Chicken and Veggies Alfredo – Quickie Feed-a-Crowd Recipe

Today I’d like to share a total cheater recipe that I threw together. This is one of my “OMG I have to feed an army and I have to do it now????” Recipes. It has pleased a few crowds at my house and easily feeds 10-12 people. If you don’t keep some frozen veggies on hand consider doing so, they come in handy. These are all things I usually have on hand in the freezer and pantry. Don’t panic, it’s not as complicated as it looks.

1 32oz bag mixed frozen veggies of choice

1 package chicken breasts (4 breasts)

1 1lb package of pasta (bowtie, penne, something pretty)

1 jar store bought Alfredo sauce

¼ cup shredded Parmesan/Romano cheese

¼ cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

1tsp Herbs de Provence or poultry seasoning

A few pinches of salt for the pasta water and for the chicken

A couple of tablespoons of olive oil

While you’re waiting for you pot to boil (because a watched on never does), combine Herbs de Provence or poultry seasoning, and a pinch or two of salt (you can leave the salt out if you wish) in a small bowl. Squish them around a little to release the flavors. Rinse chicken breasts and pat dry. Drizzle with just a little olive oil, enough to make the herbs stick, then rub the seasoning mixture onto the chicken breasts. Depending on what the weather is like in your neighborhood at the time, you can grill the chicken on the bar-b-que over medium heat or you can roast then in the oven at 400 degrees in a covered dish with a little water in the bottom to keep them moist, or poach them in some chicken stock. Depending on the thickness of the breast, they take about 20 minutes to cook.  

Once your pot has come to a boil add the spaghetti. When you put in the spaghetti add a little salt and put the veggies in the microwave to steam. Warm up the Alfredo sauce in a small pot. Chop parsley. Don’t forget to turn your chicken after 10 minutes if it’s on the barb-e.

Let the chicken cool for 5 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute (otherwise when you cut into it, all the juices will run out and the chicken will be dry). Once cool enough to handle chop into 1”, bite-sized pieces.

Now for the fun part! Throw all the veggies, pasta and chicken into a big, family sized, bowl. Add the Alfredo sauce and toss until well coated. Garnish with a sprinkling of shredded Parmesan/Roman cheese and parsley. Voila! Dinner for an army in 30 minutes!

The most important key to this recipe is timing. If you follow the cooking order, everything should be done at the same time and ready to combine. Don’t be afraid to cook things at the same time. It’s really not as hard as it looks. It just takes a little bit of planning. Make sure you fully cook your poultry to avoid salmonella and other nastys from ruining your meal.

*Note: I live at an altitude of roughly 6,000ft. It takes water a little longer to boil here. I have a good ten minutes even with a covered pot before my water will boil.

How do you feed a crowd in a hurry? Do you have a favorite recipe to accomplish this?

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Epic Fail!

Epic fail! It is with sincere humility I write today. I have found out that whirlwind vacations, keeping up with a blog, keeping up with book writing and keeping up with a job search proved too much for me. So the answer to my question in an earlier blog (before I went on vacation) would be…yes and no to writing while you’re on vacation. Although I totally overwhelmed myself, I learned so much! I ended up blowing off any writing on the last two days of vacation and just kicked back instead, which turned out to be a wise move.

I spent most of my vacation stressing about splitting my time between my family and my writing, which was exactly the situation I didn’t want to find myself in. I didn’t want the guys to think I was disengaged and not interested, but at the same time I really wanted to keep up with my writing. This resulted in me going back to our rooms at night while they stayed out at the casino. It wasn’t a huge leap for me to do this since I’m not much of a gambler anyway. Walking around the casinos and up and down the strip is fun, but I’m just not into the gambling thing. What little money I gambled, I lost. Since I was back in our rooms earlier and therefore in bed earlier, I was up earlier and used that time to my advantage to write as well. The problem was that I didn’t have much down time. I was either on the go with the guys or writing although we did have a couple of days where we spent two or three hours by the pool and then I was reading.

I wrote in the car during our driving days when I wasn’t taking pictures out of the car windows. This was somewhat productive, but there comes a time, whether writing at the condo or in the car after a full day, that one becomes just too tired and brain dead. This was what frustrated me the most. I wanted to do more, but my brain had had enough. When it comes to my blog, I don’t want to put out anything other than my best work. I’d rather not post than post something sub-par.

This week I have been recuperating from vacation (if you caught any of my road trip blogs you would know we were extremely busy), redoubling my job hunt efforts and catching up on book writing. I’ve missed my blog very much and I’m happy to get back to it. I’ve learned that if I want to write on vacation I need to pick only one or two writing projects to keep up with and that includes my personal, daily journal. I’ve learned that if I want to write on vacation I have to do a better job of balancing activities, writing, and down time. The brain and the soul need down time, time doing nothing to recharge creativity and even logical thinking. I’ve learned that it’s okay to put the writing aside and be present for the vacation rather than worrying about getting it all done. That’s what work is, not vacation. I learned that I should stop along the road any time the mood strikes me and take more pictures (although I took some 200 anyway, many with windshield bug splatters in them). I learned that I don’t have to spend every minute with everyone else. I found that I just can’t bring myself to drag my laptop to the pool. It just seems to be in violation of some law of relaxation or something…kind of like using your smartphone at the table. It’s just not right. Maybe I’ll change my mind at a later time, or maybe I would feel differently if I had regular access to a pool and it wasn’t something of a treat for me.

Recharged and refreshed. I am now ready to continue. I look forward to sharing more about my six-state adventures and other cool stuff. Wow, when you put it that way, six states in nine days; that is really busy! No wonder I was having trouble keeping up! Maybe this wasn’t such and epic fail after all.

How much down time, if any, do you build into your vacations? Do you like to cram a lot of activities in or do you like to hang out by the pool all day?

Road Trip Days 5 & 6 – Sea, Studios, and Stars

The Mojave Desert is home to the largest forest of Joshua trees in the world
The Mojave Desert is home to the largest forest of Joshua trees in the world.

On Wednesday, we left the comfort of our rooms at the Grandview Resort in Las Vegas for the open road once again. We were headed about 4-5 hours west to the mega-metropolis that is L.A. With high hopes and anxious with expectation we took to the road snapping pictures of the Mojave Desert (that holds the largest Joshua Tree forest in the world) as we went. We gleefully entertained thoughts of wading in the ocean waters and seeing the sights of Hollywood, the Sunset Strip, Venice Beach, the Santa Monica Pier, and maybe a celebrity or two.

Fisherman's rods set off the end of the Santa Monica pier
Fisherman's rods set off the end of the Santa Monica pier

After driving through the picturesque desert and mountains east of the city, we arrived in L.A. on Wednesday afternoon. The first place we visited was Santa Monica Beach and pier. We walked through the warm sand down to the water, which was ice cold of course. Thank goodness we expected this. A tiny crab promptly got caught on the toe of my son’s sandal sending him into a brief tizzy to get the “bug” out of his sandal. A lesson for my son on his first ocean beach visit – yes, critters live in the sand.

We went down to the Santa Monica pier with its merry-go-round, Ferris Wheel, assorted other amusement park rides, street performers, fishermen, vendors hawking everything from rocks to “I Love L.A. T-shirts, and other characters. A friend once told me that once I went to the Caribbean that the waters off the coast of California would hold no attraction for me anymore. She was right. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of great things about California and I really liked the San Diego/La Jolla area, but that green, murky water is just not comparable to the crystal clear blue of the Caribbean. Still, a beach is a beach and any time spent under the warm sun on a beach is a good time as far as I’m concerned.

We then hit Hollywood Boulevard. We walked up and down a few blocks of the Walk of Fame near Grauman’s Chinese theater. The rich history of the theater and its surrounding area was palpable in the air.

I took pictures of things like the Grauman Theater, the handprints of the original Star Trek crew, Joan Crawford, and Michael Jackson at the theater, and the stars of Ray Harryhausen (not sure anyone would recognize his name these days), Jackie Chan, Bruce Lee, and Aretha Franklin.

Griffith Observatory

The last thing we did on Wednesday was to search for a place to get a good picture of the Hollywood sign. We ended up in Griffith Park at the observatory of the same name. Given all the smog I wondered how long it had been since the observatory had been operational. Upon closer inspection, it seems that the observatory is now allowing the telescopes to be used for public viewing. Even with all this viewing power at our disposal, we were still too far away for my son to get the picture he wanted so when we came across a park ranger we asked if there was any way we could get a better picture. He obliged and we were off on our quest for the perfect picture of the Hollywood sign. It took us about 45 minutes to travel about two miles to the short trail that led to a hilltop with a great view of the sign. L.A. traffic is (very dramatic pause) interesting. Fun fact, each letter of the Hollywood sign has an adoptive “A” list caretaker. I’m told this list includes Alice Cooper and Hugh Hefner.

As darkness descended we went to our hotel room to get some shuteye before our tour of Paramount Studios and the drive back to Vegas. We awoke early on day two in L.A. to make a quick side trip to Venice Beach. We were there before the street vendors had even begun to think about setting up shop. As we made our way down to the water I saw other people already up and at ‘em, roller blading, biking, walking, running, jogging, and doing yoga on the beach. Once settled on our spot we stared out in silence at the water, each of us wrapped up in our own thoughts for a few moments and then we were off for our studio tour.

Our tour guide was Taylor. Taylor kind of looked like a bad imitation of George Michael in his Wham! days and had nearly perfect annunciation and diction. I suppose maybe that comes in handy if you’re a page at Paramount Studios. It turns out that the pages at Paramount do not have scripts. It seems they are encouraged to do their own research and come up with their own version of the tour. I have to admit, even though I’m no stranger to a staged setting it was kind of strange seeing streetlights with electrical plugs and the magnitude of some of their sets was amazing. I took two

Inside one of the New York set buildings the contrast between the old wood structure saved from the fire and the new steel construction can be seen

favorite stories from this tour. One was the story of how William Shatner single handedly saved part of the New York City outdoor set in nothing but his Star Trek uniform top and his boxers. Grabbing a fire hose, he shouted orders to others on the scene and began fighting the fire himself. The second was learning how the parting of the Red Sea was done in the Ten Commandments (I have a special affinity for the golden age of cinema). The pool area that was used for the sea is now a parking lot but is still emptied of cars from time to time for ocean and water scenes that can be filmed against the giant sky mural at one end. Although the story of how Michael Keaton climbed the water tower on a dare to prove that he wasn’t afraid of heights only to find that he truly was once he was at the top and had to be brought down by the fire department, runs a close third. We didn’t see much in the way of celebrities, but we did catch a glimpse of some of the cast of the TV show Glee. I respected studio rules and refrained from taking pictures. Hey, I’m not the paparrazi.

Once our tour was done we grabbed some lunch and then, with our whirlwind two days in L.A. over, we were on the road again on our way back to Vegas. By this point we are all getting a little homesick. I checked in with our house/pet sitter and she said she wanted to steal our pets because they are so sweet and loving. With a pang in my heart for Jasmine, our dog, and Gracie, our cat, I texted her back thanking her and politely telling her she’d have to find her own cat and dog.

Next stop Vegas, and a Cirque Du Soleil Show called “Ka”. Also, keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks for expansions on some of my vacation entries. I feel like we’ve been doing so much that I haven’t given some things enough attention and others have received no attention at all.

How do you vacation? Do you like to do lots of stuff and see everything or are you an all-inclusive type that likes to stay on a resort lounging by the pool, soaking up the sun, and maybe a little liquor?

Road Trip, Day 4 – Detours, Drinks, and Dining

My, my how time flies. Day 3 of our trip was kind of rolled into day 2 of my Road Trip blog entries, touring the southern casinos on the strip like Mandalay Bay, Luxor, and Excalibur as well as losing the guys in M & M world. Yesterday was a pool day, relaxing and relatively uneventful except for some minor sunburn and some very tipsy ladies at the pool providing entertainment for all. I make it a policy never to do writing at the pool it’s usually the one and only day I get to relax on vacation. Now that we’re all caught up, onward-ho!

One of the ceilings at the VenetianToday we toured some of the pricier casinos on the strip. We began our excursion at the Venetian, one of my favorites for over-the-top impersonation of a real location (complete with canals and gondoliers). After parking the car we immediately went to Harrah’s, one of the older casinos on the strip (we saved the Venetian for last, because that’s where we parked, of course). I wanted to try Paula Deen’s new restaurant so we headed to Harrah’s. It wasn’t until we stopped and asked for directions then double-checked information on the web via my smartphone that we realized that there were other Harrah’s besides the one in Vegas, which doesn’t have a new Paula Deen restaurant. Who knew? Not me. I guess I haven’t been far enough south yet. Plan B then, right-o? Plan B became the buffet at the Mirage, but not before we got ourselves lost outside somewhere in no man’s land on the long side of Ceasar’s Palace.

It started out innocently enough; we were at the shops at the forum and followed a hallway to a door going outside.

H&M at The Shops at the Forum at Ceasar's Palace, can you pick out the real people? Hint, they are not floating in mid-air.

We ended up in a parking lot and my hubby just thought we’d walk down a little ways and go around the corner to the front of the building. You know, just a little detour. Of course nothing in Vegas is what it seems. After what seemed like miles of walking and several staff back doors to which we could not gain admittance, we finally lucked out and came across a public door which led us down another hallway and back to the shops at the forum. The entire time we were walking outside, the Mirage was mere steps away, mocking us with its singing birds in its heavily treed gardens from the other side of a great wall. In hindsight, if you have to hold the door open, deciding whether you really want to be on the outside of it before you let it close and lock –  you probably shouldn’t be going out that door if you’re not an employee of the casino. I’m just sayin’. Please, learn from my hubby.

After we finally arrived at the Mirage we found we weren’t all that hungry yet (probably due to the harrowing detour adventure). So we sat in the Sports Bar and had a couple of much needed drinks. Now this seems innocuous enough but anyone who has visited the Las Vegas strip south of Circus Circus knows that casino drinks and food can get quite pricey, especially in casino restaurants and bars. Our couple of drinks each at the Sports Bar cost us a pretty penny. Sure you can get coupon books and stuff, but sometimes you get stuck with a stiff bill anyway. I already knew the buffet was, by far, not the cheapest in town, but this was why we had saved up for this trip for a year. Now that the boys (and by boys I mean my hubby and my son) were sufficiently buzzed we headed to the buffet.

The buffet at the Mirage is quite probably my most favorite place in Vegas to dine. I try to eat pretty clean most of the time, but we’ve found that doing our own cooking in our condo is not conducive to the run-around-like-a-chicken-with-it’s-head-cut-off kind of vacations we take. So we end up eating at local restaurants or worse, casino restaurants or buffets. After a couple days of this my body is literally screaming for fresh veggies, fruits, and other good stuff. The buffet at the Mirage is one of the few places I’ve found on strip that has fresh food such as this. Not just a salad bar with some cantaloupe, honeydew, salad greens and your choice of three dressings, but custom mixed salads from fresh ingredients you choose, a raw bar, a small sushi bar, meats such as truffle roasted chicken and prime rib, and international selections. I love this buffet so much I could eat there every day. I’ve also noticed that other casinos have followed the Mirage’s example and changed to somewhat of the same format. However, no one comes close to the Mirage’s buffet although I haven’t tried newer places like Aria. I guess that’s a testament to how well the Mirage’s buffet works. I’m not going to kid you, it’s not cheap. Dinner is around $30 USD per person, but more worth it than any other buffet and most restaurants on the strip.

Once we finished our late dinner we headed back to the Venetian, tooled around the shops and casino then headed down south to the condo at the Grandview. Hubby and son went across the street to play poker and blackjack at South Pointe while I stayed behind at the condo to do some writing. You have probably noticed by now that I don’t talk a lot about gambling. I’m not much of a gambler and I’m perfectly content to let the guys go do their thing and stay at the condo and write or wander. I’ve gambled one time so far, on an Aliens slot machine and it gobbled up $15 in a matter of seconds. I know that’s not a lot of money, but I really detest feeding my money straight to a one-armed-bandit. There was one machine at the Luxor that would pay me every time I played it. My hubby would sit me down in front of it when he was running low on craps funds, but I haven’t been very lucky this trip and I haven’t been to that particular machine. There’s more to do in Vegas than gambling, there really is!

Day 6, we leave for L.A. We’re doing and overnight side trip for our son (an aspiring movie editor) to see the town and check out a studio on a tour. He’s never been to a city this big and he’s never seen an ocean so this should prove to be a very interesting side trip indeed. The water may be a little cold, but it’s supposed to be in the upper 70’s so the weather should be good. I’m looking forward to seeing my son’s reaction to the ocean after growing up landlocked in Colorado. I was 40 before I saw an ocean and although I love the mountains and they are in my blood, and I couldn’t dream of living without them, the ocean proved itself quite powerful too. Stay tuned…

Do you have a favorite vacation destination? What makes it your favorite? If you could travel to any destination in the world where would it be and why?

Road Trip Day 2 – Craters, Canyons, and Casinos!

After a somewhat restful night at the new Best Western in Winslow, AZ. We arose at the crack of dawn to grab some breakfast and head back toward the open road and the Grand Canyon, but first, we had to make a stop at a key location in one of the books I’ve been working on. Meteor, AZ, home of the largest confirmed meteor impact site in the world, is truly a big hole, which would lend perspective to our next destination that hubby had deem a “big hole in the ground”. We arrived at the site of the meteor impact a half hour before they opened. Once inside we took mass amounts of pictures of said hole in the ground and I gained some details that are usually left out of most reports on the place (for my book, yay!). As we were snapping picture after picture of the crater in the desert, it occurred to me how many pictures of a big hole in the ground does one really need? This begged the question Why DO tourists have to take so many pictures of stuff? I guess it has to do with trying desperately to make memories and to get that perfect shot. This is as close as I could get of the meteor crater in Meteor, AZ at 8am in the morning.

Once we saw this big hole in the ground we were on to see an even bigger one that was millions of years in the making as opposed to the ten seconds it took to make the meteor crater. This was my third trip to the Grand Canyon and I was still looking forward to seeing it. It’s never the same and always beautiful.

This time there was some snow and clouds were curling over the north rim. We went up to the top of the watchtower and stopped at many of the viewpoints along the way. We came in from the southwest this time so we got to see the canyon that the little Colorado River was carving too, plus we got to drive through part of the painted desert. The vistas at the Grand Canyon are so magnificent that pictures, I don’t care how professionally done they are, never do it justice…and there are some gorgeous pictures out there. We spent a mere three hours exploring some of the southern rim. One day I would like to go down to the bottom.

Leaving the Grand Canyon behind we headed to our time share in Vegas that would be our home base for the next week. Our drive to Vegas was nearly uneventful except for a fox that ran across the interstate in front of us looking at us like we were the ones that were in the wrong place. The terrain went from desert to mountainous and we managed to squeeze in a stop at the Hoover Dam just before sunset. Whew! It had already been quite a day!

Having a slushy with my sonWe stay at the Grandview Resort, it’s about eight miles south of the main strip so when we want to get away from all the hustle and bustle of the strip and get some peace and quiet by the pool, we can. The Grandview is located next to an up and coming hotel/casino called South Point. Time shares have their pros and cons, but this one is nice, has worked out pretty well for us, and we got it dirt cheap. After settling in, we took our newly turned twenty-one son on a quick drive up and down the strip. Then we stopped at New York, New York for some New York style pizza after which we promptly went back to our rooms after midnight and crashed. Hard. Until morning. Ryan, our son was wide-eyed and somewhat overwhelmed, I think, by all the glitz, glam, and people on the strip, but that hasn’t stopped him from going off on his own to find his dad over at the casino as I write this. Good for him!

Stay tuned…more later….

Have you been to Vegas? What’s your favorite thing?

Blizzards, Broke Vehicles, and Big Birds. Oh My!

Flying vehicle parts, blizzards, and giant black birds that won’t move from their meal in the middle of the interstate. Such are the hazards of road trips. Still, we are having a good time.

Dust haze, northern NMWith a serious storm heading into the northern mountains of Colorado hubby thought that we’d avoid any adverse weather because we were swinging far south, heading over Raton Pass, through New Mexico, and into Arizona. Weather reports were predicting the storm would be well north of us. Nope. We ran into severe, high winds in southern Colorado and New Mexico. We had a headwind of 40mph, which was seriously screwing with our gas mileage, but it was about to get worse. Somewhere in the middle of the New Mexico desert we lost the plastic cover of one running board. It blew clean off the truck, but not before clipping the back end and scraping up the side of my pretty, red Trailblazer. We’re hoping it will buff out. As for the running board, it became a highway casualty (memorial service time and date to be determined).

Blizzard Central NMWe came to accept that the high winds were going to be with us for the day and cautiously passed semi after semi (the double-trailer FEDEX trucks were especially scary) as we continued from Las Vegas, NM and on to Santa Fe where we stopped for lunch. We walked around the downtown shops, my son and I snapping pictures of anything that caught our fancy. We asked one of the local shop owners for a suggestion for lunch. She suggested a Mexican restaurant a little off the beaten path that was about a block away. The air was a chilly 50-something degrees so we were kind of thankful to get inside. We were not disappointed La Cocina De Doña Clara was clean, the service was good and the food was wonderful. Great chile rellenos! Thank you!

La Cocina De Dona Clara

Back on the road outside of Santa Fe, my son now driving, we ran into more bad weather. We soon found ourselves in the middle of a blizzard that wasn’t supposed to be happening. Visibility had been bad with all the dust kicked up in the wind between Colorado and Santa Fe, but now we were driving in near white out conditions for nearly four hours. My son was ever the trooper and handled the adverse driving conditions like a pro (so proud!). The storm finally let up somewhere near Gallup, NM.

With hubby behind the wheel once again, we headed for the Arizona border. He thanked our son for driving through all the crappy weather for him. Ha! We ran into intermittent brief snow showers but the drive to the border remained mostly uneventful. Of course that changed once we crossed into Arizona.

About thirty minutes into Arizona we ran across some birds feasting on some road kill that happened to be just left of center on the two-lane road. As we sped closer and closer to the group they refused to budge. We were now playing chicken with…well…anyway the birds scattered at the last possible second. I was sure I was going to have another bird versus vehicle trauma only with a lot more, larger birds. The first episode being a small bird that was split in two right before my eyes on the antenna on the front of our vehicle as we traveled down a Kansas highway. Yuck. These huge black birds (I’m guessing crows or ravens) were apparently both much larger and smarter and managed to get the heck out of our way. Whew!

We were now in the final stretch of our trip with only about 3 hours to go until we got to our destination for the night in Winslow, Arizona. All along there have been Indian shops, billboards for local attractions like ice caves in volcanoes, petrified forests, and fossils. We have so far managed to avoid these tourist traps. I figure since our ultimate destination is arguably the largest tourist trap in the country, we probably don’t need to stop at every roadside shop.

Eagles fans! Look who's standing on a corner in Winslow AZ!Finally safely ensconced in our hotel room in Winslow after dinner at the El Falcon restaurant we all went to our respective laptops. I don’t know what the other two were doing, but I put the finishing touches on this, the beginning of a great road trip story. Can’t wait until tomorrow!

Tune in tomorrow for news and stories from the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas, NV! Have you taken any road trips? What was your favorite stop? Why?

Road Trip! Is There Such Thing as a Vacation From Writing?

From Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way to Stephen King, author of On Writing and many a creepy tome, to Alan Watt, author of The 90-day Novel and founder of the L.A. Writers Lab, the general consensus of most writers seems to be “write everyday”. Being a brand new blogger working on two novels while job hunting I became a bit concerned about how this was going to work with being on vacation for about a week and a half. I didn’t want to lose momentum on my novels and I sure as heck didn’t want to disappoint the modest following I had worked hard to build on my barely-off-the-ground blog. In short, I don’t think that writers get, nor do they really want, vacations from writing. Eek! I just figured out something new about myself…I’m one of those writers! <Panic! Danger Will Robinson. Danger! Beep! Beep! Woop! Woop!> Wait.

This is where the Online Learning System (OLS) I chose for obtaining my college degree came in ever so handy. With the exception of a vacation in Mexico, I attended school on holidays, weekends, and while on vacation. It wasn’t that hard because my virtual classroom allowed me to attend school almost any time and anywhere I wanted to. Of course there are caveats, price being one, of course. However, successfully completing a degree program online also requires a tremendous amount of dedication and discipline. Coordinating far-flung teams of people to work on papers and projects through online chat threads was both quite challenging and quite rewarding (you try coordinating the completion of a 20 slide PowerPoint presentation in four days on the pros and cons of a free economy for a team consisting of people in three different U.S. time zones, a soldier on a ship in the gulf and someone who barely types in English in Dubai, whew!) . The pressure was constant with compressed courses lasting only five weeks and an individual assignment as well as a team assignment due every week. Papers averaged 1500 words and had to original and APA formatted, with proper references and citations. Who said all online schools are diploma mills???

As I thought about the similarities between OLS and writing in general I found the task of keeping up with my writing much less daunting. Hey, looky there, the $300,000 education is finally paying off (yes, that was sarcasm). True, there are certain environments that are more conducive to creativity, but the same can be said for studying. Where I’ve found I could concentrate on studying with grandkids, kids, dogs, cats, and barely controlled chaos going on, when writing I needed a lot more quite. Many of the tactics I used for school on the road I’ll be using for writing. I have some tools that will be helpful and there are others, such as an I-pad, with its 8hr battery life that I can only wish I had.

Our road trip begins in Colorado Springs heading to the Grand Canyon. The next leg of our journey takes us to Las Vegas, NV. A two-day side trip during our week in Vegas will take us to Los Angeles, CA. Then it’s back to Vegas for a couple of days before we drive home.

Here’s my plan:

I will use certain downtime to my advantage much like Brian Johnson’s mother told him to do in The Breakfast Club. Only when I’m relaxing by the pool or in the ocean or at the black jack table; that is just what I’m going to do. Relax. Hours of riding in the car and getting up a little early, and hanging out in restaurants will give me plenty of time to write on my laptop, in a notebook, or jot down flashes of inspiration in my mini notebook I keep in my bag.

I will not allow myself to stress about writing, word counts, or anything else of the sort and hence ruin my vacation.

I will allow my vacation to keep my creative fires kindled by enjoying all the things I will get to do and see, then writing about them.

Three simple rules, that’s it. I’m not looking for balance here. As Danielle Laporte, one kick-a$$, gorgeous, accomplished woman with her head screwed on straight, tons of charisma, and a fabulous spiritual philosopher says, Life balance is a myth, and the pursuit of it is causing us more stress than the craving for balance itself. I almost got caught up in the life balance trap planning for this vacation and my writing. Instead I’ve chosen to go with the flow, write when I can (because I love it and…well…it’s fun!), and have as much other fun as I possibly can (because…well…it’s fun!). I am a reserved person most of the time which is often mistaken as disinterest by the people around me, but inside my head is a myriad of thoughts and feelings spinning all manner of stories from what’s going on around me. To me, this is great fun, whether I’m in a casino, on the road, in an airport, on a plane, at home, by the pool, working, etc. the stage in my head is always active.

I’m looking forward to vacation and sharing some of what I see, think, and eat along the way. I’m also looking forward to writing about it.

How do you stay on track with writing while away from home? Is it hard or easy to stay focused? Do you tend to procrastinate? Suggestions welcome!

What’s your favorite place to eat in L.A.? In Vegas? I’d love to hear from you!