celebrating martin luther king, jr.

Today we honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I’m celebrating by participating in a community service project and by doing as many random acts of kindness as I can fit into my day!

I’m also spending time today reading the words of Dr. King and reflecting on his wisdom. I was especially moved by this passage:

“A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life’s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be changed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth with righteous indignation.” {Source: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/pacificaviet/riversidetranscript.html}

My dad’s wonderful column this past week was about Dr. King and I want to share it with you as well: http://woodywoodburn.com/column-let-service-ring/

I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s year of Wooden post. Hope you are having a beautiful day filled with service, compassion and reflection!

Question of the day:

  • What are you doing to celebrate MLK day?
  • What are your favorite words of wisdom from MLK?

goals for the week of 12/29

And just like that … we’re into the final days of 2013. Hard to believe!

This morning at church the sermon was all about letting go of your preconceived notions and the stories you tell yourself about what your life “should” look like or what “should” happen, and to open yourself up to all the incredible possibilities around you. We each went up to the front and released a small square of flash paper into a candle flame to symbolize something we want to let go of in this upcoming year. It was a surprisingly moving and empowering exercise. I actually got tears in my eyes when I watched my little square of paper burst into flame. I want to let go of my desire to control every aspect of my life and to be more open to the joy and excitement of the unknown — to embrace life’s adventures instead of being afraid. 

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
– take cookies & cards to the nursing home
– finish reading The Tea Rose
soak up time with my family and friends!
journal/reflect on this past year
set my goals for 2014, wooooohoooo! {post on this coming soon!}

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write 10 pages
– donate purged clothes, books and magazines
– mail thank you notes & happy new year cards
– finish reading Edible Stories and MWF seeking BFF
– phone dates with two friends

Question of the day:

  • What are your goals for this week?
  • What is something you want to let go of in this new year?

goals for the week {a day late!}

Hiiiiii friends! Wow, can you believe that tomorrow is already Christmas Eve? Time is flowing by crazy-fast! This past week has I think been one of the busiest weeks of my entire life. One of those weeks where every day feels packed-to-the-brim with important, meaningful stuff.

I’ve been able to meet up with a number of dear friends for coffee dates and dinner dates and hiking dates … special time to talk-talk-talk and catch up with people I love and don’t get to see nearly enough. The fam and I watched some of our favorite holiday movies: Serendipity, Love Actually, and It’s a Wonderful Life. {<– my all-time favorite movie EVER.} I was honored to teach writing workshops at three separate schools {one elementary school, one middle school, and my alma mater high school} in addition to my Winter Writing Camp on Saturday. Nothing inspires me quite like being in a room full of young writers writing!

In addition to all of this, we celebrated my brother’s birthday yesterday {happy 24 Gregburn! I love you!} and threw an absolutely lovely and fun bridal shower for my cousin Julie. Plus the typical holiday cookie-baking, card-writing, present-wrapping, etc! Here are some photos from my week:

family with gramps

The girls with Gramps before Julie’s bridal shower.

cupcakes

I made two dozen cupcakes for Julie’s shower … a dozen chocolate with peanut butter frosting, and a dozen red velvet with cream cheese frosting!

loving murray

Murray lovin’!

brothers

Brothers!

And now … on to my goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals for the week of 12/15:
– write 10 pages of new material {yeah, this didn’t even come close to happening this week…}
– take cookies & cards to the nursing home {doing this tomorrow!}
– exercise at least twice
– finish reading The Tea Rose {less than 100 pages left}
order holiday cards
teach a fantastic Winter Writing Camp
throw a wonderful bridal shower for my cousin Julie
connect with two friends

And here are my goals for this week:
– soak up time with my family and friends!
– journal/reflect on this past year
– set my goals for 2014, wooooohoooo!

I’ll be back tomorrow with the week 51 year of kindness challenge!

This post is linked up with Menu-Plan Monday.
MPM-Winter

goals + cookie recipes for the week of 12/15

Happy Sunday! I can’t believe it’s the beginning of another week … and that Christmas is only ten days away! I hope that your holiday season has an abundance of joy and laughter, and a minimum of stress.

I’m back home with my family for the holidays and it is soooo nice! On Friday night I went with my mom to her office holiday party, and we had a blast. They set up a “casino night” and we spent a large chunk of the evening playing black jack. It was my first time playing black jack, but luckily the dealer was very sweet and gave me hints about what I should do. {Apparently that doesn’t happen in Vegas! Haha.}

me and mama xmas

I’ve been busy preparing for my cousin Julie’s bridal shower next weekend. Longtime blog readers might be experiencing deja vu: last Christmas I threw a bridal shower for Julie’s sister, my cousin Amanda. That party turned out beautifully and a lot of fun was had by all. This year, it’s Julie’s turn!

me and cuzes

The rest of the weekend has been spent running errands, wrapping presents, baking, decorating the house for Christmas, watching made-for-TV holiday movies, and goofing around with Mr. Murdog.

me and murray

Hope you’re having a productive and/or relaxing weekend! Now, on to goals …

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on 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 {this book is aaaamazing!}
– order holiday cards
publicize Winter Writing Camp
connect with two friends

Here are my goals for the week of 12/15:
– write 10 pages of new material
take cookies & cards to the nursing home
– exercise at least twice
– finish reading The Tea Rose
– order holiday cards
– teach a fantastic Winter Writing Camp
– throw a wonderful bridal shower for my cousin Julie
– connect with two friends

And here are some of my favorite holiday treat recipes!
aunt elaine’s peanut butter blossoms
mom’s classic chocolate chip cookies
eggnog cookies w/buttercream frosting
gluten-free oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
gramps’ favorite lemon bars
reeses pb cup brownies
chocolate-covered popcorn
white chocolate pretzels

Questions for the day:

  • What are you thankful for this holiday season
  • What are your favorite holiday cookie recipes?
  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?

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?

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?

eggnog cookies w/buttercream frosting

Now that Thanksgiving is over, it is officially beginning to feel like the Christmas season! I saw eggnog at the grocery store yesterday. I am not a straight-up eggnog fan … but eggnog frosting is a different story!

egg nog

When I saw this recipe on Sweat Pea’s Kitchen for eggnog cookies, I immediately printed it out. Don’t let the cookie-and-frosting combo fool you: these cookies look fancy, but they are super easy to make. And I was blown away by how good they are! Even though I do not consider myself an eggnog drinker, I do now admit to being an eggnog consumer — in cookie form! 🙂

eggnog cookies

eggnog cookies {yields one dozen}

for the cookies:
1  & 1/8 cups whole-wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup granulated sugar
6 tbsp unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup eggnog
1-2 tablespoons rum {optional}
for the eggnog buttercream frosting:
1/8 cup softened butter
1/4 cup eggnog {I used pumpkin flavored eggnog}
1 & 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1-2 teaspoons rum {optional}

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin pie spice.

dry ingredients

3. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat well. Finally, add the eggnog. Batter will be fairly thin.

cookie batter

4. Add the dry ingredients in increments and mix until well-combined.

5. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 3 inches between the cookies. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes.

cookies prebake

6. Allow to cool on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to wire cooling racks to cool completely before frosting.

7. While cookies are baking, make the frosting: butter, eggnog, cinnamon, nutmet and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Add more eggnog if needed to reach the desired consistency.

8. After cookies are completely cool, ice them with a small spatula or butter knife and sprinkle with ground nutmeg if desired.

eggnog cookies

These cookies are the perfect holiday treat!

you might also enjoy these holiday cookie recipes:
two-ingredient pumpkin spice cookies
aunt elaine’s peanut butter blossoms
mom’s classic chocolate-chip cookies

grandpap’s favorite cherry-cheese pie

grandpap birthday

For my Grandpap’s birthday this past weekend, we made him his favorite dessert: cherry-cheese pie! It was a big hit with my family, and I was surprised at how simple it was to make. This would be a great holiday dessert alternative to pumpkin or pecan pie!

cherry cheese pie

grandpap’s favorite cherry-cheese pie
– 2 eggs
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 & 1/2 cups sour cream
– 2 packages {8 oz each} cream cheese, softened {I used one regular package and one package of reduced-fat}
– 2 tbsp melted butter
– graham cracker crumb crust
– 1 can {21 oz} cherry pie filling

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Beat together eggs, sugar, vanilla, and sour cream.

bianca baking

3. Cut cream cheese into small pieces. Gradually add the cream cheese to the sour-cream mixture, beating well.

4. Beat in melted butter.

5. Pour cheese mixture into 9-inch graham cracker crust. Bake for 35 minutes, or until set in center. Will firm up as it cools.

pies in oven

cooked pies

6. Top with cherry pie filling; chill cherry cheesecake pie thoroughly before serving.

cherry cheese pie

Hope you enjoy as much as Grandpap did! 🙂

me and grandpap

you might also enjoy these recipes:
perfect pumpkin pie
blueberry pie
gluten-free apple pie bites

year of kindness challenge: week 44

It’s a new week, friends! Hope yours is off to a lovely start. The weather has been SO amazingly beautiful here lately and I am soaking it in. It is really starting to feel like the holiday season is upon us … is it too early to start listening to my Christmas music station on Pandora??

year of kindness button

Last week’s kindness challenge was to take a batch of Halloween treats to a place that could use some Halloween treats, not tricks! I whipped up some double-chocolate brownies and brought them to the nurse’s station at a local senior care facility … everyone seemed surprised and grateful for the homemade treats.

halloween treats

The Week 44 Kindness Challenge comes from my blogging friend Gayle Greeley, who has an amazing blog “Be the Difference” where she is chronicling her volunteer efforts for 40 different charities in order to celebrate her 40th birthday. So inspiring! She writes: “I think a great act of kindness would be to create a card and send it to our troops. There is an organization called Operation Gratitude. Here is a link I found with more information. I think this would be especially important as we move towards Veterans’ Day.” I agree, Gayle! This will be a great kindness challenge for this week.

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn AT gmail DOT com.

Have a marvelous week!
– Dallas

P.S.: Head on over to this Year of Kindness Challenge page to see all the archived posts from the previous 43 weeks!

Questions of the day:

  • What kindnesses happened in your life this past week?
  • When do you begin to break out the holiday music?

saturday upsides, christmas chili & les mis

Happy weekend, everyone! We made it back to southern California safe & sound tonight after visiting my extended family up north. It was a quick but jam-packed visit, filled with fun family time, delicious home-cooked food, and lots of laughter. Here is a pic of my brother and me with our Grandma & Grandpap {on our mom’s side}:

with gparents

One recipe I forgot to share with you earlier this week is my Christmas chili! It’s the same as my California chicken chili recipe, only I added red and white kidney beans, regular chili powder instead of the “white chicken” kind, AND festive red and green bell pepper. {Which is why I call it my “Christmas chili”!} The reason I used the regular chili powder is that I couldn’t find the white chicken chili kind out here in California … but it turned out to be one of those serendipitous things, because I think this is my best chili yet!

christmas chili

I don’t know about you, but around this time of year I nearly always battle the post-holiday blues. It’s true: I love Christmas! I love the joy and excitement of the season of giving. I love being home with my family. I love not having to worry about the normal day-to-day stresses of school and work. I love baking cookies and special holiday treats. I love watching Christmas movies with my Gramps. I love small things, like the special flavors of Hershey’s kisses and chai lattes at Starbucks. {Greg snapped a picture of me on his smartphone at Starbucks, enjoying a gingerbread chai … mmmmm.}

gingerbread chai

I always get a little sad when the holidays are over. Does anyone else feel the same?

Then I went to see “Les Miserables” with my mom, aunts and cousin Arianna yesterday afternoon. I had never seen the musical before and did not know the story at all. It was beautiful. I loved the music and thought the film was very well-done. {Best supporting actress: Anne Hathaway gets my vote!}

And my goodness, what an emotional story that really makes you feel grateful for what you have. I am SO lucky to have a roof over my head, enough food to eat, a warm bed, a loving and healthy family. Those are my Saturday Upsides every week!

saturdayupsidesbutton

And another upside? Having people to miss is a blessing because it means you have people to love!

What are your upsides this weekend?