fabulous friday #52

Hi friends, and happy Friday! It’s been far too long since I’ve done a Fabulous Friday post… I’m excited to bring this back today! Hope you’re up to something fun this lovely autumn weekend. 🙂

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Being in Lake Tahoe! This is my first time traveling to this gorgeous vacation destination that so many people rave about, and I must say it has lived up to my expectations and then some! It is a beautiful time of year to be here, with crisp fall weather and so much greenery. I snagged a postcard for you guys!

Lake Tahoe postcard

I am loving being part of the Tahoe WordWave Festival. There are so many talented, creative writers and artists all around and it has been a privilege and pleasure to attend the workshops and events. Additionally, I am SO excited for the premiere of my one-act play “Woman, Running Late, in a Dress” tomorrow night at the Valhalla Boathouse Theatre! The cast of my play took a selfie for you. {How adorable are they??}

my cast

2. Backing up a little bit, this past Tuesday Dana and I attended the Taste of Walnut Creek, a fundraiser for a variety of local organizations, including my church! Each attendee got a little booklet of coupons and you would walk around downtown and stop at various restaurants to get a sample.

taste of walnut creek booklet

Each sample was quite small, but at the end of the night we were definitely full! {And we didn’t even make it to all of the restaurants offered!} If your town offers something similar, I would for sure recommend attending. Here is a list of the different eats & drinks we enjoyed:

I had an absolute blast strolling around downtown Walnut Creek, eating and chatting with beautiful Dana! I feel so blessed to have such amazing people like her in my life.

me and dana taste of walnut creek

3. I can’t get enough coconut butter lately! Have you guys tried this before? I first had it smeared on my morning bagels at Key West when I was there for the Key West Literary Conference a couple years ago, but I kind of forgot about it because I never see coconut butter in the grocery store, just coconut oil. But coconut butter was on sale at Swanson’s Vitamins last week, so I bought a tub.

coconut butter

You guys, I can’t get enough! My favorite thing of late is to prep a slice of toast with half coconut butter, half almond butter. Mmmmm I could eat this all day.

coconut almond butter toast

Aaaaand I am pretty sure my love for avocado toast will never die. Bring on the healthy fats!

avocado toast

4. I recently discovered Susan Hyatt {thanks to my girl Alex Franzen} and I am loving her short weekly “GO!” podcasts. Susan releases a new episode each Monday, with the goal of helping you get your week off to a great start. Topics range from your finances to your family to your business/career. I love how these are short enough to listen to as I’m getting ready for the day, and they never fail to give me a burst of inspiration. Susan is like that funny, no-nonsense, motivating friend who gives you the honest kick-in-pants you need. I binge-listened to all of her episodes last week, and now I am kinda bummed I have to wait each week for a new one!

5. Allyn and I got our pumpkins! Fingers crossed they last till Halloween; we are planning to have a pumpkin-carving party with Allyn’s sister on Halloween day. Since I like to name EVERYTHING, I of course had to name our pumpkins. Let me introduce you to Harold and Maude! {Have you seen that movie? Such a great one.}

our pumpkins

Questions for the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What do you have on the agenda for this weekend?

fabulous friday #51: recap edition!

Hi friends, and happy Friday! Sorry for the radio silence around here the past week or so… it’s been an especially busy time, filled with lots of emotion! I thought I would make today’s Fabulous Friday post a recap version of all the neat things I’ve been grateful to experience and celebrate recently.

Happy weekend! Hope you’re up to something fun!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Memorial Day weekend was Céline’s Celebration of Life, which was basically a big party honoring her memory and celebrating the amazing, one-of-a-kind, treasure of a person she was.

celine celebration of life

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect or how I would be feeling, and while the evening was bittersweet and there were certainly tears shed, it was an overwhelmingly loving and beautiful experience. It was a gift to be with my friends from college, and to spend time talking to and connecting with other people who knew and loved Céline from all different facets of her life. The party was themed “Around the World” and I dressed up as Ireland — an excuse to wear my gold dress from college that I always associate with Céline and our college parties.

celine celebration group

me and holly

I think Céline would have really loved it. I miss her every day.

2. My 28th birthday yielded all sorts of sweet surprises. One of my students wrote me this lovely card, and another gave me a piece of her own artwork — a stunning painting of birch trees! She is nine. NINE. I am in awe.

rosalie card

birch trees painting

And my darling Dana surprised me with these gorgeous sunny tulips! They make me smile every time I walk past. Thank you, Dana! ❤

bday tulips

bday tulips 2

3. For my birthday, Allyn surprised me with a cooking class in San Francisco at Sur La Table! It was my first time ever taking a cooking class and it was so much fun. Normally the class would hold up to 16 people, but we lucked out that we were the only two people who showed up — it ended up being a “private” class just for us! I think we got to do a lot more “hands-on” cooking ourselves than we would have if it had been a full class. And when the instructor found out it was my birthday, she brought me a cupcake with a candle in it and everyone sang me “Happy Birthday.” So thoughtful!

cooking class

We learned to make grilled pizzas with homemade dough and toppings. That’s right, pizza cooked on a grill pan over your stovetop! It was much easier than I expected and turned out amazing. My favorite part was the thick, chewy crust. We made a classic margarita pizza; a Greek-influenced bell pepper and chorizo-topped pizza; and a pizza topped with seasoned lamb and mint pesto. They were all fabulous!

pizzas

Allyn had a fun time too and we are definitely hoping to take more cooking classes together in the future. Such a unique and cute date!

sur la table date

4. The evening of my birthday, my extended family gathered at my Aunt Annie’s house for dinner. It was wonderful to get to spend time with them all. As always, there was lots of laughter and storytelling around the table. And my grandma baked and decorated my birthday cake herself! Have you ever seen a more adorable cake?

birthday cake

ally and gparents

me with my aunts

me and seeeees

allyn with poodles

5. On May 30, Allyn graduated with his MBA! He has worked so hard the past two years on his degree and I could not be more proud of him. If graduating were not enough, he was also honored as the Outstanding Student of the Year, chosen by faculty and fellow students. Congrats, sweetheart!!

allyn graduating

20150530_163011

me and al graduation

Questions for the evening:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What do you have on the agenda for this weekend?

my brother’s graduation!

My brother Greg graduated with his MBA from the University of Southern California this past weekend! I am so incredibly proud of him, and it was a blessing to be able to celebrate with him and my family. Here are some photos I snapped from the weekend…

greg with parents graduation

MBA graduation

Greg got the Arete Award from USC for his academic performance, community service and leadership! So proud of all his hard work!

me and greg graduation

It wouldn’t have been a USC celebration without the marching band!

greg and classmates

I am so proud of my brother and I had a blast celebrating him and his classmates. Congrats, Greg! I love you!

Question of the morning:

  • Are you attending any graduations this year?

mt. whitney wednesday: the descent

Hi everyone! This post is part of my series the Mt. Whitney chronicles, which is comprised of journal entries from when I climbed Mt. Whitney, the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States, ten years ago. If you missed the earlier post in the series, you can read them here.

mt whitney chronicles

Saturday, July 26, 6:37 p.m.

My legs are aching and shaking. My hiking boots seem made of lead. My shoulders need an hour massage and my neck needs acupuncture treatment. My feet feel like I am walking barefoot on hot blacktop. Every step is a challenge.

And yet I feel wonderful. For now, at least, none of the pain matters. We have made it back down to Whitney Portal, to the beginning – and end – of the trail. Our journey has come full circle. We did it. We really did it!

The descent felt longer than the trip up – even though it was two hours shorter – probably because we didn’t have the anticipation and excitement of going up. My goal was to reach the summit – I didn’t even allow myself to think about the 11 miles I had to hike back down the mountain.

After five hours of hiking down, when we were so close to the end and yet still somehow so far away; when we could see the tiny distant parking lot of Whitney Portal where our car with the nice cushioned seats was waiting for us and it seemed if only we had longer arms we could just reach down through the trees and touch it; when I had been awake for fifteen hours and hiking for eleven, and I just wanted to collapse in the middle of the trail and go to sleep; it was then I started to wish we were finished already.

But the trip down was great in its own way. I tried to enjoy the beautiful scenery, and revel in the feeling of accomplishment.  Before too long we reached the half-mile mark we had hiked to yesterday, and before much longer we could see the path winding down to the parking lot below us.

Striding down that last step of the trail, I felt like an astronaut taking her first step back on Earth after a trip to the moon. I had actually made it to the top of Whitney and back again. And I have pictures for proof! I can’t wait to get the film developed and show my friends. Mom thankfully saved a few shots and a fellow hiker took our picture by the trailhead, and we bought some postcards and souvenir T-shirts from the nearby Mt. Whitney store. Other hikers smiled at us wearily with looks that said, “Congratulations!” and we smiled back, “You too!” Sinking down into the front seat of the car, I had never felt so tired and yet so happy at the same time. Mom said she felt the same way after childbirth.

As we drove away, winding down the narrow road, I looked back through the car window at the tallest mountain in the contiguous United States with the same awe and reverence I felt when I saw it for the first time. It is hard to believe that just a few hours ago, I was up at the top of that mountain. It was like a whole different world, like a dream. A dream that came true.

day before hike day

Sunday, July 27, Early

We said farewell to Lone Pine this morning and arrived back home this afternoon. It was fun driving past mountain after mountain and being able to say, “We climbed higher than that mountain! And that one! And that one!”

I slept for much of the car ride home, even though the first thing I did last night after taking a long, hot shower and wolfing down three slices of extra cheesy pizza was conk out the minute my head hit the pillow. Usually I have trouble sleeping in hotel rooms, but not last night! I guess hiking twenty-two miles is a good cure for insomnia.

It was wonderful to arrive home, with a “CONGRATULATIONS!” banner on the front door and my dad and brother waiting inside. Yet a part of me misses the wild beauty and freedom of the mountains, the quaint little Lone Pine diners, even the John Wayne memorabilia.

I brought down from Mount Whitney’s summit a small granite stone, a keepsake reminder of something less tangible that I also brought with me: a strengthened belief in myself and the confidence I can face my fears and accomplish whatever I set my mind to. It is a lesson I will carry with me, wherever my travels take me next. Even back at sea level, I still feel like I’m on top of the world.

whitney mountains