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Friday Forum: 11/30

Today is the last day of National Novel Writing Month. So how did you do? Did you meet your goals? Or, more importantly, did you get a jump on that novel that was brewing in your head for so long? I’ll admit, I didn’t meet my goals, but I did get a great start on a story with a lot of potential. I’d love to hear how your month went. Give us a rundown. How did your NaNoWriMo go?

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Sacrifice of Writing

Up late working. Image from

Let’s get real for a moment here. I’m not going to lie…life rocks. I have a wonderful family, I’m living the dream of a writing life with my best friend and we have an amazing blog that brings ideas and inspiration to writers and foodies across the globe. I am grateful beyond measure.

But like I said, let’s get real. It’s not all unicorns and rainbows. There’s sacrifice.  A lot of sacrifice. Any writer will tell you about the woes of the writing life; the writer’s block, the loneliness, the often horrible eating habits and hermit-like tendencies. And depending on what your motive is for writing, the reward may not come until well along in your journey. Some of us may not even live to see our writing succeed.

So why do we do it? Why do we stay up late, pass up social opportunities, and eat cereal for dinner on a more than often basis? Because we have to. We are driven to it. Whatever your reason, we all understand the sacrifice. Especially when you start a family.

For me, the biggest sacrifice right now is sleep. I was already loosing sleep from caring for a newborn, but now I am loosing sleep to write. I’m also sacrificing time. Whenever I’d watch a show with my husband, I’d have my laptop out and be writing at the same time. When my son is napping, after I finish dishes or laundry I can sit and jot down a few thoughts. I feel that I am constantly doing double duty or multi-tasking. There are days when I’m just a zombie.

But despite the sleep deprivation, the poor eating habits and the isolation, I can honestly say it’s worth it. This is the price we pay for that perfect sentence, that timeless essay, or a moving dialogue. It is essentially what moves us and what drives us crazy. In the end it is what makes us writers.

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Writer’s Kitchen: Edible Christmas Gifts, Part 2 (Homemade Graham Crackers)


How are you doing on your Christmas shopping? To be honest, I haven’t even started. I do know what I’m giving some people, but I haven’t actually done anything about it yet. With some pretty major deadlines on my calendar for November and December, and all the Christmas baking I’ve been doing, there hasn’t been a lot of time. I consider it my duty, however, to give you some great ideas for Christmas gift-giving this year, however, and I have a new idea for you today: Homemade Graham Crackers!

I came across this recipe while looking through a copy of Catherine McCord’s new cookbook, Weelicious, and decided to whip up a batch for my son. It turns out that these cookies are delicious and contain the perfect balance of crispness and softness–just like a graham cracker from a box. Even better, they can be made in any shape you like, and you know exactly what goes into them. These would make a great gift for the coworker who always brings homemade treats to work and obviously loves to bake, or perhaps for the other mothers in your playgroup. Wrap them up in a pretty cookie tin with a copy of the recipe, and you’ll be good to go! Get the recipe!

Photo originally from Outside Oslo

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Destination Inspiration: 10 Barrel Brewing Company Pub

10 Barrel Sampler

We hope you enjoyed our recent Walla Walla-based Destination Inspiration series. For the next several weeks, we’re going to be highlighting some of our favorite spots in Bend, Oregon, where we recently visited for a beer-tasting tour.

Upon arriving at Sunriver Resort about 20 minutes south of Bend on a Thursday evening, we were definitely ready to stretch our legs and unwind. Six hours is a long time to spend in the car, after all. But with two babies and an impending bedtime, we couldn’t exactly hit the town. So our husbands set out to find some of the local beers to bring back to the resort. That’s when we got our first taste of what 10 Barrel Brewing is up to. We sipped their Apocolypse IPA (and some red wine of course) while watching the sun set and the wildlife roam outside our rooms. It was a great introduction to 10 Barrel’s beer, and we were excited to visit their pub the next day.

10 Barrel Caprese

Food and Drink

Having tasted just one of 10 Barrel’s brews the night before, we were ready on Friday morning to head straight from our resort to the company pub for lunch. First things first, of course, we ordered a round of beverages. Sarah opted for a pilsner while Daytona ordered the sampler, which included a taste of 10 beers, including their award-winning S1NIST0R Black Ale and Apocalypse IPA.

As for the food, we were pleased with our orders ranging from fish and chips to caprese salad and steak nachos. Any time a restaurant has a caprese salad on the menu, it catches our eyes. However, this classic salad can range from bland and watery to nothing short of spectacular. The caprese at 10 Barrel fell somewhere in the middle, with too much emphasis placed on a mediocre dressing, and no ingredient really standing out as superb. The steak nachos, however, were amazing. The fish and chips were good too. And so was the beer. With the family-friendly approach to dining (all ages are welcomed until 11pm), we’d come back frequently if we were locals.


10 Barrel Fish and Chips

Location and Atmosphere

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Bend when the sun is shining, don’t miss the patio here. The patio has the feeling of a really nice backyard party, with happy, laughing people and great food all centered around a big enclosed fire pit. The atmosphere is light and uplifting. This place is family friendly, with kids being welcome until 11 pm.

Writeability and Purchased Presence

This is the sort of place you visit with your writing group or a writing partner. Bring a pad of paper, leave the laptop at home. Be jovial. Have fun.


The pricing is about average for this quality of pub fare with appetizers starting around $8 and main entrees running between $10 – $15. Their fresh made pizza pies run between $11 – $24. And of course you can’t miss trying out some of their beer!
10 Barrel Patio

10 Barrel Interior


Plenty of parking is available in the lot.

Writer’s Tip

Practice your beer tasting descriptions. Being the foodies that we are, our focus is often on the food. But for this trip we switched gears to center our writing energy on the beer. With a writing partner or group, order a sampler and try your hand at beer tasting. Without looking at the bottle or drink menu, try writing your own description and see how close it matches up.

Find It

1135 NW Galveston Building A
Bend, OR 97701


*This meal was provided to us courtesy of Central Oregon Visitors Association.

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Daily Writer’s Fix: November 26-30

How to use Daily Writers’ Fix




SAM Outdoor Sculpture Park

Inspiration can be found all around, and a change of scenery can be just the trick for fighting a case of writer’s block. Visit a museum or park today, if you have the chance, and find a quiet spot to do some freewriting. If you don’t have the time, at least bundle up and sit outside your front door with a notepad and a cup of tea to keep you warm and see what you come up with.



Garden Art

It’s awfully easy for a writer to stay indoors, especially when it’s chilly out. But exercise and fresh air are key to a clear head–and free-flowing ideas! Go for a walk today (bring your camera!) and see what you find. Capture some images that catch your eye. Take a deep breath and notice the smell of the brisk autumn air. As soon as you get home, start writing.



Beach Logs and Rocks

Even the most peaceful and tranquil settings have a soundtrack. Don’t miss out on the small, barely audible details in your scene today.



Tree Trunk

It’s nearly the end of the week, and in case your creativity is lagging, we’re going to delve deep into the imagination today. There’s a little tiny family of insects or animals–your choice–living in this tree. Despite their seemingly tiny accommodations, they’re living a life of luxury. Describe their creature comforts in elaborate detail.



White Wine in Glass

We love Fridays around here, if you can’t tell. Since it’s our “taste” day, there’s always an excuse to sample some fine chocolate or brew up a fresh pot of chai tea. Depending on what time of day you’re doing your writing, it may be too early to pop open a bottle of wine, but don’t let that stop you from closing your eyes and imagining–in luscious detail–the flavor and sensation of white wine rolling around on your tongue. Make the reader taste it through your words.
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Friday Forum: 11/23

I don’t know about you, but yesterday I took a break from NaNoWriMo and filled my time with family, friends and delicious Thanksgiving festivities. Now, still full from yesterday, I’m sitting here in a food coma and the words just aren’t coming. What are some tricks you use to get back into your writing groove after a holiday break?

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Thanksgiving writing

Thank you!

Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks and what better way to do that as a writer than in a well composed thank you note?

We thought it would be nice, on this day of all days, to revisit the age old tradition of writing a personal thank you note. There are many occasions that call for a note of gratitude, such as, when you receive a gift or are treated to some kind of hospitality or kindness.  In every case, the following are some basic elements to include for a well rounded, thoughtful thank you note.

1. Depending on how close you are to the recipient, open with “Dear [name]”, then continue the letter by thanking them for the gift, hospitality or kindness offered.

2. The second sentence or part of the letter should give some elaboration of your enjoyment or use of the gift.

3. If you’ve been out of touch for a while, it could be nice at this point in the letter to share a little news. This is not a necessary part of the basic thank you note, but close family or friends who live far away and don’t hear from you all the time might appreciate a short update.

4. A strong closing sentence or paragraph should include a sentiment of looking forward to seeing or speaking to the recipient, especially if a reunion or holiday is approaching. Mentioning “thank you” again is also nice to emphasis the point of the letter and bring it full circle.

5. End with a personal phrase like “love”, “best wishes” or even “thanks again”. Try to avoid closing with “sincerely yours” as it sometimes comes across as too formal.

With that, here is our thank you note to you. We really wouldn’t be where we are today without you. So thanks again and have a Happy Thanksgiving!


Dear Reader,

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading our blog. Your comments and feedback are so encouraging and much appreciated! We are very touched that we can share our passion for writing with you and that we can grow together in our craft. We look forward to sharing more with you as we continue to learn and explore the writing life!

Thanks again and we’ll talk to you soon!

Sarah & Daytona


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Writer’s Kitchen: Finding Inspiration in Apple Pie

Apple Pie Collage
In one simple pie, the writer finds a bottomless source of memories and inspiration. Apple pie has been around since at least the 14th century, with a recipe from 1381 still available. It’s taken multiple forms across cultures, from the French tarte Tatin (Molly Wizenburg’s recipe is a winner) to the classic American version.

All it takes is a little imagination to conjure up one of the Tatin sisters trying to whip up something to serve their guests at their hotel in France’s Loire Valley, only to make a rather delicious mistake that we now call tarte Tatin. Their story is enough of a legend, with various versions of how the mistake came to be, that a writer can almost picture Caroline and Stephanie running around in a frenzy trying to figure out what to do with their mistake before having a lightbulb moment and declaring it a new culinary invention.

As for me, apple pie carries with it the legacy of generations of the bakers–home cooks and professional–who came before me, one of those being my grandma Adeline. Grandma Adeline has a reputation in the family for making one of the best apple pies around. I was honored last month to make one by her side, watching her shape the crust and collaborating with her on how much of each ingredient to put in the filling. We made magic that day, Grandma and I, as we stood side by side–generations apart yet working together on a common goal–putting the ingredients together and then watching as they morphed into something delicious.

That pie is long gone, but the memories linger on. From now on, whenever I bake an apple pie (you’ll find our recipe over at Outside Oslo), I’ll be thinking of that October evening spent with my dear grandmother. Wrapped up in the crust and baked apples will be countless memories of a woman I adore, and one who has taught me so much about baking and of love. For me, inspiration comes from memories and experiences, and thanks to my dear grandma Adeline, I have no shortage of inspiration from which to draw.

Writing prompt: What memories and stories do you have related to apple pie? Use this classic dessert as a starting place for your writing today; if you’re working on memoir, what memories do you associate with apple pie? If you’re writing fiction, have your character sit down with a slice and see where his mind goes.

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Destination Inspiration: Monteillet Fromagerie

Monteillet Sheep in Field

One of the highlights of our recent trip to the Walla Walla Valley was an afternoon at Monteillet Fromagerie just outside of Dayton, Washington. When you have just a few nights in Walla Walla, it can be hard to decide whether to dedicate your time to visiting as many wineries as possible or to break it up and check out some of the region’s other specialties as well. However, we highly suggest seeing if you can work the fromagerie into your schedule.

Pierre-Louis and Joan Monteillet are the couple behind the fromagerie. They lovingly tend French Alpine goats and Friesian and Lacaune sheep on their 32-acre farmstead that seems worlds away from the city life that we’re so used to and that even a smallish town like Walla Walla provides.

Monteillet Cheese

Monteillet Goat


Just visiting the fromagerie is a treat in and of itself, but then you get to taste the cheese. If you choose to do a sampling, you can order a plate of their current cheeses to enjoy at the small counter inside or outside in the garden. If it’s a hot day, a glass of chilled rosé is a welcome pairing.

Location and Atmosphere

If you’re checking out the foodie scene in Waitsburg during your stay in the Walla Walla Valley, a trip to the fromagerie is well worth your time. It’s just eight miles past Waitsburg, and if you get your timing right, you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the fromagerie before dinner at the Whoopemup Hollow Cafe. The question is, will you ever want to leave?

That’s right, the Monteillets have created an oasis of sorts in their little corner of Eastern Washington. The world seems to slow down there, and just sitting in their lovely garden has the ability to melt away any tension you may have brought with you.

Monteillet Lanterns

Monteillet Tendril

Writeability and Purchased Presence

Bring a notepad–the same one you use for wine tastings, perhaps–and make notes on the cheeses you taste. Sit back, relax. Observe, brainstorm, dream. Take notes just to help you remember. Otherwise, just enjoy. If the Monteillets have a moment to chat, take the opportunity. You’ll be in for a treat.

The Monteillets also have a gite, or French holiday home, which would make an excellent place for a writer spending a little time away from the busyness of life.


Tasting runs about $10 and a glass of wine is about $5. We also recommend bringing a cooler in case you want to take some cheese home.

Monteillet Sheep

Monteillet Outdoor Kitchen


Parking is abundant here. Drive down the long gravel road until you come upon the tasting room and you’ll be sure to find a place out in front.

Writer’s Tip

Lose yourself in the remote countryside atmosphere. Taste the variety of cheeses and write about your experience. Consider it cheese tasting practice. And, as we always advise, notice the people around you and take notes for future character development. Above all, relax and enjoy yourself!

Find It

Monteillet Fromagerie
109 Ward Rd.
Dayton, WA 99328