2016 Word of the Year

Discussion posts are over. My last paper is turned in. Do you know what that means?!

Time to kick back, relax, and enjoy my winter break! A whole month of freedom. And I know just what to do with it.

So, it turns out, I won’t have the sequel to Seven Stones done by the end of the year. Nope. Not even close. Graduate classes took over my life in a BIG way this semester. I would get home from work and then…work some more. Between the projects, papers, readings, and discussion posts, my brain got a little fried. When I would get some free time, I just didn’t have the energy or drive left in me to put pen to paper the last few¬†months. And through it all, there was Shane, making lunches for me, taking care of laundry, grocery shopping, and a million other little things so I had time to work on my homework. So, the little free time I had went to my hobbit man.

But now, I’ve got a month. A month free of any other writing except what I do on this blog and for my next novel.

Getting started TODAY!

Watch out, world! I make no promises that I’ll finish in that time, but I’m going to get as much written as I possibly can. Starting today! Let’s see how many words this girl can tackle onto a page.

And, hey, speaking of words. I like words. They’re kind of my thing. So when I saw my friend Sheila DeChantal’s Book Journey blog post earlier this week, it really struck a chord. Sheila talked about how every year, she picks a new word to symbolize what she wants out of the next 365 days. These words include embrace, emerge, and her newest one, courage. Now, as someone who really doesn’t like New Year’s Resolutions–my resolutions the past few years (and I’m not joking) have been to eat more cheese, eat more nuts, and to play more–this seemed like a fantastic and fun idea.

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about what my 2016 word of the year is going to be. After much reflection, I’ve got the perfect one.


Gratitude is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as: “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” There have been SO many things about 2015 that I’m thankful for: my book release, getting my dream job as a children’s librarian, going on a book tour. But I’m not just talking about being grateful for the big, crazy awesome, show-stopping events in my life. I want to focus on being grateful every damn day for all the wonderful people and moments I am privileged to have in my life. I want to wake up every morning, grateful for the opportunity of a new day. Even in the midst of school papers, the craziness of my first Summer Reading Program, or whatever else life throws at me. Being grateful will not always be easy–there might be moments, days, or even weeks where I will struggle to find it in me to feel gratitude. But I’m going to try. Because I don’t want to take anything in my life for granted. It is far too precious not to be grateful for. ūüôā

Thanks for sharing such a great idea, Sheila! That’s my word for 2016! What’s yours?


Homemade Breakfast Cereal

My life for the past few weeks

Almost there. One class is completely done. Discussions are wrapped up. It is finals week, people! I have one last HUGE project to finish and I am FREE (for a whole month).

The struggle is real. The struggle I’m referring to, of course, is not allowing myself to become distracted by the internet. Like, for example, writing a blog post when you’re supposed to be working on your 20 page paper. Just a random example. But while I’m here, let’s talk about some cool stuff that’s been going on!

In between projects, papers, and finals, I’ve managed to have a lot of fun! Seven Stones was nominated for the Minnesota Book Award for Young People’s Literature–a dream come true!!! We’ll find out on January 30th if I make it to become a finalist! Keep your fingers crossed EXTRA tight!

Another great honor was being asked to be a member of the Multicultural Children’s Book Day Advisory Board. HOW COOL IS THAT?! The group is currently reviewing multicultural books to promote, and Seven Stones is one of them! I can’t wait to share the review. Stay tuned!!

We’ve also decorated for the holidays (nothing gets Shane happier than decorating a tree or setting up his Christmas village. Yes. It is HIS village and he is VERY proud of it), cheered on our Packers, and I’ve had so many cool things going on at the library it is hard to pick a favorite! This Wednesday is my big, 3-hour Star Wars: The Force Awakens party for 50+ kids, so wish me luck! I’ll definitely post pictures!

Before I scurry off to do more homework, I want to share a quick recipe: Homemade Breakfast Cereal. I love breakfast. I’ve never been the biggest fan of boxed cereals, however, because I never feel like they fill me up. Often, they are way too sugary and not very nutritious. During finals week, it is more important than ever that I get a good breakfast that will keep my brain fueled throughout the whole day. Enter, buckwheat.

Such a superfood, it should have a cape

Technically, it isn’t a cereal. Cereals are grains like oats, wheat, and barley. The main ingredient in this homemade breakfast cereal is buckwheat, which is a crazy nutritious seed that acts like a grain. It is packed full of protein and as a bonus is gluten-free! The best part of this buckwheat cereal is the taste: real maple, cinnamon, and vanilla combine to create a breakfast that is out of this world. Plus, while it is baking your entire apartment smells like Christmas! That’s what I call a win-win.

Make sure to plan ahead with this recipe, because it takes about 4 hours between the soaking and baking. I made a double-batch yesterday to last the whole week. I started baking in the morning, worked on my paper, went for a hike in the woods with Shane, and when we got back the cereal was done! Super easy, super delicious!

I got the recipe from one of my favorite food channels on YouTube called “Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.” The recipe below is simply a double of the original. To watch the how-to video (and for more tasty inspiration), click here!

Julia’s Favorite Cereal of POWER!


Delicious toasted cereal imbued with holiday spirit!

4 cups buckwheat groats, soaked in water for 1 hour
1 c maple syrup
4 t cinnamon
2 t salt
1/4 t stevia

1. Soak buckwheat groats for at least one hour, then rinse (soaking will get rid of starchiness and soften those groats up a bit)
2. Combine all remaining ingredients in a medium-sized bowl an mix like you mean it!
3. Spread on two baking sheets and let bake in oven at 200 degrees for 2-3 hours, rotating the pans and mixing groats around half-way through. At 2 hours, check your groats. They dry? Yes, take out of oven and let cool. No? Stick them back in until dry.
4. Crumble apart any large chunks of cereal. Pour into bowl. Pour any type of milk over the top. DEVOUR!

Happy Finals Week!