Eyes Off You

Maya Angelou photographed by Taylor Jewell

Maya Angelou photographed by Taylor Jewell

I was not a fan of Maya Angelou when I first read her work as a persnickety pre-teen who had an inexplicable distaste for memoirs, but in the years since her words have often touched me in moments when I’ve been in need of inspiration and reassurance. Upon second reading, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings became one of my favorite books, and what woman amongst us has not somehow been moved by her poem Phenomenal Woman? Of the many Maya Angelou quotes filling the interwebs today, the one I find most moving right now is…

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead, pursue the things you love doing, and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off you.”

-Maya Angelou

In fond (albeit sometimes fickle) remembrance, I am feeling very grateful for Maya Angelou’s turns of phrase on this day. I hope she inspires you in a similar way as well.

Image source: Pinterest.

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Twenty Fourteen

Wishing everyone a fruitful new year!

Wishing everyone a fruitful new year!

I hope your new year is off to a smashing start, dears! Have you already begun making resolutions for all the grand things you want to do, be, and see in 2014? I sure have. Big surprise, I know. Seeing as I love, love, love setting goals, I’ve tried to rein myself in this year and just stick to a few simple, very achievable things that I genuinely think will make for a happier me in the year ahead. I’ve made one professional goal, one health goal, and two personal goals. Apparently, I just couldn’t help myself on that last one. In case it inspires you, here’s what I’m striving to do over the next 365 days and beyond…

  • Professionally speaking… This year, I really want to push myself to get my work out there more. Although this task often feels daunting due to my intense work schedule, I’m determined not to let anything deter me in 2014. Whether it’s posting photos to Instagram, composing silly little blog entries, or submitting short stories and essays to magazines, I’m keen to send at least one tiny creation of mine into the universe every day.
  • Healthfully speaking… Pure and simple, my goal is to eat leafy greens at least twice a day. Yup, every day. Bring on the noise, bring on the kale.
  • Personally speaking… Firstly, I plan to make time at least once a month for my hubby and I to go out for dinner with friends in LA. {Once monthly sounds so piddly, I know, but — trust me — it is a vast improvement on our current lifestyle as workaholic hermits.} Secondly, I really want to streamline my morning and evening routines this year. This is to say, I have long suspected that most normal, highly functioning adults belong to a secret society that lets them in on precious insights about the business of life, like the best times to shower, grocery shop, or vacuum without scaring their dogs half to death. Although I don’t expect an invite from this society anytime soon, I’m determined to revamp my closet, hang clocks above my bathtub, and follow every other life hack possible until I feel like an honorary member.

As I work toward my goals, I will be sure to let you know if I learn any secrets that I think you would like. But, enough about me. How are your goals and resolutions shaping up? If you want more inspiration, here’s some food for thought about the golden rules of making goals, setting simple goals, mid-year goals, and laid-back resolutions. What’s up with you and your scheming? Leave a comment.

Image via Justina Blakeney.

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Silence

"Shhh," says the ballerina.

“Shhh,” says the ballerina, “now get to work.”

Sorry for all the silence this past week, darlin’s! I’ve been up against a lot of deadlines, and apparently am nowhere near as good at budgeting my time as I like to think I am. After working rather long days, I’ve been unwinding by watching an episode of City Ballet every night before bed. Have you seen it? It is narrated by Sarah Jessica Parker and is really quite charming. Ever since watching the documentary “First Position” by Bess Kargman, I’ve felt a strong kinship with ballerinas and the level of dedication they pour into their craft. There was something about that documentary that quite simply touched me and made me feel inspired to try and emulate the work ethic/practice-makes-perfect mentality of a ballerina in my life as a writer. And so, as I burn the candle on both ends, I love being comforted and kept company by the aspiring dancers of New York City Ballet. These tutu-and-tights-clad companions are no substitute for you, however, dear readers… I so very much look forward to chatting with you on the flip side of all these due dates! Leave a comment.

Photo from Girl In A Tutu via Pinterest.

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Thankfulness Phases

Count your blessings and accomplishments, and wear warm socks

Count your blessings and accomplishments, and wear warm socks.

As Thanksgiving approaches, I find myself thinking about the different kinds of thankfulness I’ve experienced throughout my life, and, as it turns out, it has really gone in phases. When I was a teenager, I engaged in a whole lot of “why me?” thinking, and as a result I had to look to my accomplishments and my hard work whenever I wanted to feel a sense of true gratitude. This is to say, my life felt like way too much of a mess for me to count my blessings, so I counted my persistence, lofty goals, and other traits within me as things I was thankful for instead of counting things in my external world.

That angst-riddled teenager grew up to be quite the self-critical adult, however, and I now realize it has been ages since I’ve listed one of my personal accomplishments as something I’m grateful for. Merely talking or thinking about something I’ve accomplished opens a jumbo can of worms and gets me dwelling on things I should have done differently, dreams I wish I’d achieved yesterday, etc., so counting my blessings is definitely the surest route to gratitude for the adult version of me. Lately, I find myself feeling grateful for things like: the roof over my head, my husband’s unparallelled ability to listen, the smell of currant-spice candles on cold nights, being able to afford fresh groceries and special meals out, our pup and all his antics, my good health, my loving family around the world, wool socks, and the lemons falling daily from our backyard trees. And, the list goes on.

While my current gratitude list sounds like something you’d more traditionally hear rattled off when counting one’s blessings at the Thanksgiving table (and it admittedly feels a bit less self-absorbed than my old way of giving thanks), I think finding things to be grateful for within ourselves is equally important. In fact, I’m pretty sure there will be points in the future when the world around me feels a little bleak and I’ll need to look inwards in order to find things to be thankful for. And, the more I think about it, I realize that these phasing forms of gratitude are actually quite healthy. The ability to feel grateful is so important to our appreciation of life and our sense of hope that I think we should all count our blessings wherever we can find them. When we’re going through phases of loving our world, they’re probably outside of us; when we’re not so hot on our world, these sources of gratitude are probably within us. Whatever other phases we’re going through, I hope you — dear reader — and I are always able to to seek out and celebrate the best parts of our lives, because finding the good in life keeps us going and makes the journey extra sweet…Has the way you experience thankfulness changed as you’ve grown and evolved? I would love to hear your take! Leave a comment.

Psst: In case you’re wondering, I made the above image using a lovely hand-drawn border I found on We Lived Happily Ever After.

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Winnings and Beginnings

Thanks to this image, Consumed has made quite a stir around the web -- now, let's keep it up!

Thanks to this image, Consumed has made quite a stir around the web — now, let’s keep it up!

I am so eternally grateful to everyone who has become a loyal reader and discovered CONSUMED over the past week! When it comes to promoting our little nibble of a film, however, I must admit that this really is just the beginning. “What starts now?” you ask. Well, right now is all about the grassroots magic of people like you getting the word out there little by little. I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating, but every time you share CONSUMED on Facebook, Twitter, or even via email it really does make a remarkable difference. It doesn’t matter whether your networks are giant or tiny — every time anyone shares this video, it moves higher in Google searches and Facebook feeds, creates buzz on YouTube, and pretty much you name it. I think Oompa Loompas might even pop out of the woodwork and start dancing…

Without further ado or Oompa Loompa dances, a few of the people who have spread the word about CONSUMED over the past week are Cavan Kelly and Kevin Fletcher. I’m pleased to announce that they are the winners of the bacon-wrapped squirrel t-shirt giveaway. (Cavan and Kevin, I will email you shortly!)

If you didn’t win, don’t be blue; you’ve been a part of something fun and meaningful. Thanks so much for your support and growing interest in CONSUMED! I will try to scheme up some more exciting giveaways soon. Until then, it really would mean the world to me if you continued sharing the video and getting the word out. Each and every time you share CONSUMED, you support truly independent art, the power of heartfelt storytelling, and quirky, bacon-wrapped cuisine. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the depths of the Consumed kitchen! Leave a comment.

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By Candlelight

Jackie Kennedy lighting candles in a very glam gown

Jackie Kennedy lighting candles in a very glam gown

When I traveled back home to Massachusetts this summer, my mom revealed to me that my grandparents ate dinner by candlelight every night of their marriage. In fact, she said she didn’t think there was a single night in her entire childhood or adulthood where her mother forgot to light candles at the dinner table. This got me wondering whether the ritual of striking matches and sharing glances through flickering flames was one of the secrets to my grandparents’ successful marriage.

These things always sound trivial on the surface, but I think tradition really does count for something. I’m not saying taper candles are a substitute for strong communication, but I do think that holding true to simple rituals or romantic gestures just may have the power to act as an anchor, keeping our relationships steady whenever we face choppy seas. And, isn’t that one of the greatest goals of being in a relationship for the long haul — to be each other ‘s constant in this crazy, modern world? What do you think? Do you have any romantic rituals, like lighting candles or scheduling weekly date nights? I’d love to hear your take! Leave a comment.

Image via Pinterest.

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Bacon Wrapped Squirrel Giveaway

Who wants a Bacon Wrapped Squirrel t-shirt?

Who wants a Bacon Wrapped Squirrel t-shirt?

It’s t-shirt giveaway time! In celebration of the online debut of my short film CONSUMED, I’m excited to announce that I’ll be giving away some commemorative bacon-wrapped-squirrel t-shirts to a few lucky readers. The tees feature the above design and are printed on comfy American Apparel cotton. I can personally vouch that these super-cool duds always prove a great conversation starter, and they could also make a fabulous holiday gift for the quirky chef in your life.

For a chance to win, please take these three simple steps:

  1. Share CONSUMED on your Facebook wall.
  2. Follow Coté Writes on Facebook.
  3. Leave a comment below. (Please let me know your Facebook user name in your comment. Keep in mind: I monitor all comments, so it might take a teensy while for yours to show up.)

Contest ends at 11:59 p.m. (PST) on November 21, 2013. Winners will be chosen at random and announced the following day. There will be two winners. Good luck, and thanks for reading, loving, and cheering on my movie!

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Consumed Debuts Online Today

Official poster for CONSUMED, my short film

Official poster for my short film CONSUMED

I’m so excited to announce that you can now watch my short film CONSUMED online. (Yaaaay!!!) I wrote the script back in 2011, and a couple of my dearest friends and I proceeded to shoot the movie on a shoestring budget in a very greasy, hot sweltering kitchen in Austin, TX. The film premiered to great reviews at a few small screenings in 2012, and it is now time to leave those intimate screening rooms behind and share this story with the world…

In this psychological thriller, two chefs in love fight a battle over food, insanity, and the age-old question, “Is my husband going to kill me?”

Since CONSUMED is a film that celebrates cuisine, love, and fatal miscommunications, what better time could there be for a deliciously scary movie than as we all plan our Turkey Day feasts and prepare ourselves for family drama? I invite you to indulge in this 13-minute nibble of entertainment as you clip recipes from magazines and scour the interwebs for the perfect Thanksgiving meal ideas. I promise, you will never think about kitchen appliances the same way again.

Psst: I will be eternally grateful if you share this movie via social media and maybe even e-mail a few of your film-and-food-loving friends about it. Bringing my stories to audiences around the world is a lifelong dream of mine, and your help in spreading the word really would mean so much to me. Also, you can check out more work from the director on L. M. Harter’s production site, and be sure to keep an eye out for a t-shirt giveaway I’ll be posting soon. Leave a comment.

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Weekend Bucket List

What's on your weekend bucket list?

What’s on your weekend bucket list?

Since my husband and I both tend to put in a lot of work hours on the weekends, lately we’ve found ourselves wondering where the “fun” days of the week have gone. As a result, I’ve decided to give our Saturdays and Sundays a kick in the pants. It’s never easy to break out of a routine — especially when you find yourself not only in a weekend rut, but in a weekend-nights-are-becoming-like-every-other-just-barely-scraping-by-night-of-the-week rut — so, I’ve made a list to help expedite this departure from the norm. I’m calling it a weekend bucket list, and I’m filling it with all sorts of activities that we keep meaning to try around Los Angeles. Some of them are quick and very simple (perfect for a night of unwinding after the office), and others are bigger, day-long adventures. The idea is merely to keep this list handy on my phone and to pick one new activity whenever we’re lacking inspiration on a weekend. Here’s a peek at my weekend bucket list thus far:

  • See live comedy at Laugh Factory or The Comedy Store
  • Tour “the vault” at the Peterson Automotive Museum
  • Eat dinner at Beso (we have a gift card, so there are no excuses)
  • Grab lunch at Ink Sack on Melrose Ave.
  • Hike through nature in Malibu
  • See the James Turrell exhibit at LACMA
  • Watch a movie in a graveyard (yes, this really is a thing in Hollywood)
  • Eat a sunset dinner on the 24th floor of the Ritz-Carlton downtown
  • Go houseplant shopping at a mom-and-pop nursery
  • Browse Melrose Trading Post and Rose Bowl Flea Market on Sunday afternoons
  • Catch a concert at The House of Blues and The Troubador
  • Horseback ride through Griffith Park
  • Ice skate outdoors in Beverly Hills
  • Hear the LA Philharmonic play at the Hollywood Bowl
  • Take a day trip to Palm Springs for museums and thrift shopping
  • Watch Annie Hall at an old movie theater
  • Take a star-maps tour bus ride

Psst: I plan to continue adding to my list — would you consider making a weekend bucket list of your own? Are there new treasures in your city that you keep meaning to discover? Or maybe are there pastimes from years ago (or even childhood) that you would like to fall in love with all over again? Leave a comment.

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Claude Lately

Claude on the way home from a good romp at Laurel Canyon Dog Park

Claude on the way home from a good romp at Laurel Canyon Dog Park

My husband recently made fun of me mercilessly for the fact that one of the only folders visible on my computer desktop is titled, “Claude Lately.” The name speaks for itself — it’s a folder devoted to the ongoing adventures and misadventures of the most dashing black Puggle on the planet. So, yeah, maybe I have a little slice of random-access-memory where I catalog my favorite photos of our pup on a monthly basis. What of it? Other dog lovers do that, too, right? Just for giggles, I figured I would share some of my compulsive additions to Claude Lately with you…

Perfect ;oght one morning provided just the excuse I needed for a doggie portrait session...

Perfect light one morning provided just the excuse I needed for a doggie portrait session…As if anyone ever really needs an excuse…

The paws kill me every time

The paws kill me every time

He couldn't resist popping into the frame when I was trying to photograph our latest Ikea-hack credenza

He couldn’t resist popping into the frame when I was trying to photograph our latest Ikea-hack credenza — such a photo-bombing diva

I don't know when this started, but Claude now always lounges with his paws crossed

I don’t know when this started, but Claude now always lounges with his paws crossed — uncannily like a human

Serpentine on the sofa

Serpentine on the sofa

Soaking up sunshine on our back patio

Soaking up sunshine on our back patio

Psst: Do you have any similar puppy parent or baby parent compulsions? Please, say yes. Leave a comment.

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