keep my room cool, so sometimes I sleep with the window open. This time of year, nothing says comfy to me like feeling a cool night breeze from the window and snuggling down under the covers!

This week, with my illness/allergic reaction, falling asleep was much more difficult due to my itchy rash! I found that sitting up and turning on the light and reading when I was having trouble sleeping, as opposed to tossing and turning in frustration, calmed me down and got me feeling drowsy again much more quickly. One night, I actually got a lot of great ideas for my new novel-in-progress, so I’m glad I sat up and turned on the light and wrote them down! I guess a little insomnia can sometimes be a useful thing. 😉

All in all, I’m learning to wind down for the evening much earlier than I used to. Note to self: dusk doesn’t mean you’re going to be up for six more hours; sunset isn’t a signal to see how much more you can cram into the day!

dusk in key west

Dusk settling in Key West {photo from my trip there in 2013}

This week’s challenge is a simple one: find a creative way to repurpose or reuse something, instead of throwing it out or recycling it. Perhaps that means washing out that jelly jar and using it to store/organize some of your bathroom supplies. Or using that old tea tin as a planter for a windowsill herb garden. You could even wrap an empty oatmeal container in some pretty paper and use it as a gift box for homemade baked goodies! There are numerous “upcycling” ideas all over Pinterest and the Internet… just type in what you have and add “upcycle ideas” and you’ll get plenty! I look forward to hearing what you do — feel free to share in the comments!

Questions for the day:

  • What did you learn from examining your nighttime routine? Did you make any changes?
  • Have you ever been allergic to an antibiotic or other kind of medicine or food that you didn’t know about until it happened?
  • Do you have any upcycling success stories or tips to share?

goals + recipes for the week of 11/16

Hi, friends, and happy Sunday to you 🙂 Sorry I’ve been a bit MIA this week… it’s been unexpectedly busy! On Friday night, I went to Arianna’s high school play that she has been working on for months as the Assistant Director. I’m so proud of her! The set alone blew me away with its intricate attention to detail.

Arianna play

Yesterday, after teaching my rambunctious classes of kiddos, I took BART into the city and met up with my sweetheart for a fun sustainable foods event his MBA program was hosting. I noshed on a delicious spinach dish from a Jamaican restaurant, and Allyn had the jerked chicken and shared some of his dirty rice and plantains with me. It was nice getting to chat with his classmates and catch up with some people I hadn’t seen since Allyn’s surprise birthday party back in October.

Work-wise this week, some exciting developments have been happening that I hope I’m able to share sometime soon. In the meantime, I can tell you that I was really happy to get an acceptance this week from North Dakota Quarterly, the literary magazine out of the University of North Dakota, to publish my short story “Dirt” in their forthcoming “Slow” themed issue. Hooray! It’s been a motivating reminder of the importance of perseverance in pursuing your dreams, despite the inevitable rejections and disappointments — every “No” is one step closer to a “Yes!”

In that spirit… time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last week: 
– finish writing that one short story that’s been half-finished for months
– prepare tutoring worksheets through the end of the year
– update my website
– go to the gym three times
finish reading Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
connect with two friends

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– finish editing/preparing manuscript for submission
– update my website
– set date for Winter Writing Camp
– go to yoga class
– connect with two friends

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
pumpkin cookies w/cookie butter via The Coupon Project
kale & brussels sprouts salad w/butternut squash via Two Peas & Their Pod
vegetarian chickpea curry via Food Friends
fiesta frittata via PB Fingers
chaider {chai + hot apple cider} via The Pajama Chef
– my grandma’s curried butternut squash soup

Questions of the day:

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

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

goals + recipes for the week of 11/9

Hello, friends! Today is my Grandpap’s birthday!!

me and grandpap

Tonight we’re getting together at my Aunt Annie’s house to celebrate… I’m planning to make funfetti cupcakes, or perhaps pumpkin spice cupcakes, with cream-cheese frosting and of course plentyyyy of sprinkles 🙂 I love my Grandpap so much and I feel lucky that I’ve gotten to spend so much time with him the past year. He has always been super supportive of my writing. He is a jokester, a piano bar singer, a Sudoku fiend, and the only octogenarian I know who text messages and uses Siri. Here’s to many more birthdays, Grandpap!

Backing up a bit, yesterday I slept in, savored breakfast and my favorite pumpkin spice chai tea while reading some of my favorite blogs. Then I taught four classes of energetic kiddos, and then I headed over to a BBQ at the home of one of Allyn’s childhood friends. A bunch of his longtime friends were there, and it was really nice to get a chance to visit with them! I brought chocolate pumpkin kiss cookies, recipe coming soon!

chocolate pumpkin kiss cookies

This morning I’m heading to church early because I’m serving as Worship Associate for both services. Then I’m hoping to meet up with Dana because it’s been too long since I’ve seen her pretty face, and we have lots to catch up on!

But before I head out… time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last week: 
– finish writing that one short story that’s been half-finished for months
complete mid-term assessments for the classes I teach
– go to the gym three times
finish reading After Dakota by Kevin Sharp
connect with two friends
get my flu shot!!

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– finish writing that one short story that’s been half-finished for months
– prepare tutoring worksheets through the end of the year
– update my website
– go to the gym three times
– finish reading Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
– connect with two friends

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
bbq pineapple, jalepeno + feta pizza via Cookie + Kate
peanut butter apple oatmeal cookies via Two Peas & Their Pod
rosemary roasted potatoes via Food Friends
white chocolate drizzled pumpkin scones via That Skinny Chick Can Bake
chewy coconut oil granola bars via The Pajama Chef
– my own pumpkin pasta

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 10/26 {and MUSTACHES!}

Hello, friends! Today I’m savoring a relaxing morning with my sweetheart after a crazy-busy day yesterday {editing + teaching four classes + big family dinner!} It felt sooooo nice to sleep in this morning! After lots of green tea and a big breakfast, I’m looking forward to working on a new writing project for a couple hours! Then this afternoon, Allyn and I are headed into San Francisco for a double-date with our friends Justin and Fawn. We’re going to a pumpkin patch and out for lunch, and then carving pumpkins if we have time!

I’ve been dying to show this to you guys: look what I found when I went to Orchard nursery with Dana a couple weeks ago

mustache

… a pumpkin mustache!!

I was super excited to get it for Allyn’s Jack-O-Lantern because 1) it’s funny; 2) it’s unique; and 3) on November 1st Allyn will start growing his own ‘stache as part of the “Movember” campaign to raise awareness for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer. I’ve never seen him with facial hair before, but he will be rockin’ a mustache for the entire month of November! And so will my brother! Does anyone remember this pic of Greg and me from Thanksgiving last year?

me and greg staches

That was taken at the very tail-end of Greg’s mustache-growing. That ‘stache is as unruly as all get-out! Can’t wait to see what he ends up with this year. {Just kidding Greg, you know I love you and your unruly ‘stache!}

What mustache would you choose to grow {or choose your significant other to grow}? Here is a handy-dandy chart I found. I told Allyn my top two choices are Lampshade or Painter’s Brush. Or to just go all out and go for the Imperial! Haha.

As for me, this is the closest thing I’ll get to my own ‘stache this November:

me mustache

Which reminds me of a Mustache Bash my roommates and I went to in college, where we all drew mustaches on our faces with eyeliner pencil. Fun times!

moustache bash

ANYWAY… before things get too ‘stachetastic around here, let’s move onto goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last week: 
complete one new chapter of my novel-in-progress {I FINISHED IT!!}
write & mail Halloween cards
– go to the gym three times
read 100 pages of After Dakota by Kevin Sharp

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– finish writing that one short story that’s been half-finished for months
– complete mid-term assessments for the classes I teach
– go to the gym three times
– finish reading After Dakota by Kevin Sharp
– connect with two friends
– get my flu shot!! {still haven’t gotten around to this after I failed a couple weeks ago when trying to get it at Safeway}

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
curried red lentil soup w/dried cherries & cilantro via Cookie + Kate
roasted vegetable stuffed shells via Two Peas & Their Pod
spinach feta wrap via Peanut Butter Fingers
slow-cooker santa fe chicken via Peanut Butter Fingers & Skinnytaste
asian turkey meatballs w/carrot rice via The Pajama Chef
– my own butternut squash mock risotto

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 10/19

Another beautiful Sunday around here! I’m getting up early this morning to tutor a couple of my favorite students, and then I’m heading over to church where they are having a New Member Recognition Ceremony as part of today’s service. I’m excited to officially be accepted by my congregation as a new member!

sanctuary

My lovely, light-filled church!

The rest of my day I’m hoping will be loose and relaxed. My plans include: pleasure reading, phone dates with a couple friends, a long walk outside, and family dinner.

Before I get moving, time for goals. Last week I wrote about my mental shift from focusing on the end product to instead simply enjoying the PROCESS of writing. Instead of hurrying to the finish line of my novel, I’m focusing on making it the very best it can be. This week, I didn’t put pressure on myself to finish the whole novel. My goal was to complete one chapter this week…

… and I did! I finished one entire new chapter and wrote about half of another new chapter. This week I averaged about 1,000 words a day, and a couple days I even wrote closer to 2,000 words — more consistent productivity than I have logged in months. Most importantly, I had a lot more FUN writing this week! Instead of feeling rushed, I felt expansive and excited. I knew I had all the time in the world to follow the threads of the story wherever they wanted to take me, and that made me feel eager to dive back into the story each day.

It reminds me of the feeling you have writing a term paper when it’s due in a matter of hours, versus writing a term paper when it’s due in a month. The act of writing is much more enjoyable when you have time and space for discovery, instead of being stressed out about getting from Point A to Point B.

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last week: 
complete one new chapter of my novel-in-progress
– prepare for tutoring through the end of the month
– go to the gym three times
read 100 pages of After Dakota by Kevin Sharp

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– complete one new chapter of my novel-in-progress
– write & mail Halloween cards
– go to the gym three times
– read 100 pages of After Dakota by Kevin Sharp

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
thai beef skewers via The Pajama Chef
sweet & salty marshmallow popcorn via Two Peas & Their Pod
easy marinated baked chicken via Peanut Butter Fingers
peanut butter pumpkin brownies via It’s Progression
caramelized onion & apple galette via Panera Bread website
– my own apple cake with brown sugar glaze

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 10/12

Happy Sunday, everyone! Hope you’re having a great one. After a crazy-busy yesterday teaching wrangling kiddos, today I’m savoring some relaxation! Breakfast with my sweetheart, church, lunch with Dana, and family dinner tonight. A perfect Sunday, in my book!

Now let’s move onto goals. My brother, who is an extremely talented painter and fine artist in addition to his many other talents, reminded me of the importance of enjoying the PROCESS of creating art, instead of only focusing on the results or finished product.

In that vein, I have decided to take the pressure off completing my novel, and instead focus on writing it little by little, day by day. As long as I am investing the time into writing it, I will make progress and I will eventually write those glorious words THE END 🙂 I’m getting so close {!!!} but I don’t want to rush the process. Instead of focusing on making it to the finish line, I want to focus on making it the very best it can be. If I see loose ends, I want to tie them up. If I get a new idea for another thread I can weave through the storyline, I want to feel like I have the freedom and time to do that.

So, all that goes to say, I won’t be putting pressure on myself to finish the whole novel this week, as I have been doing in previous weeks. I always tend to bite off more than I can chew and think that I can make more progress than is realistic. Even though I’ve been putting in lots of time and making significant progress on my novel, I’ve been feeling like a failure because I haven’t been able to cross it off my list on here yet! But I’m learning. Goals are a work-in-progress! And as far as my novel goes, it’s not rewarding or creatively conducive to approach it as an all-or-nothing task. So I’m going to try to complete one chapter this week, and continue to move forward from there.

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last time: 
– complete new draft of my novel-in-progress
celebrate Allyn’s birthday! 🙂
do yoga twice & core exercises five times
finish reading Into the Night Sky by Caroline Finnerty

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– complete one new chapter of my novel-in-progress
– prepare for tutoring through the end of the month
– go to the gym three times
– read 100 pages of After Dakota by Kevin Sharp

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
baked caramel apple mini doughnuts via The Pajama Chef
kale salad w/sesame lime dressing via The Pajama Chef
cheesy broccoli quinoa via Peanut Butter Fingers
crockpot lentil & wheatberry soup via Peanut Butter Fingers
hearty fall soup w/yucca & coconut milk via sometimes.always.never
– my own

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 9/28

Happy Sunday, friends! It’s a busy day around here. I’m off to do a little tutoring this morning before church; then after the church service we’re having a Young Adult potluck; and then tonight we’re having family dinner at my aunt Annie’s house before my Uncle Frankie heads back down to L.A. in the morning. Lots of friend & family time, which makes my heart happy!

Speaking of happy hearts, my sweetie’s birthday is this Tuesday! Last night I was invited to celebrate with him and his sister, dad and stepmom at the beautiful Clairemont Country Club. I wore my navy and ivory chevron dress from this past Easter {thanks to Arianna for helping me decide on an outfit! My cousin is eleven years younger than I am but has waaaaay more style!} 😉

chevron dress

And my other stylish cousin, Bianca, helped me bake red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for the birthday boy!

cupcakes

Speaking of yummy desserts, I have to share a photo of this aaaaaamazing butternut squash bread pudding I ordered for dessert on Friday night. I’m gonna try to recreate it myself at some point, perhaps using this recipe? Oh and yeah, that’s salted caramel gelato on top. With chocolate caramel cups mixed in. Yuuuuummmmm. I want to eat this again, like, right now.

butternut squash bread pudding

Before I lose myself in drooling over this photo, let’s move onto goals…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: 
– complete new draft of my novel-in-progress {wrote two new chapters; one more to go!}
– finish editing work
– prepare for first week of teaching/new semester
do yoga twice & core exercises five times
– read 100 pages of Into the Night Sky by Caroline Finnerty

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– complete new draft of my novel-in-progress
– celebrate Allyn’s birthday! 🙂
– do yoga twice & core exercises five times
– finish reading Into the Night Sky by Caroline Finnerty

And here are some recipes I’m eying this week:
crockpot asian pulled chicken via The Pajama Chef
creamy spinach & cheese green chile enchiladas via Two Peas & Their Pod
pumpkin cinnamon cookies via Two Peas & Their Pod
6 healthy crockpot chicken freezer meals via New Leaf Wellness & Money-Saving Mom
– my own curried butternut squash & apple soup

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 9/21

Greetings from the Bay Area! It’s great to be reunited with my grandparents — my grandma is walking around with just a cane now! I’m so proud of her! And last night I was reunited with my sweetheart, who I hadn’t seen for more than 3 weeks because I dog-sat/house-sat for my parents while they were away on their trip to Ireland. It felt like I was gone a really long time! Tonight I’m bringing dinner over to Allyn’s apartment… I’m thinking of making my turkey enchiladas. They’re super easy to prep ahead and then pop into the oven when you’re ready to eat.

My morning started off with a hearty bowl of cinnamon oatmeal with blueberries and sliced pear, and the rest of the pear on the side.

oatmeal pear blueberries

I needed something to give me sustained energy because it’s going to be a busy morning around here — I’m serving as Worship Associate for the first time at my church! In addition to assisting the minister with a bunch of preparation duties for the service, I’ll also be giving two short speeches: the Call to Worship and the Call for the Offering. I’m a little nervous, but mostly excited and honored.

Before I head out, it’s time for goals…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: 
– complete new draft of my novel-in-progress {getting really close!!}
– prepare for Worship Associate duties at church
soak up time with my family
do yoga twice
– read One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– complete new draft of my novel-in-progress
– finish editing work
– prepare for first week of teaching/new semester
– do yoga twice & core exercises five times
– read 100 pages of Into the Night Sky by Caroline Finnerty

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
greek orzo pasta salad via The Pajama Chef
pb cup oatmeal & carrot cake oatmeal via the real-life RD
honey peach muffins with oat streusel topping via Two Peas & Their Pod
17 freezer-cooking recipes via Homeschool Creations & Money-Saving Mom
– my own pumpkin pasta

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 9/14

Hi, friends! I’m happy to report that my parents are home safe and sound from their adventure in Ireland 🙂 After I picked them up at the airport, we drove across L.A. to have dinner with my brother before coming home to Ventura. It was the first time that all four of us had been together since June, and it was soooo nice! I adore my family and feel so blessed to share life with these loving, supportive, amazing people.

fam wedding pic

Photo from my cousin Amanda’s wedding last year.

Today is shaping up to be busy with errands, exercise, family time, and a BBQ! But for now… let’s move onto goals and recipes!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: 
– complete new draft of my novel-in-progress
complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
– finalize tutoring schedule
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:
– complete new draft of my novel-in-progress
– prepare for Worship Associate duties at church
– soak up time with my family
– do yoga twice
– read One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
healthy crumb-topped zucchini bread via The Pajama Chef
baked apple chips via The Lean Green Bean
easy homemade peach butter via Two Peas & Their Pod
roquefort rotini w/roasted squash & walnuts via Panera Bread website
– my own pumpkin oatmeal cookies {let the pumpkin obsession begin!} 🙂

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!