Secret Sauce for Stressfree Weeks – Bonus-30 Minute Easy Chicken Orzo

Want to make your life easier? Plan ahead.

That’s the lesson I’m learning. Although I am supposedly an empty nest, I still have grown children coming and going, a husband to feed, work to do at home, work to do at work, household chores, bills to pay, errands to run…. and then there’s the matter of trying to fulfill my dreams of having a viable writing career.

The last month and a half has been filled to the rim with busy. Business at home is booming, kids are on the go – college, new jobs, moving. But we all have to eat and we want to try to be as healthy as possible. So I’m sharing my knowledge with those of you who want the same and find yourselves running around crazy.

Planning ahead is a lifesaver to me. Some times it’s not possible. But having a flexible schedule works much better than no schedule at all. I’ll share that too. Below I’ve included one of my favorite easy meals that my family loves. Hope you enjoy it.

This past month I’ve participated in several webinars and they have opened my eyes to new opportunities and ideas. Writing isn’t a one size fits all. There are so many ways to make a living as a writer.  I’ve enjoyed learning and growing in the craft as well as discovering my gifts and strengths. Pulling all of these together, a niche market begins to emerge and suddenly you feel confident in what you want to do.

Even if it took about 2o years of writing, I feel blessed to have enjoyed my journey of discovery. I could be envious of those who had success at a younger age, knew exactly what they wanted to do, went after it with everything they had, and achieved great success. But to be envious of someone, you have to envy everything about them. In other words, to have what they have, you have to go through what they’ve gone through. I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone’s. The bad has given me a depth that an easy road never would’ve. My journey has developed a heart that understands pain and can sympathize with those hurting. There’s nothing better than helping someone or giving them hope or encouraging them in their journey.

And what an amazing journey I’ve had! My husband and our children along with all our adventures have filled my heart with so much joy that any darkness left from my broken youth has disappeared. If someone would’ve told me at age 18 that my life was going to contain all I have now, I wouldn’t have believed them.

If you are still searching for your niche, keep on keeping on. Don’t give up but take the time to be present and enjoy the moments you have now.

Get a plan together and organize your life. Start small. Planning weekly meals is one of the ways I save myself time and a few headaches. See below for a easy printable menu planner.

I also loosely schedule my marketing work, writing goals and household chores using this method.

Also, cut out those time stealers that do not contribute to your goals, well being or completing tasks. I set a timer for my social media and reading and responding to emails. Include educating yourself in your goals and set time once a week to do so. Some ways I continue my education of my craft is reading – subscribing to professional blogs – and webinars. All these are planned and I have a schedule I follow for each. I find that setting a timer or pulling double duty such as listening to a webinar while exercising or cooking works well.

Speaking of webinars, here’s a few I’ve attended lately: Jay Boyer’s Children’s Book Formula – How to create and sale children’s ebooks on Amazon; Melissa Kaiserman’s How to Have and Grow a Business on Etsy; & Brilliant Business Moms’ How to Increase your Business using Pinterest by Beth Anne Schwamberger.

My latest easy & quick dinner recipe.

30 Minute Easy Chicken Orzo

To Print download here: 30-minute-easy-chicken-orzo-pdf


Recipe feeds a family of four, (with leftovers).  All done on the stovetop and takes about 30 minutes.






1/2 BLOCK OF 16 OZ VELVEETA CHEESE – Dice into 1 inch blocks








Prepare orzo as directed. Reserve water as you drain orzo for later use. While orzo is cooking, or the day before, pull chicken off the bone and chop to bite size pieces. Melt butter in nonstick pan. Dice shallot and celery, sauté in butter on low heat till clear. Wash asparagus and spinach. Snap the end pieces off the asparagus and discard. Snap rest of stalks into bite size pieces. Add asparagus to shallot and celery. Sauté till dark green. Add spinach, salt, pepper to taste, cover and turn off heat.

After draining orzo, put orzo and liquid reserve aside. Using the same pot, add the Rotel, the Cream of Chicken, Velveeta Cheese and 1 cup of reserved liquid. Heat on med, stirring until cheese is melted. Add Chicken and seasoning to taste. Cook on low for 10 minutes. Add orzo, sautéed vegetables and 1 cup of reserved liquid. (Slowly add liquid till you reach a consistency that covers orzo but does not create a watery base. You want to reach a thick soup like consistency.)

Warm on low heat while stirring for 5 minutes. Turn off heat and cover. This can be served with toast and my favorite, red pepper jelly. ENJoy!

To Print download here: 30-minute-easy-chicken-orzo-pdf

Need an easy weekly menu planner? Feel free to download mine weekly-menu-templete-pdf










What has helped you most in planning your weekly routine? I’d like to know.

Just Do It! – 3 Ways to Overcome Excuses.


I come across this motto not long ago. It has changed everything for me. I’ll confessed that I’m one of those persnickety people who likes things to be perfect, especially when it comes to my writing.  I realize that this has kept me from fulfilling my dream. My fears get in the way, they help me to procrastinate and make excuses.

Are you like this too?  Do you let perfection keep you from finishing or following through certain projects? Do you get frustrated and give up?

If so, you are in the right place at the right time and you need this as much as I do. Today I want to help you overcome your excuses and reach your goals.

Here three principles that can move you forward.

1. Start where you are.

For years, I let the fact that I didn’t have a college degree or formal writing instruction keep me from submitting anything. I believed the lie that without a degree, no one would take me seriously. Another lie I allowed to negatively influence me was something that my first college English instructor said. She told me I would never have a career in writing and failed me.

The next semester, I took English again with a new instructor. She read many of my essays to the class. She pulled me aside one day and told me that I had talent and needed to pursue it. I made an A in her class.

Two different opinions. Who should I believe? The first teacher was held in high esteem by everyone on campus. She was the authority when it came to English. The lie formed.

I have to please everyone to make it as a writer.  

Maybe you feel the same way because you don’t have a degree or you aren’t receiving positive encouragement or feedback.

I’m here to tell you that you can succeed without a college degree and that you don’t have to please everyone. I should have made up my mind to believe the one teacher that was positive and leave the negative experiences and comments behind.

When I started writing, the internet didn’t exist. Computers were out of the question, I didn’t even have a manual typewriter. But I did have a library. I checked out as many books as I could on writing, studied them all and purchased notebooks to collect my thoughts, make lists of things that I could write about, ideas that were floating around in my imagination.

In other words, I started where I was.

My first published article was in a local newspaper about my family involvement in playing recreational soccer and  how it was great for getting outdoors, getting plenty of exercise and being together as a family. That led to a series of articles that were published each Sunday in a special section called, Our Kids. After one article, I had my own column.

Well what do you know? I guess I can write. I was so tempted to write that college instructor a note and send her a copy of all the newspaper clippings.

That column led to writing about the community which led to covering local activities and events. Before I knew it, I was writing travel and destination articles for magazines.

I learned that you don’t have to be an expert, you don’t have to have a college degree but you do need a learning attitude. Being curious is a benefit.  I learned to never allow myself to give up simply because things look overwhelming, aren’t working out perfectly, or more importantly because someone is negative. Don’t let something or someone stop you from following your dreams. The more you write, the better you will become.

The first rule in being successful as a writer, or in any area, is to start where you are and don’t listen to the critics, especially the ones in your head. 


2. Use what you have.

I let myself believe at one point that I needed to have a Mac computer with MacSpeech to become a full time writer. No kidding! The lies we can sometimes believe are humorous.

I did purchase the Mac computer with all the bells and whistles that I thought I needed to have. But it didn’t magically write the book that was in my head. Next, I decided I needed to create my social media platform so that everyone would know that I was a writer. I spent more time building my “platform” than I did actually writing. So that was kind-of dumb.

Out of the blue, my “best of the best” computer crashed. I had no means of doing anything and I let that become an excuse too. After a couple weeks of feeling sorry for myself I realized that in order to keep producing, I needed to write. I picked up a notebook and did things the old school way.  The next computer I purchased didn’t have all the bells and whistles. I realized that getting your thoughts out of your head and onto something, whether it’s a computer, a notebook, note cards, or even sticky posit notes is better than doing nothing.

Never let anything become an excuse to stop.


3. Do what you can.

After I was published in several magazines, I thought I had hit the lottery. But after a while, the publishers laid off hundreds of people and freelancers like me were no longer needed. Because my real dream had always been to write books, both fiction and non-fiction, I packed my bags and invested in several writing conferences. I subscribed to blogs, newsletters and joined a few Facebook groups. I even started my own writing group. New doors opened and opportunities poured in.

I started being very purposeful in using social media platforms to engage new clients. I took chances at new jobs, some I was very successful at, others were complete failures. But the more risks I took, the more my writing career expanded.

My blog began to have a niche market, I created a business Facebook page, I used good manners on social media and made new connections. I started sowing the seeds I wanted to reap instead of comparing myself to others and being jealous.

However, I stretched myself way to far. And guess what? No novel still.

It occurred to me that I needed to reevaluate my goals. I let myself believe another lie. I believed that I needed to take every job that came my way and that I needed to have low prices in order to keep jobs coming. My enjoyment of writing suffered and I was extremely overwhelmed by the thought of keeping all the social media platforms going, meeting deadlines and dealing with the business end of things.

I burnt out and writing was no longer a joy, it was a job that I was liking less and less.

Are you at a place where you have done everything that everyone has told you to do but you still don’t have any progress? Have you lost your joy? That was me.

Several months ago I realized that I didn’t need to worry about growing my audience anymore. I didn’t need to be on every social media channel out there and I didn’t need to read every newsletter, blog, book or magazine on how to grow my platform or how to write or how to market, I didn’t need to watch every free webinar that came my way. I needed to simplify and turn away some jobs, let go of some of the social media and give myself time to follow after my dreams.

I needed to find the joy in writing again.


Sometimes we can overload ourselves with too much information because we are afraid that we don’t have everything we need. We’re afraid that we’re not enough. We’re afraid that our dream may be to big for us to ever accomplish. So we give up, we compromise, we settle.

I know I have. But I’ve decided it’s time to move forward and stop making excuses. Today you can do the same. You can be just as determined as I am not to let any more excuses keep you from reaching your goal. So why don’t we both, together, make this declaration…


“From this day forward I will not make anymore excuses. I am going to start where I am, use what I have, and do what I can.”


My goal is to finish the story I’m working on now. I have multiple stories with research outlines, character sketches, setting sketches, everything you need to write a complete book. But I get to a point and stop… because I’m afraid.

I’m afraid that I don’t have what it takes to finish. I’m afraid that it won’t turn out the way I want it to. I’m afraid of what others may say or think. I’m tired of allowing lies to steal my future and keep me from my destiny. I’m tired of making excuses. I am tired of trying to make sure everything is perfect before I finish. This time I will not fail. I will follow through. I’m giving myself permission to let it be a mess, to not care what people think, to write it even if it’s for my eyes only.

What about you? What permissions do you need to give yourself today to move forward?

Don’t let another day go by, determine today to finish what you start and #NeverGiveUp.


Work Willingly ~ How to be Successful

“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.”  Colossians 3:23-24

Work willingly at whatever you do

Success is something everyone strives for. It can mean many different things to different people.

Success can mean making lots of $$$$.

Success can mean becoming famous.

Success can mean fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Success can mean completing a goal.

Success for me has evolved as I have aged. It means more than money and actually is something money can’t buy. It means more than being known and sometimes I feel most successful when things are …  quiet. It means whether or not I fulfill my dreams, I still reach for them and I enjoy the work.

It isn’t as much about reaching a goal as it is enjoying the journey.

Success for me is a willingness to work at writing better and becoming better. It’s a sense of accomplishment when something I write touches another person in a meaningful way. Some of the most successful times were the times I wrote pieces that never earned one cent.

Success is like a rainbow. Everyone has their favorite color but without all the colors it wouldn’t be a rainbow.

Don’t let unmet goals, unfulfilled dreams, or the lack of money or fame keep you from enjoying your journey in your writing – or for that matter – anything in your life that you feel compelled to do.

Life is a gift. Your gifts and abilities are to bless others. Don’t waste your time struggling to reach lofty goals before you realize you have success.

Success is enjoying your journey, enjoying your loved ones, enjoying your gifts and the gifts of others. Take time to celebrate the small things in life as success.

What are your successes today?

What If This Blog Were A Book, And Got New Pants

Are you focused on ONE thing for your blog or do you blog whatever’s on your heart?

Tara Sparling writes

It occurred to me the other day that I have written a lot of words on this blog. Not the best words – Donald Trump said he has those  – but certainly a large portion of other (hopefully less repetitive) words.

In the process, I’ve pondered the question of what blogging is for.

In its infancy, a weblog was pretty much an online journal, but it’s since become a professional occupation for many. It’s not a profession for me, but it allows me to fulfil a childhood dream and pretend I’m a columnist, without having to get anyone’s approval first.

What If This Blog Were A Book, And I Was Trying To Sell It

So far, I’ve written a total of 205 posts, averaging around 900 words per post. That’s roughly 184,500 words, which could translate into two whole novels, if we were talking about commercial fiction, which of course we’re not, but like the aforementioned, I’m not one to let the facts stand in the way of a tenuous argument.

So that’s 2 books’ worth of…

View original post 810 more words

What do you Need today? Let God Provide it.

Do you ever feel that things aren’t going your way?

God has the right blessing waiting for your every need.

God Wants to Bless you poster

It begins with your thought life.

Are you believing the truth or lies?

God’s word is truth. It is the truth that sets us free from every obstacle, sheds light on darkness and gives direction where there may seem like a dead end.

Begin to change your life by changing the way you think. Ask yourself if what you’re thinking lines up with God’s truth. If it doesn’t, grab a scripture or two that speaks to your circumstances.

Lie: “I’m never going to see my dreams come true.”

Truth: “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 ESV

Lie: “I feel so alone and no one cares!”

Truth: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; He will never leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6 NIV

Today is the day to begin to start thinking positive thoughts.

You can change your life!

Never Give up purple butterfly

So… What’s your story?