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?

goals for the week of 12/7

Hi there, friends! Hope you’ve had a wonderful weekend! Mine has been very busy, but a good kind of busy. Friday night I got together with Dana for dinner at a delicious Korean restaurant called Mixed Grain.

Mixed Grains

We sat there eating, talking and laughing for close to three hours and ended up closing the place down! One bonus of staying so long was that the waitress came over and asked if we wanted free cupcakes {I think they would have gone to waste otherwise…} We of course said yes and they were absolutely delicious! Not to mention beautiful — check out this delicate rose made out of buttercream frosting:

rose cupcake

Yesterday morning, I had a long catch-up phone call with my friend Janet before I ran off to teach my four back-to-back classes of kiddos! After a couple weeks away due to the holiday, they were more energy-filled than ever. Some of them said they missed me, which was quite sweet. I missed them too, but I was also more than happy to collapse on my couch last night and relax while catching up on two of my favorite shows, Nashville & The Newsroom!

This morning, I was up bright and early to tutor a couple kiddos, and then I headed over to church, where I took part in the holiday crafts faire held from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. I sold and autographed copies of my books and everyone was very supportive, encouraging and enthusiastic. It made my heart so happy. I feel very grateful to be part of such a warm and welcoming congregation. I must admit, I was a little worried that it would seem like a long day {being from 10-3!} but the time flew by thanks to lots of delightful conversations and visiting with people.

After church I drove to my sweetheart’s apartment where we are now getting ready to make some veggie pasta for dinner. But before I go… time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from the past couple weeks: 
– write a new chapter of my memoir {this totally fell by the wayside this week}
– finish holiday cards {almost done!}
– finish student evaluations {started, not finished}
publicize my Winter Writing Camp {it’s halfway filled already!}
– go to two yoga classes {I made it to three!}
connect with two friends

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write a new chapter of my memoir
– finish holiday cards
– finish student evaluations
– finish reading short story collection
– go to two yoga classes
– connect with two friends

Questions of the day:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What are your favorite Thanksgiving recipes?

MPM-Winter
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

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?

goals + recipes for the week of 11/16

Hi, friends, and happy Sunday to you 🙂 Sorry I’ve been a bit MIA this week… it’s been unexpectedly busy! On Friday night, I went to Arianna’s high school play that she has been working on for months as the Assistant Director. I’m so proud of her! The set alone blew me away with its intricate attention to detail.

Arianna play

Yesterday, after teaching my rambunctious classes of kiddos, I took BART into the city and met up with my sweetheart for a fun sustainable foods event his MBA program was hosting. I noshed on a delicious spinach dish from a Jamaican restaurant, and Allyn had the jerked chicken and shared some of his dirty rice and plantains with me. It was nice getting to chat with his classmates and catch up with some people I hadn’t seen since Allyn’s surprise birthday party back in October.

Work-wise this week, some exciting developments have been happening that I hope I’m able to share sometime soon. In the meantime, I can tell you that I was really happy to get an acceptance this week from North Dakota Quarterly, the literary magazine out of the University of North Dakota, to publish my short story “Dirt” in their forthcoming “Slow” themed issue. Hooray! It’s been a motivating reminder of the importance of perseverance in pursuing your dreams, despite the inevitable rejections and disappointments — every “No” is one step closer to a “Yes!”

In that spirit… time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last week: 
– finish writing that one short story that’s been half-finished for months
– prepare tutoring worksheets through the end of the year
– update my website
– go to the gym three times
finish reading Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
connect with two friends

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– finish editing/preparing manuscript for submission
– update my website
– set date for Winter Writing Camp
– go to yoga class
– connect with two friends

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
pumpkin cookies w/cookie butter via The Coupon Project
kale & brussels sprouts salad w/butternut squash via Two Peas & Their Pod
vegetarian chickpea curry via Food Friends
fiesta frittata via PB Fingers
chaider {chai + hot apple cider} via The Pajama Chef
– my grandma’s curried butternut squash soup

Questions of the day:

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

MPM-Winter
This post is featured on Menu Plan Monday!

goals + recipes for the week of 11/9

Hello, friends! Today is my Grandpap’s birthday!!

me and grandpap

Tonight we’re getting together at my Aunt Annie’s house to celebrate… I’m planning to make funfetti cupcakes, or perhaps pumpkin spice cupcakes, with cream-cheese frosting and of course plentyyyy of sprinkles 🙂 I love my Grandpap so much and I feel lucky that I’ve gotten to spend so much time with him the past year. He has always been super supportive of my writing. He is a jokester, a piano bar singer, a Sudoku fiend, and the only octogenarian I know who text messages and uses Siri. Here’s to many more birthdays, Grandpap!

Backing up a bit, yesterday I slept in, savored breakfast and my favorite pumpkin spice chai tea while reading some of my favorite blogs. Then I taught four classes of energetic kiddos, and then I headed over to a BBQ at the home of one of Allyn’s childhood friends. A bunch of his longtime friends were there, and it was really nice to get a chance to visit with them! I brought chocolate pumpkin kiss cookies, recipe coming soon!

chocolate pumpkin kiss cookies

This morning I’m heading to church early because I’m serving as Worship Associate for both services. Then I’m hoping to meet up with Dana because it’s been too long since I’ve seen her pretty face, and we have lots to catch up on!

But before I head out… time for goals!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from last week: 
– finish writing that one short story that’s been half-finished for months
complete mid-term assessments for the classes I teach
– go to the gym three times
finish reading After Dakota by Kevin Sharp
connect with two friends
get my flu shot!!

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– finish writing that one short story that’s been half-finished for months
– prepare tutoring worksheets through the end of the year
– update my website
– go to the gym three times
– finish reading Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi
– connect with two friends

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
bbq pineapple, jalepeno + feta pizza via Cookie + Kate
peanut butter apple oatmeal cookies via Two Peas & Their Pod
rosemary roasted potatoes via Food Friends
white chocolate drizzled pumpkin scones via That Skinny Chick Can Bake
chewy coconut oil granola bars via The Pajama Chef
– my own pumpkin pasta

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 #40

Happy Friday, dear friends! I hope you have had a wonderful week and that your TGIF is running along smoothly. I must admit I don’t quite know where this morning went! Yoga class, breakfast, emails, a couple phone calls for work, and now it’s already lunch time! This afternoon I’m hoping to make some headway on a couple writing/editing projects; go to the Verizon store to get my new phone working {my old phone went on the fritz but was insured so I was able to replace it at no cost, woo hoo!}; and then I’ll be tutoring a few kids from late afternoon into the evening.

Should be a great day! Then again, as my Gramps likes to say with a wry smile, “Every day I’m above ground is a great day for me!” Which I think is a grateful attitude you don’t need to be an octogenarian to adopt. 🙂

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. The gorgeous autumn leaves setting the world on fire right now. Here’s the maple in our side yard, right outside the kitchen window. Every time I see it, my heart leaps. I love the autumn!

maple tree

2. Tazo pumpkin spice chai tea. I scooped this up on sale at Target last week and I’ve been enjoying it every morning since. Nothing like pumpkiny, cinnamony goodness to get my day started off right! {Or perk me up in the middle of a long writing/work sesh!}

tazo pumpkin spice chai tea

Also, this is probably just showing my nerdiness, but does anyone else amuse themselves by reading the writing on food/drink boxes? The story on the Tazo pumpkin spice chai tea box had me smiling: “Cinnamon and cardamom sit by a crackling clove fire, knitting elegant black-tea scarves. Ginger waltzes in with a just-baked pumpkin pie, and the room turns aromatic with sweet spice.” Mmmm. Don’t you just want to curl up and get cozy after reading those words?

3. Not to go TOO pumpkin-crazy {my brother would say, “Too late!” haha} but I was excited to find these pumpkin spice Hershey’s kisses in the discounted Halloween candy section when I got my flu shot earlier this week. Has anyone else tried these babies? I had never even heard of them before, but I was intrigued so I got them.

pumpkin spice hershey kisses

I will say that, as a chocolate-lover, I wish there was some chocolate swirled throughout along with the pumpkin, but these are still a delicious {and dangerously poppable} treat! This weekend I’m planning to bake cookies featuring these pumpkin spice Hershey’s kisses, inspired by my aunt Elaine’s peanut butter blossoms. If they turn out well, I’ll share the recipe!

4. I’m serving as Worship Associate at my church this Sunday, and the sermon’s theme is transience and permanence. While writing my Call to Worship, I came across this beautiful quote from Ovid’s Metamorphoses:

As wave is driven by wave
And each, pursued, pursues the wave ahead,
So time flies on and follows, flies, and follows,
Always, forever and new. What was before
Is left behind; what never was is now;
And every passing moment is renewed.

5. This blog is featured on TheBetsy.com today — check out this article about Day-by-Day Masterpiece! Thanks to TheBetsy for their support!

Have a delightful weekend, everyone!

Questions of the day:

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

fabulous friday #39

Happy Halloween, everyone!!

lit up pumpkins

What fun things do you have planned for today + tonight? Allyn & I are dressing up as Sebastian the crab & The Little Mermaid and we’re going out for dinner in Walnut Creek, then out to see the murder-mystery play Deathtrap. I’ll show you a picture of us dressed up in our costumes in Sunday’s blog post, but for now here’s a sneak peak at my wig that came in the mail yesterday! This is actually my first Halloween ever wearing a wig, so I am probably more excited than is normal, haha. {And yes, I’m dressed in my yoga clothes, getting ready to head out soon!}

mermaid wig

Also, I want to back up and wish my sweet Mama a belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! It was her birthday yesterday but it was such a crazy day that I didn’t get around to doing a blog post. {But don’t worry, I did call her yesterday and send her a card & present!} My dad sent these beautiful roses to her office… they are USC colors, since Mom is a huge USC fan! Go Trojans!

mom usc roses

Also, because I think this photo is way too adorable not to share, here is a pic of my mom when she was a little girl that is hanging in the hallway of my grandparents’ house. I can totally see the woman I know in her little-girl eyes and face. What a cutie-pie!

mom little girl

Mom, thank you for being my role model and inspiring me every day with your loving heart, genuine kindness, generosity and grace, quiet strength, and beautiful soul. I love you so much. I count my blessings every day that I won the lottery ticket to get you for a mother. It is a true privilege and a gift to be your daughter! ❤

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. So remember last week when I finished writing my novel? And remember a few weeks ago when I went to the Orchard nursery with Dana to revel in all the pumpkins and autumn decorations, and I spotted these beautiful hand-painted sunflower tiles and mentioned wanting to someday get one for my own kitchen?

sunflower tiles

Wellllll, guess what my sweetheart did? He surprised me with a gift to celebrate finishing my novel that I’ve been working on for the past three years.

sunflower tile

Not to mention, I hadn’t even said anything about the sunflower tiles to him. He just read it here in my post and remembered, and last weekend he drove to the nursery to pick it out and surprise me. I was pretty much speechless when I opened it. Allyn, your thoughtfulness, love and support blow me away! Thank you so much for celebrating with me! Now, every time I look at this gorgeous sunflower tile hanging in my kitchen, not only will I smile because I love sunflowers and it is soooo pretty — I will light up inside with such a warm memory. 🙂

2. T-Swift’s new CD. OMG you guys. I am crushing hardcore on this CD. I am in puppy love. I am obsessed. I can’t stop listening to it. SO GOOD! I didn’t even mind when I had major traffic driving home from teaching last night, because it meant more time to bop around in my car dancing to these songs. Is it weird that Holly and I are already giddy with excitement about going to see her in concert when she tours for this CD? Because we are.

t swift 1989 cd

If the music itself weren’t amazing enough, check out her Halloween costume. One of the lyrics to her new song “Blank Space” is “cause, darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a daydream”… the caption to her Halloween costume says, “cause, darling, I’m a nightmare dressed like a PEGACORN.” {unicorn + pegasus = a possible daydream?} She is so goofy! I love it.

taylor swift Halloween costume

3. These wise words from Heather Waxman… the first time I read them, I felt like she was talking directly to me. As someone who is not often loud and does not prefer to be the center of attention, I love her message that quiet strength and quiet confidence are equally true and beautiful:

Sometimes, we think that we have to be loud and obviously the center of attention in order be confident. But that’s not really it at all. To me, there is nothing more beautiful than a woman carrying herself with soft strength. Quiet and ease. Grace and a smidge of grit.  That’s just so beautiful. She doesn’t feel like she has to prove anything. She doesn’t care if she’s the primary focus of the conversation or sitting and listening as a few people spearhead the conversation. Because she just is. She’s just being. 

4. This week I finished knitting a scarf to donate to the wonderful nonprofit organization Knit With Love that donates knitted and crocheted items to people in need, whether they are impoverished, homeless or struggling with illness.

knit with love

Here is their mission statement: “We believe that the gift of a hand-made item can provide physical warmth to people who may have little else, and can also be a tangible showing of love and support that will serve as an encouragement in this difficult time. Every item is donated to a person who greatly appreciates the hand-made gift. As of June 2014, we have donated over 5,000 knit items to people in 37 countries.” WOW, right? Amazing!

It makes me happy to think of someone wearing this colorful scarf I made and feeling loved!

scarf

5. Finishing with a bang: The Giants winning the World Series on Wednesday!! It feels like the whole Bay Area is celebrating! Everywhere you go, people are wearing Giants’ gear and Giants flags are waving from cars and houses everywhere. I’m enjoying the special feeling of camaraderie with everyone, even strangers in line at the grocery store 🙂 Dana was so cute, waving her Giants rally rag from back when they won the World Series in 2010!

dana giants win

Have a fun and safe Halloween, everyone!!

Questions of the day:

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

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 #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?

bruce bruce, homemade beignets, pumpkins galore & other weekend highlights

Happy Monday, everyone! How was your weekend? Mine was absolutely lovely and I couldn’t resist sharing some photos… I’ll be back tomorrow with this week’s year of Wooden post!

Saturday morning I slept in a little and relaxed, reading a couple short stories while sipping on a mug of chai tea and noshing on a bowl of cinnamon oatmeal. Then I baked a batch of 3-ingredient banana cookies. Then I got ready to go teach a bunch of energetic kiddos for five hours!

Then I taught for five hours!

Then I was exhausted.

But I quickly perked up because I was meeting my sweetheart for dinner 🙂 We went to Tommy T’s, a comedy steakhouse — it was the first time there for both of us and we weren’t quite sure what to expect, but the food was tasty and the whole place was packed! Definitely a popular venue. The headline comedian was Bruce Bruce, who I had never before heard of but who seemed quite well-known among most of the audience.

I was a bit disappointed because he talked SO fast that I had a tough time hearing/ understanding what he was saying! The jokes I did catch I thought were humorous, and it was clear that his quick-talking was purposeful — it was part of his whole vibe. Maybe if I heard him perform more often and had a better sense of his speech rhythms, I would have been able to understand more of what he said. But in any case, it was still a fun night and I was really glad we went!

Sunday morning, Allyn and I tried our hands at making beignets! They’re the French-style dessert that we loved at Cafe du Monde in New Orleans. Before he left NOLA, Allyn picked up a box of beignet mix and yesterday we decided to finally put ourselves to the test!

beignet mix

I’ll be honest: at first, I was quite certain they were going to be a disaster. The dough was super sticky and I was having a ridiculously difficult time rolling it out. I used a water glass because we didn’t have a rolling pin!

rolling pin water glass

Lots and lots of flour ended up being the secret weapon. Once the dough was rolled out thin enough, we cut it into small squares and placed them carefully in the frying basket. By the time they reached the frying basket, they usually looked more like distended blobs of dough than squares, but no matter. We pressed on!

beignet dough

making beignets

Then Allyn, who earned the name Mr. Pro Fryer, dropped the basket into the hot oil and … I was amazed! The blobs of dough actually looked like little beignets! Not as pretty as the ones at Cafe du Monde, but still respectable.

frying beignets

little beignets

We topped them with powdered sugar and they were delicious! Eating a Sunday brunch of beignets and fruit salad out on the patio felt super luxurious. Sometimes my Sundays start out way too fast, with me rushing off to church or tutoring commitments. When possible, I want to start waking up early enough to savor a slow Sunday morning breakfast.

beignets breakfast

Church was lovely yesterday. I was honored to do the chalice lighting {a symbol of our religious faith at the beginning of the service} and I read aloud these beautiful words by Joy Harjo:

joy harjo quote

After church, I met up with Dana for a catch-up coffee date, and we also stopped by this super-cute local nursery that was all decked out for Halloween! It was a really warm day yesterday, so the weather felt like summer, but the place definitely felt like autumn. I really love autumn decorations and Dana does too, so we had a great time admiring all the details.

Dana pumpkin patch

me pumpkin patch

pumpkins

sunflower

spider

halloween

There were baby goats, too!

baby goats

I was swooning over these beautiful hand-painted sunflower tiles. I told Dana that one day I want to buy one of these and hang it in my kitchen!

sunflower tiles

My Sunday ended with family dinner, where my Uncle Arn serenaded us with Steely Dan hits on his new electric drum set and my gorgeous cousin Arianna did a fashion show of her beautiful Homecoming dress and accessorizing options. Then I watched The Good Wife with my grandma, read a little of After Dakota, and collapsed into bed. A perfect day!