Last month, when my brother was in town, we spent a night with friends at Arrington Vineyards, located about 25 minutes south of Nashville. During the summer, Arrington is probably my favorite place to have a picnic—free music on weekends, a setting of rolling hills, vineyard views and space farther out in the country. It’s the kind of thing that makes you think about picnicking and why it’s so enjoyable—which is exactly why I loved reading a recent post from Tea & Cookies. In it, she says this:

The thing about picnics I think is this: they are less of a meal and more of a celebration. There may be food involved, but the point is not simply to eat—you could do that at your desk, standing over the kitchen sink, in your car. This is not about feeding. The point about a picnic is to enjoy.

Picnics slow things down, they make you step back and notice. The way the light filters through the trees. The sound of the water as is splashes over the locks. The feeling of grass on bare feet. Picnics feed all our senses.

With that in mind, here are some photos of things I stepped back to notice at Arrington, as well as some thought-provoking quotes from a book I just finished, “Writing Down the Bones,” in which Natalie Goldberg talks about what it means to be “‘writing down the bones,’ the essential, awake speech of [our] minds.”


And some thoughts from “Writing Down the Bones“:

“If something comes up in your writing that is scary or naked, dive right into it. It probably has lots of energy.”

“Like running, the more you do it, the better you get at it. Some days you don’t want to run and you resist every step of the three miles, but you do it anyway. You practice whether you want to or not. You don’t wait around for inspiration and a deep desire to run, especially if you are out of shape and have been avoiding it. … Through practice you actually do get better.”

“Watch when you listen to a piece of writing. There might be spaces where your mind wanders. We sometimes respond with comments such as ‘I don’t know, it got too deep for me’ or ‘There was just too much description, I couldn’t follow it.’ Often the problem is not in the reader but in the writing.”

“Push yourself beyond when you think you are done with what you have to say. Go a little further. Sometimes when you think you are done, it is just the edge of beginning.”

Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Marissa

    Thank you for the reminder of Natalie Goldberg’s wonderful book. Her passion and enthusiasm for writing (and life!) is contagious.

    1. Shannalee

      Marissa, I agree! I’ve loved having her encouraging voice to turn to the last couple weeks!

  2. Megan Gordon

    Oh, boy. It’s been far too long since I’ve read Writing Down the Bones, and your great quotes reminded me of this just now. Thanks for these, Shanna. Going to request it from the library now! xx

    1. Shannalee

      Thanks for saying so, Meg! I feel like I can’t get enough of this kind of inspiration lately.

  3. Helene @ French Foodie Baby

    I’m going to have to read that book, the quotes on writing really resonate with me. And the thoughts on picnicking too. I love your photo of the pesto looking mixture :-)

    1. Shannalee

      Thanks, Helene—the pesto is the kale pesto from last month, and I’ll be honest, looking at the photo makes me want to make another batch myself. : )

      1. Helene @ French Foodie Baby

        Ooh adding that pesto to my recipe to do list right away… :-)

  4. Christine @ The Pantry Drawer

    GORGEOUS! so jealous!

  5. Laken

    Adding Writing Down the Bones to my GoodReads list right now!

  6. sarah

    Lovely. I love all the passages you shared – much to think about. Pushing oneself is the hard part! I need more discipline, please. :)

    1. Shannalee

      Oh, sarah. Me too!

  7. Wholesome Hedonist

    That is one of my favourite books ever, one I turn to whenever I need writing inspiration. Anne Lammott’s Bird by Bird is also indispensable.

    Love the pics – especially the third one!

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