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?

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.

Current Rhythms

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I’ve found that with each new season certain tweaks are required in order to best use the time you have. As such, this past month I had the incredible opportunity to start some long-term freelance editing for my church. In order to make this happen with my work schedule, I’ve had to adjust some routines to give myself better structure and flexibility.

Adding a large project like this to my plate thankfully hasn’t been overwhelming and it’s made me better evaluate how I spend my time during the week. Here are a few of the rhythms I’m currently adopting so I can meet all my deadlines, avoid burnout and also enjoy these summer months!

First off, to keep my energy level up, I’m finding I have to walk at least every other night. The weather is beautiful in the evening and it’s still light out at 8:30 p.m. This is a hugely helpful way for me to clear my head, think of ideas and generally get refreshed after being inside all day.

On the nights I’m not walking, I try to cook, meet up with a friend, or catch up on to-dos. If I’m cooking, I’ll make something that will last the next two to three days. I’ve found making twice weekly trips to Trader Joes is a lifesaver. I’ll only purchase what I need for the next few days and not worry about planning too far ahead. Less stress and I don’t end up wasting groceries!

The beauty of freelance work is that you can do it anytime, anywhere that your schedule allows. After sitting at a desk all day (which is blessedly next to a large window), it’s pretty nice to sit on the couch or even in bed with a laptop once I’m at home. I was concerned that I would feel too tired at night to keep working, but having the option of lounging in my PJs makes it very doable.

A small, basic shift I’ve made is washing my face in the evening. It’s very simple, but helps me feel like I’m accomplishing something positive (I’m currently loving the Kale Detox from Pacifica). Taking the time to do this makes my skin amazingly fresh in the morning, not worn out and tired. I’m well overdue on this “grown up” habit, after using a make-up removing towelette since college 12+ years ago. Yikes!

Lastly, once a week on my way to work I stop at Starbucks for breakfast. Most mornings I have the same smoothie and oatmeal ritual, but it’s fun to break it up with a $10 treat. I’ll usually get a grande half-caf latte, a yogurt, and a bagel. The vegan sprouted bagel is insanely good! It’s the little things, right?

What about for you? Do you find certain rhythms and routines help your current schedule or season of life?

Here & There

A few things I’ve read or listened to online lately.

Sarah Bessey’s recent essay on why she stopped drinking blew me away. She so articulately described the gentle way God convicts us of our habits. I don’t have a particular hang-up with drinking daily as she described, but could completely relate to the way God spoke to her heart about reliance on something outside of Him. In this way, drinking could be replaced by an activity that blocks our dependence on God as our ultimate source. So good!

For fellow writers, I’ve really enjoyed the Hope Writers Podcast featuring author and blogger Emily Freeman, her sister Myquillyn Smith (blogger behind The Nester), their author dad Gary Morland, and their marketing friend Brian Dixon. They chat about all kinds of writerly topics, based on their background and provide a great source of encouragement and inspiration. Bonus that their dynamic together is pretty fun and entertaining.

Speaking of Emily Freeman, she recently posted a great piece on “8 Things Whole-Hearted Creative Women Do Differently.

If you are anything like me, you might struggle with regularly cracking open the bible. To help with this, I’ve used the YouVersion Bible App since my church provides a reading plan on there. I recently discovered though, that there are tons of free devotionals, even by famous authors. Two I’ve loved lately are “Wait and See” focused on waiting for God’s timing, and the “Without Rival” devotional by Lisa Bevere. Once you download the app, just tap the Discover tab and there are so many to choose from, all divided by life issues and topics. It’s awesome!

I was so inspired by this Everygirl article, a first-hand account of what it was like to work out every day for 30 days. I’ve held this goal for a while as well, and to see a journal-style tell-all made it seem much more attainable and completely worth it.

What about you? What have you been reading or listening to online lately?

Savoring Spring

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The weather these past few weeks has felt like such a treat! Here in Southern California, it’s cool and sunny with a delicate breeze, and flowers are blooming everywhere. I love this season’s transition, and how the time change makes the sun stay out longer. Does this make you as happy as it makes me? Here are a few ways I plan to enjoy this time, before we head into summer’s heat.

Lingering Outside

After work I go on a walk just about every other night. This greatly helps my mental state as I can clear my head and pray, or just listen to music for about 30 minutes. It’s something I truly missed during the winter months! I moved to a new area last year that is surrounded by hills, and they are all gloriously green from a heavy rain season. Also, watching the sunsets – they offer a breathtaking sight in what can feel like a very ordinary day.

Spring Cleaning

I’m busting out the cleaning supplies as I’ve noticed some cobwebs in corners and dust gathering on window sills. It’s also time to turn my mattress around and do some closet organization. I keep my seasonal clothes in containers under my bed, so I’ll be swapping out the winter sweaters for spring dresses. I also love when there’s a slight breeze, I’m starting to open windows and sliding doors more often to get some nice air flow.

Thoughtful Giving

Each season I like to collect a few items and arrange them in a basket to give away. It’s perfect to surprise someone who is going through a rough time or needs some encouragement. For this basket I’ve so far collected a candle, journal, devotional, nail polish, and lotion. I’ll add some fresh flowers, and a hand written card. I gather these items one at a time, as my budget allows, and then deliver the surprise. Brightening someone’s day is always a happy thing!