Brighton Walsh, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author

Whatcha Lovin’ Wednesday

Earlier in the week, I wasn’t sure what I was going to talk about for the Whatcha ____ Wednesday blog. And actually, as I opened up a new post to start writing, I intended to chat about what book I’m reading and loving right now (side note: Tessa Bailey’s Boiling Point). But then I remembered what I did last weekend and thought it might be better to touch on something else that I’m loving right now: writer friendships.

I’ve said before a thousand times that this career is lonely at the best of times, isolating at the worst. This, of course, may be different depending on your personality type, but for me? As an ENFJ(-A), I gain energy from being around people and find this job to be extremely taxing in that aspect. I like to joke with my CP that all that energy she’s drained of at conferences, I suck it all up. Because of that, it’s important for me to find outlets and ways to connect with others, whether that be through dinners out, meetings, workshops, social media, or just plain old texting.

IMG_6474Last weekend, a group of seven of us headed to beautiful Galena, IL for a writer’s retreat. The plan was tentative and loose—show up on Friday, leave on Sunday, and do whatever we wanted in the time between.  And we managed to cram a lot in. Between workshops, plotting chats, discussing our processes, working, and, of course, drinking, our weekend filled up before we even knew it. We had a nice mix of people who attended, writing in different genres and categories, and at different stages in their writing careers. Because of that, conversation never waned, and each of us had something different to offer the others in the group. We had such a great time, we’re planning to make it a yearly event.

As I’m sitting here this week, on the downhill slide from my high of the retreat and also #NotAtRT and feeling pretty bummed about it, I’ve been chatting with my CP and good friend Jeanette Grey about other ways I can get that fuel when it’s just not possible to attend a retreat or conference. Because let’s face it—that shit gets expensive. The thing she keeps telling me (and, to be fair, the thing she’s told me at least seventeen times a year for the past four years) is to go to my local chapter already, god. (So she didn’t say it like that because she’s much nicer to me than I am, but still the gist was the same.)

I’ve been a member of my local-ish chapter for a while, but timing hasn’t ever worked in my favor. I say local-ish, because I actually have three chapters close to me, but by close, I mean they’re all about an hour away. That’s made it challenging to find the time in the schedule to go, but I think it’s about time I figure out a way to make it work. Because in this isolating career where my brain and my spirit run on connections, it’s time I made some more.


Whatcha Cookin’ Wednesday

I’m baaaaack! Just in time for another Whatcha _______ Wednesday post. I had a lovely time on vacation, but I came back to a to-do list seventeen miles long—just how it always seems to be.

First on that to-do list? To share with you all this glorious, glorious deliciousness for Whatcha Cookin’ Wednesday. I’ve been modified (read: lax) Paleo for over two years, but we just did the switch to the whole family in January. And when I say the whole switch, I mean we detoxed the kids off of sugar for two weeks and everything. It actually wasn’t as bad as you would think, and my uber picky seven-year-old whose favorite foods were mac and cheese and PB&J is now eating vegetables. Without harassment. It’s a Paleo miracle. We are now a happily 90/10 Paleo family, which means we eat Paleo (or primal) 90% of the time and cut ourselves some slack that other 10%.

The thing that’s made it easy for my kids to do is that I search high and low for great food that doesn’t taste like they’re getting cheated. Who wants to eat plain brussels sprouts when you know the delicious, cheesy goodness of mac & cheese? Not me, I can tell you that.

That’s where Pinterest comes in. It’s a treasure trove of awesome food. While, yes, I’ve tried some doozies there, for the most part, the recipes are top notch.

My absolute favorite Paleo dish I make is this chicken pot pie. I promise you’ll love it and you (and your family/friends) will never have the foggiest idea it’s paleo. After making this no less than a dozen times (I’m not kidding…this is on our menu at least twice a month), I’ve changed up a few things. And you, my fine friends, are going to benefit from my trial and errors.

IMG_6413First, I make a double batch of the crust so I have one already prepped in the freezer and ready to go every other time. And, actually, now that I’ve snagged the Mac Daddy of all food processors, I think I might make a quadruple batch so I only have to go through that pain once a month.

Second, I only use 1/2 a pound of potatoes, and I use them all for the creamy sauce. I feel like I can be honest with you and you won’t judge me, so the first time I made it, I screwed up and pureed all the potatoes instead of leaving chunks. I didn’t notice (and I actually liked it better), so I continued on that way. I just decreased the amount so the “thickening” sauce was creamy instead of gloopy.

Third, I tend to just pour the coconut milk into the food processor until I get it the consistency I want. Of course, on your first time, it’s always good to follow the recipe (unlike I did as mentioned above), but don’t be afraid to add a bit more if it’s gummy. And for those of you who are turning your nose up at putting coconut milk into your potatoes and afraid everything will taste like coconut, to you I say: HAVE YOU NO TRUST IN ME?!

IMG_6415Lastly, I only bake mine for an hour, then let sit for 10 minutes. Mostly because the first time I made this, I didn’t plan appropriately for time, and everyone in my house was moaning over their roaring stomachs.

And I know I said lastly, but a couple more tips for you:

  • Prior to rolling out your crust, lay your wax paper down and place your pan on top of it (upside down), tracing around the edges with a sharpie. Use that to guide how big to make your crust.
  • Bake this sucker on a pan underneath it because parts of the crust will come off. Also, eat those. They’re delicious.
  • The recipe creator recommends trimming excess off the sides and throwing it away. Um. No. That crust is like gold, so keep all that you can. (tip one will help with the reduced excess and tip two will catch everything that is and then you can shove it in your pie hole.)
  • Lastly, if for some strange reason you are not a fan of potatoes, you could sub cauliflower. I’ve never tried that because I hate cauliflower and I love potatoes, but I’m willing to bet it’d be doable. And that your kids still wouldn’t notice.

That’s it! Make this and then come back and tell me how amazing everyone thought it was and how you tricked your kids into eating something totally healthy and 100% clean.

Also, I’m leaving you for another Friday post. I’m sorry! But I have a writing retreat this weekend, and I imagine I will be running around like a chicken with its head cut off Friday morning. But next week, I’ll be back with three posts!

*This post contains affiliate links. In plain English, that means if you purchase something from these links a small percentage of the sale comes back to me (at no cost to you!). It’s Amazon’s way of saying, hey, thanks for mentioning this product! Here’re some pennies. I promise I will never post about things I think suck. I’ll only ever recommend items I really, truly love!


Whatcha Lovin’ Wednesday

See? I told you I’d be back on Wednesday, and here I am! It’s a miracle.

For this ongoing weekly post, I’m going to talk about things not at all related to writing (probably). It might be a new recipe I tried and loved (Whatcha Cookin’ Wednesday), it might be a book I read and loved (Whatcha Readin’ Wednesday), it might be a mix of both or none of the above (Whatcha Lovin’ Wednesday). You’ll notice a theme here—it’s all about things I love. I’ll be honest…talking about only writing stuff all the time equals burnout. Major, unavoidable burnout. So I’m bringing my love of other things to the blog, because, hey, you might love them too.

So what am I loving today? My precious, precious bullet journal. I am a huge planner, and I switched to a paper planner last year (the EC ended up not working for me, but it might work great for you. Bonus? They’re 40% off right now, so if you’ve ever wanted to give them a try, now’s the time). I loved the idea of a paper planner versus digital because lots of studies show that actually writing something down cements it further into our brains.

Alas, come summertime, it sat unused, tossed in a corner somewhere gathering dust. And worse, I didn’t pick it up again after summer ended, the kids went back to school, and I dug back into work full time. That told me that particular planner wasn’t the right fit for me.

IMG_6149At some point in the fall of 2015, my friend showed me her Traveler’s Notebook, and I really loved the versatility of it. I could print whatever I wanted for inserts! If something wasn’t working, I could toss it out after a month or a quarter and do something different. And the covers! Tell me these aren’t the prettiest things you’ve ever seen…

I’ve been using the Inkwell Press A5 quarterly inserts for about a month in my TN, and I really like them. But for those of you who are planners, you know planner peace is elusive, and you’re always looking for something that might bring your productivity and organization to the next level.

Thus I started watching these videos and all bets were off. I was lured to the dark side by someone named Boho Berry. What did I love about this new-found Bullet Journal? There was something appealing about the fact that I could make and create this to be exactly what I wanted it to be. It was the same idea with the inserts for the Traveler’s Notebook, but with a bit more of an artistic flare.

While Boho Berry loves the Leuchtturm, I decided to go with the Rhodia journal because of the paper quality. My friend (the same one who lured me to the TN side has since switched to Bullet Journaling as well) brought samples of the three main players (Moleskine, Leuchtturm, Rhodia) to dinner last week, and I was sold.

Moleskine is probably the most readily available (Target sells them), but I found their books to be the least impressive. The paper was thin and scratchy. Leuchtturm was much nicer than the Moleskine, and if I didn’t have the Rhodia to feel, I probably would’ve gone with them. But when that buttery-smooth paper was put in front of me, the others didn’t stand a chance.

There are a couple of things that may sway someone to the Leuchtturm side, though. For one thing, they come in lots of pretty colors. Rhodia was only available in black or orange. *sad face* I’m going to combat this by adding some rub-on stickers to the front to give it a little pizazz, yes I said pizazz. The second and third things in the Leuchtturm’s favor are a built-in index and pre-numbered pages. The reason this wasn’t a deal breaker for me was because I can add those just fine myself. Yeah, it’ll take a bit of time, but I’ll take one for the team if it means I get this amazing paper.

The problem I’m facing now is fear of the blank page. See? It afflicts writers even on non-writing things. Right now, I’m basically planning to plan. I’m doing research to see what I want to include in my BuJo and one day soon, I’ll mark up those buttery soft pages with some of my fancy new pens.

Okay, so that was super long-winded, but I also wanted to throw a book rec in here. As I’ve been mesmerized with bullet journal videos, I haven’t been reading much, but my kids have! Oldest (boy, 11, with a love for fantasy, humor, and magic books) has been reading this series for the second time, but he declined to be interviewed. LOL His reading level is tenth grade, but these books would work for someone as young as third or fourth grade, I’d say. He gets through them in about two days, and while they look daunting with their number of pages, the print is larger.

Youngest (boy, 7, with a love for magic, humor, and superheroes) had absolutely no problem being interviewed about what we’re currently reading. We’re working our way through the Magic Treehouse series. His teacher is reading them to the class, too, but he liked them so much he wanted to read them again.

IMG_6139Vacation Under the Volcano verdict: “I thought it was very, very good.”

Three things you liked:
“I liked how Annie kept running and didn’t stop their mission.”
“I liked how exciting this mission was.”
“I liked learning about Roman times.”

Anything you didn’t like?
“Jack stopped to read too much and he should’ve just focused on the mission.”

So those are his thoughts on it. My thoughts? Holy crap, my mom senses go off like crazy when I’m reading these books. Morgan sent them to an active volcano on the day it was set to erupt. That’s a real dick move, Morgan. I guess that’s why these books are geared toward kids and not parents. LOL

That’s it for this week’s post! I’ll be back on Friday with a round-up of what I’ve saved on Facebook and in my Pocket account!

*This post contains affiliate links. In plain English, that means when you click on a link here, a small percentage of the sale comes back to me (at no cost to you!). It’s Amazon’s way of saying, hey, thanks for mentioning this product! Here’re some pennies. I promise I will never post about things I think suck. I’ll only ever recommend items I really, truly love!