Author Archives: Brittany Joy Cooper

Brittany Joy Cooper

About Brittany Joy Cooper

Brittany Joy Cooper is a freelance writer, editor and consultant who lives in Nashville, Tenn. A native of Indianapolis and a graduate of Samford University, she spent several years editing a music magazine in Nashville before venturing out on her own. Brittany loves all things magazine, especially Real Simple and Whole Living, and now finds that she spends too much of her spare time looking for great recipes on Pinterest.

10 Ways to Encourage Your Elementary School Child

10 Ways to Encourage Your Elementary School Child

10 Ways to Encourage Your Elementary School Child

Former US Representative George M. Adams is credited with saying, “Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul.” And who can argue with him? 

From a young age we learn to take comfort in and draw energy from the encouragement of others. As kids are getting back into the routine of school and homework and early mornings once again, it’s a great time for parents to step it up in the encouragement department and join our kids in the pursuit of their goals and the development of their character.

Here are 10 ways you can encourage your elementary school child this year:

1. Share breakfast: It’s no secret that a great breakfast is an important start to the day, but don’t forget about the value of good company at the table as well. You may not have time to make eggs and bacon, but you can support your child by simply sitting down with him for five or ten minutes at breakfast.

2. Pass a note: Your child’s lunchbox and backpack are not just great vessels to carry pbj’s and binders. Drop in an encouraging note to let your child know that you believe in her and love her.

3. Volunteer at your child’s school: OK, we can all admit that this one brings with it an immediate pressure to be superparent, but if you have time for this kind of involvement, volunteering is a great way to familiarize yourself with your child’s school, his teacher and his friends while also helping out.

4. Ask questions (and really listen to the answers): This one might seem obvious, but how often do you find yourself multitasking while talking to your kids? Make it a point to occasionally leave the dishes, abandon the broom and sit down and listen.

5. Encourage effort, not just grades: It’s so valuable to understand your child and to notice if she is truly working to the best of her ability. Grades are one way of measuring that, but remember that they aren’t the only way, and be sure to encourage and praise her honest effort.

6. Get to know your child’s friends: You can better engage with your child if you know the friends he spends his time with. Invite friends over to your house and get to know them so you can encourage your child through her relationships, both in the positive and the negative times.

7. Create a comfortable “homework space”: Who doesn’t like to work in an inviting space? Make doing homework more enjoyable for your child by letting her pick out a few things she likes and designating a desk or a corner of her room as a “homework space.” If she helps set it up, she’ll be more excited to use it.

8. Spend regular time reading together: Even after your child can read on his own, one great way to encourage reading is to simply read together. Pick a book you will both enjoy and either read it to him aloud before bed or take turns reading to each other or to younger siblings.

9. Build a relationship with your child’s teacher: Maintaining a rapport with your child’s teacher allows you to be involved in what’s going on in the classroom. Then, when you have a question or concern, you’ll feel more comfortable making a phone call since you’re not a stranger.

10. Praise your child publicly: No one enjoys hearing a mother constantly brag about her children, but there are appropriate ways to praise your child in public that can go a long way in encouraging her. Notice when your child does something praiseworthy, and don’t hesitate to compliment her — even when others are listening.

Forks Over Knives

Get “Back to You” with 7 Must-Read Books

Everyone’s falling back into a routine, and that means it’s a great time for you to take a little time to do something you enjoy–like diving into one of these seven hot titles.

Let’s face it: school has officially begun. Summer vacation is only evidenced by the bathing suit still in the laundry basket and the stream of sunny photos now filling up your phone. But before you lament the end of the lake trips and ice cream, don’t forget about the perks of the coming season. Fall is a time of nostalgic scents, comfy sweaters and, perhaps most importantly, time to enjoy a good book.

For just that reason, we’re spotlighting seven must-read titles, all available with super low price tags at Here are 7 great titles, providing something for everyone in the family.

The Hunger Games




For Fun: The Hunger Games - If you missed out on Suzanne Collins’ futuristic bestseller, or if you saw the film this summer and it piqued your interest, now is the time to catch up.






Forks Over Knives




For the Foodie: Forks Over Knives – Driving home the benefits of eating a plant-based, holistic diet, “Forks Over Knives” offers more than a hundred recipes for fresh, healthy fare that falls into this diet.






Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman




For the Intellectual: Thinking, Fast and Slow – In this award-winning bestseller, Nobel Prize-winning economist Daniel Kahneman discusses the two systems that describe how humans think – one fast and one slow.






Bright Not Broken




For the Parent: Bright Not Broken – This three-author book, subtitled “Why Twice-Exceptional Kids Are Stuck and How to Help Them,” explores how current systems affect twice-exceptional kids, or gifted kids diagnosed with a disability.






National Geographic Kids Almanac 2013




For the Child: National Geographic Kids Almanac 2013 - For everything from penguins to dinosaurs to the solar system, this fun and updated almanac is the perfect read for kids of all ages.






Rafa, by Rafael Nadal




For the Sports Fanatic: Rafa - If you missed seeing the 26-year-old tennis wonder Rafael Nadal at the London Olympics, you can  get all the info you want about the private athlete in this memoir, written with renowned journalist John Carlin.






Cesar's Rules by Cesar Millan




For the Animal Lover: Cesar’s Rules -  Most any animal lover is familiar with The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Millan. In this helpful read, Millan details some of his methods for raising a well-trained dog. And if you’ve watched his show, you know how effective his tips can be!





Don’t hesitate to take a little time for yourself, order a book you love and get “back to you” with any of these bestselling titles.

Take a Hike

Take a Hike: Enjoy the End of Summer with a Walk in the Woods

Take a HikeSchool bells may be ringing and temperatures cooling, but summer isn’t over yet. Savor it this weekend by taking a hike.

Depending on where you live, the summer may have been too hot to brave the outdoors for more than a sprint to your air-conditioned car. But now that the heat is easing off and the subtle undertones of fall are accompanying the start of school, the time is just right for a day outside soaking up the beauty of summer.

Whether you’re celebrating the kids being home from school or just enjoying a break in the workweek, a few hours in the great outdoors can lift your spirits, renew your mind and reenergize you for the week ahead. Not sure where to go get lost in the woods? One great resource is, where you can enter your zip code to find all the hiking and biking trails in your area and where to access them.

For a day in the great outdoors, find a trail that looks appealing, gather up some friendly travel companions (friends or family will do) and make a day of it. Pick a trail that rewards you at the end with a view or a waterfall or something that makes the trek worthwhile. Or, just enjoy the beauty of being out in the woods in new surroundings.

Even beyond the landscape it offers, going for a hike has several added benefits as well. For one thing, it’s a fun way to squeeze in a workout without feeling like you’re working out. Plus, the calm of the woods provides a peaceful place for conversation with friends or for reflection on your own.

Just because it’s time to jump into a fall routine doesn’t mean there isn’t still a good bit of summer to enjoy. Give the entire family a break and explore the trails in your area. Go ahead–take a hike!

The 10 Best Magazines to Take to the Beach

The 10 Best Magazines to Take to the Beach

The 10 Best Magazines to Take to the BeachYou’re ready to soak up some sun this summer, but don’t hit the sand without these bright magazines safely stowed in your beach bag. 

How long have you been waiting for this summer vacation? You’ve got your spf, your sunglasses, your suit and a giant beach towel. Now all you need are some great summer reads. To help stock your beach bag this summer, we’re listing out the 10 best magazines to take to the beach this year.

For Her:

People: Who doesn’t love a little celebrity gossip while soaking up some rays? Sometimes we all need a little mental break to sit and enjoy our guilty pleasure magazine, and People is it.

Coastal Living: For once you can stare at those beautiful oceanscapes on the page and then look beyond the page to see the real thing in the background. Enjoy the magazine, and when that pang of “Oh I want to be there!” kicks in, just set the magazine down and voila!

Dwell: Totally focused on modern home design both inside and out, Dwell magazine is a great read with beautiful graphic design, and it just seems to speak to that creative side, which you actually have time to nurture while on vacay.

Sunset: Sunset magazine will help you drift peacefully into your tropical paradise. Devoted to everything West Coast, this magazine will add a splash of summer with great tips on everything from green living to food, wine and entertaining.

Health: It’s the best way to catch up on how to stay fit and maintain a healthy lifestyle, all things that just make sense when you’re at the beach with a little time to scheme about the future.

For Him:

Wired: You finally have a chance to sit down and enjoy an entertaining read, and Wired is chock-full of enough new gadgets, inventions and trends to keep you entertained for an entire afternoon of sunning.

Fast Company: This is another good read, with stories of entrepreneurs, trends and business ideas both current and future. And don’t worry — though it has “company” in the title, this read will feel nothing like being at work!

The New Yorker: Great reporting and super interesting stories — need we say more?

Surfer: Even if you don’t have plans to hit the board on this trip, there’s just something fun about thumbing through a surfing magazine while at the beach. And hey, if you feel like a poser, you can always hide it between the pages of one of your other magazines and no one has to know.

ESPN The Magazine: Catch up on the latest sports news and let your mind kick back and relax. Golf anyone?

Enjoy these additional suggestions of quick and easy summer reads–all for less than $10.

Dining Lot: Nashville's First Annual Street Food Festival

Nashville’s First Annual Street Food Festival Gathers More than 35 Local Food Trucks

Dining Lot: Nashville's First Annual Street Food FestivalThe food truck movement has been rolling into Nashville for the past couple years, and Wanderland’s “Dining Lot” event at Centennial Park today is bringing the whole fleet to one place.

While most Nashvillians could spout off the name of one or two of their favorite food trucks — Mas Tacos Por Favor or the Grilled Cheeserie, perhaps — most would be surprised to know just how many gourmet meals on wheels have been making their way to Music City of late.

Uniting the entire foodie fleet, Wanderland Urban Food Park is hosting Nashville’s First Annual Street Food Festival today at Centennial Park from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. With trucks, carts and wagons full of everything from specialty handmade marshmallows (The Bang Candy Co.) to Asian subs (Sum Yum Yum) and authentic country cooking (Just Like Nannie Fixed It), this event is shaping up to have something for every palate.

In addition to featuring some of the best mobile food available in Nashville, the Street Food Fest will also feature some live entertainment and free samples. Nashville Food Bloggers and several VIP judges will be dishing out Critics’ Choice Awards in the categories of Best Savory Dish, Best Sweet Dish and Best Drink. Plus, festivalgoers get the chance to take part in the People’s Choice Awards, receiving one ballott with each food item purchased.

Tickets for the event are available at the “door” for $7 general admission, and kids under the age of 6 get in for free. Though the price of admission doesn’t cover food, you can enjoy the free samples and entertainment even if you don’t purchase food. Wanderland’s website predicts that most food purchases from vendors will only cost between $2 and $10–one of the many perks of street food. You can even bring your pet to take part in the festivities, as long as you keep him on a leash and clean up after him.

Take some time today to celebrate the mobile food movement and enjoy some gourmet eats at the same time. A complete list of vendors is available here.



Make a Promise to Savor the Summer

SummerDoesn’t it seem like summer always ends as quickly as it begins? Make a commitment this year to relish the moments that make summer so singularly refreshing.

It happens. Every. Single. Year. I get elated about the first day of summer, remembering the childhood magic of homemade ice cream, laps around the lake and the sound of rain thumping the ground as I played games on our screened-in porch. With hopes of summer feelings and freedoms, I enter the season with great expectations.

Now, I may be alone in this, but I’m pretty sure you know the drill. Suddenly I look at my calendar and realize (to my utter amazement) that every weekend has already been scheduled away, and I begin to wonder how and when I’m going to enjoy the outdoors and if I’ll get a moment to read a poolside book after work or squeeze in a hike or two or perhaps go camping and when, oh when did summer get so short?

I understand that adults don’t get a summer vacation, and while I’d gladly start a petition to accomplish as much, I’m committing to doing something a little more rational this summer, and I invite you to join me. I’m making a vow to pause and enjoy the moments that make summer entirely different from every other season.

I might give myself permission to read a book or Real Simple magazine on my back porch at night, when I can see lightning bugs dotting my backyard. Or perhaps I’ll lug ye olde ice cream maker out of the basement and invite the neighbors over. I’m also planning on taking a Saturday morning or two to visit Nashville’s wonderful farmer’s market for some fresh produce from local farmers.

What childhood memories made summer special to you? I encourage you to indulge yourself in a few activities this summer that remind you of those memories. Drive to a local lake and take a walk even if you can’t ski around it, make lemonade and sit outside for a bit, join a local pool and go after work. Whatever you do, don’t let summer slip past before you get to enjoy a bit of its relaxing charm.

While you and I may have infinitely more responsibilities than our 10-year-old selves, there’s a time for setting aside that to-do list, picking up the want-to-do list, blowing off the dust and putting a big fat check mark beside something that makes us feel happy. And I can’t think of a better time than summer.