A Quick Getaway

It may look like I forgot to post a trip from over the summer, but this is not a mistake! Yes, it’s two days before Thanksgiving, and just yesterday I was at the beach. I made a quick decision to meet my cousin and her three year old son while they stayed in San Diego. I was able to take the day off work last minute and I hit the road in the morning. I don’t remember the last time I had such a refreshing, head clearing day!

The nearly two-hour drive went by in a flash as I sang to good music and enjoyed the beautiful view heading down the 5 freeway. When I arrived we immediately stepped onto the beach outside her bay-side room (at this resort). We sat for a while and chatted while the little guy played in the sand. We all took a walk on the shoreline which curves around the large bay. No one was around except a few rowers and paddle boarders.

Soon after we grabbed some lunch at the outdoor restaurant, and then it was time for the little one to take a nap. While he was winding down, I walked around the resort and visited the gift shop, then later met up with my cousin.  We resumed our spot on the beach while he napped for two hours in the room. There was nothing to focus on except the conversation at hand while looking out at the water. It was pretty heavenly.

Once he woke up, we walked around the resort choosing which of the five pools we would dip into that evening. After some swimming we stopped and made s’mores at one of the fire pits. The evening sky was gorgeous and I was able to capture a few snippets just as the sun was setting. I drove home happy, tired, rested and fulfilled. It was the perfect timing, and I’m so grateful for the quick escape to reset!

On My Reading List

Now that it’s finally cooled down after 100 degree temps in late October, I’m ready to cozy up and start some new reads. I’ve had these four on my list for a while, and am looking forward to the mixture of good fiction, memoir and writing inspiration!

The Light Between Oceans
Now published over five years ago, this popular best seller was also made into a movie that I’ve also held off on seeing. The unique and intense plot of a couple secretly keeping a baby they didn’t conceive looks perfect for a cold, rainy weekend.

The Right to Write
Though I’ve not read it, I’ve also heard many good things about The Artist’s Way, also written by Julia Cameron. I thought The Right to Write would be a perfect introduction to her work. I look forward to reading more about her writing process.

Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?
I get so engrossed reading memoirs and can’t wait to read Alyssa’s account of working as a White House Aid under President Obama. That job is still on the dream list in the back of my mind and it will be so interesting to get an inside view of her life while there.

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine
The voice of Eleanor as the narrator of this heart-warming story sounds humorous, refreshing and relatable. Word on the street is that Reese Witherspoon is making this into a film, so I plan to devour it before it hits the mainstream big screen.

Check out my previous reading list here. 

Feeling Fall

When I lived in Virginia for grad school, my first October there was cold. I remember the air having a bit of sting as the temperature during the day dropped to about 50 degrees. As a SoCal native, this was definitely an adjustment but also really neat to watch the seasons actually turn. It’s been 10 years now since I’ve been back in CA, and I still enjoy the much more mild fall that we experience. The summer heat finally becomes less intense, the days get shorter and the nights are chilly. Here are a few ways I plan to celebrate this season.

First, it’s all about the pumpkin, apples and yummy treats. This pomegranate cider punch looks perfect for Thanksgiving. I don’t have a ton of time to assemble a pie, but I really want to give this caramel apple streusel version a try, and I’m pretty sure this everything bagel cheese dip will make an appearance somewhere. I also can’t let these months pass without trying this pumpkin sheet cake with brown butter frosting. All the yum! You can see all the fall recipes I’ve pinned here.

Besides getting my house in a cozier mode with added blankets and some fall smelling candles, I don’t really decorate until the end of November. Christmas is more my jam especially if I’m going to store it all year long. This year I’ve done more of a “fall cleanout” to get rid of unneeded items and donate to goodwill. It feels great to have a cleaner closet that’s no longer weighed down by added junk.

Since the foliage where I live is pretty non-existent, I love taking a trip up to Oak Glen in the San Bernardino mountains. My grandma lives close by and it’s always so fun to take in the trees and grab some apple pie or cider donuts. In fact, the photo above is at an apple orchard from one of my visits in recent years. I can’t wait to feel the crisp air, leaves crunching beneath my feet and a warm scarf around my neck.

So Happy Fall to you! How do you plan to enjoy this season?

How to Start Writing – Part 1

Do you find yourself wanting to write, but don’t know where to start? To many, writing seems like an intimidating process and something uncomfortable to jump into. Although I write materials for businesses and organizations, I’ve had a similar journey for many years when it comes to personal creative writing.

One of the most helpful things I’ve been told that has changed my perspective, is that if you write, you’re a writer. You don’t have to wait to call yourself one once you’re a published author.  I love to help other aspiring writers get in that mindset.

If you desire to write but you aren’t sure how to dive in, keep reading as I’ll share some helpful tips to get you started in this three-post series.

Be Open & Get Prepared

Writing is so easy when you have something to say. Perhaps a situation has irked you, or a thought has sparked passion in your soul that you must share with the world. The hard part on the other hand, is when you want to write but you can’t pinpoint exactly what to talk about.

I have found when this is the case, it’s best to release any pressure on yourself. When you just live life, the ideas will come to you. The key is to be open and looking, knowing that the right idea will come at the right time. So be proactive and on the lookout. For me ideas arrive while I’m working, sleeping, walking, reading, talking to a friend, listening to a podcast, or singing to music. Creative thoughts generally appear in the middle of life, when you aren’t pressuring yourself.

I know it’s an idea I want to run with when it stays on my mind and I have a yearning explore it through words. I know I won’t be satisfied until I’ve at least tried to write about it. Sometimes it’s for a blog post, sometimes for a book chapter, or something I’ll use later. So give it a try: release yourself from the pressure, be open, and be prepared to write those ideas down when they arrive. Once you do sit down to write, having a list creates an exciting starting point, and something to look forward to.

Takeaway: How can you be ready to write your ideas down? Find a dedicated notebook, or use the notepad on your phone to jot down the thoughts you want to return to. Need some further suggestions to spark your creativity? Check out my list of ideas here.

Summer Highlights

Every time a new season begins, it seems like everyone says “where did the time go?” I would certainly say the same about this summer. I really didn’t have much planned aside from a few weekend trips and outings with friends. As I wrote about in June, these months were spent finding a good balance as I introduced a large freelance project into my schedule.

Just about every other weekend was dedicated to working on the project, so although I didn’t get out and adventure as much, it’s felt great to work toward the goal of completing the work. Aside from this new routine, here are some favorite standout memories.

Just a couple weeks ago, I turned the big #35! How did that happen?! Wasn’t I just 25? At least that’s how it feels. I had a fun weekend of celebrating with various friends and family, and hit up some of my favorite restaurants. One stop was at True Food Kitchen in San Diego during a shopping trip with my mom. Pictured on the top left is the most refreshing drink– made of coconut water, OJ, pineapple juice and honey.

This summer I benefited from my dad’s recent move to a small mountain town, about an hour away from me. He lives right next to a pretty lake and I ventured up there a few times for a small get-away (seen from top and bottom photos on the right). We’ve walked around the lake, rented a row boat, and grilled burgers on his deck. His home is surrounded by trees and silence; basically a little slice of heaven.

Another dreamy locale was the site of a friend’s wedding in Dana Point. She and her husband reserved a public park that perfectly overlooked the water as the ceremony backdrop. The park is located in a neighborhood (shown in second photo on the left, with my friend Jess) and parking was surprisingly a breeze. The reception afterward was held in her parent’s beautiful backyard where they served delicious tacos and cake.

For most of the summer we were blessed with very mild weather, so several evenings a week I would walk my surrounding neighborhood. I love being able to regroup on a walk and enjoy the longer days. Catching a sunset is always the crowning event, and I try to capture them as much as possible (third photo on the left). They always help me take pause, and enjoy the moment I’m in.

And last, I can’t recap this season without highlighting a recipe! Back in July I made this no-bake cheesecake with berries, and it’s very much a crowd pleaser. If you’re looking for one last sweet summery patriotic treat, give this a try. So easy and fun for Labor Day, and you don’t have to fire up the oven. It’s a snap to pull together, and the perfect way to sign off summer until next Memorial Day.