THE OPEN BOOK

29
May

Friday Favorites: Wrapping Up the Birthday Week

I love being 27 already! My birthday was absolutely wonderful. I love any excuse to eat good food and hang out with amazing people, and birthdays give me the perfect excuse! Thank you to EVERYONE who sent me messages, called, stopped by, and made me feel so incredibly loved. Here are some of my favorite things from this past week:

Jane Austen Tea Party

My first ever tea party was even better than I imagined! My birthday dawned sunny and bright, and I spent the afternoon prepping tiny sandwiches and eating ALL the crusts (what else are you going to do with them?). The spread was absolutely gorgeous, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get pictures–we just started eating right away! I made 12 tomato-fresh basil-balsamic cream cheese sandwiches, 12 avocado egg salad sandwiches, and 12 cucumber-cream cheese sandwiches. All were marvelous, but my favorites were the tomato basil. I adore fresh basil leaves. To me, they taste like summer, cool and refreshing.

We also had pineapple, watermelon, fresh organic veggies, homemade cranberry-orange biscotti, and four types of delicious tea. The favorite of the night was the mocha hazelnut yerba matte–it was like drinking dessert! For actual dessert, I made green tea honey ice cream. So. Freaking. Good. And SO easy! Here’s my super simple recipe for a sublime summer treat:

Julia’s Green Tea Ice Cream

image from choosingraw.com

1 can coconut milk (full fat will be creamier, but lite works as well)

2 tsp. Matcha

1/3 cup honey

Mix everything together and pour into your ice cream maker. VoilĂ ! You are an ice cream genius and everyone will be impressed. You’ll be the talk of the town.

Marrying Mr. Darcy

As we ate our ice cream and nibbled biscotti, we played Marrying Mr. Darcy. This game has it all for Jane Austen fans. You get to become a female character from an Austen novel (I got to be Elizabeth Bennet!), the goal of the game being to get your suitor to propose. The suitors, however, each require different things from their would-be loves (Darcy required his future bride to have a wit of 5 or higher).

Throughout the game, you try to acquire beauty, wit, friendliness, and reputation points by interacting with the cards. However, getting a scandal card makes you lose attributes and make sure you watch out for Mr. Wickham or you’ll be eloped and ruined in before you’re first ball!

The cards are very tongue-and-cheek, and the best part was reading them in our best (or worst?) aristocratic English accents. This game is definitely going on my need to own list! 🙂

 

Second Printing!

Website Cover Art

As an added birthday bonus, the final proof for the second edition of Seven Stones was officially approved and sent off to the printers!!!! HUZZAH!!! I can’t believe we’re actually running a second printing! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has supported me and spread the word about Seven Stones! Keep telling friends, liking my Facebook page, reading this blog, and just being your amazing selves!

 

Word Count

Here’s to another year of adventures–literary and otherwise. My word count for this week? Unfortunately, I’m giving myself a NEGATIVE word count. I actually finished writing an entire chapter…and it just didn’t fit. I tried reworking it several times, but in the end decided to scrap it. This kind of process is necessary for a good end result; sometimes working through all the “bad” words leads you to the good ones. Let’s hope so, anyway!

 

Happy, happy Friday!

I’m lucky enough to celebrate with another birthday bash on Saturday. We’ll be enjoying the beautiful weather with a bonfire, roasting sausages over the flames, and playing lots of games!

 

27
May

Birthday Cake Popcorn!

Happy Birthday to ME!

I’m officially 27!

Today, I’m going to spend my birthday writing, eating good food, and hanging out with awesome people. I am super excited for my Jane Austen tea party tonight, but the fun doesn’t end there. Shane and I will also be celebrating this weekend (because who can have just ONE birthday party?) with games, fun, and more good food.

I have to admit, being 26 was fantastic. Some big highlights were: the birth of my two nephews, Ira & Samuel, going to a Packer game at Lambeau Field, moving to Bemidji, receiving two grad school scholarships, being awarded the Region 2 Individual Artist Grant, starting a blog, and–oh, yeah–BECOMING A PUBLISHED AUTHOR! There were also hundreds of small moments and joys that made my 26th year wonderful. I am truly lucky to be surrounded by such loving friends and family. Thank you for making my life something to celebrate!

And what treat will I be celebrating with? As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not the biggest fan of cake, so I really love to get creative with my birthday treats. For my 27th birthday, I decided to make something that is truly me: birthday cake popcorn!

To say I love popcorn is an understatement. I have no idea how some people manage to eat a few dainty handfuls–when I make a big bowl of popcorn, it is gone in record time. I inhale it. Popcorn is my absolute favorite go-to snack. When I discovered this recipe while looking up fun ideas for my birthday, it was fate. I’m only slightly tweaking from the original recipe by using unrefined, ungross ingredients and fair trade chocolate. Oh yeah, and I’m probably quadrupling the quantity. I mean, at least.

Julia’s 27th Birthday Cake Popcorn

Sweet and Salty! What could be better?

10 cups popped corn (I’m air popping those bad boys)

1 Green & Black’s Organic White Chocolate bar, broken into small chunks

1 tablespoon unrefined coconut oil, melted

Salt, to taste

A few handfuls of Let’s Do Organic Sprinklez

Place popcorn on two large cookie sheets lined with parchment paper. Melt the white chocolate in the microwave for one minute or until melted and creamy, stirring halfway though. Stir in the melted coconut oil. Drizzle over the popcorn and mix with a spatula to coat (careful, it will be very hot!). Toss in the salt and sprinkles. Let cool completely, then break apart any large pieces that are stuck together.

Stick a birthday candle in a big bowl and DEVOUR!

Happy Wednesday!

 

25
May

Jane Austen Tea Party

I like big cups and I cannot lie…

My shoulder is feeling a little better. I’ve been icing it every day, resting, and so far it seems to be paying off. I can type without it hurting now, and am even able to cook and bake if I’m really careful. Which is good, because this Wednesday is my GOLDEN BIRTHDAY!!!!

You may have noticed by now that I love my birthday the way most five-year-olds do. I can’t help it. Every year on May 1st, my official birthday season begins. Then, the whole week leading up to the actual day is my birthday week. I wear fancy dresses and my wedding crown. I told you I was five.

I’ve dreamed of having a birthday tea party for years. I love drinking tea, eating tea, and all the foods that go along with the traditional tea ceremony. Since my golden birthday falls in the middle of the week, Shane and I are going to be celebrating it together this coming Saturday. But since he’ll be busy working Wednesday, I decided to throw myself the girliest birthday party EVER: a Jane Austen tea party!

Ain’t no party like a birthday tea party!

A few friends and I are going to meet, drink tea, eat food, and watch a Jane Austen movie. In addition, I’ve told everyone to bring a copy of their favorite book to share book club-style. Hermione would be so proud.

I’ve been planning the menu for a few days, and here’s what I think I’ll be serving:

Jane Austen Tea Menu

I have a feeling she’d be a big fan of my book

Tea:

Organic Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla (black tea)

Organic Mango Green (decaf)

Organic Earl Grey

Mocha Hazelnut Yerba Mate

Sandwiches:

Avocado egg salad

Tomato-basil

Cucumber (of course!)

Snacks:

Cranberry-Orange Biscotti

Fresh fruits & veggies

Dessert:

Green tea ice cream

I’m off to bake and cut crusts off of tiny sandwiches (and then eat all the crusts while no one is looking). In case you missed it, here’s the story Lakeland News did on my first book signing on May 16th!!! What a great early birthday present. 🙂

Happy Monday!

20
May

An Author’s Birthday List

Sorry for the lateness of this post. I spent the early hours of Wednesday morning in the Emergency Room. Several hours and x-rays later, I was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff and sent home with some crazy strong pain killers and a fashionable sling. I can’t lift my arm, bear weight, or even type with my right hand without pain.

How did this happen. I figured you’d ask, so I have provided three versions of my injury story. Only you can choose which is the truth!

a. I got into a bar fight with a notorious crime lord, single-handedly taking him down while rescuing an adorable bunch of ragtag orphans he had kidnapped.

b. I signed so many books on Saturday that I actually tore my rotator cuff.

c. I slept on my arm funny and woke up with pain and discomfort. Figuring it was nothing, I proceeded to do an hour of yoga, after which I could be found crying like a small child because it felt like a knife was wedged in my shoulder.

If you chose a or b, good for you! I, myself, favor b.

Crime lords and book signings aside, I found myself in a load of pain and distress this morning. Shane–my gallant knight–asked if getting an early birthday present would ease the pain. Why, yes! Yes it would! I was then presented with one of the most healing things known in all Packerdom: Green Bay Packer stuff! And not just any stuff–he went out and bought the huge Lambeau Field throw rug that I’ve wanted since we first moved to Bemidji. The Packer Room is complete!

Which got me thinking. As my birthday is only a week away, friends and family have been asking what I want this year. Besides an oversize Packer rug, I don’t actually want any stuff. As an author, here’s what I really want for my birthday:

1. Reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and LibraryThing

2. You to buy a copy of my book

3. Buy a friend a copy of my book

4. Tell your friends about my book (or libraries, schools, book clubs, etc.)

5. For my author page on Facebook to reach 300 “likes”

Thanks to everyone who keeps spreading the news about my book and upcoming signings! I’m a pretty lucky girl to have so many amazing friends.

I’m going to take Friday off of blogging to let my shoulder rest. I’ll see you Monday with some birthday recipes!!!

18
May

Book Signing at Kat’s Book Nook!

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My first book signing

On Saturday, I got to spend a lovely afternoon at Kat’s Book Nook in Bemidji surrounded by good books, good friends, and a couple of cats. How was the signing, you ask? FANTASTIC! Gosh, I can’t tell you how much I just LOVE meeting people and talking about my book. Love, love, love. It is a dream come true and I soak up every second of it.

The table!

The table!

I set up my table at Kat’s around 12:40 (because when I’m nervous, I show up early and prep). Since I was early, I got to chat with Kat and play with her adorable kitties…one of whom thought the dreamcatcher I brought to decorate the table was the BEST TOY EVER. Convincing her not to eat it was a feat, but she managed to control herself for the most part.

IMG_1320

Ready for my adoring public!

Then, the people started arriving–thank goodness, I thought. Thank you to everyone who came out to support me, talk about my book, get a copy signed, and check out a fabulous local bookstore. I’d been nervous beforehand because this was my first official signing, but it was so much fun! I can’t wait to do it again!

Lakeland News crew!

Lakeland News crew!

What’s even better is the crew from Lakeland arrived to film the book signing for another In Focus segment and to get footage for my upcoming Common Ground segment! I had a blast doing the interview with Lakeland reporter Kathleen Cohen. In Focus airs as the last piece on the 10 o’clock news this Friday on PBS. If you aren’t in the viewing area, I’ll be posting it to my Facebook wall and on my website. 🙂

The people are arriving! Time to sign books!

The people are arriving! I had to put my camera away and sign books!

After the book signing, I got to celebrate with friends at Udom’s in Hackensack. Since moving up to Northern Minnesota, I thought I was destined to never eat Thai food unless I made it myself. Luckily, Udom’s is only an hour away from Bemidji and totally, 100% worth the drive. It’s also half-way between Brainerd and Bemidji, so Shane and I met a group of friends from Brainerd and had an amazing night. Cheers!

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Time to celebrate!

What a wonderful weekend, and it is only the beginning of the book tour! More signings, talks, and author events are on their way! If I’m not stopping by your hometown, shoot me an email and I can also make appearances at book clubs and other organizations. I’d love to talk about Seven Stones with you.

Happy Monday! 🙂

15
May

Friday Favorites: Seven Stones Book Tour!

I did it! I made it through exam week! Let the wild rumpus start! And by wild rumpus, I mean my book tour. School is officially out for the summer, and I couldn’t be more excited. Starting tomorrow at Kat’s Book Nook (1-3 p.m. ALL THE COOL KIDS WILL BE THERE), I will be touring independent bookstores and libraries around the Midwest, promoting my writing, meeting people, and hopefully selling a few books along the way. I’ve been dreaming of going on a book tour since I first learned I was actually getting published and now it’s really happening!

I am eternally and inexpressibly grateful to my publicist, Krista, for making all of this possible. She is constantly adding more bookstores to my list, so keep an eye on my Events page and this blog to see if I’ll be stopping by your town. I’ll be posting all about my various signings, speaking events, and travels all summer. If you can’t make it up to Bemidji this Saturday, I’ll have all sorts of stories and pictures to share Monday! I think it’s time for a good long squee.

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Okay, now that that’s done, onto Friday Favorites! I think it’s fairly easy to surmise that my book tour is one of my very favorite things this week (and every week this summer), but here are some other awesome things:

 

Writer’s Retreat

If you get stuck, try writing in a journal

It was amazing. After finishing exams, I needed to get my brain refocused on writing the sequel to Seven Stones. I got to spend the day writing, researching, and doing a lot of planning. Thanks to my mini-retreat, I have a clear direction on where I’m going and feel very confident about making my deadline for the manuscript (September 1st).

Starting this week, I’m also going to log how many words a day I manage to write. I’m not the world’s fastest writer, so I feel that this will be really good for me. It will give me some accountability, because I’m guilty of staring off into space or getting sucked into Facebook as often as I’m actually putting the pen to paper (or fingers to keyboards). I’ll post my weekly word total each week, and hopefully the number will increase as I go along this summer.

If you think you need a mini-retreat, I highly recommend doing it. My personal retreat was free, relaxing, and recharged my batteries. A perfect way to spend a rainy day.

 

Oh My Veggies

We all know I love food, especially hearty, creative vegetarian food. This week, I discovered one of my new favorite recipe sites: ohmyveggies.com. Oh My Veggies offers a plethora–yes, plethora–of easy, delicious recipes. Their goal is to make vegetarian meals realistic and simple for everyone–whether you are vegetarian or just looking for new ideas for Meatless Monday. The best part is they also provide vegetarian meal plans every week that come with printable grocery lists. How cool is that? I’ve been getting a lot of my meal ideas from this site, all of which have been thoroughly Shane (read: carnivore) approved. 🙂

 

Book of the Week: At the Water’s Edge by Sarah Gruen

Ohhhh! I have been so jazzed to read this book. Check out the description:

After embarrassing themselves at the social event of the year in high society Philadelphia on New Year’s Eve of 1942, Maddie and Ellis Hyde are cut off financially by Ellis’s father, a former army Colonel who is already embarrassed by his son’s inability to serve in WWII due to his being colorblind. To Maddie’s horror, Ellis decides that the only way to regain his father’s favor is to succeed in a venture his father attempted and very publicly failed at: he will hunt the famous Loch Ness monster and when he finds it he will restore his father’s name and return to his father’s good graces (and pocketbook). Joined by their friend Hank, a wealthy socialite, the three make their way to Scotland in the midst of war. Each day the two men go off to hunt the monster, while another monster, Hitler, is devastating Europe. And Maddie, now alone in a foreign country, must begin to figure out who she is and what she wants. The novel tells of Maddie’s social awakening: to the harsh realities of life, to the beauties of nature, to a connection with forces larger than herself, to female friendship, and finally, to love.

Scotland. Scottish mythology. Beautiful Highland scenery. Can you see why I’m excited about this read? Now, this may sound like sacrilege, but I actually didn’t like Sarah Gruen’s Water for Elephants. I know. I just couldn’t get into it. A few chapters in, I still felt very “meh” about it, and never picked it up again. This time, I am all in. I just started reading it last night and am hooked!

Suggested Pairing:

Scottish shortbread cookies, a pot of Irish Breakfast tea, and a long, rainy day

 

Happy Friday! See you at my book signing!

What is your book of the week?

13
May

Writer’s Retreat

With the semester winding down, I am ready to focus all of my energy on writing and my upcoming book tour. Since the start of finals week, though, my batteries have been pretty low. As I worked on projects and essays, I kept thinking about how much I’d love to go on a writing retreat. If you’ve never had the opportunity, writing retreats are amazing, like a spa for your brain. You get to just focus on relaxing, getting your creativity flowing, and exercising your writing muscles. So, I’d love to go on a writing retreat, but I don’t have the extra money or time right now. But it got me thinking: why don’t I just have my own mini-writing retreat at home? Wouldn’t that be amazing?!

YES, it would be amazing! And that’s exactly what I am going to do. Wednesdays are my day off, and traditionally I’ve bogged them down with errands, chores, and other things that get in the way of my writing time. Today, I’m going on my very own retreat. The more I thought about it, the more I got excited. A retreat is a perfect way to get out of school mode and back into full-powered writing mode. To begin, I wrote down all of my favorite parts of going on a writing retreat and came up with a relaxing schedule for myself.

Julia’s Mini-Writing Retreat

7:00 a.m. Wake-up: brew a pot of mango green tea and write out goals for the day, and start writing!

A cup of tea can do a world of good

A cup of tea can do a world of good

9:00 a.m. Take a break for breakfast with Shane

10:00 a.m.-Noon Work on current chapter (goal #1 is to finish chapter by the end of the retreat!)

If you get stuck, try writing in a journal

If you get stuck, try writing in a journal

Break for lunch

1:00-3:00p.m. Continue work on chapter

Break for Yoga

Yoga helps me focus and relax

Yoga helps me focus and relax

Dinner: something delicious, healthy, and indulgent like this recipe for asparagus stuffed shells!

Relax: watch a movie, read a book, take a walk, spend some time in the garden…let my brain unwind for a bit

Before Bed: At least another half-hour of writing and set goals for tomorrow

Retreats are meant to be revitalizing and rejuvenating, so the important part of planning your own retreat is doing what is right for you. Whether you have an hour or a whole day, you can plan your own writing retreat. You can start with prompts from a writing guide (I recommend Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer), meditation, a run, some free journaling, a piece of chocolate cake–basically, whatever helps you get in the groove.

The most important part of a retreat is in the name: it takes you out of your normal world and helps you reconnect with your writing. For that reason, I’m going to take a break from social media for the day (after I post this) because it is the one distraction that draws me away from writing every time. So, no matter what you need a retreat for, turn off your cell phone, put your chores on hold, and have a wonderful time treating yourself.

See you when I get back! 🙂

Happy Wednesday!

What would your mini-retreat look like?

 

 

11
May

Sweet Potato Brownies

Exam week is here! The end is in sight, and to celebrate I’ll be kicking off my book tour THIS SATURDAY. I’ll be signing books at Kat’s Book Nook from 1-3 p.m. If you won’t be able to make it this Saturday, check out my Events page for the rest of the book tour stops. This summer is going to be amazing!!

I think that calls for chocolate. Since my dark chocolate quinoa cupcakes were so popular last Monday (thanks to everyone who shared and posted that they tried them), I decided to share another delicious, healthy treat: sweet potato brownies.

Don’t give me that look. I know what you are thinking. Sweet potatoes + chocolate sounds weird. Let me assure you, though, that these are moist, full of chocolatey goodness, and 100% decadent without any guilt. Still don’t trust me? While I was experimenting with this recipe I found last week, I invited my skeptical friend Stefania over for dinner. When I told her what was for dessert, she gave me the same look. But after the first bite, she was a sweet potato brownie convert! Stefania RAVES about these brownies and said they were the BEST she’s ever eaten. And sweet potato brownies also have Shane’s stamp of approval. He said the only bad part of this recipe is trying not to eat the whole pan. Testify!

The sweet potato adds, well, sweetness and keeps the brownies nice and moist. It also adds potassium, magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin B, iron, and calcium. The only strange ingredient you might find on the recipe is coconut flour. If you aren’t familiar with coconut flour, it is finely ground coconut meat. The flour is really absorbent, high in fiber and protein, and naturally gluten-free. I don’t usually go out on a mission to make food gluten-free, but it’s a nice added bonus (especially when you have a sister and nieces with Celiac’s)! You could try to substitute the coconut flour for regular flour, but I’m not sure what the conversion rate would be (maybe 1 cup of regular flour?). If you decide to give coconut flour a try, you won’t be sorry. It doesn’t add a coconut-y flavor (for those who don’t like coconut) and makes delicious baked goods. Be bold, experiment, and EAT LOTS OF BROWNIES!

paleomg.com

Sweet Potato Brownies

1 sweet potato

3 eggs, beaten

1/4 unrefined organic coconut oil

1/3 cup raw honey

1 tsp vanilla

3 Tablespoons coconut flour

3 Tablespoons cocoa powder

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch of salt

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

  1. First thing you want to do is bake that sweet potato to get the sugars all caramelized and yummy. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, use a fork to puncture holes all around it, wrap it in aluminum foil and then throw in the oven for 25-30 minutes
  2. Once your sweet potato is soft and cooked through, peel off the skin and mash it up in a bowl. And turn your oven down to 350 degrees.
  3. Now add your wet ingredients: eggs, coconut oil, honey, and vanilla to the bowl and mix together.
  4. Then add your dry ingredients: coconut flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, salt and chocolate chips.
  5. Mix well to incorporate all that goodness.
  6. Pour into a prepared 8×8 glass baking dish.
  7. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a knife poked through the middle comes out clean.
  8. Let rest to cool a bit.
  9. DEVOUR! 🙂

Happy Monday!

08
May

Friday Favorites: Mother’s Day Lavender Lemon Tea Cake

Although I’ll be far away from my mom this Mother’s Day, I wanted to send her a big blog hug. My mom and I have always been really close. I’m able to talk to her about anything, she’s there whenever I need her, and she’s one of my biggest cheerleaders. As a kid, my mom would encourage us to dream big and her support helps me believe that I can accomplish anything. She was the very first person to read my roughest draft of what would someday become Seven Stones. Though I was only a high school student at the time, my mom treated my writing seriously and made me feel like a real author before I ever was one. It was her love and faith in me that’s gotten me where I am today, and I can’t thank her enough.

My mom at her prom in 1974

My mom at her prom in 1974

Most importantly to a book worm like me, my mom not only taught me how to read, she taught me to love to read. An avid reader, she let my reading run rampant and never told me I wasn’t allowed to read this or shouldn’t read that. We’d spend hours just reading together, eating snacks, and talking about books.

At the book release party!

At the book release party!

My mom also taught me to love food. As a stay-at-home mother of five children, she had the daunting task of feeding her small army on a pretty small budget. I loved being in the kitchen while she cooked homemade meals and baked cookies for our lunches. Helping my mom in the kitchen stirring sauces, peeling potatoes, and cutting vegetables were some of my favorite chores. Those times with my mom made me into the food lover you see before you, so what better tribute than a delicious homemade treat?

If you want to wow your mom this Mother’s Day (or any day), this Lemon-Lavender Tea Cake will definitely do the trick! If you are intimidated by cooking with lavender, I am here to tell you to fear not! The lemon-lavender combination is refreshing and springy, and the glaze is out of this WORLD! Best of all, you get to give your mom (or yourself) a treat without refined sugars, oils, and is made with wholefood goodness. She’ll be so proud.

Lemon-Lavender Tea Cake

1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 cup plain organic yogurt

1 cup Sucanat (or other granulated sweetener of your choice)

3 extra-large eggs

2 teaspoons grated organic lemon zest

½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

½ cup organic cold-pressed sunflower or olive oil

*Note: You could try substituting applesauce for the oil, but I’m not sure what that would do to the texture. Feel free to experiment!*

Glaze

1/3 cup lemon juice (squeeze that lemon you used for zest)

1/3 cup Sucanat

2 tsp lavender buds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a 5 ½ by 9 inch loaf pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl.

In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup Sucanat, the eggs, lemon zest, and vanilla.

Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  With a rubber spatula, fold the sunflower oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50-60 minutes, or until a toothpick poked in the center of the loaf pan comes out clean. After it’s cooled for about 10 minutes, remove cake from pan and put it on a baking sheet because this next part is going to get MESSY in the most delicious way possible.

MEANWHILE: While the cake is baking, heat the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1/3 cup Sucanat and 2 tsp lavender buds in a small pan until the sugar dissolves. Set aside for about 20 minutes (so if you make this while the cake is still baking, it will be perfect!).

I like to leave the lavender buds in the glaze, but you can also strain them out after 20 minutes if you prefer. Pour the warm glaze over the warm cake and let it soak in all that goodness.

Cut into slices, if you have willpower. If not, eat half the cake while no one is looking.

Pairing Suggestion:

A pot of Earl Grey Tea, your mom, and a whole afternoon to enjoy

Happy Mother’s Day!

06
May

Brain Food: Super Powered Study Snacks!

The end is near! Finals week is officially upon us. I spent the entire afternoon Monday and the early hours of Tuesday knocking off exam number one. I finished at 2 a.m., went to sleep, woke up at 9 a.m. to proofread and turned it in. Phew! With one out of the way, I continued to work on my last, big final project all of Tuesday. With all this studying, writing, proofreading, and tweaking, I need some serious energy to keep my motivation up and my brain working at full capacity.

Stand aside, citizens! This looks like a job for SUPER SNACKS!

We know that all food is not created equal. I’m a big snacker and during the crazy rush of finals week, it’s easy  to be tempted by junk food for a quick snack fix. Instead of reaching for a processed snack or another cup of coffee, I’ve got some delicious alternatives that improve brain function and taste pretty darn good. And did I mention how easy they are to make?

Whether you are cramming for a final exam or just looking to add a little pep in your step, try these healthy, energy-boosting options. While you may not be able to leap tall buildings with a single bound after drinking my Super Smoothie or be faster than a speeding bullet after a handful of my Trail Mix of Might (you gotta love alliteration), you’ll definitely feel like a superhero! Cape and spandex optional.

* = brain food

Julia’s Super Smoothie

1 cup almond milk* (any milk will work, but almond is my favorite for smoothies)

1 cup spinach*

1 banana, peeled and cut into chunks

1/2 cup frozen blueberries*

1/2 avocado, cut into chunks

1 large sweet apple, cut into chunks*

1 Tablespoon chia seeds

1 teaspoon spirulina powder, optional

4-5 ice cubes

Add all the ingredients to a blender. Blend, then add ice and blend again. Pour into glasses and top with shredded coconut. Makes two smoothies. Or one giant smoothie, depending on if your husband is home and whether you feel like sharing. 🙂

 

Trail Mix of MIGHT

1 cup walnuts*

1 cup raw or sprouted almonds*

1 cup raw cashews

1 cup pepitas*

1/2 cup raw, hulled sunflower seeds*

1 cup raisins*

1 cup dried apple, chopped into small pieces*

1 cup coconut flakes

1/2 cup good quality dark chocolate, chopped*

Mix together. Munch. Save the world!

 

Wish me luck everyone! I’m off to ace another exam. 🙂

Happy Wednesday!

Do you have a favorite “power” food?