goals + recipes for the week of 8/31

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone! Hope you have something fun planned. ūüôā Hard to believe tomorrow is September already!

I’m super excited because Dana is visiting me in Ventura for the long weekend! I’m happy to get to show her around all my favorite restaurants, hang-out spots, and childhood haunts.

me and dana sideboard

Plus a now cone-free {woo-hoo!} Mr. Mur-dog is ecstatic to have a new friend! Haha he is pretty much beside himself.

cone free murray

Last week I said I was hoping to get a LOT of writing done, and I was very successful in that goal! Now I’m hoping to continue that momentum into this week! #takingcareofmorebusiness

Before I head out, time for goals…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past 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

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– revise 100 pages of my novel-in-progress
– complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
– submit three pieces to journals/publications
– connect with three friends
– do yoga twice
–¬†read through five back issues from my New Yorker stash

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
pumpkin oatmeal bars via The Lean Green Bean
mixed berry granola muffins via Two Peas & Their Pod
–¬†peanut butter honey yogurt dip¬†via¬†Two Peas & Their Pod
slow-cooker cinnamon applesauce¬†via It’s Progression
Рmy own gluten-free oatmeal chocolate-chip 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 8/24

Hi friends! Just wanted to pop in say hello ūüôā 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
Рmy 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” ūüôā
  • 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 ūüôā 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
Рmy 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!

fabulous friday #27 {washington d.c. recap edition!}

Happy Friday, everyone! After a few whirlwind weeks of travel, I’m now back home in Ventura soaking up time with my parents, Gramps, Erica, and Mr. Mur-dog.

I’m also preparing to teach the first weekend of my Summer Writing Camp tomorrow! I’ve got a lot on the to-do list today, but before I get going I wanted to take a few minutes to recap my trip to Washington D.C. to visit my brother for a long weekend. So this week’s Fabulous Friday post is going to be a recap!

Here’s 5 things I loved about washinginton, d.c.:

1. Spending time {and taking selfies!} with my brother. I always love getting together with this crazy kid! He makes me laugh like pretty much no one else on the planet.

selfie with greg

selfie on metro

2. Strolling along the Washington Mall and seeing the Capitol and all the monuments.

me with capitol

greg and horse

3. Going to the Ford’s Theater museum. As a huge Abraham Lincoln fan, it was really sad — but also sacred — to see the place he died.

honest abe

house lincoln died

ford's theater

ford's theater box

4. The Native American Smithsonian Museum. Beautiful and thought-provoking.

smithsonian

native american banner

native american museum

native american statue

5. Going to the Sara Bareilles concert! Greg surprised me with tickets. It was a phenomenal show, and the venue was so much fun! We picnicked before on the grassy lawn. It was a wonderful night!

sara bareilles concert

20140714_154420

20140714_161307

20140714_161535

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What’s on your agenda for the weekend?
  • Have you taken any fun trips this summer?

a year of Wooden: week 25

Hi, friends! I’m writing this from the D.C. airport after a wonderful trip visiting my brother. {Recap post coming later this week!} My flight doesn’t leave for another couple hours and there are thunderstorms in the weather forecast today, so cross your fingers I get out of here safely and on time to make my connection in Kansas City!

starbucks

But right now I’m a happy camper with my little travel workstation: laptop, earbuds playing Lucius on soundcloud {they opened for Sara Bareilles at her concert last night and were aaamazing}, phone charging, and of course a big cup of¬†green tea w/honey.

I’m happy to be coming at you¬†with this week’s year of Wooden challenge!

a year of wooden

  • January:¬†Drink deeply from good books.
  • February:¬†Make friendship a fine art.
  • March:¬†Help others.
  • April:¬†Build a shelter against a rainy day (financially).
  • May:¬†Be true to yourself.
  • June:¬†Give thanks for your blessings every day.
  • July: Love.

Coach Wooden said, “The two most important words in the English language are LOVE and BALANCE.”¬†This month, we’ll be focusing on the first of those: cultivating and nurturing more love in our lives. Next month, we’ll strive to create better balance in our lives.

Last week’s challenge was to increase the love in your life by increasing the time you spend PRESENT with your loved ones. In other words, it’s not just important to spend time with those you love — it’s important to make that QUALITY time!

One¬†simple thing I did this week was turn off my cell phone.¬†I used it to take pictures and occasionally to see where I was going¬†in the city to keep from getting lost, but other than that I tried to keep my phone silenced and put away in my bag for most of the day.¬†I was highly aware that the time I got to spend with Allyn and Greg — and with my cousin Melissa, who drove down from Baltimore to see Greg and me for dinner, and with two other friends I got to meet up with in D.C. — was limited and precious because I was leaving soon and I knew I would miss them very much. But it got me thinking — our time is limited and precious always, with everyone, even with those people we see every single day whose presence we might take for granted. I definitely felt happier and more loved this week when I was focused on savoring the in-person time I was blessed to have with the amazing¬†people in my life! I’m going to try to live with my cell phone turned off more often.

This week’s challenge is to write a love letter to¬†yourself. What do you love about yourself? What are your favorite qualities that you possess? How can you be kinder, gentler, and more loving to yourself?

Questions for the day:

  • What was you experience this week of trying¬†to be present with your loved ones?
  • Have you gone on any trips this summer?

fabulous friday #26 {new orleans edition!}

Hi from beautiful New Orleans, and Happy Independence Day to all my U.S. readers! I hope you have some fun celebrating on the agenda today. Allyn and I are going to watch the fireworks on the Mississippi River! I’m waaaaay excited.

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Being reunited with my sweetheart! After being apart for a month {and knowing we’ll have to be apart for another month when I leave} I am savoring every moment we get to spend together.

me and Al new orleans

2. The beautiful architecture of the city! It’s so uniquely New Orleans. And I love the strands of lights that are hanging everywhere! The picture below is from a cute outdoor art fair we stumbled upon one night on Frenchman Street.

new orleans architecture new orleans architecture new orleans art walk

3. Live jazz music! We saw a terrific performance at a place on Bourbon Street, and also wandered around Frenchman Street where there was a fantastic band giving a street performance that blew my socks off. I get such a big goofy grin on my face when listening to live music.

live jazz

4. The food. Especially the beignets at Caf√© Du Monde. I learned the hard way not to exhale while taking a bite — guess who blew powdered sugar alllll over herself? Haha.

cafe du mondebeignetal beignet

me beignet

5. These cheerful flowers Allyn surprised me with at the airport when he picked me up. There were a bunch of buds that have slowly been unfurling all week. I love them!

flowers from Al

BONUS:¬†My friend Dana’s beautiful photography blog. She posts a new photo of hers every day and it makes my morning to check it out while I sip my tea. Talk about inspiration! She is so talented. I wish she could walk around New Orleans with me and take photographs! She has such an insightful, interesting way of viewing the world behind her lens. You can subscribe to her blog here!

Questions of the morning:

  • What are you loving right now?
  • What are your plans for this 4th of July weekend?
  • Have you ever been to New Orleans? Any recommendations for my final week here?

goals for the week of 3/2

Hi, friends! I’m back from my trip to Seattle! Such a whirlwind, jam-packed, inspiring, informative, amazing time. Lots of late nights + early mornings because I didn’t want to miss a thing. It felt so good to collapse into my own bed last night — I slept like a rock! Woke up late this morning and have spent the day nourishing my body with green smoothies + green tea, unpacking my suitcase, doing laundry, and trying to staunch the craziness that is my overflowing email inbox.

But … backtrack to last week. Janet and I enjoyed a gorgeous sunny day exploring San Francisco! I love walking down by the water. Sometimes I have to pinch myself that I actually live in this postcard-perfect place.

20140223_114400 20140223_114410

We met up for dinner with some of Janet’s grad-school friends who happen to live in SF now — small world! They were so friendly, fun and welcoming. On Monday, Janet came with me to San Jose because I was speaking to an undergraduate creative writing class. The students were thoughtful and attentive and asked lots of questions. They made my miss my former students at Purdue. I love teaching! That night Janet and I met up for vegan cuisine with an old friend from USC who now lives in San Jose, and it was wonderful to catch up. And on Tuesday we got together with Allyn, Michelle and Dana! I love when friends visit and get to meet other friends, when it feels like the different facets of your life are briefly able to coalesce.

That, in fact, was my favorite part of going to the AWP conference … it was a reunion of writers! I got to see friends from my undergrad days at USC, my grad school days at Purdue, and a conference I went to in Key West last year. Each night the final item on the conference agenda was a dance party, and it was such a unique brand of happiness of be able to spend a couple hours dancing my little heart out, surrounded by people I love who have inspired me at all different points of my writing journey. The hardest part was saying goodbye on Sunday! Even writing this, my eyes are misting a little bit. But as Dr. Seuss would say, “Don’t cry because it’s over — smile because it happened.” It’s a blessing and a privilege to miss people because it means I have so many amazing people in my life to miss!

The conference was so busy with lectures, seminars and events that I didn’t have too much time to explore the city, but I did make it to Seattle’s famous market — and the original Starbucks across the street! Yummm, soy chai.

seattle market

My friend Tera had a book-signing for the launch of her beautiful collection of poetry, Reading the Ground. I am bursting with pride for her!

tera booksigning

me and tera

I’ll be posting more conference recap and nuts-and-bolts writing thoughts on my other blog over these next couple weeks. Now it’s time for a goals recap!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
have an amazing time with Janet! go into the city, see a movie, take her to my favorite spots around town, and talk our faces off
– write 5 pages
prepare for my new tutoring client
– go to one yoga class {sign of a super-busy week: I couldn’t make it to my Tuesday yoga class before I left for Seattle!}
read fifty pages of The Empty House by Nathan Oates
have a blast at the AWP conference! {and I guess be sorta productive and learn something too}

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
–¬†write 10 pages
Рsend AWP thank-you notes
–¬†go to two yoga classes
– read & comment on story for fellows workshop next week
Рfinish reading The Empty House by Nathan Oates
–¬†connect with three friends

Questions of the morning:

  • What are your goals for this upcoming week?
  • What have been your highlights of this weekend?
  • What was the last trip you took?

highlights of 2013

Happy New Year’s Eve! Whether you’re painting the town red or cuddling up with those you love and watching the ball drop on TV {I’ll be doing the latter!} I hope you give 2013 a stellar send-off tonight. Have fun and be safe!

Here are some of my highlights from the past year:

  • Attended the Key West Literary Seminar in Key West, Florida, where I spent a week learning from amazing writers, made some fabulous new friends, and met one of my literary idols — Judy Blume!

key west workshop w:judy

  • Submitted my thesis and graduated from Purdue with my M.F.A. in Fiction Writing! What made it even more special was that my parents, grandparents, and Holly traveled to West Lafayette for my thesis reading.

me and hol thesis reading

my birthday wish

cuz bride!

with writing campers at ceremony

  • I bought my first new car, a Prius C that I named Charley!

charley!

me and gma

red tour bus

  • Reconnected with my friend Dana, one of the sweetest people I know {and her adorable dog Heidi, a.k.a. Mr. Mur-dog’s girlfriend!}

dana and heidi

baby photobomb

jess's show

after the game

DSC00016

family with gramps

This year I also:
– celebrated my 10-year anniversary of climbing Mt. Whitney
–¬†tried zumba for the first time
– began attending church regularly
–¬†de-cluttered & simplified my possessions
– completed my Year of Kindness challenge
– celebrated the release of my dad’s new book Wooden & Me
– met up in person with my blogger friend Sarah @ The Pajama Chef and bumped into Julie @ Peanut Butter Fingers in the middle of San Francisco
– went to a hot-air balloon festival
– read 71 books
– joined Foodie Pen-Pals @ The Lean Green Bean
– got on board the smoothie train
– and tried my hand at some new craft projects and recipes!

What an incredible year it has been. Tomorrow I’ll share my goals and dreams for 2014… but for now, it’s your turn!

Questions of the day:

  • What are your highlights from 2013?
  • What new things did you try this past year?

mexico vacation recap

Mexico was absolutely beautiful.

mexico sunset

It was a relaxing week spent talking and laughing with my mom’s family. I ate tons of fresh seafood, lounged in the sand reading good books, and sampled all kinds of margaritas {including coconut!} Every morning I went for an hour-long power walk on the beach with my mom and my aunt … such a fun workout! I feel so grateful that I got to go on this getaway with my wonderful relatives. It was the perfect pre-holiday battery recharger.

beaching
DSC00016 DSC00026 DSC00035 DSC00046

Hope you’re having a wonderful Wednesday! ūüôā

Questions of the morning:

  • What has been a memorable vacation you’ve taken?
  • What is a dream vacation spot for you?

goals + meal-plan for the week of 11/10

Happy Sunday, friends! Hope your weekend has been lovely!

I’m so excited for this upcoming week … today we’re celebrating my Grandpap’s birthday, on Wednesday I’m getting together with my friend Dana, and on Thursday I’m headed home to Ventura for a long weekend! The USC Homecoming Football Game is on Saturday and I’m tailgating with my brother and then meeting up with my dear friend Ben who is coming all the way from NYC for the game!

me and ben

Ben and I met at freshman orientation, when we were the last two people left in the test-taking room for the Spanish placement exam. {I knew my slow test-taking skills would one day pay off, haha} We’ve been friends ever since. I haven’t seen him in over a year and I cannot wait to give him the biggest hug and catch up in between cheering on our football team. ūüôā

I’m also bursting with excitement to seeing my parents and my Gramps and of course Mr. Murdog! And Erica and I are planning to have one of our epic Simone’s chai latte dates — one of my favorite things on the planet. It should be a busy and wonderful week!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:
– write 25 pages of new material {with my cold I didn’t quite get this many pages done … but I did still write every day, so that’s something!}
submit second Ph.D. application
–¬†exercise at least three times
–¬†finish reading¬†Stay Up With Me
connect with two friends

Here are my goals for the week of 11/10:
– write 15 pages of new material
– send out my novel chapters for Dec. fellows workshop
– submit fellowship application
–¬†exercise at least twice
–¬†finish reading Happier Endings: a meditation on life and death
– connect with two friends

And here are some recipes I’m hoping to try out this week:
sweet korean bbq beef via Chew Out Loud
skinny southwest chicken dip via The Pajama Chef
pumpkin toffee chocolate chip muffins via Two Peas & Their Pod
pumpkin spice steel-cut oats via Wellness Today

This post is linked up to Menu-Plan Monday!
MPM-Winter

Questions for the morning:

  • What are your goals and meal plans for the week?
  • What are you looking forward to this week?