fabulous friday #28

Happy Friday, friends! Hope you’re having a fabulous day!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. The gorgeous summer sunshine and the beautiful beach. I went out to dinner with my parents and it was one of those perfect evenings… warm, a slight breeze, the sun setting over the ocean. I tried to capture it with my camera, but this photo doesn’t do it justice!

pretty ocean

2. Last night, my sweet parents surprised me with tickets to see Once: The Musical at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles! The movie is one of my favorites and I think the music is stunningly beautiful. Seeing the musical was goosebumps-inducing! And we made a night of it with a lovely dinner beforehand at 33 Taps in Hollywood. My parents are two of my best friends and I love getting to spend time with them!

pantages theater

mom dad once

3. I always love coming home and getting together with friends! I saw Gricelda for a lunch date at our favorite spot, Urbane Cafe. Tania invited me to her house for a long catch-up visit {the kind where you feel like it’s been maybe forty minutes and you look at the clock and, whoops, three hours have passed!} And Erica and Kyle had me over to their adorbs new apartment for dinner.

me and erica at her place

They made a delicious healthy stir-fry with rice and I tried out a new recipe for dessert: raspberry brown-butter crumb bars. Oh man, you guys — so good! I will be sharing the recipe next week, so stay tuned.

raspberry brown butter bars

4.  I was floored by this blog post about the declining health of America’s kids — more proof that kids need active play time every day! This amazing nonprofit org, KaBoom!, is where my brother is interning this summer in Washington, D.C.

5. My first Kindle short story is now available! It’s called “Grand Slam” and for a limited time, it’s on sale at Amazon for less than a buck! Here’s a brief description: Derek is a die-hard Cincinnati Reds baseball fan. He finally works up the nerve to talk to his crush, Regina… but then he learns she is a huge New York Yankees fan. The Reds are going up against the Yankees in the World Series! Can their budding romance survive an intense sports rivalry?

grand slam cover

Read a preview and get your copy here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M1236J2

Here’s to soaking up every last drop of this TGIF and cheers to a fun summer weekend!

Questions of the morning:

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

goals + recipes for the week of 4/13

Hi friends! Hope you’re enjoying a lovely weekend! Yesterday I was busy teaching all day — I taught four classes as part of my new job working for Communication Academy. I was pretty tired last night, but I had so much fun working with such exuberant, energetic kids!

Today was a relaxing yet productive day. I opted to sleep in and go to the later church service, because sometimes you just need to hit snooze! Today’s sermon was so inspiring: all about redefining “failure” and life’s disappointments as a step forward and getting up to try again. It was a great reminder of the importance of perseverance and faith.

After visiting with some friends at post-church coffee hour, I headed over to one of my favorite local coffee shops for some lunch, a chai latte, and a work sesh! Something about working in a crowded, noisy cafe does wonders for my productivity. Is it like that for anyone else?

Speaking of productivity… Sunday means it’s time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
– write 12 pages
– read 100 pages of The Kitchen God’s Wife
– go to two yoga classes
– prepare for my new teaching gig
– connect with three friends

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write 12 pages
– prepare for teaching & tutoring this week
– send out three query letters
– read up to page 250 of The Kitchen God’s Wife
– go to two yoga classes
– connect with three friends

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
– spicy seedy power crackers via Robyn @the real-life rd
grapefruit arugula salad via Sarah @The Pajama Chef
– peanut butter & raisin muffins via Danica @It’s Progression
– healthified fettuccine alfredo via Money-Saving Mom
healthy dark chocolate pudding via Two Peas & Their Pod

Questions of the day:

  • What was a highlight of your weekend?
  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What recipes are you drooling over lately?

fabulous friday #18

It’s Friiiiiiidaaaayyy!! Hope you’re having a great one!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My new part-time job teaching writing and public speaking classes for middle school kids! I taught my first classes on Wednesday afternoon and had an absolute blast. I feel so lucky to be able to spend time teaching and building confidence in these amazing young people! I’m already getting excited to teach my seventh annual Write On! Summer Writing Camp this July.

writing camp

2. The informal “book club” that my mom and I have started. A couple years ago, my mom made it her New Year’s Resolution to read more, and she started reading every day at work during her lunch break. Now she reads dozens of novels a year and she always recommends the best books to me! I love reading and talking about books with her. It’s a great way to stay close and connected even though we live far away.

me before you

One of my favorites of the books she’s recommended is Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. This is a tear-jerker {you’ve been warned! grab the tissues!} It is such a beautiful, well-written story — and extremely hard to put down, especially once you get to know the characters! Mom recommended it to me and once I finished it I passed the book along to my Aunt Annie, who said she was reading it at her hair appointment and two other women came up to her and raved about how much they loved it. When Annie finished it she gave it to my grandma, who just finished it last night, so now she and I have been talking about it too. I think it’s safe to say that we would all highly recommend this book!

3. My cousin Arianna rocked her drama performance last night! I am so proud of her. She absolutely *shines* onstage! Here is a video I took of her singing “Seasons of Love” for the show’s finale.

arianna performing

4. Speaking of great singers: Sara Bareilles’ new single “I Choose You” has been bopping around on the radio {and in my head!} all week. Oh my goodness, you guys, I can’t get enough of this song! It’s so catchy. Love her.

5. Baseball season! I had such a great time at the A’s game last weekend with Allyn & his family. Sunshine + hot dog + A’s win = happiness!

a's game

Now I’m off to tackle my to-do list before the weekend! Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for this weekend?
  • Have you read any good books lately?

guest post at Parent Grapevine

Hi, friends! Happy Monday! I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s year of Wooden post, but for today I wanted to let you know about a guest post I wrote for the terrific blog Parent Grapevine:

Help Your Child Become a Better Writer: 3 Easy, Fun Prompts to Try!

I’ve been a writing teacher for the past eight years, working with a range of ages: kindergarten through senior citizens. I’ve led writing workshops for public schools, private schools, home-schooling groups, community centers, and more! I also taught undergraduate writing courses at Purdue University for three years.

When I talk to parents and teachers, two questions come up again and again:
1. How can we make writing FUN for kids and teenagers?
2. How can we help our kids become better writers?

The answers to these two questions are tied together: like anything, people become better writers with practice. The best way to help your child become a better writer is to encourage him or her to write, write, write! Well, how do you do that? By making writing a fun activity.

Head on over to Parent Grapevine to read the rest of my post, including three popular writing prompts I use often in my work with young writers.

Hope you’re having a marvelous Monday!

a year of Wooden: week 3

My thoughts & prayers are with the Purdue community… there was a shooting at the university early today. Crazy to think that this time last year I would have been right there on campus. And I do have many friends who are still there. Please send your good thoughts.

Coach Wooden was also a Purdue alum, graduating in 1932 with a degree in English. He helped lead the Boilermakers to the National Championship and was the first player ever to be named a three-time consensus All-American. While at Purdue he was nicknamed “The Indiana Rubber Man” because he was always diving onto the hard court after the ball. The West Lafayette community treasures Coach Wooden — I spotted photos of him and framed Pyramids of Success in countless restaurants and businesses there.

a year of wooden

This year I am doing “a year of Wooden” following the teachings of Coach John Wooden, and in particular his 7-Point Creed. I’m beginning the year with the Creed’s first item:

  • January: Drink deeply from good books.

This past week I read Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections On and Off the Court, written by Coach Wooden with Steve Jamison. I have read this book many times, and each time I learn something new. I love how it is written in brief sections so you can pick it up and read one in a few short minutes. Each section feels like a meditation or prayer or poem — a great way to begin or end your day with a little thought and reflection. When I read this book, I feel like Coach is speaking personally to me, sharing anecdotes and philosophies from his life. This is a book that grows with you. Whenever I read it, I always come away feeling refreshed and inspired.

For this week, I’ll be reading Coach Wooden’s children’s book, Inch and Miles: The Journey to Success. I think grown-ups will enjoy this easy and fun read, too! It’s perfect for the child in all of us. Better yet, read this book to a child in your life and have a conversation with him or her about the true meaning of success. Here’s a little about the book:

Inch and Miles have one last assignment before summer vacation begins. Their wise teacher, Mr. Wooden, has asked them the meaning of success. Using a magic silver whistle, Inch and Miles set out on a journey to discover the blocks of the Pyramid of Success and learn how to try 100 percent to be their personal best.

I’d also like to give a shout out to Harper For Kids, a really neat nonprofit organization that uses Inch and Miles as a teaching tool to change young kids’ lives! Learn more about their programs here.

Looking forward to hearing your comments about the book next week!

Question of the day:

  • What were your favorite books as a child?

year of kindness challenge: week 31

year of kindness button

Hi, friends! How has your Monday been? Mine has been productive and happy so far. Lots of fruits & veggies eaten; a great convo with my brother about his awesome first day of business school; many rounds of fetch with Mr. Mur-dog; some yoga & a sunny walk; and chugging along nicely on various writing projects. Woo-hoo! Now time to get dinner started — I’m thinking a veggie-filled pasta bake — and maybe a glass of wine, too…

This past week’s kindness challenge was to go to a playground {or any place where children congregate} and scatter a handful of “lucky pennies” for happy kids to find. I walked to my neighborhood park and scattered a dozen pennies around the playground and sidewalk. I was planning to take some pictures on my phone, but there were people around and I didn’t want to seem creepy. But it made me happy to think of the little kids finding lucky pennies all around the park! 🙂

This week I also came across a neat kindness website, helpfromhome.org, with the slogan: “Change the world in just your pyjamas!” Doesn’t that sound nice?? The website is loaded with “micro-volunteering” opportunities that are designed to fit into busy lifestyles. There are also platforms to track your actions and hours logged. Check it out!

The Week 31 Kindness Challenge is to send someone a postcard with a healing, empowering, or comforting message. Pick a postcard from your hometown, a place you went on vacation, or maybe somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit. You could even create your own postcard by collaging pictures and words from magazines. If you need someone to send your postcard to, mail it to Traveling Postcards, a nonprofit that will distribute it to a woman somewhere in the world who is working to overcome violence and oppression.  

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 wonderful week!
Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
– week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
– week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash
– week 18 challenge: write a kind note to a mom figure in your life
– week 19 challenge: leave an extra-generous tip
– week 20 challenge: donate blood/join bone marrow registry
– week 21 challenge: visit a cemetery and pay respect
– week 22 challenge: practice a little patience
– week 23 challenge: call 3 loved ones on the phone
– week 24 challenge: do something kind for a senior citizen
– week 25 challenge: pay for someone’s public transportation
– week 26 challenge: volunteer at a food pantry or soup kitchen
– week 27 challenge: send a care package to someone in the military
– week 28 challenge: give at least one compliment every day
– week 29 challenge: do a favor for someone else
week 30 challenge: scatter lucky pennies around a playground

year of kindness challenge: week 30

year of kindness button

Happy Monday everyone! Hope your morning is off to a great start. I did a little meditation this morning — love this guided meditation by Heather Waxman, check it out! — and ate a homemade banana muffin for breakfast alongside a warm cinnamony cup of tea. The tea is my new fave and I was introduced to it thanks to my July Foodie Pen Pal; reveal day coming on Wednesday!

In other news, I finally moved forward past the year 2008 and got my first smartphone over the weekend. I think I may have been one of the last holdouts — even my grandma has a smartphone! There was a part of me that liked not having access to my email and the Internet 24/7 right there on my phone, which was why I waited so long. I’m now excited to have the added convenience of Internet and apps on my phone, not to mention the ease of being able to take photos and post them easily on here … and, hey there, Instagram, nice to meet you! I’m expecting to be posting on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest more often now because it is so much easier for me with my shiny new smartphone. But I must admit, there’s a part of my techno-phobe brain that is still a little wary of having the Internet right.there.all.the.time. I’m curious: what tips do you have for balancing screen time? How do you keep yourself from compulsively checking your email every three minutes? Do you have any “technology rules” you try to follow to keep yourself grounded? Please share in the comments section below!

Last week’s kindness challenge was to do a favor for someone without being asked. I was surprised how much FUN I had doing favors for people! I ran a bunch of errands to pick up last-minute things for my brother before his big move and helped him move down to Los Angeles and get his apartment set up. My mom and I drove across the traffic-clogged city to get copies of his new apartment key made {only to later spot a hardware store a block away from his apartment! D’oh!} I also baked some gluten-free treats for my fam and helped my Gramps with some chores around his house.

Another great thing about this past weeks’ kindness challenge is that it made me so much more aware of the favors and sweetness others extend to me on a daily basis! A few examples from just this week: my mom washed my car and cleaned my bathroom as a super nice surprise. An acquaintance from college sent me a nice email about a recent blog post. I ran into a dear old high school friend at Trader Joe’s, and not only was it great to see her but she also invited me to go to a zumba class with her on Wednesday. Again and again, I am reminded that the world is full of kindness and compassion if you just take the time to open your eyes and appreciate what is around you!

The Week 30 Kindness Challenge is to go to a playground {or any place where children congregate} and scatter a handful of “lucky pennies” around for happy kids to find. 

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 wonderful week!
Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
– week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
– week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash
– week 18 challenge: write a kind note to a mom figure in your life
– week 19 challenge: leave an extra-generous tip
– week 20 challenge: donate blood/join bone marrow registry
– week 21 challenge: visit a cemetery and pay respect
– week 22 challenge: practice a little patience
– week 23 challenge: call 3 loved ones on the phone
– week 24 challenge: do something kind for a senior citizen
– week 25 challenge: pay for someone’s public transportation
– week 26 challenge: volunteer at a food pantry or soup kitchen
– week 27 challenge: send a care package to someone in the military
– week 28 challenge: give at least one compliment every day
week 29 challenge: do a favor for someone else

year of kindness challenge: week 19

year of kindness button

Last week’s kindness challenge, in honor of Mother’s Day this Sunday, was to write a note to a mother of one of your friends who has had an influence in your life. I wrote a note to my friend Holly‘s mom Susan and my friend Erica‘s mom Darai. Both of them have always been very sweet and supportive of me. I also wrote a letter to my mom’s childhood friend Nanette, who is like an aunt to me. I feel grateful to have so many amazing women to look up to!

I had a wonderful week! One of the highlights was going to a reception for a local writing contest, where three of my former writing campers won awards! I was like a proud Mama bear beaming with pride! Such talented, poised and beautiful young ladies.

with writing campers at ceremony

I also baked lemon bars for my Gramps, went to an amazing yoga class, and had some wonderful family and friend time.

And I came across and loved this video about kids doing random acts of kindness in schools: http://www.nbcnews.com/id/40153870/vp/51795308#51795308

The Week 19 Kindness Challenge is to leave double the tip you normally would if you go out to eat, and/or leave a $5 tip in a tip jar at a coffee shop or cafe.  

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 wonderful week!
Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
– week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
– week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash
week 18 challenge: write a kind note to a mom figure in your life

Kitchen Tip Tuesdays: 3-ingredient banana cookies

kttovenmittbanner425

Hi everyone! Time for another Kitchen Tip Tuesdays post! {Here are links to my previous posts about making the most of oven time and reusing leftovers in new recipes.}

I have a quick recipe to share with you today — it’s an easy and delicious cookie that is also healthy for you! And it only has three ingredients {one of which is chocolate!} 🙂 That’s my kind of recipe!

This would make the perfect sweet dessert, kid-friendly snack, or grab-and-go breakfast. It’s also a great way to use up spotty bananas before they go bad.

banana cookies

All you need to make these babies are:

  • 2 bananas
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips {if desired; I used mini chocolate chips for mine}

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Mash bananas in a bowl. Add oatmeal and chocolate chips and stir until well combined.

banana dough

3. Plop dough onto a greased cookie sheet {I greased mine with coconut oil} and bake for 15-18 minutes.

Done and YUM! How easy is that?

banana cookies done

This recipe is also easily customizable to suit your tastes! You can add chopped nuts, raisins, peanut butter, coconut … whatever your taste buds desire!

What are some of your favorite grab-and-go recipes?

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if you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
peanut butter breakfast cookies
chocolate strawberry coconut cookies
2-ingredient pumpkin spice cookies

year of kindness challenge: week 14

year of kindness button

Happy Monday, friends! How was your weekend? The weather has finally shifted from winter to sunny spring and I am LOVING it! Walking outdoors and soaking up the sunshine and fresh air is such a pleasure.

Speaking of spring, it seems fitting that the kindness challenge this past week was to give someone flowers. I gave flowers to two lovely people this week: my friend Shavonne, who aced her thesis defense {my defense is this Wednesday, eek!} and to the English Department Schedule Deputy Judy Ware, who is retiring this semester after many years of service. She is a really sweet lady and will certainly be missed at Purdue!

I picked up a couple pretty bouquets at the grocery store while I did my shopping for the week.

flowers

It was so much fun delivering them to Shavonne and Judy! Both were so surprised and excited to get flowers. Their faces lit up! It was the best $10 I have spent in a long time.

Judy sent me an email that afternoon:

“THANK YOU for the beautiful wishes and special card/good wishes.  I really appreciate your thoughtfulness. Enjoy finishing your degree and your academic next steps!!!”

This week’s kindness challenge pairs nicely with spring cleaning: go through your bookshelves and box up the books you no longer need or do not plan to read again. Then donate them to your local library, Boys & Girls Club, school or homeless shelter. You could also purchase some new books to donate. A great way to get children involved in this act of kindness is to have them pick out their favorite book to donate to a child who maybe does not have many books of his or her own.

{Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while may know that literacy is a cause very dear to my heart — you can learn more about my organization Write On! For Literacy here!}

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 great week!
-Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
week 13 challenge: give someone flowers