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

fabulous friday #14

Happy Friday, friends! It’s been a couple weeks since my last fabulous friday post, but I’m happy to be back today. Taking the time to make note of what I love always gets the weekend off on a great note!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Springtime! The weather this week has been absolutely gorgeous, and all the trees are bursting into bloom. Not to mention it staying light out past dinnertime thanks to Daylight Savings — it feels like the transition from winter to summer has officially begun. I love this time of year!

spring tree

2. My friend Kelsey’s laugh. This girl has one of the most beautiful, contagious, joy-filled laughs I’ve ever heard. I talked with her on the phone this morning for the first time in a while, and it was wonderful to hear her voice and her laugh. It’s been a couple hours since we hung up, and I’m still feeling happy from talking to her.

3. Oatmeal with strawberries. All this week I’ve swapped out my usual apple-and-peanut-butter oatmeal for strawberries-and-vanilla-ricemilk oatmeal, and I’m loving it.

strawberry oatmeal

4. Wisdom from some of my favorite bloggers, particularly these posts:

5. This beautiful video {thanks Allyn for sending it to me!}: 20 strangers kiss for the first time

Now I’m off to the gym and to run some errands! Tonight should be a low-key, catch-up-on-New-Girl-episodes kind of night, but this weekend is gearing up to be busy with fun plans. {brunch! birthday celebrations! double date!} I’ll be back on Sunday or Monday with a goals post/recap, but in the meantime I want to leave you with these two quotes that have really been speaking to me lately:

“The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” -Bertrand Russell

“If you try too carefully to plan your life, the danger is that you will succeed — succeed in narrowing your options, closing off avenues of adventure that cannot now be imagined.” -Harlan Cleveland

Questions for the day:

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

marvelous monday: my favorite tea mug

I’ve already told you about my intense love for tea — in fact, my first project for this blog was reorganizing my tea stash in my kitchen cabinet. What I haven’t yet shared are photos of my favorite mugs to brew my tea in. Well, today is the day!

At the top of my list on Monday morning is this sunshiney mug that I got for Christmas last year. I love sunflowers, and this mug is an instant mood-lifter. How can it not be a good morning when you’re drinking a steaming hot cup of tea in this beauty?

On those inevitable “snooze button” days when I’m having an especially hard time rolling out of bed, I reach for this mug: it’s ginormous! Practically a soup bowl. I can brew two regular mug’s worth of tea in a single serving of this amazing mug:

It’s extra special because it came from the Serendipity 3 cafe in NYC. I bought it when I visited my close friend Janet last year, when she was living for a short time in the big apple. She took me there because the movie Serendipity with John Cusack and Kate Beckingsale is one of my all-time favorite movies. It is such a special memory, and drinking tea from this mug always makes me think of Janet and smile.

It’s almost as big as my head!

What are some of your favorite mugs and water glasses? Do you have any small household items that get your day off to a sunny start?

Have a marvelous day!
-Dallas

marvelous monday: guest post by “the sunny girl” Lauren Cook!

I am thrilled to have Lauren Cook as a guest on the blog today! She is a dear friend and an inspiration to me to live life with joy, gratitude and love. Her blog The Sunny Girl: The Brighter Side of Things is a treasure trove of insights and resources to make your daily life happier. Check it out!

She was kind enough to stop by the blog today and share some thoughts on finding happiness through a sense of daily accomplishment. Enjoy! 🙂

There are a few things in life that leave me hard-pressed for happiness. Without a good meal, a good night’s rest, and my daily to-do list, I’m lost at my soul’s sea. I love having direction in my life, both for the big picture and for the seemingly small tasks throughout the day. That’s why nearly every day, without fail, I write a check list for what I need to get done and what I want to get done.

The main reason: I love the feeling of accomplishment. Even getting that little “check” on my list for achieving something as simple as going to the grocery store keeps me on track for the day. I know it sounds silly, even ridiculous, but I think it’s so important to stay goal oriented and focused. If I leave my mind to do as it pleases, I’ll end up watching mindless TV, eating that extra scoop of Ben and Jerry’s Greek yogurt (my new obsession!), and delaying my work for the day. I wouldn’t label myself as a procrastinator, but my life is so much more productive when I’ve planned it out on paper.

I write all about happiness for young adults. I’m working on publishing my first book right now and while this is a huge goal, there are hundreds of small goals embedded within it. Without my daily to-do lists, these goals just seem to float along in my head rather than actualize.

I’m so much happier at the end of the day when I can look back on my list and see that I made an EFFORT. Even if I don’t finish a chapter or if I still have emails to send, knowing that I gave it my best for the day leaves me satisfied yet eager to start the next day.

We all have our own ways of writing to-do lists but here are a few of my Sunny Suggestions:

1. Get a planner you love to look at. You’re going to be using it a lot! No matter how you like to take your notes, whether it’s on your phone or a notebook, make sure it’s convenient to carry and nice to look at. I’m hoping for a Lilly Pulitzer notebook soon—with a notebook that pretty I’ll never want to stop adding things to do!

2. Look at it at least three times throughout the day: If it’s out of sight, it’s all too easily out of mind. Sure, it’s simple to write down the tasks but it’s a whole other thing to keep your eyes on the prize. Make sure you have your notes handy so that you can see how much progress you’re making throughout the day.

3. Make goals out of goals: Some days are busier than others. Some days I know I can’t accomplish even half the items on my to-do list. Still, set a goal for how many goals you’d like to finish that day. And if you meet your goal? Don’t stop there! Set a new one and keep going til that sun goes down!

We all ultimately strive for happiness and I think setting goals is a primary way we work towards that happiness. For me it all starts with a to-do list. Make your visual and present on a daily basis. Don’t leave your list in your mind—get it on paper. It’ll motivate you to put in the extra effort.

I hope you start seeing your goals getting accomplished more than ever and I hope you start living the happiest life you’ve always wanted!

Keep shining,

The Sunny Girl, Lauren Cook

Connect with Lauren:

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marvelous monday: good morning sunshine muffins

Hi everyone! Happy Monday! How is your week going so far? Grrrreat I hope! ❤ It’s been H-O-T here but I am trying to remember all the snowy winter days when I was aching for sunshine … it makes me feel grateful for these blazin’ summer days! {I am also grateful for A/C and electric fans!}

I have a recipe to share with you that I hope will brighten your week. I call these muffins “good morning sunshine muffins” because they are yummy, healthy, and guaranteed to give you some up-and-at-em energy and bring a smile to your face. {And also because one of my favorite things to hear in the morning is, “Good morning, sunshine!” How can that not get your day off to a good start?}

I adapted this recipe from this one for Oat Flour Morning Glory Muffins.

good morning sunshine muffins

-3 egg whites
-3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
-1/2 cup plain yogurt {I used plain Greek yogurt for some extra protein}
-2 tsp vanilla
-2 cups flour {you could use whole wheat flour or oat flour if desired; I just used plain white flour because it’s what I had on hand}
-1/2 cup rolled oats
-1 & 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 tsp ground ginger
-2 tsp cinnamon
-1 cup shredded carrots
-1/4 cup chopped walnuts
-1/2 cup flaked coconut
-1/4 cup honey

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg whites, applesauce, Greek yogurt, and vanilla.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, rolled oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, and cinnamon. Slowly add the dry ingredients to your applesauce mixture. Mix well.

4. Add your carrots, coconut, walnuts and honey.

5. Pour batter into muffin cups and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

YUM!

Have a marvelous Monday!

-Dallas