Friday, February 16, 2018

Author Blog

I'm blogging next door today on my author blog, about Reading Goals for 2018 and setting the parameters for book reviews.

Have a great weekend!

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

When Love Blooms

Sometimes there is love at first sight. Sometimes love is easy, and sometimes love is hard. There are peaks and valleys. Though this photo was nearly four years ago, it is what love means to me. Bathing our delicate preemie together as we embarked on parenthood as a couple.

Because I disappeared from blogging and social media during the early mommy years, I'll occasionally share bits from the past few years.

Father Daughter Dance 2018

Hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's!

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Monday, February 12, 2018

With Perseverance Dreams Do Come True

Nine Years Ago... I wrote a humble little blog post about discovering NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). On that day in 2009, two of my blog friends wrote a comment (which you can read in the link above) that they too would join me in the challenge that year. Who knew what would come of that one post and those simple comments to commit to the challenge?

One friend, Kori Donohue of Blonde Episodes, published her completed book, Murder on the Boulevard, in 2011. In which, she left me a sweet dedication.

I published my first book, Running Away to Europe, this past July 2017.

My other blog comrade, Teri Reynolds of Girl Meets Paris, wrote in a comment that she would 'consider it with fear and trepidation of failure'. Well, I'm excited to announce that this Valentine's Day, February 14th, 2018 her novel will be available on Amazon! It is called Marie Antoinette and the Hidden Door of Versailles. I'm very excited to read it, and will post a review on my author blog, Nicolette Johnston after I read it. I recommend checking out her website and viewing her You Tube book announcement video, which was partially filmed at the Palace of Versailles.

So, during this week of Valentine's, I'm celebrating because I'm reminded that once upon a time, my humble little blog did make an impact on a few people and so many people I used to know have gone on and achieved some amazing accomplishments. This has been just the kind of encouragement I've needed. I'm reminded how much I once loved this blog and have wanted it to be as special as it once was, but felt lost as to how I could gain my creativity back... I'm reminded there is no greater love than remembering who you once were and finding your way back to yourself.

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

Sunday Treasures

I love to collect unique cook books... 
I was browsing my hutch this weekend and delved into Vintage Tea Party.

We may be having a Valentine's tea party this week!

Check out some of my older posts on Tea and Sweets & Treats.

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

3 Highly Enjoyable Podcasts

I wanted to share a few podcasts with you that have made a dramatically positive impact in my life the past few months...

Brooke Castillo has some truly eye opening words of encouragement to help anyone get their life together.

Co-hosted by Annie Jones, bookstore owner of Bookshelf in downtown Thomasville, Georgia and Chris Jensen. Their podcast is self-described as a "a collection of conversation on books, small business, and life in the South". A weekly joy about book recommendations. 

Listening to Shannon Ables, blogger from The Simply Luxurious Life is a weekly treat. She blogs and talks about on her podcast about living a more simple but quality lifestyle. I particularly enjoy how she focuses on the French lifestyle and has interviewed many bloggers and authors I've followed for years. While listening to her podcast a few weeks ago, she was interviewing Jamie Cat Callen about her new book, 'Parisian Charm School', and they were discussing a short story from her book about a woman who met her husband in Paris. It took about a minute before I realized she was writing about my dear friend, Mimi, I wrote about in my book, 'Running Away to Europe'.

I highly recommend binge listening 
to any of these wonderful podcasts!

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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Winter Days

While much of the United States has had lots of snow so far this season, we got our first snow last night (and we live 20 minutes from Tahoe). So when Florida gets snow before us, it's an odd year. But we welcomed sunshine all day, and I took our black lab, Hank, for a jog.

A couple days ago, I enjoyed an afternoon at David Walley's Hot Springs & Spa for a pampering session. I soaked in the hot springs and enjoyed a Swedish massage.

Even though I live ten minutes away, I had never been, and it was nice to be adventurous once again exploring my own backyard.

Stay Warm!

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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

New Year Resolutions - 2018

My resolutions are generally the same every year, and probably fall in line with most everyone else. But this year my resolutions seem to mean more to me...

1. Be fearless. Let go of my fear of failure. Take more risks. Don't worry so much about what other people think of me and my decisions. Something I do way more than I should. Now in my 30s I've gotten somewhat better at this, but realized I'm going to waste my life away if I keep letting it get in the way.

2. Write more. (On my list every year.) Though I published my first book this year, it took six years to write. To grow as a writer. Publishing my book was a lot harder than I anticipated. With a memoir, many people formed opinions. Some were bold enough to tell me I made a mistake. Others said nothing, but the silence was just as loud. Which again leads to... be fearless and... don't worry so much about what other people think.

3. Read more. To grow as writer, I need to read more. But this a purely selfish resolution. I want to catch up and make this my Literary Year. (More on this later.) I want to read like a pre-teen with no summer job, remembering the days my dad drove me to a long gone indie bookstore called, Davis Kidd once a week in Tennessee. I want to cancel the cable, wean myself off Hallmark movies, and stay away from social media apps, to pick up a book and read one after another.

4. Health. But not for dieting. For changing my lifestyle. In November, I had a wake-up call. I ended up in the ER due to stomach pain. Discovering that I had colitis, I'm now forced to change the way I eat permanently. I was put on an antibiotic which nearly killed me. I couldn't swallow and my throat closed up, since then I've kept off 7 pounds. I've given up coffee for the acidity, which has in turn helped balance out blood sugar and dehydration issues. I've gone gluten minimal which has greatly helped pain and bloat. I've cut my white sugar intake way down, and have also discovered how much pain dairy was causing. I've also noticed the need to cut down on greasy red meat. I was worried that didn't leave me with many options. But surprisingly I've found lots of alternatives that keep me satisfied. The hardest part was the lack of caffeine, but every now and then I have tea or hot chocolate. My greatest substitute for the craving of a hot beverage has been Turmeric. I heat up a cup of hot water and add Turmeric Boost, this greatly helps with pain or inflammation when I do cheat. I drink a few mugs everyday for preventative measures. It has helped keep off inches, which has been a huge bonus!

What are some of your resolutions?

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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Lulabelle Gifts & Gallery

I'm happy to announce my new online store, Lulabelle Gifts & Gallery

For a few months I brainstormed a business model wanting to have some sort of retail shop whether it be solely online or a brick and mortar store. For now, it is only an online business. For those who have followed my blog since the beginning know about my passion for travel and floral photography. I've always wanted a place to showcase my photography. But I also wanted the ability to create and sell gifts from other crafty artisans. Because gift giving and creating beautiful packages is such a joy to me, I wanted to extend this to a gift box subscription. From there it branched off to all-occasion gift baskets as well. 

There is a great lineup scheduled for each month with different themes for the Lulabelle Gift Box, and I'm so excited to put these boxes together to ship out! Gift boxes will be sent out on the 10th of the month. Orders placed after the 9th, will be shipped in January. There is only a few days left to get your December box(Products shown below are examples, there will be much more than two items in the box... promise!)

Curious to know why I named the business Lulabelle Gifts & Gallery? Check out the About page at Lulabelle Gifts & Gallery!

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Saturday, October 28, 2017

Happy Nevada Day!

We celebrate our state in a big way here on Nevada Day! It's even a state holiday! I'm so excited to actually watch the four-hour long parade tomorrow with my kiddo. I've been in the parade four times in the past five years, and all for different entities. This year I'm cheering everyone on from a lawn chair on the sidelines.

(2012 - Representing the Carson City Health & Human Services float)

(2013 - 5 months pregnant representing the City of Carson City float)

Skipped 2014, was too blustery and couldn't take the baby out...

 (2015 - with the toddlers on the Little Timbers Academy float)

 (2016 - Public Information Officer for Nevada State Treasurer Dan Schwartz, 
with Allison & Sage the Desert Tortoise)

 Happy Nevada Day!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Passion for History: Ghost Tales & Cemeteries

A few years ago, I was 'this close' to pursuing a Masters in European History, but life happened. I still think about it quite frequently, because my romanticized fantasy of sitting in a quiet office or library researching and reading musty books from centuries ago has never gone away.

I recently met a local author in Nevada/California, Karen Dustman, owner of Clairitage Press who shares a similar passion for (local) history.

Visit my author blog, Nicolette Johnston where I posted cemetery pics, and more info on Karen's books. She and I both have some historical mysteries you can help us solve...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

My Relationship with Potato Leek Soup

A decade ago, I booked a spontaneous trip to Switzerland, which I briefly highlighted in my book, 'Running Away to Europe'. I was about to get engaged, but something didn't feel right. We broke up. I needed clarity. So at 24, I celebrated one of my most memorable days.

I took a train ride through the Alps from Switzerland along the Northern border of Italy. It reminded me of my favorite movie, "Under the Tuscan Sun" when Frances Mays character played by Diane Lane says, "They built a train track through the Alps, before there ever was a train... meaning they want me to have faith." This day gave me faith.

I savored fresh pasta for lunch in Tirano, Italy. Then took a bus through narrow Italian villages along the Northern rim of Lake Como. We stopped for a quick break, I ventured into a gelateria. I couldn't believe I was eating gelato on Lake Como! It was the moment that ignited my love for independent travel. It proved that being brave and doing something scary, instead of choosing a safe path could led to personal growth.
We stopped for the night in Lake Lugano, Switzerland. I fell in love that day... with the Italian lakes, potato leek soup, and my own destiny. We took a cruise around the lake, then stopped on the Italian side of the lake for dinner a little lakeside restaurant.  Our tour group ate out on the deck with red and white checkered tablecloths on a late Septemer evening as the twinkling lights of Lugano glistened across the water. They served us the best potato leek soup... ever.

For the past decade, I've made variations of the soup. Sometimes I have it pureed, sometimes chunky. Sometimes I add heavy cream and a dollop of sour cream, and sometimes just pure broth. But every time I start the smell those sauteed leeks in the pot, it reminds of that magical day. It reminds me of independence, self-discovery, and how sometimes it can be hard to let go of something good.

If this blog post intrigues you, you can check out my book 'Running Away to Europe' for more travel and relationship tales. I will also be writing a book about the Switzerland trip too. For more information or get on my email list, check out for author updates and blog posts on writing!

Potato Leek Soup

2 leeks
3 cloves of garlic
3 potatoes
6 cups of broth
1 cup of heavy cream (optional)
1-2 tbsp sour cream (optional)
fresh chives or dill

Rinse leeks well, and chop in thin slices up to 1/2 inch where green stems begin. Satuee until lightly softened. Add garlic. Add broth (or water and bouillon cubes). Add potatoes at same as broth. Cook until pototoes cook through. Add heavy cream if opting for a creamy based soup. Remove from heat. Leave chunky or blend if desired for a pureed soup.

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Author Interview

I'm very excited to be able to share my author interview with you! Many people have asked questions about my book, 'Running Away to ...