Loving Lately

Watching
I finally finished season one of The Crown, and I’m officially hooked! This show gives a fascinating peek into the human lives behind England’s centuries-long monarch institution. When Queen Elizabeth inherits the throne at age 25, I don’t think anyone would ever quite understand what a burden this was for her. While her position as “the crown,” is meant to represent God, consult with the government and preside over the Church of England, she’s also faced with competing agendas between her husband, sister, mother and the Prime Minister (who is Winston Churchill at the time). It’s amazing that she’s still queen today at the age of 91. If you haven’t seen it already, I think you’ll find yourself just as easily captivated by this series.

Reading
I’ve been completely devouring The Glass Castle, a memoir about Jeannette Wall’s unbelievable childhood. I’m about 1/3 of the way through it, and as each chapter passes I’m astounded by all she experienced with her quirky, unstable family. They moved from town to town, her dad from job to job, while they barely ate and at one point slept in cardboard boxes. She burned herself cooking hot dogs at the age of three, was accidentally thrown out of a moving car, and faced life-threatening school bullies. Each vignette seems more shocking than the last, and I’m waiting to hear of how she finally breaks free. How did she get out on her own, and become a thriving writer with a college degree? This is my idea of a good book.

Eating
After too much indulging for most of December, and then getting the flu the first week of January, I’ve been working to eat much better this past month. I started with trying to get this green smoothie in most mornings. It’s really delicious, and you don’t get an overwhelming taste of kale. I’ve also been trying to take my lunch to work more frequently and these food prep containers have helped so much. I like to take a salad in a separate bowl, with some leftovers and the toppings in these containers. For dinner I really enjoyed these quinoa black bean stuffed peppers. So tasty and they make several servings. What have you been making lately?

Doing
Earlier this month I completed a big freelance project which was such a relief. I hope to share more about that soon. Now that it’s staying light a little later, I’m taking advantage of evening walks at the park near my work, pictured above. I’m also contemplating a bike purchase to use on the trail near my place (really digging this one). On another note, I recently went antique/vintage shopping, and wow I think I’m hooked. I snagged some incredible finds, and am thinking of sharing it all on a post here. Stay tuned!

How to Start Writing – Part 2

In the first post of this series, I chatted about being open as a writer and getting prepared to take in ideas as they come. Once those ideas are brewing, it’s time to get them out, and hone your craft as a writer. Start with the most pressing idea first and enjoy the satisfaction of bringing those thoughts to life.

Schedule & Go for It

If you don’t know your best writing time, try out a few different options. Try the early morning, try the evening, a lunch break, or the weekend. I’ve found that early mornings and evenings aren’t best for me because I’m trying to get to work in the morning, and in the evening my brain isn’t as sharp. I prefer Saturday mornings, or a quick mid-day session when I have a break at work.

Once you’re in the moment of writing, don’t hold yourself back by trying to craft absolutely perfect sentences. Let your thoughts flow and get all your ideas out. You’ll go back later and trim the edges. You can also approach your writing like it’s addressed to a friend. I was recently reminded of this tip, and it helps so much. You don’t feel held back and you don’t feel hindered to say everything perfectly.

So, start somewhere—even if the thoughts are ugly, unpolished or seemingly dumb. If you have the desire to write, the right words will eventually make their way to the page. Once the idea is out, you can cut, paste, edit and scrap until those words are crafted in a unique and satisfying way. Once you get a taste, you won’t be able to get enough. And that’s the goal, to keep returning to the page, and sharing your unique perspective with the world.

Takeaway: This week, look at your schedule, and choose an open time slot where you can write for about 30 minutes to an hour. See how you like it, and schedule accordingly for the next week. You can also set up a “writing date” with a friend (see #2 on this list) and work in tandem. Either way, jump in, and take an action step toward your goal. I’ll be back with Part 3 to chat about editing, and making the finishing touches. 

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?