goals + recipes for the week of 9/28

Happy Sunday, friends! It’s a busy day around here. I’m off to do a little tutoring this morning before church; then after the church service we’re having a Young Adult potluck; and then tonight we’re having family dinner at my aunt Annie’s house before my Uncle Frankie heads back down to L.A. in the morning. Lots of friend & family time, which makes my heart happy!

Speaking of happy hearts, my sweetie’s birthday is this Tuesday! Last night I was invited to celebrate with him and his sister, dad and stepmom at the beautiful Clairemont Country Club. I wore my navy and ivory chevron dress from¬†this past Easter {thanks to Arianna for helping me decide on an outfit! My cousin is eleven years younger than I am but has waaaaay more style!} ūüėČ

chevron dress

And my other stylish cousin, Bianca, helped me bake red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for the birthday boy!

cupcakes

Speaking of yummy desserts, I have to share a photo of this aaaaaamazing butternut squash bread pudding I ordered for dessert on Friday night. I’m gonna try to recreate it myself at some point, perhaps using this recipe? Oh and yeah, that’s salted caramel gelato on top. With chocolate caramel cups mixed in. Yuuuuummmmm.¬†I want to eat this again, like, right now.

butternut squash bread pudding

Before I lose myself in drooling over this photo, let’s move onto¬†goals…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:¬†
Рcomplete new draft of my novel-in-progress {wrote two new chapters; one more to go!}
–¬†finish editing work
–¬†prepare for first week of teaching/new semester
do yoga twice & core exercises five times
–¬†read 100 pages of¬†Into the Night Sky¬†by¬†Caroline Finnerty

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
Рcomplete new draft of my novel-in-progress
– celebrate Allyn’s birthday! ūüôā
– do yoga twice & core exercises five times
Рfinish reading Into the Night Sky by Caroline Finnerty

And here are some recipes I’m eying¬†this week:
crockpot asian pulled chicken via The Pajama Chef
creamy spinach & cheese green chile enchiladas via Two Peas & Their Pod
pumpkin cinnamon cookies via Two Peas & Their Pod
6 healthy crockpot chicken freezer meals via New Leaf Wellness & Money-Saving Mom
– my own curried butternut squash & apple soup

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!

new haircut! & other random tidbits

Hello, friends! Just poppin’ in to say hello. How is your day going?

It’s been a busy morning around here… my favorite kind of busy, productive weekday morning. I woke up early and, after a bowl of oatmeal with sliced apple and walnuts, I headed over to Starbucks for a pumpkin chai latte and a couple hours of writing. This afternoon, I’ve got some tutoring and editing projects on the agenda.

starbucks work sesh

Here are some odds & ends on my mind today…

I got a haircut! Crazy how something as simple as trimming a couple inches off my hair can make me feel so rejuvenated.

new haircut

I’m so happy The Good Wife is back! The first episode of the season was a real nail-biter and I am already on pins-and-needles for next week! The Good Wife is one of the only shows I watch on a regular basis. My parents, grandparents, and aunt Annie watch it, too, so it’s fun discussing¬†each new episode every Monday morning. Do you have any shows like that?

On Sunday night Allyn watched my favorite romantic movie, Serendipity, with me! There’s something about autumn that always makes me crave this movie. As I told Allyn: “My love for Serendpity will never die.” I also love the beautiful instrumental theme song of the movie, January Rain by David Gray.

Serendipity

Yesterday Grandma and I watched the movie Iris on TV about the life of British writer Iris Murdoch. I thought it was heartbreaking but really well done, and now I’m inspired to read Irish Murdoch’s books — I think I might start with her classic The Sea, The Sea.

Speaking of books and writers… I tweeted to JoJo Moyes about how much I loved her book One Plus One, and she tweeted me back! September must be the month for celebrity encounters… remember last year when I ran into Casey James at Starbucks?

jojo moyes tweet

I made a batch of my favorite pb cup brownies {I gave most to Allyn but kept a couple for myself, too!} and I’ll probably polish off the last one tonight.¬†Treats like this just make the week feel more special.

pb cup brownies

Questions of the day:

  • What are your favorite TV shows?
  • Has someone you admire every replied to a tweet you sent? Or have you ever had a celebrity encounter?
  • What treats make your ordinary days more special?

goals + recipes for the week of 9/21

Greetings from the Bay Area! It’s great to be reunited with my grandparents — my grandma is walking around with just a cane now! I’m so proud of her! And last night I was¬†reunited with my sweetheart, who I hadn’t¬†seen for more than 3 weeks because I dog-sat/house-sat for my parents while they were away on their trip to Ireland. It felt like I was gone a really long time! Tonight I’m bringing dinner over to Allyn’s apartment… I’m thinking of making my turkey enchiladas. They’re super easy to prep ahead and then pop into the oven when you’re ready to eat.

My morning started off with a hearty bowl of cinnamon oatmeal with blueberries and sliced pear, and the rest of the pear on the side.

oatmeal pear blueberries

I needed something to give me sustained energy because it’s going to be a busy morning around here — I’m serving as Worship Associate for the first time at my church! In addition to assisting the minister with a bunch of preparation duties for the service, I’ll also be giving two short speeches: the Call to Worship and the Call for the Offering. I’m a little nervous, but mostly excited and honored.

Before I head out, it’s time for goals…

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:¬†
Рcomplete new draft of my novel-in-progress {getting really close!!}
–¬†prepare for Worship Associate duties at church
soak up time with my family
do yoga twice
–¬†read One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
Рcomplete new draft of my novel-in-progress
–¬†finish editing work
–¬†prepare for first week of teaching/new semester
– do yoga twice & core exercises five times
–¬†read 100 pages of¬†Into the Night Sky¬†by¬†Caroline Finnerty

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
greek orzo pasta salad via The Pajama Chef
pb cup oatmeal & carrot cake oatmeal via the real-life RD
honey peach muffins with oat streusel topping via Two Peas & Their Pod
17 freezer-cooking recipes via Homeschool Creations & Money-Saving Mom
Рmy 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!

goals + recipes for the week of 9/14

Hi, friends! I’m happy to report that my parents are home safe and sound from their adventure in Ireland ūüôā After I picked them up at the airport, we drove across L.A. to have dinner with my brother before coming home to Ventura. It was the first time that all four of us had¬†been together since June, and it was soooo nice! I adore my family and feel so blessed to share life with these loving, supportive, amazing people.

fam wedding pic

Photo from my cousin Amanda’s wedding last year.

Today is shaping up to be busy with errands, exercise, family time, and a BBQ! But for now… let’s move onto goals and recipes!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:¬†
Рcomplete new draft of my novel-in-progress
complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
–¬†finalize tutoring schedule
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:
Рcomplete new draft of my novel-in-progress
–¬†prepare for Worship Associate duties at church
– soak up time with my family
– do yoga twice
–¬†read One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

And here are some recipes I’m drooling over this week:
healthy crumb-topped zucchini bread via The Pajama Chef
baked apple chips via The Lean Green Bean
easy homemade peach butter via Two Peas & Their Pod
roquefort rotini w/roasted squash & walnuts via Panera Bread website
– my own pumpkin¬†oatmeal cookies¬†{let the pumpkin obsession begin!} ūüôā

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 9/7

Happy Sunday, everyone! Hope you had a great first weekend of September!

This past week I was able to continue my writing momentum and get a lot of pages revised — and some new stuff written!¬†They say it takes three weeks to really solidify a habit, so I’m planning to continue my strict routine into this week and hope it sticks. Every writer works differently, but for me it really makes a difference to jump into my projects first thing in the morning and get some words onto the page¬†before life gets in the way with other responsibilities and fires to put out!

I’m curious: how do you stay productive in your work? What schedule is best for you?

Now time for goals and recipes!

weekly goals

Here’s how I did on my goals from this past week:¬†
revise 100 pages of my novel-in-progress
– complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul {started this, but didn’t finish}
submit three pieces to journals/publications
connect with three friends
do yoga twice
–¬†read through five back issues from my New Yorker stash

Here are my goals for this upcoming week:
Рcomplete new draft of my novel-in-progress
– complete new essay for Chicken Soup for the Soul
–¬†finalize tutoring schedule
– 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:
chocolate-chip buttermilk waffles with caramelized bananas via The Pajama Chef
easy homemade greek dressing via The Pajama Chef
–¬†apple zucchini muffins¬†via¬†Two Peas & Their Pod
best-ever black bean soup via Money-Saving Mom
– my own spaghetti with garlic, olive oil and tomatoes

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 30

Hi, everyone! Hope you had a lovely Labor Day weekend! Dana is visiting and we spent a gorgeous day soaking up the sunshine in Santa Barbara. I love having this beautiful inside-and-out person for a friend!

me and dana sb

Now it’s time for¬†this week’s¬†year of Wooden¬†challenge… and we’re into a new month, which means a new topic!

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.
  • August: Balance.
  • September:¬†Drink deeply from good poetry.

Back in January, we began this year-long challenge with the first item from Coach Wooden’s 7-Point Creed: Drink deeply from good books. Now, back-to-school time seems the perfect season¬†to return to this idea¬†of learning, curiosity, and growth through reading. I want to include¬†a special focus on poetry because Coach Wooden had a deep love for poetry. He could recite many poems by heart and even wrote poetry himself. So, for the month of September, we are going to delve into poetry.

But before moving forward, let’s wrap up August’s focus on balance. Last¬†week’s challenge was to¬†try to do one activity from each of your categories every day. My main categories are:

  • Family & friends
  • Work
  • Writing
  • Mental health
  • Physical health

Here are some activities I did this past week: spent quality time with my grandparents {my grandma is healing very well from her hip operation!} and extended family, as well as my parents, sweetheart, and Dana; put in a solid 12-15 hours of editing work; revised 80+ pages of my work-in-progress; submitted pieces to three journals; watched a fun movie and read some of my favorite blogs; wrote in my gratitude journal and meditated; and did lots and lots of walking in the sunshine!

I still want to get back into my yoga routine, which has been difficult with all the traveling I’ve been doing lately. Does anyone have good beginner yoga YouTube videos to recommend, since I haven’t been able to make it to my favorite classes in-person?

It can be overwhelming {not to mention impossible} trying to “have it all” and “do it all”… so last¬†week’s challenge was important for me. I shifted my mind-set away from trying to cram 1,001 things into each day and instead focused on making time for two or three¬†of my¬†key categories every day. Just as I had hoped, over the course of the week I did¬†feel much more balanced and peaceful — and happy! I’m definitely planning to continue this routine.

To kick of the month of September, for this week’s challenge, I am going to read Selected Poems¬†of Robert Frost.

Selected Poems Robert Frost

You can also read many of Robert Frost’s poems online here. Next week, I’ll share my favorite poem from the collection, and I’d love to hear yours as well!

Questions for the day:

  • How did your month of balance go? Did you learn anything about yourself?
  • Who are some of your favorite poets?

P.S. A special birthday shout-out to Holly, who turned 27 yesterday!

me and hol brunch

I love you so much, my dear friend!

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!

a year of Wooden: week 29

Happy Monday, friends! It’s time for¬†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.
  • August: Balance.

Coach Wooden said, “The two most important words in the English language are LOVE and BALANCE.” In July, we focused on the first of those: cultivating and nurturing more love in our lives. Now, in August, we are working to create better balance in our lives.

balance quote

Last¬†week’s challenge was to¬†look at the inventory of the key components that make up each of your categories and think about how these activities might come together in a balanced way to create your “perfect ordinary day.” My main categories are:

  • Family & friends
  • Work
  • Writing
  • Mental health
  • Physical health

My “perfect ordinary day” would be a stress-free morning spent waking up slowly with meditation, gratitude journaling, and a hot mug of tea; three or four hours¬†of diligent writing on my creative work-in-progress; an afternoon spent blogging, working on editing projects, and teaching; nourishment throughout the day from healthy, nutritious meals; yoga class or a nice walk; time spent with family and friends; and reading for half an hour before bed from a great book.

For this week’s challenge, try to do one activity from each of your categories every day. See what it feels like. Be flexible and give yourself grace. For example, if I’m having an especially busy day, maybe I can’t make it to yoga class but I am able to do a fifteen-minute core circuit routine before bed. Maybe you can’t meet up with a friend in person, but you can connect with them over email or text message to let them know you are thinking of them.

Remember: balance does not happen overnight, and it means cultivating¬†a routine of mindfulness. The goal is to focus on making time for each of your key categories — each day might not be perfectly balanced, but over the course of the week you should feel balanced between all of your categories. Let me know how it goes!

Questions for the day:

  • What does a “perfect ordinary day” look like for you?
  • What activities do you want to make time for in your¬†life this week?

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!