THE OPEN BOOK

21
Mar

Happy Birthday, Seven Stones!

PARTY! And by party, I mean read my book.

Seven Stones is one-year-old today! It’s really hard to believe that it was only one year ago that my first book was published by the most amazing folks at Riverplace Press. In that year, I went from novel novice to published author, went on a book tour, spoke at libraries, and met more incredible people along the way. This past year has been magical.

Dream come true!

Dream come true!

On this day last year was one of the most memorable, touching, and meaningful events of my life: the book release party. Honestly? I was terrified that no one would show up or that I would mess up the speech I had to deliver. Instead, I was overwhelmed by how many friends and family crowded into Prairie Bay and the scary speech went better than I could have hoped for. Such an amazing day, and I am grateful for every moment and book printed since then (Ahem, 3 printings in case you’re keeping track).

So much love!

So much love!

Thank you to everyone who made my dream a reality. Who listened to me, encouraged me, and never let me doubt myself. And a BIG thank you to all my readers! If you’ve read my book, you are on my list of favorite people. If you haven’t, check out what readers and critics have been saying, then check it out for yourself.

I have a lot more planned for my little book. Hopefully, I’ll have another book birthday to celebrate in the not-so-distant future!

To celebrate a year in my literary life, I made what Shane has dubbed, “the best things I’ve ever baked”: Cranberry Pistachio Scones.

I got the inspiration for these bad boys from my local tea shop. I went to Curiosi-Tea the other weekend and fell in love with their Pistachio Shortbread tea. One whiff of that buttery tea and I was hooked. I’ve been trying to get into baked goods ever since.

Now, if you’re not lucky enough to have pistachio tea around you, you could also try making this recipe with pistachio extract. Equally delicious. Also, don’t sweat it if you don’t have bread flour. Shane and I have been making all of our own bread since December, so we had it at home. If you have a different kind of flour—like all-purpose—feel free to sub.

The most important thing to do is make these scones. They are insanely delicious, fluffy, and just the right amount of sweet. So put the kettle on, grab a cozy blanket, and curl up with my cranberry pistachio scones. I hear they go great with Seven Stones.

Book Birthday Cranberry Pistachio Scones

Baked Pieces of Heaven

Baked Pieces of Heaven

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached bread flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp Pistachio Shortbread tea

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup almond milk

1/3 cup Sucanat

1 tsp vanilla

¼ cup sweetened dried cranberries

¼ cup pistachios, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°

In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, and tea. My tea was whole leaf, so I ground it to a fine powder in my mortar and pestle. Add the coconut oil to the dry ingredients and mix in with two forks or pastry cutter (if you’ve got fancy things like that. I don’t.) until the dough is nice and crumbly.

In a separate bowl, combine the almond milk, Sucanat, and vanilla. Fold in cranberries and pistachios. Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just until combined (don’t overmix). Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and flatten into a circle. Cut with a floured knife, dividing the dough into 8 equal wedges (like a pie).

Place wedges on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 13-15 minutes, until scones have started to brown and firm up.

Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Once cool, drizzle with Pistachio Tea Glaze if desired (trust me, you’ll desire it).

Pistachio Tea Glaze

1 cup powdered sugar

3 Tbsp almond milk

¼ tsp Pistachio Shortbread tea, finely ground Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until smooth. Add more icing sugar or milk to adjust the consistency if necessary.

Happy Monday!

14
Mar

Pi Day Pie!

A little math humor to start your day…

A glorious Pi Day, one and all!

It certainly has been glorious around here, with record highs in the 60s! I have been soaking up all that sun and dreaming of spring, with all it’s warmth and green. I am so ready for it. Perhaps that’s why Shane and I were inspired to make one of our favorite pies for Pi Day consumption: Coconut Key Lime. I whipped this bad boy together last August while we were trying to beat the head while moving our Bemidji life down to Mankato. It was one of the last things I made in our old kitchen, and it is high time we made this pie in our new one!

YUM!

YUM!

Now, I’m a lucky girl, so while I’m off at work today doing story times and planning my next big Early Out (Space Camp next Wednesday!), Shane will be home making me pie. He is a good man. Some of you who know me well might be asking why I am excited about Pi Day. True, math and I have never really seen eye-to-eye. But, while Pi may equal 3.141592653…, it also equals PIE. Pi = PIE. Now, that’s an equation I completely understand. And, more to the point, Pi = Coconut Key Lime Pie. Do I need to say more? I will anyway. It is tart, sweet, creamy, and AMAZING! The pie is also totally raw and made with completely whole foods ingredients. Go ahead. Eat a slice for breakfast. Or three. I’ve never been good at math anyway. 😉

 

03
Mar

Girl on a Train (Me!)

The first draft

The first draft

PHEW! Life is returning to normal (or as normal as it gets around here!) and I couldn’t be happier. Last week was nothing short of INSANE. Completely insane, but completely fun. To top it off, I had an adventure to Maryland thrown in.

What does insanity look like? Last Monday, I had two storytimes, a meeting at the high school, and Mother-Daughter Book Club at night. Tuesday, I had a storytime for 60 kids (note: if you want to feel like a rock star, become a Children’s Librarian. I was walking through the hallways of the school with my ukulele on my back and my bin of fun – books and whatnot – when the kids saw me from their classrooms as they were lining up. I walked down the hall to a chorus of, “Ms. Julia’s here! I saw her! There she is!” Brangelina’s got nothing on me). Wednesday, I had a Baby Lapsit in the morning and my Art Early Out for 50+ kids from 2-5. Immediately after clean up, I was on the road to Wisconsin to catch a train.

One of our art projects: Library Kadinsky Tree!

One of our art projects: Library Kadinsky Tree!

Thursday, I was on my train to Maryland for my friend’s bridal shower and bachelorette party (guess who was in charge of planning?).When I got in on Friday, Sarah (the best person in the whole world) took me out for frozen yogurt and manicures. You can see why I went all the way to Maryland for this lady.

Allie, Sarah, and Me!

Allie, Sarah, and Me!

The bridal shower was Saturday at an AMAZING tea room in Ellicott City (a tea party?! No one would have guessed I planned that! 🙂 ).

Tea party in the library! Where else?

Tea party in the library! Where else?

Afterward, Sarah (the beautiful bride) and I rushed home to prep pizza crusts and Allie (bridesmaid #1) bought scads, yes SCADS of junk food. Sarah, in her infinite wisdom, requested a Girl’s Night In theme to her party. And I am all about that life. We ate junk food, played games, and watched movies. Perfect.

So. Much. Food!

So. Much. Food!

Sunday, I was back on the train and headed back to Minnesota. Like I said, crazy but FUN!

A lot of people ask why I take the train instead of fly. Well, first of all, I HATE flying. It terrifies me like spiders terrify Ron Weasley. But, more importantly, a train ride to Maryland means 17 hours all to myself. I booked myself a sleeper car (which comes with all meals in the dining car included!), brought my writing notebook, books, and was in HEAVEN. I got more writing done on the train than I have been able to in a long time because it was just me and the words. Train trips are a writer’s dream. I got to eat, sleep, read, write, repeat. And the best part is that I have another train trip in April (the WEDDING) to do it all again. 🙂

That was my crazy, wonderful week! How was yours?

Happy Thursday!