goals + meal plan for the week of 5/1

Hi there, everyone!¬†Happy Monday! My little windowsill plants are starting to sprout… I am waaaay too excited about these little seedlings!

sprouting plants

Highlights of this past week included going to a very inspiring fair of student environmental projects at Allyson’s high school; going out to dinner in San Francisco with Allyn’s dad and stepmom; and seeing a local production of this very cute and funny play, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change! {Though I told my sweetie of course that title does not ring true to the two of us! Haha.}

love you you're perfect show

We also finished watching a terrific TV series we have been enjoying on DVD {a Christmas gift from Allyn’s brother Colin} called Slings & Arrows… any fans of literature, theater, Shakespeare, or quirky dramedies with interesting characters, I would highly recommend it! Also, in the first season, a young Rachel McAdams stars… she’s perhaps my favorite actress. Love her!

My favorite new recipe I made this past week was a shrimp & veggie pasta dish from a cookbook that Holly gave me, Healthy Cookbook for Two. It turned out great! Light and perfect for the warm weather we’ve been having.

shrimp pea pasta

Tonight, we are heading into San Francisco for a special event at the Museum of Modern Art! I have not been there before and am so excited. Plus, it’s a fun excuse to get a little gussied up. ūüėČ {Very exciting for a writer who spends a lot of time in yoga pants and pj’s!}

Time for goals… please feel free to share your goals and/or meal plans in the comments below!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last¬†week:
– submit¬†Dancing With The Pen II to publisher {…almost there!}
Рschedule Dancing With The Pen II events {made headway on venues!}
–¬†publicity for Summer Writing Camp
–¬†complete Presidio Q&A article
–¬†meet with prospective wedding hair & make-up artists {reached out to some people, but have not nailed anything down yet…}

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
Рsubmit Dancing With The Pen II to publisher
Рschedule Dancing With The Pen II events
– complete and submit new short story
–¬†complete second Presidio¬†interview
–¬†meet with prospective wedding hair & make-up artists

Here is my meal plan for the week:
Monday: Curried butternut squash, chickpeas & spinach {subbing butternut squash for sweet potatoes}
Tuesday: Leftovers/on our own
Wednesday: Out to dinner
Thursday: Pizza and salad
Friday: Slow-cooker minestrone
Saturday: Taco salad
Sunday: Leftovers!

Questions of the day:

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

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

goals + meal plan for the week of 4/24

Hi there, everyone!¬†I know today is Monday, but it has felt like Sunday all day to me… I have a few tutoring clients on Saturday, so Sunday + Monday have become my “weekend” of sorts. Today was filled with typical Sunday-ish tasks: laundry, grocery store, dishes, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom. I also was very excited to go back to my favorite yoga class this morning, after a few weeks away. And I finally planted a little windowsill herb garden I have been wanting to do for a while. We’ve got little pots of basil, rosemary, and garlic chives. They look so hopeful lined up in the sunshine! Last but not least,¬†meal-planning happened today. {One day late, better than nothing!} My trusty crock-pot has been¬†cooking dinner all afternoon. It smells good! After this post goes live, my sweetie and I are going to dig in.

crock pot dinner

I noticed last week that doing this goals + meal plan post really helped me feel motivated and organized throughout the week. When I would feel overwhelmed or unfocused, I would refer back to my goals post and it helped me re-energize. Sometimes I tend to want to do ALL.THE.THINGS at once, so goals posts are helpful because I can only set so many intentions for each week… it’s a reminder for me not to get too far ahead of myself, and to just worry about the piece of the puzzle that is in front of me in the moment.

Highlights of this past week were the Zyzzyva reading on Thursday evening in San Francisco! I have loved and admired this literary magazine for years, so seeing my work published in their pages is a surreal and amazing feeling, and getting to meet the editors and other contributors in person was such a treat. Allyn came with me and made me feel like a superstar, taking pictures of me in front of the building and during my reading. Afterwards we went to Burger Bar for dinner. It was a very lovely, special date night!

zyzzyva reading

Wedding-planning wise, this past week we were on a ROLL and I really hope to continue the momentum… in addition to making huge strides on our registry {something that I am so grateful for, but also find very overwhelming because I feel the need to research every item extensively before we put it on our registry} we also designed and ordered our wedding invitations and thank-you notes, made lots of headway on reception decorations, and decided on a bakery for our dessert. Things are coming together, slowly but surely! Also, on a random side-note: this is the first week where our wedding is truly starting to feel near. I know that time is going to fly and it is going to be here so quickly! I am trying my best to savor every step of the process. ūüôā

Now, you’re all caught up on my life!¬†Time for goals… please feel free to share your goals and/or meal plans in the comments below!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last¬†week:
finish lay-out of Dancing With The Pen II
–¬†publicity for Summer Writing Camp
–¬†send out AWP thank-yous
–¬†complete Presidio Q&A article {the person I’m interviewing had to push back our interview to this week}
–¬†complete registry for bridal shower {this was huge!! AND we got our wedding invitations ordered, too!}

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
Рsubmit Dancing With The Pen II to publisher
Рschedule Dancing With The Pen II events
–¬†publicity for Summer Writing Camp
–¬†complete Presidio Q&A article
–¬†meet with prospective wedding hair & make-up artists

meal plan week of 4-24-16

Here is my meal plan for the week:
Monday: Crock-pot thai peanut chicken and rice
Tuesday: Leftovers/on our own
Wednesday: Soup and corn muffins
Thursday: Dinner in Fremont with Allyson
Friday: Mustard roasted fish¬†{from what I read in a magazine article, this is one of T.Swift’s favorite recipes!}
Saturday: Shrimp & fresh pea fettucine
Sunday: Leftovers!

Questions of the day:

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

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

goals + meal plan for the week of 4/17

Hi there, everyone! Happy Sunday! As I was sipping my tea this morning and checking my email, I started thinking about my goals and plans for the week ahead… and I had the urge to bring back my¬†Sunday goal posts here on the blog! I always find it inspiring when other people share their goals and action plans, especially on a bite-sized, small-step basis. Plus, sharing my goals on here helps keep me accountable — and helps me recognize when perhaps I am setting a goal that is related¬†to my “fantasy self” and not to my real-life actual self. {For example, when a goal keeps showing up week after week and I never seem to find the time or motivation to complete it… a definite sign that maybe it’s actually not that important in my life!}

I’ve noticed these goal posts tend to fall away when I get swamped with outside commitments or extra work projects. But I am going to make a real effort to¬†continue¬†them consistently, even as life promises to get extra busy in the next few months with travel, birthday celebrations, teaching summer camps, and wedding planning! I have found that setting aside¬†15-20 minutes on Sunday to intentionally set goals and map out a meal plan for the week makes me feel more charged and excited going into the week. It keeps me more focused and less stressed. So here goes! Please feel free to share your goals and/or meal plans in the comments below!

weekly goals

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– finish lay-out of Dancing With The Pen II
–¬†publicity for Summer Writing Camp
–¬†send out AWP thank-yous
–¬†complete Presidio Q&A article
–¬†complete registry for bridal shower

Here is my meal plan for the week:
Sunday: Dinner at Allyn’s mom’s
Monday: Sausage, potato and veggie bake
Tuesday: Leftovers/on our own
Wednesday: Tortellini & salad
Thursday: Dinner out in the city {I have a reading event for Zyzzyva magazine!}
Friday: Spaghetti squash burrito bowls {substituting acorn squash because it was on sale!}
Saturday: Crock-pot thai peanut chicken and rice

Questions of the day:

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

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

why I lied to you on friday

Happy Monday, everyone! Hope your day is off to a lovely start. I’ve been nursing a big mug of huckleberry tea all morning… this is the stuff I got on my trip to Seattle and I only have one tea bag left in the box! So I am savoring it.

huckleberry tea

I’ll be back with this week’s year of Wooden post tomorrow, but for today I wanted to pop in with a quick weekend recap because it was a pretty fantastic one¬†around here!

So, remember when I said that I was heading into San Francisco on Friday night for a dinner date with my sweetie to celebrate his birthday?

I lied.

Well, half-lied. Because it wasn’t really a dinner date for just the two of us. It was a reservation for 30 people! I had to keep it quiet here on the blog, because Allyn reads my blog {hi, honey!} and he¬†had no idea… I was throwing him a surprise party!

Here we are getting ready to take BART into the city for our "nice, quiet, date night just the two of us..."

Here we are getting ready to take BART into the city for our “nice, quiet date night just the two of us…”

I’d thrown a couple surprise parties with my roommates in college, but this was my first time ever throwing one by myself, AND it was my first time organizing such a big event! I learned a lot and had a blast. I kept thinking of Coach Wooden’s saying, “The journey is better than the inn.” I definitely enjoyed the month-long “journey” of planning this big surprise! ūüôā

Allyn’s friends and family were so helpful — I could not have done it without them. Different people from different areas of his life helped me get the word out and invite his various social circles. I originally made the reservation at the restaurant about a month in advance, and as time went on I had to keep calling them back and increasing the amount of people in my reservation, because the RSVPs were rolling in! One of the best things about planning a surprise party for someone you care about is connecting with all the other people who care about that person, too!

Some things I learned about planning a surprise party:

  • If you’re going to have it at a restaurant, Yelp is your friend! I wanted to find a venue that was not too expensive, was close to public transportation, and was accommodating for big groups. After a bit of searching, I settled on Unicorn Pan-Asian Cuisine, which ended up being perfect.
  • Make your reservation as early as possible! I also think it’s better to over-estimate your attendance and then call back as the date approaches and lower your reservation number. I did it opposite, but I was lucky that they had the space for me to keep increasing my reservation!
  • I’d also recommend checking out the venue in person ahead of time, if possible. It was really helpful for me to be able to picture the restaurant when I was planning the party and describing to guests where they should go when they arrived.
  • Ask the restaurant if they are able to do individual separate checks for a large group. In our case, they were only able to do three separate checks {one for each table} so I asked everyone to bring cash if possible to help making splitting the bill easy. Some people also recommended the VenMo app, which sounds really neat, but we didn’t need to use it — everyone brought cash and it all worked out fine.
  • Delegate! People love a surprise and they love to help. An unexpected benefit of planning this party for my sweetheart was that I grew closer to his friends and family as we engaged in deception together, haha.
  • Have guests arrive 15-20 minutes earlier than the guest of honor does. That way, you have some wiggle room if people are running late. Also, it gives some time for guests to mingle and get to know each other — something I could tell everyone was really happy about.
  • I gave Allyn’s stepmom a big poster card that she had everyone sign while waiting for me and Allyn to arrive. It gave people something to do, plus it is a meaningful memento for Allyn to have from the party, to remind him of all the people who care about him.
  • Keep things as simple as possible! Especially where alibis are concerned. Allyn knew where we were going, when we were going, and how we were getting there. He knew that we were going to dinner to celebrate his birthday. The only thing he didn’t know was that there would be 30 other people there to celebrate with us!

One thing I didn’t take into consideration is my sweetheart’s early bird tendencies! It’s something I love and admire about him — he is always punctual {often early} and hates to keep people waiting. So I should have guessed that he would want to leave for the BART station early to make it into the city for our 7:20 reservation! He said, “If we’re early we’ll just catch an earlier train.” I tried to hide the panic on my face and said, “Then we’ll be too early for our reservation!” Then I camped out in the bathroom for a while to “get ready” ūüôā

Other stalling tactics if you’re trying to delay the guest of honor:

  • change your outfit
  • “accidentally” spill something on¬†them so they have to change their outfit
  • go to the bathroom one more time
  • decide to wear a different pair of shoes instead
  • “forget” something and have to go back inside to get it
  • get gas on the way there
  • get “lost” or go the wrong way

Fortunately, none of these stalling tactics are really out of character for me, so Allyn was not suspicious when we left later than he suggested. We ended up hopping on¬†the 6:50 train into the city just like I had planned, which got us into the city at 7:15. Walking to the restaurant, I felt so excited it was hard not to skip! When we got there, I dragged him past the bar area at the front, because I knew everyone was waiting a little further back into the restaurant. My legs were shaking. Everyone jumped up and yelled, “SURPRISE!”

I will forever cherish the memory of that moment. The look on my sweetheart’s face was absolutely priceless. He said later, “I wasn’t surprised…. I was stunned.” He just stood there for a few moments, looking around at all the people from his life — his parents, sister, childhood friends, grad school friends, roommate, mentor — and he kept repeating, “Oh my god. Oh my god.” I could tell he was blown away. It was absolutely wonderful!

The rest of the night flew by. I had so much fun talking and mingling with all these terrific people from my sweetheart’s life. We ended up closing the restaurant down! It was a perfect night.

us and laurel

justin and fawn

allyson and her dad

surprise party

surprise party

surprise party

surprise party

surprise party

surprise party

Happy birthday, Allyn! I love you so much.

Questions of the morning:

  • Have you ever thrown a surprise party?
  • Has anyone every thrown a surprise party for you?
  • What was the highlight of your weekend?

a year of Wooden: week 17

Hi, friends! Happy Monday! Time for¬†this week’s¬†year of Wooden¬†challenge, wrapping up our last week of April before we transition into May…

a year of wooden

  • January:¬†Drink deeply from good books.
  • February:¬†Make friendship a fine art.
  • March:¬†Help others.
  • April:¬†Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).

Last week, the challenge was to make a small change of habit that results in more money in your savings account. When I was working as a graduate student teacher at Purdue, my paycheck was deposited into my checking account automatically each month, and I began immediately transferring a couple hundred dollars into my savings account. And as a result, my savings grew steadily each month.

Now that I’ve graduated and stopped working at Purdue, I’m working as a freelance writer and editor and don’t have a paycheck automatically deposited into my checking account each month. So for this week’s challenge, I’ve made a small change of habit of depositing a quarter of the checks I receive into my savings account instead of my checking account.

For this final week of April, the challenge is to make a financial goal that you want to accomplish this year and an action plan to achieve it. My goal is to put $1,000 into my Roth IRA by the end of the year, which means I need to save $20 a week, or about $85 a month.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Coach Wooden that always inspires me:

John Wooden fortune cookie

Question of the day:

  • What is a financial goal you have for this year?
  • What steps might you implement to achieve this goal?

the USC game yesterday!! also, goals + meal plan for the week of 11/17

WOW. The USC game yesterday was one of the most thrilling football games I’ve ever watched! It was so amazing to be there, cheering on my alma mater alongside my family and friends. My parents and I spent the afternoon tailgating on campus with a bunch of my brother’s business school friends. It was great to meet them!

family tailgate

The game itself was a nail-biter and came down to the wire, but ultimately USC pulled out a victory over Stanford with a long field goal. WOO!! We were all jumping up and down and screaming with joy. It was so much fun! I hadn’t been back to a football game in the Coliseum since I graduated, and I forgot how amazing it is to be there. I love all the traditions: Traveler running down the sidelines, the marching band and spirit leaders and song girls, lighting the torch at the beginning of the fourth quarter… And I love how you become friends with the people sitting around you as all of you go crazy cheering on your team! We had a blast.

me and Ben at game

beat stanford!

after the game

We drove home from the game last night and arrived back at the house just in time to watch Lady Gaga host SNL … what did you guys think? I was pretty impressed. Lady Gaga isn’t in this skit, but I randomly loved Kenan’s character Mr. Senior … his “special report” telling people to STOP with early Christmas and enjoy Thanksgiving had me cracking up:¬†http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/weekend-update-mr-senior/n43347/

All in all, it’s been a whirlwind weekend! I can’t believe I’m already headed back up to the Bay tomorrow. Today has been a peaceful, quiet Sunday at home … went to church this morning, grocery shopped with my mom, and now we’re watching football while waiting for my Gramps to come over to dinner soon. My mom is spoiling me and making my favorite stuffed chicken breasts! YUM.

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
write 15 pages of new material
send out my novel chapters for Dec. fellows workshop
– 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 11/17:
– 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

And here are some recipes I’m planning to try out:¬†{if you can’t tell, I’ve already got Thanksgiving on the brain!}
healthy green bean casserole via The Lean Green Bean
sweet-filled acorn squash bowl via It’s Progression
greek yogurt biscuits and mini pumpkin cinnamon rolls via Two Peas & Their Pod
pumpkin and kale stew via The Pajama Chef

Questions of the day:

  • What were the highlights of your weekend?
  • What are your goals and menu plans for this upcoming week?

goals + meal-plan for the week of 11/10

Happy Sunday, friends! Hope your weekend has been lovely!

I’m so excited for this upcoming week … today we’re celebrating my Grandpap’s birthday, on Wednesday I’m getting together with my friend Dana, and on Thursday I’m headed home to Ventura for a long weekend! The USC Homecoming Football Game is on Saturday and I’m tailgating with my brother and then meeting up with my dear friend Ben who is coming all the way from NYC for the game!

me and ben

Ben and I met at freshman orientation, when we were the last two people left in the test-taking room for the Spanish placement exam. {I knew my slow test-taking skills would one day pay off, haha} We’ve been friends ever since. I haven’t seen him in over a year and I cannot wait to give him the biggest hug and catch up in between cheering on our football team. ūüôā

I’m also bursting with excitement to seeing my parents and my Gramps and of course Mr. Murdog! And Erica and I are planning to have one of our epic Simone’s chai latte dates — one of my favorite things on the planet. It should be a busy and wonderful week!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
– write 25 pages of new material {with my cold I didn’t quite get this many pages done … but I did still write every day, so that’s something!}
submit second Ph.D. application
–¬†exercise at least three times
–¬†finish reading¬†Stay Up With Me
connect with two friends

Here are my goals for the week of 11/10:
– write 15 pages of new material
– send out my novel chapters for Dec. fellows workshop
– submit fellowship application
–¬†exercise at least twice
–¬†finish reading Happier Endings: a meditation on life and death
– connect with two friends

And here are some recipes I’m hoping to try out this week:
sweet korean bbq beef via Chew Out Loud
skinny southwest chicken dip via The Pajama Chef
pumpkin toffee chocolate chip muffins via Two Peas & Their Pod
pumpkin spice steel-cut oats via Wellness Today

This post is linked up to Menu-Plan Monday!
MPM-Winter

Questions for the morning:

  • What are your goals and meal plans for the week?
  • What are you looking forward to this week?

goals + meal plan for the week of 10/6

Hi, friends! How is your weekend going? I’m finally feeling settled into my new life and new routine up in northern California, so I figured it was time to bring back my weekly goals. When my life is in transition, keeping track on here of my weekly goals tends to fall to the wayside. But I do love setting weekly goals and meal plans … it keeps me feeling on-track, centered, and enthusiastic about each new week!

weekly goals

So here we go: my goals for the week of 10/6:
– write 20 pages of new material
– submit to two literary journals
– submit two fellowship applications
– sign up for the GRE exam
– phone dates with three friends
– exercise at least three times

And here are some recipes I’m hoping to try out this week:
Maple Apple Crisp with Cheddar Crust & Bacon Crumb Topping via The Pajama Chef {hope you’re loving Nashville, Sarah!}
Easy Slow Cooker Vegetarian Cashew Chili via Wellness Today, from a link I came across on It’s Progression¬†{thanks Danica!}
Pumpkin Pasta {will probably throw in more veggies this time around … I am loving all the squash in season now!}
Greek Yogurt Chicken via The Lean Green Bean
Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies via Chew Out Loud

There you have it! Now it’s your turn: I’d love to hear about your goals and meal plans for this week!

goals + meal-plan for the week of 8/18

Happy Sunday, friends! Wow, I can’t believe it is already mid-August! There’s a part of me that wants to hold onto summer as long as possible, and there’s another part of me that has that pre-autumn excitement in my belly! {I LOVE autumn!} The excitement might also be due to the fact that I’m moving in less than a week!! Yep, on Friday I will be driving my little prius up to the bay. This week has already had some “lasts” of the summer: my last Friday volunteering at the Food Pantry; my last Friday Happy Hour margaritas with my parents; and this morning was my last sermon at my amazing hometown church until I’m home for Thanksgiving. Sadness, but also gratitude for the memories and joy for new adventures about to begin!

Of course will miss my family & this little guy a TON!

me and murbur

Here’s how I did on¬†my goals from this past week:
finish rough edits on first half of YA manuscript draft
complete the #yearofkindness challenge
get together with two friends
create a flyer advertising my tutoring services
– clean out my email inbox {I’ll consider this one half-done}
volunteer at the Food Pantry
work-out/do yoga at least three times

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– complete the #yearofkindness challenge
– visit with three friends before I leave
– finish cleaning out my email inbox
– tie up any lose ends at home before I leave
Рwork-out/do yoga at least three times {including my Weds. zumba date with Emily!}
– have a safe & successful move up to the Bay Area!

Here are some recipes I’m looking forward to making this week:
– rad rainbow raw pad thai via Oh She Glows
– veggie-filled gluten-free lasagna via A Happy Lass
– peanut butter chocolate granola via It’s Progression {perfect road-trip snack!}
lemon bars for my Gramps
shrimp & sausage stew

What are your goals and menu plans for this upcoming week?

MPM-Spring
This post is linked up with Menu-Plan Monday!

goals + meal plan for the week of 8/4

Happy weekend, friends! Hope yours is going splendidly! What have you been up to these first days of August? {Wow, can you believe how fast summer is galloping by??}

My weekend has been lovely and relaxing, filled with the usual weekend stuff: grocery shopping with Mom, cooking and baking, visiting Gramps, long walks with Mr. Mur-dog, church this morning. Also Friday night happy hour margaritas with the fam, fro-yo with extra Reeses toppings, jeans shopping at the mall {something I have been dreading and putting off for weeks, but I reeeaaally needed new jeans, and I emerged victorious with two new pairs of Levis, yippee!} And today we are driving down to USC to visit Greg for an early dinner! I am SO excited to see my brother and give him a ginormous hug! I miss this guy LOADS.

me and gb july 2013

Here’s how I did on¬†my goals from this past week:
– finish YA manuscript first draft {I’m counting this one half-done; I still have to go back through the manuscript and make rough edits}
complete the #yearofkindness challenge
transfer all my jotted-down writing notes to the computer
volunteer at the Food Pantry
–¬†finish craft project that I’m making for Greg¬†{post coming soon!}
work-out/do yoga at least three times

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– finish rough edits on first half of YA manuscript draft
– complete the #yearofkindness challenge
Рpromote my College & Scholarship Application Prep Seminar & teach a successful class on Saturday
– volunteer at the Food Pantry
Рwork-out/do yoga at least three times {including my Weds. zumba date with Emily!}

Finally, here are some recipes I’m looking forward to trying out this week:
date-night chicken via PB Fingers
– mediterranean feta dip via The Pajama Chef
– pasta with pancetta & leeks via The Pioneer Woman
– zucchini paleo brownies via Fast Paleo
cilantro-honey salmon

What are your goals and menu plans for this week?

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