Posted in Books, Inspiration, Writing

4 Steps to a Mindset Change

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Part 3 in a 4 part series on Books to Help You Be The Best You.

Well, this past week has been one for the books.  We’ve had several small snow events here in Middle Tennessee, so what began as a random snow day became a week off work.  Hey, I’m not complaining!  It’s been wonderful to have some extra time to do the things that never seem to get done around here.  But best of all… I’ve had time to write.

I began this writing journey 2 years ago, when I wrote my first rough draft manuscript for NaNoWriMo. (More on that here). Since then I have been working on editing that manuscript, and have even written a second NaNoWriMo rough draft, which is in desperate need of some TLC.  Since I had this gift of time this week, I decided to bring out the first manuscript, finally write the ending, (I’m sure the characters were anxious to know what was to become of them) and begin working on a book proposal.

As I wrote, it became clear to me that my opening chapter, the part of the book that was supposed to usher readers into the magical world I had hoped to create, was, well… not very good.  There… I said it.  So, after swallowing my own wounded pride and having a long chat with myself (and Blanche – more about her later) about not giving up, I re-wrote, yet again, the beginning of my story.


Which brings me to my topic this week.  Last year I read a terrific book by Carol Dweck called Mindset. The book details Dweck’s research into the attitudes and Continue reading “4 Steps to a Mindset Change”

Posted in Books, Family, Inspiration, Writing

Living Forward

forest-3066828_1920Part 2 in a 4 part series on Books to Help You Be The Best You!

Happy Friday!  It’s an especially happy day for me today.  It’s our first snow day of 2018! There’s something so special about a snow day.  It’s not even just the fact that I get the day off from work (although that definitely helps!).  Here in Middle Tennessee it doesn’t snow all that much, and when we do get a snow it doesn’t usually hang around very long.  So many of us, especially those of us in education, tend to celebrate snow a little more than the average person!

I love being able to wake up a little later, enjoy my breakfast and morning cup of tea without having to rush out the door.  I love going on walks through the snow with my husband and our dogs.  And I love being able to sit quietly at my laptop and write.  That’s a pleasure and a privilege I don’t get very often.  So today is special!

Hmm… When I think about it, I realize what a funny thing that is to say;  “Today is special.” Isn’t every day special?

This week an article caught my attention on social media.  It was written by a beautiful young lady named Holly Butcher who was terminally ill.  The message was released just days after she passed away, Continue reading “Living Forward”

Posted in Books, Inspiration, Writing

The Slight Edge


“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.”

Ralph Waldo Emmerson

Happy New Year!!

Well, here we are… the first full week of January, and just like many of you, I’ve hit the ground running!  It still amazes me how the past year has flown by.  Every year I vow to make the most of each day, simplify, live in the moment, savor life… and every year the time still seems to slip away from me!

As I was trying to decide what I wanted to talk with you about this week, stressing over whether to write about my New Year’s Resolutions (or lack of them), ways to make this the best year ever, how to be happier, healthier, more successful (in 60 days or less)… (yada, yada, yada), it occurred to me that what I really want to do is chat with you about some simple things that have helped me on this journey as I strive to reach my goals. I tend to get a lot of inspiration from things I read, so over the next few weeks I will introduce you to a few books which have helped me to make a tangible change in my life (for the better, I think!)flower-3061523_1920



A little over two years ago a friend of mine mentioned on Facebook that she was reading a new book and that it was causing her to look at how she might live her life differently. I believe her words were “It has made all the difference!”  Well, needless to say, I was intrigued.  Now, I’m not typically a self-help-book kind of girl.  Give me a good historical fiction novel and I’m not putting it down until the last page is turned.  But, well… let’s just say that this one had me at hello!

“Happiness is created by doing some simple, easy things, and doing them every day.”

The Slight Edge ~ Essential Points from Chapter 7

Continue reading “The Slight Edge”

Posted in Inspiration, Seasons

Images of December

“December’s wintery breath is already clouding the pond, frosting the pane, obscuring summer’s memory…”

John Geddes

“I heard a bird sing in the dark of December. A magical thing. And sweet to remember. We are nearer to Spring than we were in September. I heard a bird sing in the dark of December.”

Oliver Herford


“How did it get so late so soon?
It’s night before it’s afternoon.
December is here before it’s June.
My goodness how the time has flewn.
How did it get so late so soon?”
~Dr. Seuss

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“It is never over, though we are in December!”

Ernest Agyemang Yeboah


Posted in Family, Inspiration, Seasons


Happy Christmas Eve!  This always seems like a magical day to me.  When I wake in the morning I remember Christmas eves of the past, when as a child I was filled with anticipation for what was to come.

I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions lately.  This time of year, especially, seems to be bitter sweet and steeped in tradition.  Many of us build our Decembers around traditions from the past.  But I’ve also been thinking a lot about how traditions change. Continue reading “Tradition…”

Posted in Uncategorized


Without a doubt, the Christmas season is in full swing this week.  Even when I try to keep it low key and stress-free, it seems like things always seem to fall apart on this last week before the big day!  

So today, as my gift to you, I want to share a little Christmas Cheer… just in case you needed something to help you make these next few days a little merrier (or tolerable!!)


16 oz. Cranberry Wine (if you have trouble finding Cranberry Wine, a Sweet Red will do).

16 oz. Hard Apple Cider

8-12 oz Cranberry Ginger Ale

Apple and Orange Slices 

Cinnamon Sticks

Mix together and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Enjoy!! Drink responsibly, and have a Very Merry and Safe Christmas Season!

Much Love, 

Posted in Books, Decorating, Family, Inspiration, Seasons

Winter Solstice: A Christmas Book Review

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

A Book Review by Sue Malinoski

It’s been an amazingly beautiful weekend here.  Perfect weather if it were the beginning of October.  However, it happens to be the first weekend in December, and although I love the near 70 degree weather, it’s made it a little bit difficult for me to get into the Christmas Spirit.  However, we did take advantage of the gorgeous day yesterday to clear the front porch of pumpkins (well, nearly all of them… Pumpkins always seem to find a place in our decorating!) and put up a few outdoor Christmas decorations.

I decided last week, since I was feeling a little bit Scrooge-like, that is was probably time to do something to mend this mood I was in.  So I turned to the one thing that always seems to get me in the spirit of the season; I pulled out my favorite Christmas book!

Continue reading “Winter Solstice: A Christmas Book Review”

Posted in Family, Recipes, Seasons

Creamy Roasted Butternut Soup (Paleo and Whole 30)

What a beautiful Thanksgiving week we have had here in Middle Tennessee.  It’s late Sunday afternoon, Black Friday is in the history books (not that I noticed… that’s just not my cup of tea!) and I’m trying to get my mind around going back to work tomorrow.  All around me I see people preparing for Christmas, but I must admit, I enjoy dragging out the Thanksgiving feeling just a little bit longer.


Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours!


I’m sure, by sometime next week I’ll be starting to put out some Christmas decorations, but for right now, I’m looking at that leftover turkey in the fridge and thinking about something warm and soothing to carry me through the week ahead.  Turkey never goes to waste at our house, but I love to find new ways to use it.  This summer I created this hearty butternut squash soup using leftover chicken, but I decided to try it with our leftover turkey this time.  I absolutely love the sweet nutty taste of the butternut squash in the fall and winter, don’t you? Continue reading “Creamy Roasted Butternut Soup (Paleo and Whole 30)”

Posted in Family, Recipes, Seasons

Pumpkin Cheesecake

For pottage and puddings and custards and pies
Our pumpkins and parsnips are common supplies,
We have pumpkins at morning and pumpkins at noon,
If it were not for pumpkins we should be undoon.”

Pilgrim verse, circa 1633

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Well, it’s the Saturday before Thanksgiving and I’ve spent most of today cleaning and preparing my grocery list for the week ahead.  I have to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with this time of the year.  You see, I’m a planner, and there isn’t much I like more than planning for a holiday celebration or guests coming to stay.  And then there’s the reality of getting it all together.  Usually I over-plan, over-prepare, and work myself into a frantic frenzy.  This year I’m trying to keep it a little more low key so that I can actually enjoy time with family.


I thought you might find some pumpkin history fascinating this week.  I love history, and what I found was so very interesting…

Continue reading “Pumpkin Cheesecake”

Posted in Inspiration, Writing

Follow Your Dreams…. or, How I wrote a novel in 30 days!


“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” ― Maya Angelou

It’s November, and there are a lot of reasons to be excited!  To be sure, November ushers in the beginning of the holiday season.  But November has another very special meaning to me and to about 450,000 others who have become annual groupies of an event called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short.

Truth is, I’ve been waiting for this day so I could share this with you.  Why, you ask?  What in the world is so important about this event? Well, NaNoWri Mo is the reason I am doing what I’m doing today.  This blog, and many, many dreams were born the day my daughter shared a simple book with me.  She said “Check this out, Mom.  I think you’ll like it.” And this might sound extreme, but guess what… it changed my life!


You see, I have a bucket list, as I’m sure many of you do.  Somewhere high up on that list has always been a desire to write.  But not just to write…  I wanted to write a novel.  For as long as I can remember this has been a dream of mine.  But it was a dream that, in all honesty I really couldn’t imagine would ever come true.  In order for me to write a novel I would have to be a writer, and, well… the longest thing I had ever written was a college research paper.  And I knew without a doubt that hardly counted as the beginning of a writing career.

And then into my life enters this book:


I actually received the book in Mid December of 2015, a few weeks after the conclusion of NaNoWriMo.  The holidays seemed a bit of a crazy time to even think about dedicating 30 days to writing a novel.  But the book lit a spark.  I couldn’t stop thinking about it, wondering if it might be possible. I began to read, and suddenly the dream didn’t seem so unreachable after all.   The first four chapters were dedicated to something I completely believe in; preparation.  If nothing else, I really like to be prepared!  So I began to plot (pardon the pun) my own NaNoWriMo month, which would happen for me in February.  After all, just because November is the official month doesn’t mean one can’t be a trendsetter and pick one’s own NaNoWriMo, right?  But February?  Let’s get real!  It’s the shortest month of the year?? What was I thinking, right?

Well, as fate would have it, that February proved to be a snowy one in Middle Tennessee, and as a teacher I was blessed with a few extra days off. (Oh how we love our very rare snow days here!!).  That first NaNoWriMo was filled with excitement and the shear joy of writing.  I could not believe I was doing it!  As I watched the number count grow on my laptop I began to feel confident that I could do this! In the end, I finished my 50,000 word rough draft a day ahead of  the month-end deadline, in just 27 days!!


Now, I’m not going to lie to you.  When I say rough draft, I mean rough draft.  But it was there; the beginnings of my book.  I’ve spent many months since then editing, revising and re-writing the manuscript, which is now nearly twice the length it was on that cold February day in 2016.  And although I’m not yet published (more on that in a future blog), I now have two manuscripts to my name, the second one having been written during my second NaNoWriMo this past January (2017).

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” ― Louis L’Amour

So have I peaked your interest?  Do you have a dream? If so here’s a few tips from myself and from Cris Baty, author of NO PLOT NO PROBLEM, and founder of NaNoWriMo.

  1. Get the book!  I’m sorry, but I’m a real believer in the need for some guidance here, and to be perfectly honest, I don’t think I would have ever been able to accomplish this goal without this book.  Chris has a wonderful “Boy-next-door” way of explaining things.  He just seems to take the fear right out of it!
  2. Give your self time to prepare.  I completely recommend reading Section One: A Round Trip Ticket to Novel-Land: Gearing Up for Your Writing Adventure before the month you schedule your NaNoWriMo.   Whether you decide to join the 100’s of thousands who do it in November, or decide to pick your own month like I did, you’ll be glad you came prepared for the intense ride ahead of you.
  3. When you actually set sail on your own NaNoWriMo, make sure you follow the week-by-week guidelines in NO PLOT NO PROBLEM.  Chris talks you through the rough spots with humor and understanding, and the quotes from other NaNoWriMo grads keep you from quitting when the going gets tough.
  4. Finally, as Nike says… Just Do It!  There will never be a perfect month.  There may never be a “right time”.  The truth is, if this was easy, we all would have done it by now, right?

So, what are you waiting for?  Isn’t it time to live every day to its fullest follow those dreams!  What’s your dream?  Have you thought about how to reach it?

Let me know… because as always, I love it when we can share our dreams with each other.

Believing in you!


“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” ― Louis L’Amour