fabulous friday #42

Happy Friday, friends! Hope you’re having a good one!

It’s a typical Friday for me… this morning I headed to one of my fave yoga classes, now I’m getting some work done on the computer, and later this afternoon I’m tutoring a few great kiddos.

We have been getting LOTS of rain here the past couple days… they say it’s one of the biggest storms we’ve had here in five years! Fortunately we are all safe and sound here. If it’s stormy and bad-weathered where you are, please be safe!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. The Lucy Hale song “Mistletoe.” It’s been bopping around in my head off and on since I heard her sing it on the “CMA Country Christmas” TV program, and this week I finally went and ordered it on iTunes. Love it!

2. This interesting and thorough article Allyn sent me with tips for staying calm and managing stress {especially useful in this often-stressful holiday season}: https://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140805002649-50578967-how-successful-people-stay-calm

3. Speaking of the holidays, here are two socially impactful, beautiful gift ideas if you are doing some holiday shopping:

4. I’ve been craving veggies — carrots, celery, bell peppers, kale — even more than usual lately. For example: last night, I sliced up half a bell pepper as part of my dinner, and ended up going back to the fridge and polishing off the rest of the pepper later that night as a snack! I’ve never craved bell pepper before, but there you have it! I believe our bodies tell us what they need, so I’ve been riding the veg-tastic train all week. This is an interesting NPR article about how what you eat affects your mood: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/07/14/329529110/food-mood-connection-how-you-eat-can-amp-up-or-tamp-down-stress?

5. This quinoa veggie salad from Costco. Tomatoes, cucumber, bell pepper, lentils, beans, quinoa — healthy, light and filling. It’s made a great quick lunch on a couple days this week when time got away from me and I was a little rushed to get out the door.

quinoa salad

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone! I’m gonna leave you with this beautiful John Gardner quote my brother sent me:

greg quote

Questions of the day:

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

fabulous friday #41

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve done a fabulous friday post… feels good to be back into more of a regular blogging schedule, after the Thanksgiving craziness! 🙂

My day so far has been a great one… restorative morning yoga class, pumpkin spice chai latte at Starbucks, phone chat with my brother, a few errands checked off my list {including the Post Office, which was much less crowded than I was anticipating! Don’t you love when that happens?} This afternoon I have a couple tutoring appointments, and then tonight I’m getting together with my beautiful-inside-and-out friend Dana for dinner. I haven’t seen her in a month and I’m so excited to catch up!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Raaaaaaain! We have finally been getting some rain here in California, and it is so wonderful!

rainy days

We’re singing and dancing like Gene Kelly around here 🙂 I love drizzly winter days when it feels so cozy to be snuggled up inside, sipping a mug of tea while cookies bake in the oven… which leads me to…

2. I made a holiday version of my pumpkin-spice chocolate kiss cookies! I used the same chocolate cake-mix cookie base, and then instead of a pumpkin spice Hershey’s kiss I topped them each with a candy-cane Hershey’s kiss. The classic peppermint + chocolate combo is a winner, plus they look so darn cute!

peppermint kiss cookies

3. While we’re on the subject of holiday treats, I picked up this black-and-white drizzle kettle corn as an impulse buy at Safeway, and it’s become my go-to dessert. For fellow sweet-and-salty lovers and chocoholics out there, this is right up your alley! I love that it’s made with non-GMO corn and has no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives; no high-fructose corn syrup; and zero cholesterol or trans fats. The grocery checker told me there is also a peanut butter & chocolate version that I am going to keep my eye out for.

holiday kettle corn

drizzle kettle corn

4. This quote from Whitney at sometimes.always.never reflecting on the past year — I feel very similar to the way 2014 unfolded for me:

“It was a year of small, beautiful changes that probably don’t look like a ton to an outsider, but that meant a lot to me. It was a year of personal growth and risks, reflection and change. It was a year of countless little moments that added up to a whole year that turned out to be really beautiful.”

5. I brought back the chocolate advent calendar this year! Greg and I used to get these every year as kids and I have such fond memories of opening them together each morning before school. A couple weeks ago, I spotted chocolate advent calendars when I was at Trader Joe’s, and I grabbed one. {Actually, two — I got one for Allyn, too!}

advent calendar

It brings a smile to my face every morning to see what shape of Christmas chocolate I will get that day. Sometimes it’s the little things, right?

And that’s all for now. Have a delightful weekend, everyone!

Questions of the day:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for the weekend?
  • Do you get a chocolate advent calendar?

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 🙂

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 🙂

Questions of the day:

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

fabulous friday #22

Happy TGIF, friends! I have one of those jam-packed, busy weekends on the agenda … I’m excited about all the fun things on my calendar these next two days, but maybe all that looming activity explains why I’ve felt so sluggish today. I’m just having a hard time getting up and moving, which is unusual for me. I’m taking it as my body’s cue that I need a little rest. Could also be this heat wave we are having … I’ve been chugging water and Gatorade like nobody’s business, but it can still be difficult to stay adequately hydrated!

Moving right along…

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Justin’s Maple Almond Butter. Omg you guys, I don’t know why I’m so late to jump on the bandwagon, but I can’t get enough of this stuff. I love it on toast, on celery, on apples, on carrots, by itself on a spoon…

justin's maple almond butter

2. This inspiring and honest post by one of my favorite bloggers, Nicole @ A Life Less Bullsh*t, about fear & procrastination.

3. My new haircut! I don’t know if any of you could tell from the photos I posted earlier from Julie’s wedding, but I got a couple inches trimmed off the ends. Not a big change, but it feels so much healthier. I love the light, summertime feel of a new haircut. {Cute side note: one of my 8-year-old students even noticed and complimented me on it. So sweet! Made my day.}

haircut.jpg

4. Lee Brice’s new song “I Don’t Dance.” Makes me tear up every time it comes on the radio.

5. The sweet and thoughtful card I received from my brother, who is currently on a plane to Vietnam as part of a two-and-a-half week trip he’s taking through his MBA program. He’ll be traveling to Vietnam, Thailand, and China, and I can’t wait to see him when he returns home and hear all about this adventures! Please send your thoughts and prayers for a safe trip.

Here he is riding an elephant in Sri Lanka last year.

Here he is riding an elephant in Sri Lanka last year!

Questions of the day:

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

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 #13

Aaaand just like that, it’s Friday again! Where did this week go? I can’t believe how quickly it flew by.

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. My friend Janet is visiting! We’re both going to a writer’s conference in Seattle and she was able to book a flight to San Francisco to spend a couple days with me before we head to the conference together. She gets in tomorrow morning. We email and talk on the phone, but I haven’t seen her in over a year and I can’t wait to give her the biggest hug. We met in college while studying abroad in England {along with our dear friend Lauren, who lives in New York} and whenever I get together with these ladies it feels like zero time has passed at all. Lots of laughter and too much chocolate will invariably be happening in my life this weekend.

jan laur and me

{Janet, me, and Lauren on a bus in Norwich, England. This was during my headband phase 🙂 Hard to believe it’s been six years since this was taken!}

2. This song: “Happy” by Pharrell. It’s impossible for me to restrain my happy-dancing when this song comes on. So dang catchy! I think this could be the theme song for TGIF!

3. These flourless chocolate cookies from Two Peas & Their Pod. Nom nom! These babies are definitely on my baking agenda.

4. All the sweet and thoughtful people in my life. I am so blessed. Just a few examples lately: Melissa at church sent me an incredibly kind Facebook message. Kathleen invited me a comedy show and offered that I could stay with her overnight if needed. Holly texted me a happy note that got my week off to a great start. Ben left me a nice voicemail. {Ben, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I haven’t called you back yet! This weekend!} Allyn took time out of his super busy schedule to send me recommendations for places to check out in Seattle, since he used to live there. Dana, a Bay Area native, took time out of her day to compile a list of fun places Janet and I can check out while she’s visiting. And I could go on and on… I am surrounded by amazing people who make me feel very loved and grateful.

me and dana

5. These wise words from the always-wise Whitney: “A Letter to Myself at 22.” And this inspiring post from another one of my favorite bloggers, the always-inspiring Robyn: “nobody cares about your pant size.”

Now I’m off to finish a couple projects before heading into the city for dinner tonight. Happy Friday, everyone! Treat yourself to something fun today!

Questions of the day:

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