goals + recipes for the week of 12/14

Hi there, everyone! As soon as I hit “publish” on this blog post, I’m heading off to church bright and early… I’m Worship Associate today, so I have lots of little duties to perform to get ready for the first service at 9:30. Today the children’s choir is performing a special concert as part of the service, which I am very excited about! The kids are way too cute ūüôā

It’s been a good weekend so far. Yesterday I taught my rambunctious group of kiddos; it was our final class! I’ll be starting up again with a new class in January, and¬†I hope that some of them¬†will come back and sign up for the new quarter. We shall see!

Allyn is in the midst of his final residency for the semester — he’s such a champ, powering through the long days with a smile on his face — and tonight his school is having a dance party in San Francisco. I went to the one held at the end of last semester and it was super fun! I’m looking forward to going tonight and celebrating the end of the semester. My sweetheart has worked incredibly hard the past four months and I’m really proud of him.

On the topic of working hard… time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from the past couple¬†weeks:¬†
write a new chapter of my memoir
finish holiday cards
–¬†finish student evaluations
finish reading short story collection
–¬†go to two yoga classes
connect with two friends
Woo hoo! It was a successful week around here! ūüôā

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
Рwrite a new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
–¬†compile tutoring worksheets
Рfinish reading three New Yorkers from my stash
–¬†go to two yoga classes
– connect with two friends

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
chocolate pb chip oat bars {vegan + gf} via the real-life rd
peppermint pattie brownies via Two Peas and Their Pod
chocolate-dipped toffee shortbread via Two Peas and Their Pod
green salad w/apples, cranberries & pepitas via Cookie + Kate
gingerbread muffins via The Pajama Chef
Рmy own white chocolate m&m pretzels

Questions of the day:

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

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

goals for the week of 12/7

Hi there, friends! Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend! Mine has been very busy, but a good kind of busy. Friday night I got together with Dana for dinner at a delicious Korean restaurant called Mixed Grain.

Mixed Grains

We sat there eating, talking and laughing for close to three hours and ended up closing the place down! One bonus of staying so long was that the waitress came over and asked if we wanted free cupcakes {I think they would have gone to waste otherwise…} We of course said yes and they were absolutely delicious! Not to mention beautiful — check out this delicate rose made out of buttercream frosting:

rose cupcake

Yesterday morning, I had a long catch-up phone call with my friend Janet before I ran off to teach my four back-to-back classes of kiddos! After a couple weeks away due to the holiday, they were more energy-filled than ever. Some of them said they missed me, which was quite sweet. I missed them too, but I was also more than happy to collapse on my couch last night and relax while catching up on two of my favorite shows, Nashville & The Newsroom!

This morning, I was up bright and early to tutor a couple kiddos, and then I headed over to church, where I took part in the holiday crafts faire held from 10 a.m. Р3 p.m. I sold and autographed copies of my books and everyone was very supportive, encouraging and enthusiastic. It made my heart so happy. I feel very grateful to be part of such a warm and welcoming congregation. I must admit, I was a little worried that it would seem like a long day {being from 10-3!} but the time flew by thanks to lots of delightful conversations and visiting with people.

After church I drove to my sweetheart’s apartment where we are now getting ready to make some veggie pasta for dinner.¬†But before I go… time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from the past couple¬†weeks:¬†
– write a new chapter of my memoir {this totally fell by the wayside this week}
– finish holiday cards {almost done!}
–¬†finish student evaluations {started, not finished}
publicize my¬†Winter Writing Camp {it’s halfway filled already!}
–¬†go to two yoga classes {I made it to three!}
connect with two friends

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write a new chapter of my memoir
– finish holiday cards
–¬†finish student evaluations
– finish reading short story collection
–¬†go to two yoga classes
– connect with two friends

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes?

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

goals + recipes for the week of 11/16

Hi, friends, and happy Sunday to you ūüôā Sorry I’ve been a bit MIA this week… it’s been unexpectedly busy! On Friday night, I went to Arianna’s high school play that she has been working on for months as the Assistant Director. I’m so proud of her! The set alone blew me away with its intricate attention to detail.

Arianna play

Yesterday, after teaching my rambunctious classes of kiddos, I took BART into the city and met up with my sweetheart for a fun sustainable foods event his MBA program¬†was hosting. I noshed on a delicious spinach dish from a Jamaican restaurant, and Allyn had the jerked chicken and shared some of his dirty rice and plantains with me. It was nice getting to chat with his classmates and catch up with some people I hadn’t seen since Allyn’s surprise birthday party back in October.

Work-wise this week, some exciting developments have been happening that I hope I’m able to share sometime soon. In the meantime, I can tell you that I was really happy¬†to get an acceptance this week from North Dakota Quarterly, the literary magazine out of the University of North Dakota, to publish my short story “Dirt” in their forthcoming “Slow” themed issue. Hooray! It’s been a motivating reminder of the importance of perseverance in pursuing your dreams, despite the inevitable rejections and disappointments — every “No” is one step closer to a “Yes!”

In that spirit… time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last week:¬†
–¬†finish writing that one short story that’s been half-finished for months
–¬†prepare tutoring worksheets through the end of the year
– update my website
–¬†go to the gym three times
finish reading Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
connect with two friends

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
–¬†finish editing/preparing manuscript for submission
– update my website
– set date for Winter Writing Camp
–¬†go to¬†yoga class
– connect with two friends

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
pumpkin cookies w/cookie butter via The Coupon Project
kale & brussels sprouts salad w/butternut squash via Two Peas & Their Pod
vegetarian chickpea curry via Food Friends
fiesta frittata via PB Fingers
chaider {chai + hot apple cider} via The Pajama Chef
– my grandma’s curried butternut squash soup

Questions of the day:

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

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

goals + recipes for the week of 11/9

Hello, friends! Today¬†is my Grandpap’s birthday!!

me and grandpap

Tonight we’re getting together at my Aunt Annie’s house to celebrate… I’m planning to make funfetti cupcakes, or perhaps pumpkin spice cupcakes, with cream-cheese frosting and of course plentyyyy of sprinkles ūüôā I love my Grandpap so much and I feel lucky that I’ve gotten to spend so much time with him the past year. He has always been super supportive of my writing. He is a jokester, a piano bar singer, a Sudoku fiend, and the only octogenarian I know who text messages and uses Siri. Here’s to many more birthdays, Grandpap!

Backing up a bit, yesterday I slept in, savored breakfast and my favorite pumpkin spice chai tea while reading some of my favorite blogs. Then I taught four classes of energetic kiddos, and then I headed over to a BBQ at the home of one of Allyn’s childhood friends. A bunch of his longtime friends were there, and it was really nice to get a chance to visit with them! I brought chocolate pumpkin kiss cookies, recipe coming soon!

chocolate pumpkin kiss cookies

This morning I’m heading to church early because I’m serving as Worship Associate for both services. Then I’m hoping to meet up with Dana because it’s been too long since I’ve seen her pretty face, and we have lots to catch up on!

But before I head out… time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last week:¬†
–¬†finish writing that one short story that’s been half-finished for months
complete mid-term assessments for the classes I teach
–¬†go to the gym three times
finish reading After Dakota by Kevin Sharp
connect with two friends
get my flu shot!!

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
–¬†finish writing that one short story that’s been half-finished for months
–¬†prepare tutoring worksheets through the end of the year
– update my website
–¬†go to the gym three times
Рfinish reading Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
– connect with two friends

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
bbq pineapple, jalepeno + feta pizza via Cookie + Kate
peanut butter apple oatmeal cookies via Two Peas & Their Pod
rosemary roasted potatoes via Food Friends
white chocolate drizzled pumpkin scones via That Skinny Chick Can Bake
chewy coconut oil granola bars via The Pajama Chef
Рmy own pumpkin pasta

Questions of the day:

  • 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!

goals + recipes for the week of 10/26 {and MUSTACHES!}

Hello, friends! Today I’m savoring a relaxing morning with my sweetheart after a crazy-busy day yesterday {editing + teaching four classes + big family dinner!} It felt sooooo nice to sleep in this morning! After lots of green tea and a big breakfast, I’m looking forward to working on a new writing project for a couple hours! Then this afternoon, Allyn and I are headed into San Francisco for a double-date with our friends Justin and Fawn. We’re going to a pumpkin patch and out for lunch, and then carving pumpkins if we have time!

I’ve been dying to show this to you guys: look what I found¬†when I went to Orchard nursery with Dana a couple weeks ago

mustache

… a pumpkin mustache!!

I was super excited to get it for Allyn’s Jack-O-Lantern because 1) it’s funny; 2) it’s unique; and 3) on November 1st Allyn will start growing his own ‘stache as part of the “Movember” campaign¬†to raise awareness for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer. I’ve never seen him with facial hair before, but he will be rockin’ a mustache for the entire month of November! And so will my brother! Does anyone remember this pic of Greg and me from Thanksgiving last year?

me and greg staches

That was taken at the very tail-end of Greg’s mustache-growing. That ‘stache is as unruly as all get-out! Can’t wait to see what he ends up with this year. {Just kidding Greg, you know I love you and your unruly ‘stache!}

What mustache would you choose to grow {or choose your significant other to grow}? Here is a handy-dandy chart I found. I¬†told Allyn my top two choices are Lampshade or Painter’s Brush. Or to just go all out and go for the Imperial! Haha.

As for me, this is the closest thing I’ll get to my own ‘stache this November:

me mustache

Which reminds me of a Mustache Bash my roommates and I went to in college, where we all drew mustaches on our faces with eyeliner pencil. Fun times!

moustache bash

ANYWAY… before things get too ‘stachetastic around here, let’s move onto goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last week:¬†
complete one new chapter of my novel-in-progress {I FINISHED IT!!}
write & mail Halloween cards
–¬†go to the gym three times
read 100 pages of After Dakota by Kevin Sharp

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
–¬†finish writing that one short story that’s been half-finished for months
– complete mid-term assessments for the classes I teach
–¬†go to the gym three times
Рfinish reading After Dakota by Kevin Sharp
– connect with two friends
– get my flu shot!! {still haven’t gotten around to this after I failed a couple weeks ago when trying to get it at Safeway}

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
curried red lentil soup w/dried cherries & cilantro via Cookie + Kate
roasted vegetable stuffed shells via Two Peas & Their Pod
spinach feta wrap via Peanut Butter Fingers
slow-cooker santa fe chicken via Peanut Butter Fingers & Skinnytaste
asian turkey meatballs w/carrot rice via The Pajama Chef
– my own butternut squash mock risotto

Questions of the day:

  • 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!

goals + recipes for the week of 10/19

Another beautiful Sunday around here! I’m getting up early this morning to tutor a couple of my favorite students, and then I’m heading over to church where they are having a New Member Recognition Ceremony as part of today’s service. I’m excited to officially be accepted by my congregation as a new member!

sanctuary

My lovely, light-filled church!

The rest of my day I’m hoping will be loose and relaxed. My plans include:¬†pleasure reading, phone dates with a couple friends, a long walk outside, and family dinner.

Before I get moving, time for goals. Last week I wrote about my mental shift from focusing on the end product to instead simply¬†enjoying the PROCESS of writing. Instead of hurrying to the finish line of my novel, I’m focusing on making it the very best it can be. This week, I didn’t¬†put¬†pressure on myself to finish the whole novel. My goal was to¬†complete one chapter this week…

… and I did! I finished one entire new chapter and wrote about half of another new chapter. This week I averaged¬†about 1,000 words a day, and a couple days I even wrote closer to 2,000 words — more consistent productivity than I have logged in months. Most importantly, I had a lot more FUN writing this week! Instead of feeling rushed, I felt expansive and excited. I knew I had all the time in the world to follow the threads of the story wherever they wanted to take me, and that made me feel eager to dive back into the story each day.

It reminds me of the feeling you have writing a term paper when it’s due in a matter of hours, versus writing a term paper when it’s due in a month. The act of writing is much more enjoyable when you have time and space for discovery, instead of being stressed out about getting from Point A to Point B.

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last week:¬†
complete one new chapter of my novel-in-progress
–¬†prepare for tutoring through the end of the month
–¬†go to the gym three times
read 100 pages of After Dakota by Kevin Sharp

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
Рcomplete one new chapter of my novel-in-progress
Рwrite & mail Halloween cards
–¬†go to the gym three times
Рread 100 pages of After Dakota by Kevin Sharp

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
thai beef skewers via The Pajama Chef
sweet & salty marshmallow popcorn via Two Peas & Their Pod
easy marinated baked chicken via Peanut Butter Fingers
peanut butter pumpkin brownies¬†via¬†It’s Progression
caramelized onion & apple galette via Panera Bread website
– my own apple cake with brown sugar glaze

Questions of the day:

  • 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!

goals + recipes for the week of 10/12

Happy Sunday, everyone! Hope you’re having a great one. After a crazy-busy yesterday teaching wrangling kiddos, today I’m savoring some relaxation! Breakfast with my sweetheart, church, lunch with Dana, and family dinner tonight. A perfect Sunday, in my book!

Now¬†let’s move onto¬†goals. My brother, who is an extremely talented painter and fine artist in addition to his many other talents, reminded me of the importance of enjoying the PROCESS of creating art, instead of only focusing on the results or finished product.

In that vein, I have decided¬†to take the pressure off completing my novel, and instead focus on writing it little by little, day by day. As long as I am investing the time into writing it, I will make progress and I will eventually write those glorious words THE END ūüôā I’m getting so close {!!!} but I don’t want to rush the process. Instead of focusing on making it to the finish line, I want to focus on making it the very best it can be. If I see loose ends, I want to tie them up. If I get a new idea for another thread I can weave through the storyline, I want to feel like I have the freedom and time to do that.

So, all that goes to say, I won’t be putting pressure on myself to finish the whole novel this week, as I have been doing in previous weeks. I always tend to bite off more than I can chew and think that I can make more progress than is realistic. Even though I’ve been putting in lots of time and making significant progress on my novel, I’ve been feeling like a failure because I haven’t been able to cross it off my list on here yet! But I’m learning. Goals are a work-in-progress! And as far as my novel goes, it’s not rewarding or creatively conducive to approach it as an all-or-nothing task. So¬†I’m going to try to complete one chapter this week, and continue to move forward from there.

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last time:¬†
Рcomplete new draft of my novel-in-progress
celebrate Allyn’s birthday! ūüôā
do yoga twice & core exercises five times
finish reading Into the Night Sky by Caroline Finnerty

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
Рcomplete one new chapter of my novel-in-progress
–¬†prepare for tutoring through the end of the month
–¬†go to the gym three times
Рread 100 pages of After Dakota by Kevin Sharp

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
baked caramel apple mini doughnuts via The Pajama Chef
kale salad w/sesame lime dressing via The Pajama Chef
cheesy broccoli quinoa via Peanut Butter Fingers
crockpot lentil & wheatberry soup via Peanut Butter Fingers
hearty fall soup w/yucca & coconut milk via sometimes.always.never
– my own

Questions of the day:

  • 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!

on doggie halloween costumes, early birds, & the 4 a.m. mystery

Hi, friends! My morning started off right with a bowl of Trader Joe’s flaxseed oatmeal with some raspberries + strawberries stirred in. Yum!

berry oats

I’ve got a random odds & ends post coming at ya today… just some tidbits I wanted to share!

Does anyone else watch Nashville? Three episodes into this season, and I’m already hooked!

Are you a night-owl like me? I am all for embracing one’s natural cicadian rhythms, but I also love the feeling I get when I rise early and get a jump on my day. I thought¬†Courtney Carver had some great tips in this blog post: A Gentle Guide to Help You Wake Up Earlier.

Speaking of late nights, Holly sent me a link to this imaginative & witty TED talk: The 4 a.m. mystery.

I can’t get enough of Ed Sheeran’s new CD. Or his performance at the iHeartRadio music festival, which you can watch on YouTube here.

Gotta close out with this amazing “dog Halloween costume” my brother sent me a picture of…

pugglewrap

HA! The expression on the little pug’s face kills me. Sort of reminds me of this photo of Murray, that I call his “glamor shot”:

murray glamor shot

Somehow though, I don’t think we could get Murray to hold still long enough to wrap him in bubble wrap. He is never calm enough for a Halloween costume! That’s okay, Mr. Mur-dog. We still love you.

Now I’m off to get some writing done before heading out to Fremont this afternoon to teach, and then I’m meeting Allyn’s sister Allyson for dinner! The community center where I teach is right across the street from the high school where she works, so I’m hoping we can make Thursday coffee/dinner dates a usual thing… it’s such a treat to get to spend time with her!

Questions of the morning:

  • What TV shows are you hooked on?
  • Are you a night owl or an early bird?
  • Do you dress your dog up in Halloween costumes?

goals + recipes for the week of 9/28

Happy Sunday, friends! It’s a busy day around here. I’m off to do a little tutoring this morning before church; then after the church service we’re having a Young Adult potluck; and then tonight we’re having family dinner at my aunt Annie’s house before my Uncle Frankie heads back down to L.A. in the morning. Lots of friend & family time, which makes my heart happy!

Speaking of happy hearts, my sweetie’s birthday is this Tuesday! Last night I was invited to celebrate with him and his sister, dad and stepmom at the beautiful Clairemont Country Club. I wore my navy and ivory chevron dress from¬†this past Easter {thanks to Arianna for helping me decide on an outfit! My cousin is eleven years younger than I am but has waaaaay more style!} ūüėČ

chevron dress

And my other stylish cousin, Bianca, helped me bake red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for the birthday boy!

cupcakes

Speaking of yummy desserts, I have to share a photo of this aaaaaamazing butternut squash bread pudding I ordered for dessert on Friday night. I’m gonna try to recreate it myself at some point, perhaps using this recipe? Oh and yeah, that’s salted caramel gelato on top. With chocolate caramel cups mixed in. Yuuuuummmmm.¬†I want to eat this again, like, right now.

butternut squash bread pudding

Before I lose myself in drooling over this photo, let’s move onto¬†goals…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:¬†
Рcomplete new draft of my novel-in-progress {wrote two new chapters; one more to go!}
–¬†finish editing work
–¬†prepare for first week of teaching/new semester
do yoga twice & core exercises five times
–¬†read 100 pages of¬†Into the Night Sky¬†by¬†Caroline Finnerty

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
Рcomplete new draft of my novel-in-progress
– celebrate Allyn’s birthday! ūüôā
– do yoga twice & core exercises five times
Рfinish reading Into the Night Sky by Caroline Finnerty

And here are some recipes I’m eying¬†this week:
crockpot asian pulled chicken via The Pajama Chef
creamy spinach & cheese green chile enchiladas via Two Peas & Their Pod
pumpkin cinnamon cookies via Two Peas & Their Pod
6 healthy crockpot chicken freezer meals via New Leaf Wellness & Money-Saving Mom
– my own curried butternut squash & apple soup

Questions of the day:

  • 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!

new haircut! & other random tidbits

Hello, friends! Just poppin’ in to say hello. How is your day going?

It’s been a busy morning around here… my favorite kind of busy, productive weekday morning. I woke up early and, after a bowl of oatmeal with sliced apple and walnuts, I headed over to Starbucks for a pumpkin chai latte and a couple hours of writing. This afternoon, I’ve got some tutoring and editing projects on the agenda.

starbucks work sesh

Here are some odds & ends on my mind today…

I got a haircut! Crazy how something as simple as trimming a couple inches off my hair can make me feel so rejuvenated.

new haircut

I’m so happy The Good Wife is back! The first episode of the season was a real nail-biter and I am already on pins-and-needles for next week! The Good Wife is one of the only shows I watch on a regular basis. My parents, grandparents, and aunt Annie watch it, too, so it’s fun discussing¬†each new episode every Monday morning. Do you have any shows like that?

On Sunday night Allyn watched my favorite romantic movie, Serendipity, with me! There’s something about autumn that always makes me crave this movie. As I told Allyn: “My love for Serendpity will never die.” I also love the beautiful instrumental theme song of the movie, January Rain by David Gray.

Serendipity

Yesterday Grandma and I watched the movie Iris on TV about the life of British writer Iris Murdoch. I thought it was heartbreaking but really well done, and now I’m inspired to read Irish Murdoch’s books — I think I might start with her classic The Sea, The Sea.

Speaking of books and writers… I tweeted to JoJo Moyes about how much I loved her book One Plus One, and she tweeted me back! September must be the month for celebrity encounters… remember last year when I ran into Casey James at Starbucks?

jojo moyes tweet

I made a batch of my favorite pb cup brownies {I gave most to Allyn but kept a couple for myself, too!} and I’ll probably polish off the last one tonight.¬†Treats like this just make the week feel more special.

pb cup brownies

Questions of the day:

  • What are your favorite TV shows?
  • Has someone you admire every replied to a tweet you sent? Or have you ever had a celebrity encounter?
  • What treats make your ordinary days more special?