fabulous friday #30

Happy Friday, friends! What wonderful things are you up to today?

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Being home with my sweet parents {who are celebrating their 32nd wedding anniversary next week!} and of course Mr. Mur-dog! He is so stinkin’ cute, even in his cone/Elizabethan collar. Poor guy should be getting it off soon, fingers crossed!

murray conehead

2. This quote from Carolyn Hax:

“Even those of us who learn from our mistakes will also repeat some. This business of being human is basically a jalopy ride over potholes, which is why it’s so important to ride with the best people you know, wherever possible, and to make sure you take note of any particularly beautiful scenery.”

3. I can’t get enough of strawberries with vanilla Greek yogurt. To me, this tastes exactly like strawberries with whipped cream — BUT it’s even better because it’s healthy for you! I’ve been having this for dessert all week. And since it’s actually good for you, you could even have it for breakfast! 🙂

strawberries and yogurt

4. This beautiful and evocative short story written by my friend, Rebecca McKanna: “A Chain of Tiny Disasters” in Narrative Magazine.

5. First USC football game tomorrow! I am all decked out and ready to cheer on my team! #gotrojans #fighton

go trojans

Questions of the morning:

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

mid-week meditation #9

Hi there, friends! Can you believe it’s Thursday already? This week is flying by!

Here’s a meditation that seemed applicable in these late summer days, as we transition into a new season of back-to-school and new beginnings. It’s a quote from one of my favorite books of all time, The Great Gatsby.

summer quote

Questions of the morning:

  • What is your favorite memory of the summer?
  • How do you feel renewed as the seasons change?

goals + recipes for the week of 8/24

Hi friends! Just wanted to pop in say hello 🙂 How is your weekend going?

Thank you for all of your prayers and good thoughts for my grandma and her hip-replacement surgery! She came through like a champ and is currently back at home, recovering very well. My grandpap has been very sweet taking care of her, and I have been trying to help out as best I can, however I can.

gparents gmas bday

My brother made it back safe from his summer internship in Washington, D.C. and is starting his second and final year of business school tomorrow. I love this photo of him and my mom that my dad snapped during Greg’s brief time at home before moving back down to Los Angeles. Have a great first week back at school, buddy!

greg and mom margarita villa

Other big news this week was that my sweetheart safely arrived back home, hooray! I have been soaking up time with him after being apart all summer. I also got to attend a couple fun events in San Francisco with him as part of his M.B.A. program at Presidio Graduate School. Presidio is really unique because of its emphasis on sustainability and environmental issues. I am so inspired by the amazing, world-bettering projects all the students are involved in. A really neat project is in the works right now that I will be letting you know about next week, with a chance for you to get involved — stay tuned!

This week I’m hoping to get a LOT of writing done! I have a handful of works-in-progress that I am really excited about and now, since I have a few weeks off from teaching, I have more time to devote to my writing. I’m ready and eager to get to work! #takingcareofbusiness

Before I head out, it’s goals time…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: 
– revise 10 pages of my novel-in-progress
– teach a successful week of camp
– help take care of my Grandma as best I can
– finish reading Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– revise 75 pages of my novel-in-progress
– complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
– connect with three friends
– do yoga twice
– read through three back issues from my New Yorker stash

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
peanut butter avocado cookies via The Lean Green Bean
grilled zucchini, chickpea, tomato and goat cheese salad via Two Peas & Their Pod
– pesto, roasted red pepper & cheese crescent rolls via Two Peas & Their Pod
coconut curry popcorn via The Pajama Chef
– my own coconut strawberry chocolate cookies

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!

goals + recipes for the week of 8/17

Happy Sunday, everyone! It feels like it’s been for.ev.er since I popped in to say hi… I guess it’s only been a few days since my mid-week meditation post, but it was one of those weeks where a lot happened!

  • I got back to the Bay Area on Sunday night, and there were all sorts of little errands and such I had to squeeze in to get back into my everyday routine. You know how it is, getting back to real life after “vacation mode” 🙂
  • I taught a wonderful week of journalism and public speaking camp to a group of super awesome fifth graders. I was so proud of all of them!
  • I’m housesitting/dog-sitting for my aunt and uncle right now, so there was a bit of schedule juggling involved to make sure the doggies were comfortable and cared for throughout the day when I was at work. Everything worked out fine in the end!

poodles

There were also lots of fun events:

  • I got together with Dana for dinner at Pizza Antica — yum!
  • I got my first-ever professional massage {more on that coming soon!}
  • We celebrated Makena’s birthday on Tuesday and Bianca’s birthday on Friday! We had a joint party for them both on Wednesday evening, and it was so much fun. They are such kind-hearted and beautiful young ladies, inside and out!

m and b bday

This week is looking to be even busier! Tomorrow my grandma is getting much-needed hip-replacement surgery; she’s in a lot of pain, so we are all excited that this procedure will hopefully provide a lot of relief. Still, getting an operation is always a little scary, so we would be so grateful for your good thoughts & prayers! I will be sure to keep y’all posted on her recovery.

me and gma

Then on Tuesday, my sweetheart comes home!! He is currently driving back to the Bay Area from New Orleans… I think he’s somewhere in the middle of New Mexico right now. Your safe thoughts for his travels would also be very appreciated 🙂 I am over-the-moon excited to see him!

me and al bday creamery

This week is the last week of summer camps for Communication Academy. I’m teaching a public speaking class for teenagers and I’m really looking forward to it. Gonna be a great week!

Before I head out, it’s goals time…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week: {I bit off a little more than I could chew, as I am so prone to doing!}
– revise 25 pages of my novel-in-progress
– teach a successful week of camp
– connect with three friends
– finish reading Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan
drop off donation to Goodwill

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– revise 10 pages of my novel-in-progress
– teach a successful week of camp
– help take care of my Grandma as best I can
– finish reading Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
salted caramel apple crisp via Panera Bread Co.
grilled zucchini and corn tostadas via Two Peas & Their Pod
– chunky sausage and veggie pasta sauce via Chew Out Loud
dark chocolate chunk peanut butter blondies via The Pajama Chef
– my own coconut zucchini muffins

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!

mid-week meditation #8

Happy Wednesday, friends! I’m in the midst of a fun, hectic, enthusiastic week of teaching journalism & public speaking camp for a group of fourth- and fifth-graders. Even — especially — during these busy days, I am working to cultivate a morning routine of calm, joy and gratitude. This means getting up early enough to meditate, do a bit of yoga, eat a healthy and filling breakfast, pack a nutritious lunch, and have plenty of time to drive to work without feeling rushed. {Which also means going to bed early enough to get a good night’s sleep … something that is a challenge for me, a natural night owl!}

Here’s a meditation that might be helpful for anyone else who is also trying to savor the mornings!

morning quote

Questions of the morning:

  • What is your morning routine?
  • What are the “little things” that refresh your heart?

goals + recipes for the week of 8/10

Hi there, friends! Hope you’re having a wonderful Sunday! I’m soaking up time with my parents & Mr. Mur-dog before heading back up to the Bay tonight. Tomorrow I start another week of teaching writing & public speaking camp for Communication Academy. I love the kids and am gearing up for an energetic week!

Before I head out, it’s goals time…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my simple goals from a couple weeks ago:
submit new play to contest
teach a successful week of camp for Communication Academy
finish reading Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– revise 25 pages of my novel-in-progress
– teach a successful week of camp
– connect with three friends
– finish reading Invisibility by Andrea Cremer & David Levithan
– drop off donation to Goodwill

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
charity’s bruschetta via sweet summer smiles
easy summer pasta salad & no-bake peanut butter chocolate pretzel cookies via Two Peas & Their Pod
– peanut butter coconut banana muffins via It’s Progression
best ever homemade pizza via The Pajama Chef
– my own cilantro-lime quinoa with chicken

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!

fabulous friday #29

Happy Friday, friends! What wonderful things are you up to today?

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Catching up on my stack of old issues of The New Yorker that pile up at my parents’ house when I’m gone. My dad always reads them and saves them for me, because I especially love reading the fiction. My recent favorite: “Here’s the Story” by David Gilbert. The ending definitely sucker-punched me, in the best way! This is one of those stories that I want to press into the hands of everyone I meet and tell them, “Read this. You’ve got to read this.” Does anyone else ever feel that way when you read something amazing?

new yorker issue

2. My parents and I went to the Food Truck Tuesdays event that happens here in Ventura on the first Tuesday of every month. It was a blast! I was impressed by the wide range of cuisine offered by the many different food trucks. My dad opted for the lobster tacos, Mom got a classic burger, and I got sushi rolls topped with an Indian-inspired butter pork-and-peppers sauce. Yum!

food trucks

parents at food truck tuesday

3. I made turkey enchiladas for dinner last night. They were a big hit!

turkey enchiladas

4.  Thanks to Whitney for sharing this powerful sermon on love and commitment. I thought the message was absolutely beautiful, and very true {except for the part towards the end where he says it was “too late” to back out of the wedding… I think that if you have doubts in your gut about marrying a certain person, those doubts are there for a reason and you need to listen to them carefully! Which is entirely different from being afraid of commitment in general.}

5. The fro-yo place down the block from my parents’ house has the best selection of toppings… so many choices! I was cracking up at all their sour candy options. My sweetheart loves sour candy, even on ice cream. I need to bring him here!

fro yo toppings

What are your plans for this lovely August weekend? I think my parents and I are headed to the outdoor concert series Rock The Collection tomorrow evening. It’s always a lot of fun, plus it’s freeeeee — can’t beat that! 🙂

rock the collection

me and mom summer

Questions of the morning:

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

raspberry brown butter bars {gluten-free!}

Hi, friends! I have a DIVINE recipe to share with you today! Perfect for these gorgeous end-of-summer days. I first came across this recipe on Roxane Gay’s blog, which was inspired by this recipe on smitten kitchen, for cherry brown butter bars.

Alas, I do not own a cherry pitter, and the lovely Erica requested a raspberry dessert for our dinner get-together a couple weeks ago, so I decided to make raspberry brown butter bars instead. They turned out wonderfully. I think these bars would also be lovely with blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, even pears — feel free to experiment!

raspberry brown butter bars

raspberry brown butter bars

crust:
– 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
– 1/3 cup brown sugar
– 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour {I made mine gf so used 1/2 cup oat flour & 1/2 cup rice flour}
– a pinch of salt

filling:
– 1/2 cup sugar
– 2 large eggs
– a pinch of salt
– 1/4 cup flour {I again used a combo of oat flour & rice flour}
– 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
– 1/2 cup  unsalted butter, diced
– 12 ounces raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Use butter or Pam to grease an 8 x 8 glass baking pan.

2. Mix melted butter, sugar, and vanilla in medium bowl. Add flour and salt and stir until incorporated.

3. Transfer dough to your greased pan, and use your fingertips to press the dough evenly across the bottom of the pan.

4. Bake the crust until golden, about 18 minutes. Let crust cool in pan. Maintain oven temperature.

5. Make the filling: Cook butter in heavy small saucepan {a lighter-colored one will make it easier to see the color changing, which happens quickly} over medium heat until deep nutty brown.

6. Be careful not to overcook because it will burn!

7. Here are my best tips to not burn the butter: stir constantly and watch carefully. If in doubt, after about six minutes, consider it browned. Immediately pour browned butter into glass measuring cup or glass container to allow it to cool slightly.

8. Whisk sugar, eggs, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add flour and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk browned butter into sugar-egg mixture; whisk until well blended.

9. Arrange raspberries in the bottom of cooled crust. Carefully pour browned butter mixture evenly over the fruit.

20140723_152227

10. Bake bars until filling is puffed and golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack and then cut into bars.

raspberry brown butter bars

Enjoy!

if you liked this recipe, you might also like:

triple-berry cobbler
zesty lemon bars
rice krispies treats w/m&ms

goals + recipes for the week of 7/27

Happy Sunday, friends! I’m making this a quick one because it’s a busy day for me! Here are my goals for the week…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals for this past week:
revise 25 pages of my novel-in-progress
– write 10 pages of my new play
– teach a successful weekend of Summer Writing Camp
– connect with three friends
– finish reading Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro {about 50 pages left to go}

Here are my goals for this upcoming week — keeping them simple:
– submit new play to contest
– teach a successful week of camp for Communication Academy
– finish reading Too Much Happiness by Alice Munro

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
chocolate-chip cocoNUT bars via It’s Progression
watermelon, blackberry & mint salad via Two Peas & Their Pod
– spicy lime chicken salad via sometimes.always.never
marbled banana bread {vegan + gf} via the real-life rd
– my own mixed berry cobbler

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!

fabulous friday #28

Happy Friday, friends! Hope you’re having a fabulous day!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. The gorgeous summer sunshine and the beautiful beach. I went out to dinner with my parents and it was one of those perfect evenings… warm, a slight breeze, the sun setting over the ocean. I tried to capture it with my camera, but this photo doesn’t do it justice!

pretty ocean

2. Last night, my sweet parents surprised me with tickets to see Once: The Musical at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles! The movie is one of my favorites and I think the music is stunningly beautiful. Seeing the musical was goosebumps-inducing! And we made a night of it with a lovely dinner beforehand at 33 Taps in Hollywood. My parents are two of my best friends and I love getting to spend time with them!

pantages theater

mom dad once

3. I always love coming home and getting together with friends! I saw Gricelda for a lunch date at our favorite spot, Urbane Cafe. Tania invited me to her house for a long catch-up visit {the kind where you feel like it’s been maybe forty minutes and you look at the clock and, whoops, three hours have passed!} And Erica and Kyle had me over to their adorbs new apartment for dinner.

me and erica at her place

They made a delicious healthy stir-fry with rice and I tried out a new recipe for dessert: raspberry brown-butter crumb bars. Oh man, you guys — so good! I will be sharing the recipe next week, so stay tuned.

raspberry brown butter bars

4.  I was floored by this blog post about the declining health of America’s kids — more proof that kids need active play time every day! This amazing nonprofit org, KaBoom!, is where my brother is interning this summer in Washington, D.C.

5. My first Kindle short story is now available! It’s called “Grand Slam” and for a limited time, it’s on sale at Amazon for less than a buck! Here’s a brief description: Derek is a die-hard Cincinnati Reds baseball fan. He finally works up the nerve to talk to his crush, Regina… but then he learns she is a huge New York Yankees fan. The Reds are going up against the Yankees in the World Series! Can their budding romance survive an intense sports rivalry?

grand slam cover

Read a preview and get your copy here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00M1236J2

Here’s to soaking up every last drop of this TGIF and cheers to a fun summer weekend!

Questions of the morning:

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