Today’s newspaper column: “Hot Springs is a road trip worth taking”

Appalachian Trail marker on the bridge over the French Broad River, Hot Springs, NC

Appalachian Trail marker on the bridge over the French Broad River, Hot Springs, NC

My column today in The Greenville News is all about Hot Springs, North Carolina–where my husband and I recently celebrated our 10-year anniversary.

Hot Springs has hiking and history, good food and drink, rivers, mountains, ancient Cherokee art, and ghost stories galore. Plus, it was voted 2012′s Best Small Mountain Town by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.

Looking for a weekend road trip or a Spring escape? Check it out by reading here.

Standing atop Paint Rock, looking out over the French Broad - near Hot Springs, NC

Standing atop Paint Rock, looking out over the French Broad – near Hot Springs, NC

 

 

 

Paint Rock from the road - near Hot Springs, NC

Paint Rock from the road – near Hot Springs, NC

 

Iron Horse Station - Hot Springs, NC

Iron Horse Station – Hot Springs, NC

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Today’s newspaper column: “As winter roars its last, hunker down with a good book”

One of my many bookshelves. If you listen hard, you'll hear my husband telling me it's time to Spring clean.

One of my many bookshelves. If you listen hard, you’ll hear my husband telling me it’s time to Spring clean.

Today’s column in The Greenville News is all about cozying up with a good book … perhaps one from your past.

What were your favorite books as a child or teenager? What would you read again if you could?

I hope you enjoy! To read the column, click here.

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Today’s newspaper column: “Please, never close school again”

Snow walk late last night.

Snow walk late last night.

Today’s column in The Greenville News is particularly appropriate, even if I date myself. When I wrote it, my girls had missed four days of school due to snow, ice, and brutal cold: today marks the ninth school day they’ve missed.

Still, I wouldn’t give up these days in the snow with them for anything!

Hope you enjoy!

Read here.

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Photos from Western North Carolina’s “Winter Event”

Yesterday, we woke up to a surprise snowfall of about 5 inches.

Actually, a little after midnight the night before last, I noticed that it was snowing. I watched the snow illuminated in the street light across the street, and saw that it was falling a lot like the snow does in Vermont, where I’ve spent a good amount of time in the past.

I was so jacked I sat straight up in bed at 6 a.m. yesterday morning, hopped up onto my knees and yanked open the blinds. (This delighted my husband.) Outside was a winter wonderland–not an indention, not one tire track, not one blade of grass peeping up out of the snow. I was THRILLED.

We played most of the day in it. (The girls and I did; their daddy had to walk to work.) We built snow ladies, sledded, and attempted to swing on the swingset. We tossed snowballs for the dog to catch and tried to find our friends at the big sledding hill in town, but sadly a whiny toddler and not driving a Subaru like every other person in Western North Carolina kept us from making it there.

Some photos from our day in the snow:

snowwylie snowbaby shoveling equallyexcited2 DSC01759

The second “snow event” occurs tonight and tomorrow morning. Some weather outlets are predicting 10 + inches, while others say just 3.

We’ve got pancake mix, library books, and cookie dough … and we’ll see!

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Today’s newspaper column: “King’s ‘Letter’ holds lessons to remember”

MLK-in-jail-436x580Today’s column in The Greenville News is about the best letter I’ve ever read–Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”–and why I teach it to my college students each semester.

February is also Black History Month, of course, so that’s just a plus!

Read here.

I hope y’all enjoy, and if you do, I hope you’ll share.

Stay warm!

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The weather outside is frightful …

This week has been wild: snow, sleet and ice here in Western North Carolina, with temperatures soon to dip into the negative degrees. As I type, it’s snowing again in a bluster outside my living room window.

I LOVE it.

Unfortunately, I’ve got what has to be a sinus infection, my toddler has a cold, and both girls have been out of school for three days. Our entire family just got over a three-week bout with the flu, bronchitis, and sinusitis, so this makes me particularly bitter.

But at least there’s SNOW.

Here’s my baby, watching the snow from our living room window. (She’s a climber; see how she’s perched precariously on that box? Oh, mama.)

Willawatches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s our hearth, where the snow boots, socks, hats and mittens are drying out. That’s our precious puppy, Scout.

fireplace

 

 

 

 

 

 

These photos are what we’ve been doing all week. We’ve played outside, too, but I don’t have pictures of that … yet.

library scoutsnow

 

Y’all stay warm this week!

 

 

 

tent

Wylieplaydoh sled inside

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For Valentine’s Day, Five of the Places I Love

Today is Friday the 13th. We had a two-hour school delay today in Western North Carolina for cold. (Yep: cold.) I’m wearing fleece pants and my Sorel snow boots. I didn’t brush my hair before dropping my older daughter at school, and I didn’t walk her in, either.

I’m not a bad mother. I just couldn’t remember if I’d brushed my teeth.

See, here are my boots. That’s Scout, taking a wee nap on her princess-and-the-pea bed.

Sorels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s my desk. My writing life is buried in there, somewhere.

messydesk

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on ….

On Monday, I thought, “Ooh, I know what I’ll do this week! I’ll write a blog post each day, and post about 5 things I love in different categories. Like, my favorite places, people, movies, books, and more. What a great idea!”

On Monday afternoon, I forgot.

So, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to offer a list of 5 of the places that I love. Because I’m too tired to do more. Here they are:

1. A gradual curve in the Thrift Cove Trail in the Pisgah National Forest, Brevard, N.C.

The trail is really an old logging road, and here it flattens out to curve around the cove. There’s a spring there that disappears up into the birch-covered hills behind it. Where the creek trickles under the trail, in springtime, hundreds of subtle, tiny white wildflowers pop up like a gift. When I was trail running and hiking weekly–back in my other life–Scout and I would always stop here. She’d drink in the water, and I’d drink in the peace.

2. The spot where my husband’s shoulders meet his collar bone.

There’s a smooth, muscled indention there that I love. I haven’t seen it in a while, it being winter and us having been sick for a month. Plus it’s 55 degrees inside our house. But I know it’s there. I have hopes I’ll see it again.

3. A particular back booth in Coffee Corner diner on Main Street, in Montpelier, Vermont.

I love this place in winter and in summer. I love the scrumptious omelets and fresh bread, the never-ending coffee, the big windows giving way to a bright world of people, the laughs I’ve shared with friends there (mostly inappropriate). I love that when I’m there, I’m a writer.

4. The Hot Springs in Boulder, Montana.

I soaked here for several nights over the month I spent in the area, back in 2007, as a Writer-in-Residence at the (sadly, now defunct) Montana Artists Refuge. That month, I did more hiking than I probably did writing. I drank in the Rockies of Southwestern Montana like wine. Most nights, floating in the hot springs, I’d watch big mule deer emerge from the forest at dusk, then disappear like magic into the dark.

5. Standing beneath the trees at my daughter’s elementary school.

Rain or shine, hot or cold, this spot is a place I love for one reason only: When my daughter’s kindergarten class rounds the corner of the school at let-out, my daughter takes one look at her teacher (who sees me and nods), and then comes sprinting for me and her little sister. She yells, “Mama!” As if I’m her favorite person in the entire world.

I know this won’t last, and I treasure it.

I hope y’all will share your 5 favorite anythings–people, places, books, movies, things, meals–by responding here!

 

 

 

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Today’s newspaper column: “On Valentine’s Day, ‘All you need is love’”

18488283-hands-holding-a-sand-in-form-of-the-heartToday’s column in The Greenville News is all about love. Because love is all there is. It’s easy.

To read, click here.

To hum along with the Beatles all morning long, click below.

All You Need is Love

 

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Today’s column: “The family flu: This, too, shall pass — won’t it?”

dogwithfeverToday’s column in The Greenville News is all about our recent–and continued–bout with the family flu.

To read, click here.

Healthy ones, may the force be with you!

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Buffalo Chicken Dip (yay!) for the (meh) Super Bowl

So, I’m a college football girl, and don’t really care about the Super Bowl. However, I know a lot of folks do!

Just find a sturdy chip, and dip!

Just find a sturdy chip, and dip!

Plus, I’m okay with any excuse to make football food. Football food is scrumptious.

Here’s my favorite chicken dip, shared by my sister-in-law-in-law. (I didn’t mis-type. She’s the sister-in-law of my sister. She even lived with my parents for a while. We love her. Hey–it’s the South.)

This dip is super easy, and super quick: about 15 minutes prep and 30 to bake.┬áToday, for time’s sake, I used canned chicken instead of chicken breasts.

Elizabeth’s Buffalo Chicken Dip

Ingredients:

Salt & pepper
garlic powder
Italian seasoning
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 4 big cans of chicken)
1 12-oz bottle of wing sauce (Hooters mild is a must)
2 packages Ranch dressing mix
3 8-oz packages cream cheese (I just used 2)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
corn or tortilla chips

1. Preheat oven to 350. Season a large pot of water with first 3 ingredients. Bring water to boil, add chicken breasts, and cook for 15 – 20 minutes. Drain and cool.

2. Cube the chicken and mix with wing sauce.

3. Combine the ranch dressing and cream cheese. Layer a casserole dish with the cream cheese mixture and the chicken mixture. Top with cheese. Bake 30 minutes and serve with chips.

Enjoy!

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