dinner parties + new apartments

When Allyn and I decided to move into together, it was an exciting time in our lives. It was also a stressful time because of apartment-hunting. Housing in the Bay Area is notoriously expensive, and trying to find a nice apartment in a safe neighborhood that was also within our price range, while also fairly convenient for our varied work commutes, was a challenge. Housing is also very high in demand, so there was the sense that if you liked a place but weren’t sure about it, and waffled on your decision for too long, someone else would come along and snatch it up before you even turned in your application.

After a few weekends of open-houses and apartment-hunting, I was beginning to feel overwhelmed. I remember thinking, “All I want is a kitchen and a bathroom and a living room and a bedroom, and I’m sold.” I felt myself buying into that mentality of scarcity, of panic, of not-enough-to-go-around. Fortunately, Allyn was by my side, level-headed as always, bringing me back to a place of abundance. Logically, I knew that we would not be apartment-hunting forever. I knew that eventually we would find a place that was the right fit for us. But I daydreamed of baking muffins in a kitchen of my own, and filling the bookshelves with our shared book collection, and eating dinner together every night at our own dining table. I would look around at couples who lived together and think, “Do you realize how lucky you are? I can’t wait to be like you!”

It wasn’t too long before we did find an apartment we loved, and we turned in our application and signed the lease and before I knew it, it was moving day and then we were unpacking and running to Target for various items we hadn’t realized we needed until we needed them, like a plunger and oven mitts and surge protectors. Life spun onward. Soon, having dinner together every night became routine. Our bookshelf became crammed with books and mementos of our shared life together. I baked muffins in our kitchen feeling grumbly about all the dishes I had to wash, rather than feeling awash with gratitude to have my own kitchen that I had dreamed about.

{our apartment in the early days}

The other day, I arrived home from visiting my brother in NYC. It was late: past midnight, and I was still on east-coast time. I unlocked the door and stumbled in with my suitcase, flicking on the light. Home. I was home. Instead of looking around our apartment and seeing various chores I needed to do—vacuum the carpet and put away those dishes and mail those packages and and and… this time, I just saw the messy, comforting jumble of everyday life. My everyday life, and Allyn’s everyday life. Intertwined.

And I remembered all the hours I had spent, before we had this apartment, dreaming of it. How I had yearned for it and hoped for it and felt like it would never come. And then it did come, and in the daily hustle and bustle I don’t appreciate it as much as I should. Because the reality is more complicated and messy than it was in my daydreams, and because I’m already looking onward to the next thing on the horizon. There is something else that I am yearning for and hoping for now. It’s so easy to forget all the things I do have, all the landmarks I have reached, that I was once gazing longingly at from the opposite shore.

Like, I remember being a middle-schooler reading Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul, dreaming what seemed like an impossible dream of one day publishing a story of my own in Chicken Soup. These days, I publish stories in Chicken Soup frequently, and I forget to feel as excited as my middle-school self would want me to feel. She would celebrate every single acceptance.

I remember when being accepted to college was my Ultimate Dream; then being accepted to an MFA program was my Ultimate Dream; then signing with a literary agent was my Ultimate Dream. Now, my Ultimate Dream is publishing a novel. I try to remind myself to have patience and faith—just as I would remind my past selves of this, as I applied to college and grad school and queried literary agents. Don’t be so worried, I would go back and tell myself. It’s going to happen. And after it happens, it won’t even be something you think about all the time, it will just be another part of you, and you will have moved on to new dreams and goals. 

I think this is a beautiful part of life: how it is ever-changing, never static. We should keep growing and striving and dreaming throughout our lives. But I think it is also important to look back at how far we have come. To appreciate what we have, that once seemed so impossible. To give ourselves perspective and remind ourselves to be so thrillingly grateful.

In my wedding vows to Allyn, I told him how I spent a long time searching for him, and how I remember those lonely years vividly. Back then, I promised myself that when I finally did meet the man I was meant to be with, I would savor and appreciate him every day, and never take him for granted. These are hard vows to live up to, because life tilts into the familiar, and the familiar can so easily fade into the background… but every day, when I look at Allyn, I make a point to remind myself, just briefly, of what it was like when I was searching for him everywhere. When I worried that I would never find him. And this remembering makes me feel a strong rush of gratitude and joy for him, like falling in love all over again. How lucky I am, that I get to reach across the dinner table and squeeze his hand. Remembering where I’ve been makes the everyday now glitter with a touch of the miraculous.

A couple weekends ago, Allyn and I hosted our first real dinner party. We had entertained guests before, but our apartment is so small that we are limited to only two or three people at a time. Our chance for a bigger dinner party came when his mom went out of town, and we were cat-sitting in her beautiful home with a full dining table that seated eight. So, we invited three of our couple friends over for dinner. Two of them have children, who came along too. It was a full table!

In the days leading up to the event, I felt excited and nervous—planning the menu, shopping for groceries, then going back to the store at the last minute to pick up more food, worried we wouldn’t have enough. {Perhaps that is my grandma in me. Because we did. We had more than enough, and plenty of leftovers.} I made enchiladas, my mom’s recipe that has become one of my favorites. As I was chopping the onion and bell pepper and stirring the ground turkey and rolling up the tortillas, I thought about when I was in college. Back then, I would occasionally make enchiladas for my roommates and our other friends, everyone who wanted to stop by, an apartment full of people crammed on the couch and sprawled out on the floor, drinking homemade margaritas and watching the game. In college, we’d serve the enchiladas on our multicolored cheap plastic plates and eat them using our bent silverware with the plastic handles. My roommates and I would drool over Crate and Barrel, dreaming of the future when we’d have fancier dishes and would feel like real grown-ups.

Thankfully I did know, back then, that there was beauty in where we were. I loved that chapter of our lives as we lived it. I knew those days were fleeting. I’m so glad I savored them. Although, I never would have guessed that a future me, with beautiful dishes from Anthropologie and linen napkins in napkin rings, would still not quite feel like a grown-up. I never would have guessed that a part of me would feel a little nostalgic for those cheap plastic plates and bent silverware, as I stood in the middle of the gorgeous kitchen in my mother-in-law’s house, serving enchiladas onto china plates for our friends at our first real dinner party.

The dinner party was lively and chaotic and wonderful. We put tarps down so the kiddos wouldn’t make a mess on the carpet, and strapped their booster seats to the chairs so they could join us right at the table. We ate and laughed and talked and reminisced. The kids ate a gazillion slices of watermelon, juice dribbling down their chins. We celebrated a birthday, blew out the candles, and their adorable smiling faces were soon covered with chocolate frosting. It was perfect.

Later that night, after everyone had left and Allyn and I were stretched out, exhausted, on the couch, I thought about how there will likely—hopefully—be a time in our lives in the not-too-distant future when toddlers running around the house will be an everyday occurrence; a time in our lives when we will be able to fit more than four people at our very own dinner table; a time in our lives when hosting a dinner party will perhaps not be such an extraordinary event.

But I hope, when that time comes, that I can remember the magic of this dinner party, and how special it felt to host a meal that brought our friends together, and how joyful it was to hear toddler giggles at the table.

I hope I can always remember how precious this moment in time is, even as I look ahead to the bright and beautiful future.

 

Your turn {if you want}:

Grab your journal or open a document on your computer and do some free-writing, using these questions to get you going:

  • What is a goal or dream you used to have, that you accomplished and now seems normal? What advice might you give a previous version of yourself?
  • What is a goal or dream you are currently striving or wishing for? What advice might a future version of yourself give you now?
  • Write about the last time you moved to a new house or apartment.
  • Write about the last time you hosted a gathering or dinner party.

 

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 4/27

Hi friends! Happy Sunday! It feels like it’s been for.ev.er since I’ve done a goals post — I skipped last week because of Easter and my trip to Mendocino! Speaking of Easter, we never really chatted about that — how was your Easter? Mine was one of my favorite Easters ever. I spent most of the day volunteering with Allyn at a church in San Francisco, serving lunch to the homeless. The big dining room was set up like a sit-down restaurant and as volunteers our instructions were to treat clients like they were dining at a 5-star restaurant. It warmed my heart to see the bright smiles and proud postures of the clients leaving the church after the meal. I believe that the world would be a much better place if we simply treated everyone with dignity and respect. I definitely want to volunteer there again next Easter!

For Easter dinner, I missed my parents and brother, but I had a wonderful time visiting with my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. As always when we all get together, there was much laughter and storytelling. My aunt Annie hosted us all for a delicious meal of eggplant parmesan and grilled chicken, and this amazing cake whipped up by our family friend Diana. I got the recipe from her and will definitely be sharing it with you soon!

easter me and arianna

easter dessert

I finally feel like I’ve settled into my new weekend routine: waking up early on Saturday to teach four classes as part of my new job working for Communication Academy, crashing into bed exhausted but happy, and waking up on Sunday morning to head to church. {Which I’ll be doing as soon as I hit “publish” on this blog post!} Today after church I’m looking forward to getting together with my friend Michelle, who I haven’t seen for a couple weeks. And then, just like that, the weekend will already be winding down!

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

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from two weeks ago:
– 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 my goals for this upcoming week:
– write 12 pages
– finalize travel plans for the summer
– send out three query letters
– read up to page 350 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:
– chocolate banana pb smoothie via Jill @reini days
zin-zen chicken via Sarah @The Pajama Chef {originally from Rachel Ray}
– nutzo date bites via Danica @It’s Progression
– spaghetti squash w/avocado kale pesto via Whitney @sometimes.always.never
cucumber noodles w/peanut sauce 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?

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

fabulous friday #14

Happy Friday, friends! It’s been a couple weeks since my last fabulous friday post, but I’m happy to be back today. Taking the time to make note of what I love always gets the weekend off on a great note!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Springtime! The weather this week has been absolutely gorgeous, and all the trees are bursting into bloom. Not to mention it staying light out past dinnertime thanks to Daylight Savings — it feels like the transition from winter to summer has officially begun. I love this time of year!

spring tree

2. My friend Kelsey’s laugh. This girl has one of the most beautiful, contagious, joy-filled laughs I’ve ever heard. I talked with her on the phone this morning for the first time in a while, and it was wonderful to hear her voice and her laugh. It’s been a couple hours since we hung up, and I’m still feeling happy from talking to her.

3. Oatmeal with strawberries. All this week I’ve swapped out my usual apple-and-peanut-butter oatmeal for strawberries-and-vanilla-ricemilk oatmeal, and I’m loving it.

strawberry oatmeal

4. Wisdom from some of my favorite bloggers, particularly these posts:

5. This beautiful video {thanks Allyn for sending it to me!}: 20 strangers kiss for the first time

Now I’m off to the gym and to run some errands! Tonight should be a low-key, catch-up-on-New-Girl-episodes kind of night, but this weekend is gearing up to be busy with fun plans. {brunch! birthday celebrations! double date!} I’ll be back on Sunday or Monday with a goals post/recap, but in the meantime I want to leave you with these two quotes that have really been speaking to me lately:

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” -Bertrand Russell

“If you try too carefully to plan your life, the danger is that you will succeed — succeed in narrowing your options, closing off avenues of adventure that cannot now be imagined.” -Harlan Cleveland

Questions for the day:

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

goals for the week of 2/23

Happy Sunday! My friend Janet is in town and I am so excited!

me and janjan

I love soaking up time with this pretty lady! Last night we went with my cousins Makena and Bianca to see a production of Guys & Dolls. So much fun! Today we have plans to go into the city and have dinner with some of Janet’s friends from graduate school. I’m looking forward to meeting them and checking out some touristy spots with Janet beforehand. And, of course, City Lights is on the agenda!

city lights

But before we’re off, time for a quicks goals recap!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
– write 10 pages
prepare for new tutoring job
go to two yoga classes {I made it to three, hooray for a good yoga week!}
finish copyediting project
begin reading The Empty House by Nathan Oates
connect with three friends {plus I completed my year of Wooden action step for the week}

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– have an amazing time with Janet! go into the city, see a movie, take her to my favorite spots around town, and talk our faces off
– write 5 pages
– prepare for my new tutoring client
– go to one yoga class
– read fifty pages of The Empty House by Nathan Oates
– have a blast at the AWP conference! {and I guess be sorta productive and learn something too} 🙂

Questions of the morning:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What have been your highlights of this weekend?

fabulous friday #13

Aaaand just like that, it’s Friday again! Where did this week go? I can’t believe how quickly it flew by.

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My friend Janet is visiting! We’re both going to a writer’s conference in Seattle and she was able to book a flight to San Francisco to spend a couple days with me before we head to the conference together. She gets in tomorrow morning. We email and talk on the phone, but I haven’t seen her in over a year and I can’t wait to give her the biggest hug. We met in college while studying abroad in England {along with our dear friend Lauren, who lives in New York} and whenever I get together with these ladies it feels like zero time has passed at all. Lots of laughter and too much chocolate will invariably be happening in my life this weekend.

jan laur and me

{Janet, me, and Lauren on a bus in Norwich, England. This was during my headband phase 🙂 Hard to believe it’s been six years since this was taken!}

2. This song: “Happy” by Pharrell. It’s impossible for me to restrain my happy-dancing when this song comes on. So dang catchy! I think this could be the theme song for TGIF!

3. These flourless chocolate cookies from Two Peas & Their Pod. Nom nom! These babies are definitely on my baking agenda.

4. All the sweet and thoughtful people in my life. I am so blessed. Just a few examples lately: Melissa at church sent me an incredibly kind Facebook message. Kathleen invited me a comedy show and offered that I could stay with her overnight if needed. Holly texted me a happy note that got my week off to a great start. Ben left me a nice voicemail. {Ben, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I haven’t called you back yet! This weekend!} Allyn took time out of his super busy schedule to send me recommendations for places to check out in Seattle, since he used to live there. Dana, a Bay Area native, took time out of her day to compile a list of fun places Janet and I can check out while she’s visiting. And I could go on and on… I am surrounded by amazing people who make me feel very loved and grateful.

me and dana

5. These wise words from the always-wise Whitney: “A Letter to Myself at 22.” And this inspiring post from another one of my favorite bloggers, the always-inspiring Robyn: “nobody cares about your pant size.”

Now I’m off to finish a couple projects before heading into the city for dinner tonight. Happy Friday, everyone! Treat yourself to something fun today!

Questions of the day:

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

fabulous friday #12

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends! I hope each and every one of you feels loved today. If you’re still looking for inexpensive + creative ideas to make those around you feel loved, here’s a post I did a couple weeks ago on the topic!

valentines week

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Valentine’s Day cards & texts. My sweet parents both sent me cards, and I’ve received so many thoughtful messages from friends today. I feel very loved!

valentines cards

2. New Girl. My brother and I are both hooked on this show — it’s sort of become “our” show! Even when we’re apart, we watch it and laugh about it together. I’m a few episodes behind, but I just watched the “Birthday” episode last night and I was laughing so much, I nearly fell out of bed.

Greg sent me this photo of Schmidt and it made me bust out laughing. Even without context, I think it’s still funny! Why is he holding a giant bowl of grapes??

crying Schmidt

3. My church community. This is my first time really being involved with a spiritual community, and it is such a joyous and comforting feeling. One of my church friends had an operation yesterday, and I drove her to and from the doctor and stayed with her for the afternoon. I was blown away by how many people from church called or texted to check in on her, including our minister. And our young adult group has organized a whole schedule of people to drop by and check on her and bring her meals while she is recuperating. It warms my heart and makes me feel very grateful to have found such a supportive and genuinely caring community.

4. This moving blog post by Single Dad Laughing. I could not agree more. Every dad — every parent — should read this. And reading it made me realize, more than ever, how lucky I am to have won the Dad Lottery. {And the Mom Lottery, too!}

mom & dad anniversary

{And happy Valentine’s Day, lovebirds!}

5. The song “Pompeii” by Bastille. Whenever this song comes on the radio, I turn it waaaay up and start rocking out! I love it.

Now I’m off to bake a batch of red velvet crinkle cookies to deliver to the nursing home … Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Sending lots of love your way today and every day ❤

red velvet cookies

Questions of the day:

  • Are you doing anything to celebrate Valentine’s Day?
  • What are you loving right now?
  • Any fun plans for the weekend?

fabulous friday #10

Happy Friday, friends! Hope you have some fun plans on the horizon! I am pretty dang excited for the weekend. Tonight I’m going to see best-selling YA author Veronica Rossi give a talk at a local bookstore. On Saturday I’m reuniting with my lovely friend Dana for a walk at the reservoir & lunch afterwards — we haven’t seen each other for a few weeks and I can’t wait to catch up! And Sunday I’m going to church, meeting up with a friend for coffee … and of course watching the Super Bowl! The one time all year where the commercials are actually my favorite part 🙂 My aunt is having a big party at her house which will undoubtedly be a good time.

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Spontaneous trips to the park. It’s been gorgeous weather here this week, and when I spent the day with my cousins Makena & Bianca earlier this week we went over to the neighborhood park to take advantage of the sunshine. I love swinging on swings! And isn’t this tree beautiful?

swings

2. Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED talk on creativity. A friend first shared this link with me a couple years ago, and after someone mentioned it at church this week I watched it again. So inspiring! I especially love this quote:

elizabeth gilbert quote

3. Trader Joe’s! I can’t get enough of this store. I have lately been addicted to their kale & shredded broccoli chicken salad, edamame hummus, and butter shortbread cookies with chocolate in the middle. {No, I did not take home this entire stash, but I wanted to!}

shortbread cookies

4. This song, “Giddy Up” by Dragonette. My brother posted it on my Facebook wall and it is my new morning jam! Such a rousing way to start the day.

5. Soaking up time with my super-fun cousins. This week I’ve gotten to spend lots of time with these beautiful girls and it’s been so great! Last night Arianna and I had a total girly night: pizza, watching 17 Again, doing face masks, talking about boys. It was wonderful! I feel so blessed that my cousins are not just cousins, they are truly my friends, too 🙂

arianna and rocca

makena bianca

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • Do you have fun plans for the weekend?
  • Are you going to watch the Super Bowl on Sunday?

goals for the week of 10/13

I can’t believe it’s Monday! Where did the weekend go?? It’s been gorgeous weather here and on Saturday we had a picnic lunch and went for a nice long walk around a beautiful park and lake. We saw the most adorable families of geese!

geese park

lake

Nothing beats a sunny weekend outdoors, especially in the autumn with all the leaves changing colors. What were you up to this weekend?

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last week:
write 20 pages of new material
– submit to two literary journals
– submit two fellowship applications {almost there but not quite!}
sign up for the GRE exam
phone dates with three friends
exercise at least three times

Here are my goals for the week of 10/13:
– write 20 pages of new material
– submit two fellowship applications
– submit Ph.D. application
– exercise at least three times

As far as menu planning goes, my lovely friend Erica is in town visiting, so I’m not planning to be cooking too much this week … we will be off exploring new fun restaurants! But who am I kidding, we will probably make something for dessert, like these pb cup brownies

Have a wonderful week, friends!