fabulous friday #38

Happy Friday! You know what this means, right?¬†One week till Halloween!! Do you have any ghoul-tastic plans yet? {Haha, someone is obviously a liiittle too hyped up on caffeine right now… sorry!} Earl Grey before yoga + post-yoga endorphins + pumpkin chai latte from Starbucks after yoga = this version of me you are hearing from right now ūüôā

Moving right along… this weekend, Allyn and I are going pumpkin-patching {don’t know if that’s actually a verb, but it is now} and I’m planning to hit up a craft store for a couple last-minute touches for my Halloween costume. If you’re looking for an easy, fun Halloween costume but don’t have any ideas, feel free to¬†check out this post with some costumes that have worked well for me in the past!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. This beautiful autumn bouquet from ProFlowers that arrived on my doorstep a couple days ago from my incredibly sweet and thoughtful dad! He sent them just because he was thinking of me and wanted to send some sunshine my way. How amazing is that? I am the luckiest daughter on the planet. I miss you, Daddy!

autumn flowers from dad

2. My favorite dessert of late: peanut butter toast topped with mini chocolate chips!

pb toast

3.¬†Every time this song comes on the radio I do a little happy dance: “Riptide” by Vance Joy.

4.¬†This heart-wrenchingly¬†beautiful and wise short essay my brother wrote for HuffPost called¬†The Girl Effect and My Grandmother. Read it, and believe me — you’ll be glad you did! Here’s a teaser:

“The agony of these missing parts applies not only to our deceased loved ones — it applies to when we allow fear to dampen courage; ignorance to imprison knowledge; and hatred to overwhelm love.”

5. My grandma’s soup. Her chicken tortilla soup just might be my favorite, but she also makes a mean split pea and curried lentil + barley. I’ll try to get the recipes for those latter two up on here soon!

grandma tortilla soup.jpg

Oh yeah, and one more thing that might explain why I’m feeling so dang happy and excited … I FINISHED MY NOVEL!!!

finished novel doc

Happy weekend, friends! Sending lots of love & joy your way! Thanks for stopping by my little corner of the blogosphere. It means a lot to me ūüôā

Questions of the day:

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

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?

fabulous friday #36

Happy Friday, friends! I can’t believe it’s the start of another weekend again already. Although, Saturdays are actually my heaviest load teaching-wise — four classes back-to-back-to-back-to-back! — so Fridays for me are spent prepping and gearing up for a whirlwind of energetic kiddos! My “weekends” actually fall on Mondays and Tuesdays right now {those are the only two days when I don’t have any teaching or tutoring commitments.} However, even though teaching can be exhausting, I love it and I love my students. Plus, Allyn is taking me out to dinner & a comedy show tomorrow night, so I’ll be looking forward to that all day!

How is your day going so far? Mine is flying by! I slept in a little later than I intended this morning {guess my body needed it! I’m all about following Robyn’s advice and listening to your body, which means sleeping in if you are able to when your body craves more rest} … so I downed a quick smoothie breakfast of banana + pineapple + mango + bluebs + spinach while getting ready this morning. Then I scurried off for two private tutoring sessions. The students are out of school today for a teacher workday, so I was able to schedule my tutoring sessions for the morning¬†instead of the afternoon as I usually do. Sometimes the kids get {understandably} a little tired or cranky in the afternoon when I see them after they’ve already had a long day of school, so this morning they seemed extra-energetic and ready to write! {By the way, if you’re a parent or teacher or looking for some fun writing activities to do with kids, check out this post I wrote for Parent Grapevine with some tried-and-true ideas I use frequently!}

On my way home, I popped by Safeway in an attempt to get my flu shot, but after waiting in a long line I was informed they no longer take my insurance, so I have to go to Walgreens or Rite-Aid instead. It was a little frustrating, but I also am petrified of getting shots so I will admit a part of me was relieved to put it off for a little longer ūüôā

Now I’m back home, hoping to get some productive writing done this afternoon. Before I get down to work, time for Fabulous Friday!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Honeycrisp apples! They’re baaaaack! As my cousin Makena said in amazement when we split one the other day, “These things taste like CANDY.” Yeah they do! My favorite snack of the moment is a sliced honeycrisp apple, half topped with pb and the other half topped with Justin’s maple almond butter. I could eat this allll daaaaay.

honeycrisp apples

2. On Wednesday night, I gave a reading in San Jose at the Flash Fiction Forum event. It was so much fun! Such a warm, engaged and welcoming crowd. I always get nervous before giving a reading, but my nerves melted away as soon as I looked out at the crowd and saw all the interested expressions and smiling faces. I wore what I refer to as my New Orleans dress, because I got it for my trip to visit Allyn in New Orleans this past summer.

nola dress

Another thing I love about attending public readings is meeting other writers! I was excited to get a signed copy of fellow reader Kevin Sharp‘s YA novel After¬†Dakota… I’ve only finished the first couple chapters, but I’m already hooked!

after dakota book

3.¬†When kitchen fails actually turn into something yummy. Earlier this week,¬†I was intending to make butterscotch chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies, but when the oven timer sounded I was greeted with these monstrous things… much bigger and thicker¬†than your ordinary cookie! After trying one, I¬†realized they are not cookies, they are scones! So I’ve been enjoying them for breakfast. They’re delicious plain, with nutbutter, or with jam. I’ll be sharing the recipe soon, after¬†I test it out again!

scones

4.¬†This is a stunning blog post — beautifully written, heart-rending, brought me to tears:¬†http://witandwhimsy.onsugar.com/Watching-Dad-Watch-Flames-6584225

5. When I was at the grocery store, I was not able to get my flu shot, but I WAS able to score some pumpkin baking ingredients on sale! I wanted to load my basket down with cans and cans and cans of pumpkin, but I restrained myself. Can’t wait to bake a pumpkin pie and to try out some of the fantastic pumpkin recipes on Two Peas & Their Podpumpkin snickerdoodles, perhaps?

pumpkin

And, that’s a wrap! In addition to dinner with Allyn tomorrow night, this weekend I’m also looking forward to family time, helping out with the church service on Sunday, a much-anticipated long-overdue catch-up date with Dana, and cozying up under a blanket with some tea and a good book.

Questions of the day:

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

saturday upsides: the small, ordinary pleasures of home

Happy weekend, everyone! It’s time to celebrate Saturday Upsides!

saturdayupsidesbutton

Yesterday, I was reading a lovely collection of short stories, Who’s Irish? by Gish Jen, and I came across this quote about life as a mother and homemaker that really struck a chord with me. Maybe it will for you, too!

whos irish cover
“It was absurd to be made happy by this small shared anticipation. Before the table actually got set, there had to be an argument about whose turn it was. How could this make Pammie happy? But it did, even as it drove her batty. She liked her busy boredom, too, if only because it readied her for the moment when Adam presented Inka with a rattle shaped like a football, or when Phoebe invented her own version of Duck, Duck, Goose: House, House, Home, this was called. You had to be a little bored to have those moments break over you the way they could. But if you sat waiting in a good dark night, they opened and opened like a brand of newfangled fireworks that lit the clouds, and the ground below, too, and all the faces turned upward, then fell with a sparkling rush right into your hands.”

– an excerpt from the story “House, House, Home” from the collection Who’s Irish by Gish Jen

I treasure the small, ordinary moments of life at home with those I love!

What are your upsides this weekend?

saturday upsides: special delivery to the nursing home

saturdayupsidesbutton

Happy Saturday, everyone! So we all survived the end of the world … hooray! There’s an upside right there. ūüėČ

Another upside: today is my brother’s 23rd birthday! Happy birthday, Greg!!

happy bday gb

We are going out to brunch, per our special sibling tradition, and we’ll be going out to dinner as a family. I’m excited to celebrate the birthday of my amazing brother! My first-ever memory is when he was born. I was two-and-a-half years old and I just remember standing in the living room of our old house, telling my mom to “Call Daddy, call Daddy!” My dad was at work and my mom was home with what she thought was the flu {it was two weeks before her expected due date} when her water broke … my dad rushed home and we just barely made it to the hospital in time! My family always jokes that I almost delivered my brother that day!

do good feel good

My final upside for this lovely Saturday is based on the idea “Do good, feel good.” There’s nothing like those warm-fuzzies you get when you feel like you did something nice for someone else — I find it especially powerful during the holiday season. It means so much to feel like I could make someone’s holiday a little brighter!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately of my friend Jewell, who passed away two years ago in February. She was an incredibly sweet and compassionate person and I used to visit her at the local nursing home, where we shared many meals and long conversations. Here we are about a year before she died:

me and jewell

And here she is wearing a scarf I made her for Christmas:

jewell

I used to enjoy making Jewell homemade Christmas gifts and cards, and last Christmas {the first once since her death} I really missed her. This year, I had an idea: I could still give a gift to Jewell by doing something kind for others in her memory.

So I whipped up a batch of sweet treats {my butterscotch pudding cookies & holiday white chocolate pretzels!} and spent an hour making homemade cards. I used crayons, stamps, stickers, and markers to make my own designs, and I also “upcycled” some Christmas cards we’d received in previous years by cutting off the front picture and gluing it to a new piece of cardstock to make a new card.

more cards

more cards 2

I made sixteen cards in total. Then I packed up some treats on a plate, gathered all my cards together, and headed out to the nursing home for a Yuletide delivery!

special delivery!

I could feel Jewell’s warm spirit with me as I delivered the cards and cookies to the nursing home residents. They were so happy and waved and hugged me and said, “Thank you!” and “Merry Christmas!” I hope Jewell was looking down and smiling.

Want to do a similar project in your town? Here are some examples of notes I wrote in the cards:

  • Hope your holiday season is filled with joy and peace! Love, a friend
  • Someone is thinking of you this holiday season and sending warm wishes your way!
  • Merry Christmas! Have a wonderful season filled with warm memories, hope and love!

Now I’m off to finish wrapping Greg’s birthday gifts! ūüôā Have a fantastic day!

saturday upsides: even chores have silver linings

Happy Saturday! I can’t believe how quickly this Thanksgiving weekend is flying by. We’re having a wonderful time visiting Mike’s family, and it’s been a nice mix of productive work time, relaxing lazy time, Christmas shopping time, family time, and of course eating yummy food time! I need to do a bit more grading before we head back to school on Monday … I tend to put grading at the bottom of my to-do list {maybe because I really dislike giving bad grades and sometimes I simply have to.} The great students more than make up for it, though. Which brings me to my topic for today’s Saturday Upside, linked up with Bonnie at Recipes Happen:

even chores have silver linings

We all have those chores we don’t like to do, those small tasks that we procrastinate on. For me it’s grading and cleaning the bathroom. Mike really dislikes doing laundry. Another friend of mine hates doing the dishes.

But the thing I’ve learned about procrastinating is that it just makes the dreaded chore bigger than it needs to be. It gives it power by letting it take up your brain space. The dread of what needs to be done later taints the present time, which is time spent doing other things you do enjoy. And then, when you finally do get around to completing whatever it was you were procrastinating on, don’t you often think, I guess that wasn’t so bad/didn’t take so long/wasn’t as difficult as I was expecting? It happens to me a lot. It would be so much better if I would just bite the bullet and complete the chore before the procrastination lethargy settles in!

Something that helps me is to try to find the silver lining even in life’s chores. Maybe that means putting on my favorite new CD or Pandora playlist and dancing while I clean the bathroom. Mike folds laundry while watching one of his favorite TV shows. Even washing the dishes could be time spent daydreaming about your dream vacation or mentally plotting out your Christmas list or listening to an intriguing podcast or audiobook. Hate to exercise? Call a friend and have a catch-up chat while you walk around the neighborhood. Or power-walk around the mall while you window-shop!

“Silver linings” can also be mini-rewards you give yourself. Like I said, I have lots of terrific students, and I often save the papers from my best students for the end of my grading stack, as a little reward for me at the end. {It always makes me so happy and proud to see my students trying their best and shining with their work!} Maybe you could break chores up with little treats: a good cup of coffee or tea, a chapter of the great book you’re reading, a square of dark chocolate, a game of fetch with your dog, a phone call to a friend. It also helps me to think about the end goal of whatever I’m doing: the students I hope I am helping become better writers, for example; or how important it is to keep the bathroom clean and wiped down to stay healthy, especially during the winter cold/flu season!

And sometimes it helps to get down to the basics: if I feel annoyed at having to clean my apartment, I’ll remind myself how lucky I am to have a place to call my own. On those days I don’t feel like getting up and going to work, I think instead about all the people who are trying so hard to find work, and how lucky I am to have a job to get up and go to!

What could be the silver linings in some of your least favorite chores or tasks?