goals + meal-plan for the week of 7/28

Happy Sunday, friends! How is your weekend going so far? Fun and relaxing, I hope! Mine has been full of sunshine and battery-recharging after a busy week! We moved my wonderful brother down to Los Angeles on Thursday; he is starting business school at USC. I’m so proud of him, but I miss him so much already. The house is quiet without him — not that he’s a really noisy person, it just feels emptier when it’s just me and my parents at home. I’m definitely planning to visit him a couple times before I leave for the Bay Area in August!

Before he left, we went out for brunch at our favorite local spot, Allison’s Country Cafe, per our tradition. I love my little bro!

me and gb summer 13

Another highlight of the week was going to a local hot air balloon festival with my parents. It was a beautiful warm evening with good food, music, wine, and great company. Here’s a photo my dad snapped of me and my mama in front of one of the balloons:

me and mom balloon festival

Fun times!

Moving on to goals, here’s how I did on mine from last week:
– finish YA manuscript first draft {this got delayed again … I’m SO close, yet I don’t want to rush through the final couple chapters I have left … hopefully this week!}
complete the #yearofkindness challenge
help Greg move into his new apartment
– volunteer at the Food Pantry {got de-railed this week because of helping to move Greg to Los Angeles}
– read & respond to all submissions in my queue for Sycamore Review
get in touch with 3 friends and make plans to get together

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– finish YA manuscript first draft
– 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 about it on here!}
– work-out/do yoga at least three times

Here are some meals I’m looking forward to making this week:
– blueberry buckle via The Pajama Chef
– zucchini bread oatmeal via Oh She Glows
– honey avocado mango salad via Chew Out Loud
– spinach artichoke lasagna via Two Peas & Their Pod
bbq pulled pork in the crock pot

What are your goals and meal plans for the week? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

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

goals for the week of 7/21

This past week was go-go-go! I didn’t cross off every goal on my list, but I made progress on all of them. And the week was busy with fun social events: my brother and I took my Gramps to see a museum exhibit about Lincoln & the Civil War; I went with my family to a fundraiser and movie screening of the amazing Academy-Award-winning short film Inocente; and last night we all went to the local Art Walk downtown.

with inocente

I also taught another session of my summer writing camp during the weekend. Such a great group of young writers!

Here’s how I did on my goals last week:
– finish YA manuscript first draft {!!!}
complete the #yearofkindness challenge
volunteer at the Food Pantry
– read & respond to all submissions in my queue for Sycamore Review
take donations to Goodwill
have a “sibling date”: go out to brunch with Greg

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– finish YA manuscript first draft {!!!}
– complete the #yearofkindness challenge
– help Greg move into his new apartment
– volunteer at the Food Pantry
– read & respond to all submissions in my queue for Sycamore Review
– get in touch with 3 friends and make plans to get together

And here are some recipes I’m hoping to make this week:
kale pesto pasta via The Pajama Chef
creamy quinoa salad via A Happy Lass
coconut ginger curry brown rice bowl via Peanut Butter Fingers
chocolate spice zucchini muffins
baked mango with brown sugar & cinnamon

What are your goals & menu plans for this week?

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

goals & menu plan for the week of 3/17

Happy St. Patty’s Day!

Here’s how I did on my goals last week:

  • revise up to page 180 of my thesis novel
  • blog about Week 10 Act of Kindness Challenge & complete it myself this week
  • finish reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  • finish grading papers for both classes
  • finish the baby blanket I’m knitting

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:

  • turn in my thesis manuscript to my committee! {this is a big one!}
  • blog about Week 11 Act of Kindness Challenge & complete it myself this week
  • read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • finish grading reports for my freshman class
  • start a new knitting project
  • clean out papers in the back room

Finally, here are some recipes I’m looking forward to trying this week:

twice-baked potato soup
quinoa salad with apples, chickpeas + feta
curried carrot soup with cornbread
peanut-butter breakfast cookies
cupcakes with chocolate fudge frosting

What are your goals and meal plans for the week?

goals & meal-plan for the week of 3/10

First off, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my dear friend Erica! I love you so much, sweets! Wish I was there to celebrate with you, but you are in my thoughts!

Erica bday

Erica and I have been friends since seventh grade, more than half our lives. She is thoughtful, witty, brilliant, kind, and an amazing listener. Whenever I am home, we meet up for epic 3-hour chai latte dates at our favorite local cafe, Simone’s. Everyone should be so lucky to have a friend they can talk and talk and talk for hours with, laughing so much their cheeks hurt. I feel so blessed to have her as my friend!

Here’s how I did on my goals this past week:

  • revise up to page 120 of my thesis novel {I feel like I should be able to cross this off, but technically not sure if I’m up to page 120… I’ve started revising from the beginning forward AND from the end backwards, because when I make changes in the beginning I go ahead and revise the later chapters they correlate with so I don’t miss anything … eventually, I guess I’ll meet in the middle!}
  • blog about Week 9 Act of Kindness Challenge & complete it myself this week
  • finish reading Vanishing by Deborah Willis
  • finish grading papers for both classes
  • send cards to my Gramps and Aunt Shirley
  • knit 25 rows of the baby blanket I’m working on

And here are my goals for the upcoming week:

  • revise up to page 180 of my thesis novel
  • blog about Week 10 Act of Kindness Challenge & complete it myself this week
  • finish reading Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
  • finish grading papers for both classes
  • finish the baby blanket I’m knitting

What are your goals and menu plans for the week?

MPM-Winter

This post is linked up at Menu Plan Monday!

goals & meal-plan for the week of 2/24

How is it the end of February already?? Gah, this month always flies by SO fast … you’d think I’d be prepared for it by now! Alas, I am not. Every year, I pretty much stand on the sidelines and watch February race by while I call feebly after it, “Hey, wait for me!”

Anyone else feel the same way?

Here’s how I did on my goals this past week:

  • revise up to page 90 of my thesis novel {not quite to page 90 but am feeling really happy about the new pages I wrote this week!}
  • blog about Week 7 Act of Kindness Challenge & complete it myself this week
  • publish blog post about 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess {read my review here!}
  • finish grading papers for both classes
  • take old financial/health documents to the bank to be shredded
  • knit 25 rows of the scarf I’m working on
  • prepare for my presentation at The Louisville Conference on Saturday

I realized that last week I forgot to show you pictures of my newly purged and organized file box, cleaned out of all the old bank statements/health invoices/other expired documents which have now been shredded at the bank! WOO! Here is a belated picture, for no other reason than I was proud of myself for crossing this task off my list and wanted to share with you:

files collage

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:

  • revise up to page 100 of my thesis novel
  • blog about Week 8 Act of Kindness Challenge & complete it myself this week
  • finish reading Blackberry Winter for the PBF February Book Club
  • finish grading papers for both classes {yes, this is almost always one of my weekly goals because the papers just.keep.coming!} 🙂
  • go through & purge/organize giant box of office supplies in our closet
  • knit 25 rows of the baby blanket I’m working on

And here are a few recipes I am excited to try out:
crock-pot lentil sweet-potato soup
coconut-crusted chicken
asian peanut veggie dip
baked mango with brown sugar & cinnamon
whole wheat pumpkin scones with vanilla bean glaze

What are some of your goals and menu plans for the week?

goals and meal plan for the week of 1/20

What an unbelievable week! I had an absolutely fantastic time soaking up the sunshine, creative energy and literary brillance at the Key West Literary Seminar, and even got to meet my icon Judy Blume!! She could not have been more kind, warm or generous. What an amazing writer AND person! Here’s a picture of my writing workshop with her {you can see me peeking out from the second row; Judy is front and center}:

key west workshop w:judy

Here’s how I did on my goals for the past week:

  • finish the new one-act play I’ve been working on
  • write 10 pages of my YA novel
  • blog about Week 2 Act of Kindness Challenge & complete it myself this week
  • read Best American Short Stories 2012 that Mike got me for Christmas {got about halfway through!}
  • grade first assignment for both classes {Professional Email assignment}
  • knit 25 rows of the scarf I’m working on
  • go through stack of old magazines and purge!

And here’s my goals for this upcoming week:

  • write 10 more pages of my YA novel
  • blog about Week 3 Act of Kindness Challenge & complete it myself this week
  • finish reading Best American Short Stories 2012
  • finish grading first assignment for both classes {Professional Email assignment}
  • knit 25 rows of the scarf I’m working on
  • go through stack of old magazines and purge!
  • send thank-you notes to the lovely people I met at the Key West Literary Seminar

Julie at PB Fingers is hosting a blogger crock-pot challenge and I am planning to try out a new crock-pot recipe, as well as some of the following recipes:

chicken tetrazzini
slow-cooker honey-sesame chicken
my california white chicken chili
apple cinnamon steel-cut oatmeal

What are your plans for this week? I’d love to hear your menu plans & goals!

a simple, successful bridal shower!

Yesterday afternoon, I was so excited and honored to host a bridal shower for my cousin Amanda! We were born only three months apart and went all through school together, from pre-school through college. She is one of my closest friends and I am so happy for her and her fiancee, Justin. They are so cute together and I know they make each other very happy.

me and amanda

In elementary school, we started calling each other “cuz” {short for cousin} and the nickname has stuck!
She will always be my “cuz.”

My Gramps generously let us use his beautiful, large living room to host the shower. {Having a lot of space was a necessity, as we had more than 20 attendees!} Can you spot him peeking out in the pic below, preparing to make his escape before the twenty giggly, wedding-giddy ladies showed up? Haha.

living room shower

We set enough chairs around the room so that everyone would have a place to sit, but also tried to keep the room open to encourage guests to walk around and mingle.

And we designated an area by the fireplace for guests to set down their gifts for the bride-to-be:

gifts

* decorations *

Amanda’s favorite color is pink and her wedding isn’t until June, so even though we held the shower right before Christmas, we went for a summery pink-and-white theme instead of having a Christmas-themed shower.

  • Fresh flowers really brighten up a room!
  • Dress up a plain tablecloth with colorful streamers and bright napkins.
  • Use cups to corral forks, knives, spoons, and toothpicks.

table set

* food *

We went with a simple veggie tray and some h’orderves. The real stand-out were the gorgeous cupcakes, made by one of my mom’s friends:

cupcakes

She’s a professional cake decorator; if you wanted to make homemade desserts, here are a couple of my tried-and-true recipes:
red velvet cupcakes with coconut cream-cheese frosting
carrot cupcakes with cream-cheese frosting

For drinks we did mimosas, red & white wine, soda and water. And of course coffee with dessert!

* games *

Amanda is a competitive person and specifically requested that we play some party games! After doing a little research for ideas, I settled upon two games: Pictionary using wedding-themed phrases, and a “Newlywed” style game to see how well Amanda could guess her fiancee’s answers to a series of questions.

Both games were a big hit, but they did require a bit of preparation. Here are the phrases we used for Pictionary:

  • To Have and To Hold
  • Happily Ever After
  • Just Married
  • I Do
  • First Dance
  • Bridezilla
  • Father of the Bride
  • Always a Bridesmaid, Never a Bride
  • Tossing the Bouquet
  • Bridal Shower
  • Till Death Do Us Part
  • Bachelorette Party
  • Tying the Knot
  • Wedding Cake
  • Wedding Bells
  • Going to the Chapel
  • Flower Girl
  • Ring Bearer
  • Best Man
  • Maid of Honor
  • Honeymoon

The Q-&-A game was an idea I saw on the always-wonderful blog Peanut Butter Fingers. Here’s how it worked: a couple months ago, I sent a list of questions to Amanda’s fiancee to answer about her, himself and their relationship. Then I wrote out these questions and his answers out on pieces of paper and made them into a book. I used a small, inexpensive photo album and cut each piece of paper to 4×6 inches to fit perfectly in each slot. Then I decorated the pages with colorful stickers and markers.

bridal question book

question book pages

Here is a full list of the questions I asked the groom-to-be {feel free to add or subtract to fit your needs!}

  • When and where was your first kiss with the bride-to-be?
  • Where was your first date with the bride-to-be?
  • What do you think the bride-to-be’s favorite gift is from you?
  • What is the one item the bride-to-be cannot not live without?
  • What is the bride-to-be’s dream job?
  • If the bride-to-be could move anywhere without having to worry about a job or family, where would it be?
  • What is the bride-to-be’s most obnoxious habit?
  • What is your most obnoxious habit?
  • What turns the bride-to-be off the most about a man?
  • What turns you off the most about a woman?
  • What do you think is the bride-to-be’s favorite memory of your relationship?
  • What is your favorite memory of your relationship with the bride-to-be?
  • What does the bride-to-be picture when she looks into the future?
  • What do you picture when you look into the future?
  • What do you think the bride-to-be loves most about you?
  • What do you love the most about the bride-to-be?
  • What is a big dream of the bride-to-be’s?
  • What is a big dream of yours?
  • What is one thing the bride-to-be will never forget that you did for/said to her?
  • When does the bride-to-be want to have kids?
  • How many kids does the bride-to-be want to have?
  • How many kids do you want to have?
  • If the bride-to-be were an animal, what type of animal would she be and why?
  • If you were an animal, what type of animal would you be and why?

To make it into a game, we asked every attendee to guess the number of questions Amanda would get right. Then we passed the book around the room, taking turns reading out questions and keeping track of how many of Justin’s answers Amanda guessed right. The trick, of course, is that the “right” answer wasn’t always what was true for her, but what Justin thought was true for her. She had to try to think like him, which is the fun part! This game certainly evoked lots of laughter. After we made it through the entire book, we tallied up the number of correct answers and the two attendees with the closest guesses won prizes.

* party favors *

party favors

We found these cute scented candles and thought they would make the perfect party favors! To make them festive and pink, we just wrapped them in a sheet of tissue paper {folded in half} and tied with ribbon.

candle party favors

Here they are all lined up and ready to go for the party!

party favors

The bridal shower was a blast and I think Amanda had a really fun time! I snapped pictures throughout the afternoon that I’m going to print up and slip into a pink photo album for Amanda as a little post-shower gift, so she can look back and remember the day!

shower picture

amanda friends

me and cuzes
It was a simple, successful shower! Have any of you hosted a bridal shower before? What are your favorite party-hosting tips or shower games?

* This post is linked up at Fine Linen & Purple!

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