goals + recipes for the week of 6/1

It’s been a whirlwind past few days filled with wonderful birthday celebrations with friends and family, completing my 27 acts of kindness {thanks to all of you for your support!} and teaching a full day of Communications Academy classes yesterday, including final presentations by two classes — always sad to say goodbye to groups of students, but I’m hoping many of them will come back for courses in the fall.

me and al my birthday

Speaking of sad goodbyes, my sweetheart left yesterday for a summer internship in New Orleans … I’m so proud of him, but dang I miss him already! I’m looking forward to seeing him in a month when I fly out for a visit. Have any of you been to New Orleans before? Any recommendations for places to go and things to do when I’m there?

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
– write ten pages {didn’t quite make it to ten; sidetracked by a bad cold and my birthday celebrations}
– send out two query letters/submissions
complete final students evals + certificates
finish reading Wolf Hall
– go to the gym twice {sidetracked by my cold}
– complete my 27 random acts of kindness for my 27th birthday!

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write ten pages
– send out two query letters/submissions
– complete final student evals + certificates for Dublin classes
– read up to page 200 of new book
– go to the gym twice + yoga once
– connect with three friends
– write all birthday thank-yous

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
36 summer salads & sides via Two Peas & Their Pod
– kale quinoa salad via The Pajama Chef
– cauliflower curry chickpea stew via the real-life rd
{recipe redux} pork lo mein via The Lean Green Bean
– my own healthy chicken salad w/celery, cranberries & almonds

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!

happy mother’s day!!! + goals for the week of 5/11

Happy Mother’s Day, everyone! I feel so lucky that I get to spend part of today at home with my amazing mama. She is one of the sweetest, most kindhearted people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing, and getting to grow up {and, let’s be honest, I’m still learning and growing!} with her as my mom and role model feels like winning the lottery. I love you, Mom!

me and mom balloon festival

I hope that you are getting to do something extra-special to celebrate the mothers in your life today! We are making brunch for my mom: nothing fancy, just toast, bacon, fruit salad, and her favorite scrambled eggs with veggies + potatoes. {But if you’re looking for fancy, scroll down to the end of this post for some drool-worthy brunch recipes!} Here is a post I wrote a couple years ago about trying to do little things to celebrate Mother’s Day every day.

It has truly been a fantastic weekend at home with my family and friends, celebrating my cousin Julie’s wedding! Recap post coming soon, stay tuned. 🙂

In the meantime… it’s time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
– write eight pages
– send out three query letters/submissions
– finish midterm evals of students
– finish reading The Kitchen God’s Wife
– go to one yoga class
– have an amazing time celebrating Julie + Chris’s wedding!

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write ten pages
– send out three query letters/submissions
– finish midterm evals of students
– read up to page 400 in Wolf Hall
– go to two yoga classes
– connect with two friends

And here are some fantastic brunch recipes:
cornmeal waffles with blackberry compote via Two Peas & Their Pod
raspberry almond scones via Two Peas & Their Pod
blueberry multigrain french toast bake via The Pajama Chef
healthy vegan banana bread via the real-life rd
sweet potato muffins via Peanut Butter Fingers
snickerdoodle bread via Chew Out Loud
my own french toast bake based on The Pioneer Woman’s recipe {I need to make this again sometime! it was ridiculously good!}

french toast

Questions of the day:

  • How are you celebrating Mother’s 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!

fabulous friday #20

Happy TGIF! Can you believe it’s already May? I am in awe of how quickly this year is flying by. A reminder to make the most of each and every day we are blessed with!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. The gorgeous, summer-like weather we’ve been having around here … warm and sunny, the days are long, and I can sit out on the porch with a book and a glass of iced tea reading even after dinnertime. On Wednesday Allyn and I went to a Giants game and I didn’t even need a jacket! I didn’t know San Francisco EVER got that warm, especially down by the water. It was glorious! And I love the energy and happiness in the air at this time of year, like everyone is more carefree and open to the world.

giants game

2. The latest collection of short stories, The Color Master, by one of my favorite writers {and people!} Aimee Bender, author of the previous best-selling novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Aimee was my professor at USC and she is one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. She definitely was, and continues to be, a huge influence and inspiration for my own writing. I am savoring her new book–the stories are by turns delightful, dark, funny, serious, and always surprising. I would highly recommend putting this on your summer reading list!

the color master

me and aimee

3. I wrote a short story that has been published in the online literary journal Superstition Review! I’m so excited and honored to have my work featured as part of this publication I have long admired. You can read it here. {Note: the story is fictional, and a little dark/sad… just be warned!}

4. These berry + cream cheese muffins I made a few days ago and have been enjoying as breakfast, snacks, and dessert … zero refined sugar, zero white flour, and absolutely delicious! I will be sharing the recipe on here next week, stay tuned!

cream cheese muffins

5. This picture, shared by my dad on Facebook:

reason someone smiles

BONUS: Vote for my friends Mike & Bob Bryan, who are amazingly kind and generous Philanthropists of Giving and are in the running to win $100,000 for their charity! You can vote up to 3 times a day and it takes less than a minute! https://givkwik.com/campaigns/2014-asu

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 #18

It’s Friiiiiiidaaaayyy!! Hope you’re having a great one!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My new part-time job teaching writing and public speaking classes for middle school kids! I taught my first classes on Wednesday afternoon and had an absolute blast. I feel so lucky to be able to spend time teaching and building confidence in these amazing young people! I’m already getting excited to teach my seventh annual Write On! Summer Writing Camp this July.

writing camp

2. The informal “book club” that my mom and I have started. A couple years ago, my mom made it her New Year’s Resolution to read more, and she started reading every day at work during her lunch break. Now she reads dozens of novels a year and she always recommends the best books to me! I love reading and talking about books with her. It’s a great way to stay close and connected even though we live far away.

me before you

One of my favorites of the books she’s recommended is Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. This is a tear-jerker {you’ve been warned! grab the tissues!} It is such a beautiful, well-written story — and extremely hard to put down, especially once you get to know the characters! Mom recommended it to me and once I finished it I passed the book along to my Aunt Annie, who said she was reading it at her hair appointment and two other women came up to her and raved about how much they loved it. When Annie finished it she gave it to my grandma, who just finished it last night, so now she and I have been talking about it too. I think it’s safe to say that we would all highly recommend this book!

3. My cousin Arianna rocked her drama performance last night! I am so proud of her. She absolutely *shines* onstage! Here is a video I took of her singing “Seasons of Love” for the show’s finale.

arianna performing

4. Speaking of great singers: Sara Bareilles’ new single “I Choose You” has been bopping around on the radio {and in my head!} all week. Oh my goodness, you guys, I can’t get enough of this song! It’s so catchy. Love her.

5. Baseball season! I had such a great time at the A’s game last weekend with Allyn & his family. Sunshine + hot dog + A’s win = happiness!

a's game

Now I’m off to tackle my to-do list before the weekend! Have a wonderful day, everyone!

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for this weekend?
  • Have you read any good books lately?

fabulous friday #17

Happy TGIF, friends! I hope you have fun plans in store for this spring weekend!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My incredibly supportive, thoughtful and generous friends and family. I’m still on Cloud Nine after my Steinbeck Fellows reading on Wednesday night! My mom and grandparents came, as did Dana and her sweet mom Lynn, and Allyn took time out of his busy schedule to be there.

me and gparents reading

with dana and lynn

with allyn at reading

2. My dad. Yeah, he gets his own number 🙂 Some of you might remember when I had my first Steinbeck Fellows reading back in December, and he drove up with me after Thanksgiving to be there {and we also went to a wonderful talk by documentary filmmaker Ken Burns the next night!} Well, the arrangement was that he would stay home this time to take care of Mr. Mur-dog, while my mom came to the reading to support me.

Looking back now, I probably should have expected him to do what he did. Here are two facts about my dad: 1) He loves surprises; and 2) He has never missed a single performance or big event of mine, not even back in second grade when I was the lead in our class play and he came to ALL four performances even though it meant he had to miss a big event for work.

mom and dad reading

So there I was on Wednesday night, chatting with people at the dinner in the Steinbeck Center before the reading, when I felt two familiar hands over my eyes… I turned, not able to believe it. My dad! That was one of the best hugs of my life.

My dad drove 5+ hours to surprise me and be there for my reading! And then after the reading he turned back around and drove the 5+ hours home so Mr. Mur-dog wouldn’t be left alone overnight. He said simply, “You know I couldn’t have missed your big night!” It was such an incredible surprise — a memory I will always look back on and cherish. I love you, Daddy!

with dad steinbeck reading

3. These beautiful flowers that Dana and her mom gave me. They are brightening up the kitchen, making me smile every time I walk by!

flowers from dana

4. This video made me cry in a good way: http://www.upworthy.com/a-pregnant-woman-learns-her-baby-has-down-syndrome-people-who-have-it-answer-her-one-big-question-2

5. And this new Ingrid Michaelson song always makes me smile & dance in the car: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsvKT8vsgF4

Today is shaping up to be a “taking care of business” workday, which will balance out the all-play-and-hardly-any-work plans I have for the weekend. Looking forward to spending time with friends, putting in quality time on my yoga mat, and soaking up some sunshine at the A’s game on Sunday!

Questions of the morning:

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

goals for the week of 3/16

Hi everyone! Hope you’re having a lovely weekend so far! I’m heading out to drop off my friend Michelle at the airport {I’m going to miss her a LOT while she’s gone the next three weeks for a work training! boo!} and then I’m heading out for lunch with this lovely lady and our men to try a new-to-me burger place called The Counter. Apparently they give you a clipboard and you get to select from all different choices of meat, cheeses, and toppings to build your own perfect burger. Here’s predicting there will be guacamole involved in my order. {And, knowing me, there will probably be guac on my face as well.}

But before I take off … it’s goals time!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
– write 15 pages {perhaps 15 was a bit too ambitious, but I did write a solid 10 pages, so I’m still counting it a win!}
submit three pieces to journals
– go to two yoga classes {I made it to three, hooray!}
finish reading The Empty House by Nathan Oates
– connect with three friends
take Arianna out for a coffee date

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write 12 pages
– submit essay to Chicken Soup for the Soul
– go to two yoga classes
– finish reading through three lit journals from my AWP stash
– connect with three friends
– have a wonderful visit with my dad and Greg!!

Aaaaand, bringing back the meal planning… here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
black bean quinoa enchilada bake & spinach artichoke quinoa bake via Two Peas & Their Pod
paleo peppermint doughnuts w/coconut frosting via Davida @The Healthy Maven
strawberry chocolate-chip cookie bars via Sarah @The Pajama Chef
pretty much all of these things rounded up by Robyn @the real-life rd

Questions of the morning:

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

goals for the week of 3/9

I have one question for all of you: where did the weekend go??? Hard to believe it’s already Monday. I hope you have great things in store for the week! On my agenda: a fellows meeting in San Jose, a reading to celebrate the launch of the latest issue of Arroyo Literary Review, some church events, and hopefully lots & lots of writing! I came back from the AWP conference last week feeling super inspired and bursting with writing ideas, and I’m trying to harness as much energy and time as possible to get words down on paper.

Speaking of which, it’s time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
– write 10 pages
send AWP thank-you notes
– go to two yoga classes
read & comment on story for fellows workshop next week
– finish reading The Empty House by Nathan Oates
– connect with three friends

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write 15 pages
– submit three pieces to journals
– go to two yoga classes
– finish reading The Empty House by Nathan Oates
– connect with three friends
– take Arianna out for a coffee date

Before I wrap this up, I want to give a birthday shout-out to my wonderful friend Erica. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEETS! ❤ I love you more than our sixth-grade selves loved Johnny Depp & Britney Spears.

baby photobomb

The infamous photo-bombing baby shot from Ghiradelli Square!

Questions of the morning:

  • What are your goals for this week?
  • What were your highlights of this past weekend?

goals for the week of 3/2

Hi, friends! I’m back from my trip to Seattle! Such a whirlwind, jam-packed, inspiring, informative, amazing time. Lots of late nights + early mornings because I didn’t want to miss a thing. It felt so good to collapse into my own bed last night — I slept like a rock! Woke up late this morning and have spent the day nourishing my body with green smoothies + green tea, unpacking my suitcase, doing laundry, and trying to staunch the craziness that is my overflowing email inbox.

But … backtrack to last week. Janet and I enjoyed a gorgeous sunny day exploring San Francisco! I love walking down by the water. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I actually live in this postcard-perfect place.

20140223_114400 20140223_114410

We met up for dinner with some of Janet’s grad-school friends who happen to live in SF now — small world! They were so friendly, fun and welcoming. On Monday, Janet came with me to San Jose because I was speaking to an undergraduate creative writing class. The students were thoughtful and attentive and asked lots of questions. They made my miss my former students at Purdue. I love teaching! That night Janet and I met up for vegan cuisine with an old friend from USC who now lives in San Jose, and it was wonderful to catch up. And on Tuesday we got together with Allyn, Michelle and Dana! I love when friends visit and get to meet other friends, when it feels like the different facets of your life are briefly able to coalesce.

That, in fact, was my favorite part of going to the AWP conference … it was a reunion of writers! I got to see friends from my undergrad days at USC, my grad school days at Purdue, and a conference I went to in Key West last year. Each night the final item on the conference agenda was a dance party, and it was such a unique brand of happiness of be able to spend a couple hours dancing my little heart out, surrounded by people I love who have inspired me at all different points of my writing journey. The hardest part was saying goodbye on Sunday! Even writing this, my eyes are misting a little bit. But as Dr. Seuss would say, “Don’t cry because it’s over — smile because it happened.” It’s a blessing and a privilege to miss people because it means I have so many amazing people in my life to miss!

The conference was so busy with lectures, seminars and events that I didn’t have too much time to explore the city, but I did make it to Seattle’s famous market — and the original Starbucks across the street! Yummm, soy chai.

seattle market

My friend Tera had a book-signing for the launch of her beautiful collection of poetry, Reading the Ground. I am bursting with pride for her!

tera booksigning

me and tera

I’ll be posting more conference recap and nuts-and-bolts writing thoughts on my other blog over these next couple weeks. Now it’s time for a goals recap!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past 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 {sign of a super-busy week: I couldn’t make it to my Tuesday yoga class before I left for Seattle!}
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}

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write 10 pages
– send AWP thank-you notes
– go to two yoga classes
– read & comment on story for fellows workshop next week
– finish reading The Empty House by Nathan Oates
– connect with three friends

Questions of the morning:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What have been your highlights of this weekend?
  • What was the last trip you took?

goals for the week of 2/2

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! I hope you have fun plans for today. I’m off to church soon, but before I go … it’s goals time! 🙂

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
write 10 pages
– finish new short story I’m working on
go to two yoga classes {I made it to three!}
complete two chapters of copyediting project {It was a great copyediting week… I made it through four chapters!}
– finish reading all of the old Narrative Stories of the Week in my email inbox {read five of these stories + got into two excellent short story collections, Orientation by Daniel Orozco and Power Ballads by Will Boast}
connect with three friends

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write 10 pages
– finish new short story I’m working on
– go to two yoga classes
– mail Valentines
– complete two chapters of copyediting project
– start final fellowship application, due Feb. 28
– finish reading all of the old Narrative Stories of the Week in my email inbox and Orientation by Daniel Orozco
– connect with three friends

Questions of the morning:

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