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 Café 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 + recipes for the week of 6/22

Happy Sunday, friends! Hope you’re having a great weekend. I particularly enjoyed sleeping in yesterday morning after a busy week spent teaching energetic 7- and 8-year-olds! Tomorrow I’m back at it with an even younger bunch {5- and 6-year-olds!} and while I really love teaching, I’m also soaking up as much rest as I can today! Also spending the evening with these two beautiful ladies:

annie and arianna

And yesterday I got to see another beautiful friend — Dana and I went for brunch at Sideboard and walked around downtown. Always so wonderful to see her, and especially this weekend since it’s my last one in town for a while. Next Saturday morning I’m hopping on a flight to New Orleans to see my sweetheart!

Okay, I should wrap this up and get ready for church… before I do, let’s do a quick goals recap!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from a few weeks ago:

– write ten pages
– send out two query letters/submissions
complete final student evals + certificates for Dublin classes
– read up to page 200 of new book
– go to the gym twice + yoga once
– connect with three friends
write all birthday thank-yous

And here are my goals for this upcoming week:
– write five pages
– send out two query letters/submissions
– teach a successful week of summer camp for Communication Academy
– go to yoga twice
– connect with three friends
– get all ready for my trip to visit Allyn + Greg !!! <– can you tell I’m excited? 🙂

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
– lightened up summer fare {particularly the southwest turkey burgers + honey almond fruit dip!} via Peanut Butter Fingers
mango, strawberry & avocado arugula salad via Two Peas & Their Pod
– bbq chicken salad w/jalapeno basil ranch dressing via The Pajama Chef
– mango coconut muffins via The Pajama Chef
– my own 3-ingredient banana cookies {4-ingredient if you add peanut butter!}

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!

a year of Wooden: week 20

Hi, friends! I’m a day late with this post because yesterday turned into a catch-up day after my whirlwind weekend! But I’m back now for this week’s year of Wooden challenge.

On a personal note, please send your thoughts and prayers for my brother and his MBA classmates who are in Bangkok on a school trip … Thailand has just enacted martial law and while Greg and his group are safe, as his protective older sister I can’t help but worry a little. Thanks in advance for your good thoughts!

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.

For the month of May, we’ll be focusing on the very first item of Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: “Be true to yourself.” Each week, I’ll be posting a question for you to reflect on, perhaps through journaling or meditation. The goal is that by the end of May, you’ll have a clear idea of what it means to be your happiest, most authentic self so that you can work on being true to that self.

Last week, the question to reflect upon was: What in your life makes you feel drained, overwhelmed or fearful?

I journaled about my tendency to sometimes overcommit myself, which can make me feel exhausted and overwhelmed. I’m slowly learning {and re-learning, and re-learning!} that when I hold myself back from trying to do “all the things” and instead commit only to activities and endeavors that I feel excited and passionate about, then it works out best for everyone involved. Instead of overextending myself, I have more energy to devote to these things that I DO care the most about. I’m also learning that, as much as I love feeling busy and productive, I need to give myself days to relax and recharge too. {Tim Kreider wrote a fantastic essay for The New York Times on this topic: “The Busy Trap.”}

This week, here is your question to consider: What in your life makes you feel most alive, vibrant, connected and strong?

vibrant life

highlights from mendocino trip

mendocino

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I spent the past few days on a little getaway to Mendocino, a quaint coastal town in northern California. Allyn’s family was sweet enough to invite me along on their trip, and I loved getting to spend more time with them and get to know them better. They are a super fun bunch, and we accumulated many inside jokes over our four days together!

Allyn’s family rented a vacation house a few miles outside of town with a stunning view of the ocean. I also loved the beautiful tall trees and the vibrant wildflowers!

ocean view

tall trees wildflowers

We went for day hikes along the beach cliffs and through the Jughandle nature preserve. Sometimes the weather in Mendocino can get quite dreary and foggy, but we lucked out with clear sunny days — perfect to take in the gorgeous views. We even spotted some humpback whales in the ocean, and some sea lions sunning themselves on the rocks.

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mendocino coast

jughandle trail

There was no Internet access or cell phone service, and it was refreshing to get “off the grid” for a few days. Instead of watching TV or checking email, evenings were spent talking by the fireplace, roasting marshmallows for s’mores, playing board games and trying to complete an epically challenging puzzle called “The Sentinels”… which was finally finished just before we had to leave!

the sentinels

All in all, it was a wonderful trip and I am so grateful to Allyn and his family for including me! I’ll end this recap post with a message we found spelled out with sticks along the Jughead trail — a great reminder for us all: YOU ARE LOVED.

you are loved

Questions of the morning:

  • What was a memorable getaway trip you took?
  • Do you ever set aside time to go “off the grid” and put away your electronic devices?

 

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
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Hope you’re having a wonderful Wednesday! 🙂

Questions of the morning:

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

year of kindness challenge: week 46

year of kindness button

Hi, friends! It is a cozy rainy day up here in northern California. I’m a little behind on the week, still catching up from my whirlwind weekend at home. Today feels so much like Monday to me! I’m hoping to have a productive afternoon “tcb-ing” as my brother says {an acronym he uses for “taking care of business!”} Tomorrow morning, I’ll be heading out again … I’m going to Mexico for a week with my mom’s side of the family to celebrate an early Thanksgiving! We are all super excited.

Last week’s kindness challenge, in honor of Veteran’s Day, was to do something kind for a veteran to show them how much they are appreciated. I’m planning to visit a veteran’s home in the future, but since it was a busy week at home I didn’t have time. Instead, I spent time with my Gramps and thanked some veterans in my church congregation at home.

The Week 46 Kindness Challenge is to reach out to someone who is going through a tough time and just listen. Just be there for them. Often my first impulse is to try to “fix” things, but when we’re sad sometimes the best medicine is a kind listening ear.

As always, blog about your experiences and include your links in the comments section below, or feel free to send me an email at dallaswoodburn AT gmail DOT com.

Have a marvelous week!
– Dallas

P.S.: Head on over to this Year of Kindness Challenge page to see all the archived posts from the previous 45 weeks!

Question of the day:

  • What kindnesses happened in your life this past week?

saturday upsides: reunited with my fam!

Happy Saturday, everyone! I am currently writing this late on Friday night from Mike’s parents’ house in the Chicago suburbs, but by the time you read this I will likely be in an airplane en route to Burbank, California, to be reunited with my family for the holidays!

family

I am SO excited to see them. I feel like my child-self on Christmas Eve, unable to fall asleep. I do love my life at Purdue, but it can be hard being so far away from my family. We have always been extremely close and though I do talk to them every day, as our time apart grows I find myself missing their physical presence more and more — I crave a hug from my mom; I want to see my brother’s mischievous-eyed smile; I really want to hear my dad’s laugh. I absolutely cannot wait to hug all of them in a matter of hours!

saturdayupsidesbutton

So my Saturday Upsides today, of course, is that I get to see my family. Their love and support is such a blessing in my life!

I was thinking today, as I scurried around town trying to get done what felt like the hundreds of little errands and tasks to complete in preparation for my trip, that traveling is like a lot of things in life: you have to put in a bunch of work to get to the reward. It made me think of one of my favorite quotes by John Wooden: “The journey is better than the inn.” Now, I’m not saying that waiting in line at the Post Office is better than the moment I step out into baggage claim and see my family’s smiling faces. But instead of letting stress get the best of me, I tried to appreciate the rituals of errands and packing and preparing for my trip back home as part of the journey itself. Switching up my mindset made my hectic day a whole lot more enjoyable!

What are the upsides of your lovely Saturday? Anyone else have de-stressing pre-travel tips to share?

-Dallas