fabulous friday #44

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s been a while since I’ve done a fabulous friday post around here… excited to get back to it!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Being home and soaking up time with my sweet family. Greg heads back to USC tomorrow {for his final semester of business school… craziness!} and we are going out to dinner as a family tonight. We’re going to try out an Indian restaurant downtown that Greg has been eying for awhile. I haven’t had Indian food for a looooong time, and I’m looking forward to some quality time with three of my very favorite people!

Irish pub fam

murray

{And Murray knows he is my favorite pup!}

2. My sweetheart made it safely to Kenya, and he and his group successfully summited Mt. Kenya! They only have sporadic Internet access, so I haven’t been able to communicate with him very much, but one of his group-mates posted this photo on Facebook of them all at the peak of Mt. Kenya. {There he is, second from the right!} I’m really proud of him, and excited to hear about all his adventures when he returns home in about a week!

mt kenya

3. Allison Williams. We watched her interview with Jon Stewart last night and I was completely charmed. I only knew her from the Peter Pan Live special, but now I’m seeing her everywhere — including on the cover of the Glamour magazine!

glamour allison williams

I loved what she said about the importance of knowing yourself before looking to others for outside validation:

“I’ve just figured out who I am. I am now rarely confronted with a feeling, physical or emotional, that I can’t place. … Part of getting to know yourself better means that all the relationships in your life improve: friendships, family, fiance, all of it.”

Also, while watching the Jon Stewart interview last night, my dad said, “Hey Dal, she kind of looks like you!” Maybe I’ve finally found my celebrity doppelganger?

4. Alexandra Franzen included a link to this amazing singer-songwriter, James Bay, in her latest newsletter. I can’t get enough of his soulful voice and lyrics!

5. This past Wednesday, I went to the book launch party for Jennifer Niven’s new YA release, All The Bright Places. It is a really wonderful book — like The Fault in Our Stars meets Eleanor & Park meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower — and Jennifer could not be nicer or more gracious. It was so exciting to meet her!

all the bright places

BONUS: I have some writing-related news to share with you!

  • My YA romance ebook, “How I Became a Coffee Addict,” is available for FREE through January 10th on Amazon! Grab your copy here.
  • My short story “Receiptless” was recently published in the literary journal The Literati Review; you can read it online here. Hope you enjoy! 🙂

Questions of the day:

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

fabulous friday #36

Happy Friday, friends! I can’t believe it’s the start of another weekend again already. Although, Saturdays are actually my heaviest load teaching-wise — four classes back-to-back-to-back-to-back! — so Fridays for me are spent prepping and gearing up for a whirlwind of energetic kiddos! My “weekends” actually fall on Mondays and Tuesdays right now {those are the only two days when I don’t have any teaching or tutoring commitments.} However, even though teaching can be exhausting, I love it and I love my students. Plus, Allyn is taking me out to dinner & a comedy show tomorrow night, so I’ll be looking forward to that all day!

How is your day going so far? Mine is flying by! I slept in a little later than I intended this morning {guess my body needed it! I’m all about following Robyn’s advice and listening to your body, which means sleeping in if you are able to when your body craves more rest} … so I downed a quick smoothie breakfast of banana + pineapple + mango + bluebs + spinach while getting ready this morning. Then I scurried off for two private tutoring sessions. The students are out of school today for a teacher workday, so I was able to schedule my tutoring sessions for the morning instead of the afternoon as I usually do. Sometimes the kids get {understandably} a little tired or cranky in the afternoon when I see them after they’ve already had a long day of school, so this morning they seemed extra-energetic and ready to write! {By the way, if you’re a parent or teacher or looking for some fun writing activities to do with kids, check out this post I wrote for Parent Grapevine with some tried-and-true ideas I use frequently!}

On my way home, I popped by Safeway in an attempt to get my flu shot, but after waiting in a long line I was informed they no longer take my insurance, so I have to go to Walgreens or Rite-Aid instead. It was a little frustrating, but I also am petrified of getting shots so I will admit a part of me was relieved to put it off for a little longer 🙂

Now I’m back home, hoping to get some productive writing done this afternoon. Before I get down to work, time for Fabulous Friday!

Here are 5 things I’m loving right now:

1. Honeycrisp apples! They’re baaaaack! As my cousin Makena said in amazement when we split one the other day, “These things taste like CANDY.” Yeah they do! My favorite snack of the moment is a sliced honeycrisp apple, half topped with pb and the other half topped with Justin’s maple almond butter. I could eat this allll daaaaay.

honeycrisp apples

2. On Wednesday night, I gave a reading in San Jose at the Flash Fiction Forum event. It was so much fun! Such a warm, engaged and welcoming crowd. I always get nervous before giving a reading, but my nerves melted away as soon as I looked out at the crowd and saw all the interested expressions and smiling faces. I wore what I refer to as my New Orleans dress, because I got it for my trip to visit Allyn in New Orleans this past summer.

nola dress

Another thing I love about attending public readings is meeting other writers! I was excited to get a signed copy of fellow reader Kevin Sharp‘s YA novel After Dakota… I’ve only finished the first couple chapters, but I’m already hooked!

after dakota book

3. When kitchen fails actually turn into something yummy. Earlier this week, I was intending to make butterscotch chocolate-chip oatmeal cookies, but when the oven timer sounded I was greeted with these monstrous things… much bigger and thicker than your ordinary cookie! After trying one, I realized they are not cookies, they are scones! So I’ve been enjoying them for breakfast. They’re delicious plain, with nutbutter, or with jam. I’ll be sharing the recipe soon, after I test it out again!

scones

4. This is a stunning blog post — beautifully written, heart-rending, brought me to tears: http://witandwhimsy.onsugar.com/Watching-Dad-Watch-Flames-6584225

5. When I was at the grocery store, I was not able to get my flu shot, but I WAS able to score some pumpkin baking ingredients on sale! I wanted to load my basket down with cans and cans and cans of pumpkin, but I restrained myself. Can’t wait to bake a pumpkin pie and to try out some of the fantastic pumpkin recipes on Two Peas & Their Podpumpkin snickerdoodles, perhaps?

pumpkin

And, that’s a wrap! In addition to dinner with Allyn tomorrow night, this weekend I’m also looking forward to family time, helping out with the church service on Sunday, a much-anticipated long-overdue catch-up date with Dana, and cozying up under a blanket with some tea and a good book.

Questions of the day:

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

October Book Club: “Thirteen Reasons Why” by Jay Asher

One of my favorite bloggers, Julie of Peanut Butter Fingers, hosts a book club every month through her blog. I love to read and thought it might be a neat way to get introduced to new books and authors and do some “fun reading” outside of the reading I’m assigned through school. I’ll be following along with the book club selections over at Peanut Butter Fingers and then posting my review/reflections/comments about the book on here at the beginning of each new month.

October’s Book Club pick was Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. I’d heard a lot of buzz about this book but I hadn’t read it yet, and I was intrigued immediately when I picked it up and read the back cover:

“You can’t stop the future. You can’t rewind the past. The only way to learn the secret … is to press play.”

The book is written from the perspective of Clay Jensen, a high school senior who receives a package in the mail with no return address. Inside the package is a series of tapes — thirteen sides in all — containing the recorded testimony of Hannah Baker, a girl from Clay’s school who had committed suicide just a few short weeks before. Clay had nursed a crush on Hannah for years, but hadn’t summoned the courage to act on his feelings {other than one confusing night right before Hannah died} and is filled with regret about the way things turned out. He is both curious and repulsed by the tapes. He wants to hear what Hannah has to say, but is also filled with frustration and sadness to hear the pain in her voice.

Something that really impressed me about this book was the way Asher interweaves Hannah’s voice and memories in the tapes with Clay’s narrative and thoughts in the present line of action. Their voices/perspectives interweave seamlessly and beautifully, in a way that reminded me of a musical duet, steadily increasing the tension more and more until the inevitable, and yet also surprising, conclusion. Asher writes with honesty, vividness, and unflinching realism — and for a novel dealing with suicide, Thirteen Reasons Why was surprisingly hopeful. I was very moved while reading this book, and particularly at the end. I don’t usually cry while reading, but the tears came when I was turning the final pages of this novel.

To me, some of the most poignant moments in the novel were when Clay laments, Why didn’t you talk to me, Hannah? I would have listened. This book made me think of the myriad of ways, both large and small, that peoples’ lives are intertwined. We have no idea how big of an impact we have on those around us. The smallest gesture — a smile, a kind word, a “hello” in the halls — can be just the thing to give someone else hope or happiness or turn their life around.

Have any of you read this book? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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My rating: 5 out of 5 stars