fabulous friday #37

Happy Friday! I’m off to my favorite morning yoga class, then hoping to get a good writing session in at Starbucks before lunch, and then this afternoon I’m tutoring some really sweet kiddos. The rest of the evening will be spent hanging out with my grandparents and resting up for my crazy day tomorrow!

My Saturday = a full day of teaching + an evening reading in San Francisco for Arroyo Literary Review as part of the awesome Litquake events going on throughout the city + meeting up with Allyn and his MBA classmates for a “dare-e-oke night” fundraiser for their humanitarian trip to Kenya. {Any good karaoke song suggestions??}

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. This wise message on my green tea bag this morning, which reminds me of the namaste principle in yoga class:

tea message

2. The new NBC romantic comedy sitcom A to Z. You guys, it’s only been three episodes but this show is already something I look forward to in my week! If I were to write a TV show, I have a feeling it would be something like this. The show centers around Andrew and Zelda {get it? A to Z!} and chronicles their relationship from when they first meet. The episodes are organized by letter, for example the first one was “A for Acquaintances.” It’s a really clever and funny show, and I love the characters! I even got Allyn to watch an episode with me the other night, and he laughed out loud a couple times. My brother texted me after watching the first episode: Oh sweet Jesus this is a Dallas show! Haha. What can I say? I love love!

3. The pumpkin-pie fail that happened in my kitchen this week. I’m not exactly grateful for this disaster of a pie — something happened and it never really set, but the top layer sort of burned and peeled off the pie! Has that ever happened to anyone else? I followed my favorite recipe the same as I always do, but obviously something went wrong. The only thing I can think of is that I made it in a different oven than I usually do {I made it for Allyn at his place}… but other than that, I’m clueless! I need to make another one soon to make up for this pie.

gross pumpkin pie

However, the thing I LOVED about this pie was my sweetheart’s reaction. It was my first time ever making him a pie, and it smelled so good baking in the oven, filling the kitchen with spice and autumn. Anticipation was high! But then I took it out of the oven, and there was a huge air bubble on the top — the pie was like a dome, and as it cooled the dome deflated. It reminded me of that scene in Christmas Vacation when they cut into the delicious-looking turkey and it immediately shrivels up. Anyway, I knew right away that something was not right with this pie. I peeled off the top burnt layer and the insides were this mushy texture. So disappointing!

I’ll be honest: I was upset. And embarrassed. And confused. I was about ready to pitch this pie out the window! But Allyn just hugged me and said, “It’ll be fine! It’s still gonna taste delicious!” And when the pie cooled, over my protests, he cut himself a big slice and finished every bite.

We spent the rest of the night laughing about this pie. Now it’s actually a funny memory, and yet another reminder of why I feel so grateful and happy to be with this man.

4. This quote and beautiful photo from Courtney Carver at Be More With Less:

5. For my birthday, my friends Allyson & Henry got me a subscription to a superb and innovative literary magazine, McSweeney’s. Yesterday my first issue arrived! This issue is designed as a bunch of small pamphlets so it’s easy to just grab a story and slip it into my purse when I’m on the go. I’m so excited to dig into it this weekend!

mcsweeneys

mcsweeneys

Questions of the day:

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

oven-roasted pumpkin seeds

Happy Tuesday! As promised in an earlier post, I have a quick & easy recipe to share with you today: oven-roasted pumpkin seeds. If you are someone like me who does not like to waste anything, this is a great way to get the most bang for your buck out of your carved Halloween pumpkins!

carved pumpkins

After you’ve scooped out all those slimy pumpkin guts, why not roast up the pumpkin seeds for a healthy and delicious snack or salad-topper? Pumpkin seeds are a terrific source of zinc, vitamin e, and a wealth of antioxidants!

oven-roasted pumpkin seeds

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. Rinse the seeds clean of all pumpkin goop.

cleaning seeds

3. Dry the seeds on a paper towel.

4. In a small bowl, stir 2 tbsp butter or coconut oil with the seeds until they are well-greased.

5. Spread out the seeds in one layer on the baking sheet. {We had enough pumpkin seeds to do two separate batches.}

seeds to bake

6. Season however your heart desires! We did one sweet batch {pumpkin pie spice + cinnamon} and one savory batch {garlic salt + ground pepper.}

7. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until seeds begin to turn golden brown at edges. Be careful not to overcook the seeds, because they burn quickly! Roasting pumpkin seeds reminded me a lot of cooking popcorn, where things can go from delicious –> disastrous in a very short time frame.

roasted pumpkin seeds

ENJOY! 🙂

year of kindness challenge: week 36

year of kindness button

Happy Monday, friends! How was your weekend? It was H-O-T here in Danville … you can bet I’ve been drinking a ton of smoothies and iced tea! This weekend I went with my grandparents to see Eugene O’Neill’s play “Anna Christie” and it was fantastic! The actors were so talented and the writing was superb. It was very inspiring to me, as I’ve lately been working on a full-length play of my own.

Even though it still feels like summer, since it is now officially September and football season has begun and the pumpkin-flavored drinks are back at Starbucks, on Saturday I decided to bake my first pumpkin pie! It turned out great {much better than my disastrous pie that longtime blog readers might remember from last autumn, haha.} I also had a lovely lunch at CPK with my aunt and cousin, and yesterday I went to another cousin’s soccer game — she scored two goals! I was bursting with pride. It’s such a blessing to get to spend lots of time with my extended family.

This past week’s kindness challenge was to compliment a salesman to his or her manager. I went shopping at Whole Foods for the first time {after reading for months now about how amazing WF is on Robyn’s lovely blog The Real Life RD} and a very nice saleswoman helped me find coconut flour. When I told her it was my first time shopping at Whole Foods and that I’ve recently started going gluten-free, she also helpfully pointed out other gluten-free products. So I made sure to catch her name, and before I left I spoke to the manager about how wonderful she was. It took all of two minutes, and it certainly gave my day a boost!

That simple act of kindness also made me think about how often the feedback we give to others, especially in corporate or business situations, is negative. I think most of us are more likely to go through the trouble of contacting a company with a complaint or write a product review warning others not to purchase the product than we are to give compliments or positive reviews. So, the Week 36 Kindness Challenge is to fill out a feedback form with five star ratings, write a positive review of a book or product you love, or even call that “How am I driving?” phone number on the back of a semi-truck and rave about the truck driver’s wonderful driving skills. 

Here’s a related quote that my dad sent to me that I absolutely love:

“You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world’s happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.” — Dale Carnegie

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn <AT> gmail <DOT> com.

Have a fun-filled Monday!
– Dallas

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year of kindness archives:
– week 1 challenge: donate items to those in need
– week 2 challenge: leave quarters & note at laundry machine
– week 3 challenge: write & send a kind handwritten note
– week 4 challenge: give hot chocolate to someone outside in the cold
– week 5 challenge: do something kind for a neighbor
– week 6 challenge: deliver valentines to a nursing home
– week 7 challenge: donate to a food pantry
– week 8 challenge: donate toiletries to a shelter
– week 9 challenge: post a kind note in a public place
– week 10 challenge: do something kind for a child
– week 11 challenge: thank someone in a genuine & meaningful way
– week 12 challenge: deliver baked goods to a fire station
– week 13 challenge: give someone flowers
– week 14 challenge: donate books
– week 15 challenge: reach out and spend time with people
– week 16 challenge: smile at everyone you meet
– week 17 challenge: pick up litter/trash
– week 18 challenge: write a kind note to a mom figure in your life
– week 19 challenge: leave an extra-generous tip
– week 20 challenge: donate blood/join bone marrow registry
– week 21 challenge: visit a cemetery and pay respect
– week 22 challenge: practice a little patience
– week 23 challenge: call 3 loved ones on the phone
– week 24 challenge: do something kind for a senior citizen
– week 25 challenge: pay for someone’s public transportation
– week 26 challenge: volunteer at a food pantry or soup kitchen
– week 27 challenge: send a care package to someone in the military
– week 28 challenge: give at least one compliment every day
– week 29 challenge: do a favor for someone else
– week 30 challenge: scatter lucky pennies around a playground
– week 31 challenge: mail an empowering postcard
– week 32 challenge: plant something
– week 33 challenge: donate school supplies
– week 34 challenge: give a sandwich to a homeless person
week 35 challenge: compliment a salesperson to their manager

perfect pumpkin pie

Happy weekend, everyone! Sorry that I didn’t get a pumpkin recipe up yesterday … with Greg coming into town and my GRE test this morning, it kind of slipped by the wayside. But I’m happy to report that Pumpkin Week is back today!

I shared in a post last month that I made a delicious pumpkin pie … and that I also made a disaster of a pumpkin pie! Seriously, it was pretty gross. It never seemed fully cooked, so I kept putting it back in the oven for longer and longer, and then the top started to kind of peel away from the rest of the {still-uncooked-seeming} pumpkin mixture. Imagine a creme brulee or pudding sort of thing happening, only on pumpkin pie.

Not. Good.

I was so disheartened I didn’t even take pictures of it. The bad embarrassed blogger in me just tossed it into the trash. I wish now I would have taken pictures so I could have shown it to you. {Thanks to Bonnie at Recipes Happen for encouraging all of us to embrace our mistakes, laugh about them, and learn from them!} Alas, I did not take pictures, so you’ll just have to imagine it and take my word that it was baaaaad.

Here’s what I think happened: I tried substituting truvia for the sugar, and something about that mixture didn’t work out. I don’t know if I added too much of it, or too little, or if just my pie happened to be unlucky, or what. Have any of you tried baking with a sugar substitute like truvia or splenda? Any tips or advice? As you know, I’m always trying to find ways to make recipes healthier! But maybe sometimes, like in the case of pumpkin pie, it’s best to stick with the basics. 😉

I’ve also tried making pumpkin pie with both evaporated milk and sweetened condensed milk, and I must say that I like the sweetened condensed version better. It’s a little creamier texture-wise, and has a good balance of sweetness and pumpkiny goodness. My latest experiment has been trying reduced fat sweetened condensed milk, which I’m happy to report tasted just as delicious with fewer calories! Hooray for small victories.

In the past I’ve always used pre-made graham cracker crust from the grocery store  but in the future I’m hoping to try making my own graham cracker crust {or even my own graham crackers after being inspired by this post by Jill at Reini Days!} I’ll keep you posted! I also am very generous with spices, particularly cinnamon. If you’re not the biggest cinnamon fan, you might adjust the spices to fit your tastes.

perfect pumpkin pie

– 1 graham cracker crust {I like the reduced fat version just fine}
– 1 can pumpkin
– 1 can reduced fat sweetened condensed milk
– 2 eggs
– 1 tsp vanilla
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tsp nutmeg
– 1/2 tsp cloves
– 1/2 tsp ginger
– 1/2 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Combine pumpkin with spices and vanilla.

3. Beat eggs and add to pumpkin mixture.

4. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat well.

5. Pour pie filling into graham cracker crust.

6. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then turn oven down to 350 degrees and bake for another 40-45 minutes, until a knife inserted in the center of the pie comes out clean.

Serve with whipped cream on top for the perfect pie experience!

YUM! I love pumpkin pie.

I’m in the mood for celebrating now that my GRE exam is over … hooray for the weekend! 🙂 Hope you are having a wonderful day!

-Dallas