Category: Book Tour

15
Oct

Welcome to the Fall!

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I’M ALIVE!

Hello, world! It’s me, Julia. It’s been awhile. How are you? What’s been going on?

I have meant to write a blog post for sooooooo many weeks. How many weeks exactly? Ever since the Wisconsin Highland Games over the Labor Day weekend. The Games were AMAZING like they are every year, and I had such a blast. I got to meet new readers, catch up with people who bought Seven Stones last year (and who are clamoring for a sequel. I hear you!), and revel in all the Scottishness around me. Best of all, I SOLD OUT OF BOOKS AGAIN! 2 zealous readers actually pre-ordered books from our fourth printing (which just came out a few weeks ago). How cool is that?!

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RIGHT after Highland Games ended, my last semester in graduate school began. Hence the radio silence. I’m taking a Children’s Lit class that runs 8 weeks instead of 15 – which means I have a whole semester of reading, posting, and assignments crammed into half the time. In other words, my life has been an endless party since I last wrote. 😉

HOWEVER, an 8 week class means that it officially ends November 4th. And you know what November is, right? November is National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to write a 50,000 word book in one month (you can check it out here if you’re interested), and that’s what I intend to do. I already have a good chunk of my novel written – if I can use November to finish the first draft of my sequel, I will be a happy author. Grad school owns me until the end of October. After that, I’m going to be working HARD on the sequel to Seven Stones. I cannot tell you how excited I am to be able to focus solely on my writing soon, but I am so incredibly excited to be getting my MLIS. Just a few weeks to go!!!

One other big highlight from the past month was the Minnesota Library Association annual conference in Duluth!!! As you know, I’m a big nerd. I LOVE GOING TO THE LIBRARY CONFERENCE. I full on nerd-out and come back super pumped about all things library. This year, the conference was even better because it was in Duluth (aka, one of the most beautiful cities in Minnesota…or quite possibly period). As part of the conference, us librarians got to tour the Glensheen Mansion. Pics below. Yes, you may drool. I won’t judge.

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Glensheen

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Step right in…

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I felt like Lady Grantham should be coming down those stairs.

 

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Tea in the drawing room?

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And, the library, of course!

Last thing I want to share before I go back to homework is one of my favorite fall dinners: Warm Autumn Salad. Shane and I have never really done salads for dinner before because they never kept us full – we’d just eat popcorn or something worse after trying to be healthy. This salad recipe is not only filling, but amazingly delicious. The farmer’s market in Mankato has just been brimming with fresh, delicious produce and we put them all in this salad. If you’re into meat, add some local chicken or beef. Add/change/omit what you want and get some more green power in your diet with his scrumptious salad!

Warm Autumn Salad

salad

You will not be hungry after this salad. Trust.

Here’s What You Need:

1 cup wild rice (I like to make mine with stock instead of water for more flavor)

1 medium butternut squash, cut in half with seeds removed

5-6 beets, sliced into silver dollars

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup walnuts

Kale, or other local greens

Your favorite cheese, grated (we had cinnamon apple cheddar from home)

Your favorite salad dressing (Hilary’s Apple Fennel is FABULOUS on this salad)

Here’s What to Do:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Arrange squash cut side down on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Arrange the beet slices on another baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle on some of your favorite herbs or seasoning salt, if desired. Roast for an hour or until browned and delicious.
  2. While your veggies are roasting, prepare the wild rice (usually 1 cup of wild rice to 3 cups of stock). Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to medium-low and let that simmer for about 45 minutes.
  3. Boom. All your warm stuff is warm. Hard part is over. Now all you have to do is plate. Get a big ol’ dinner plate and pile on a bed of greens.
  4. Spoon wild rice on top of that.
  5. Cube up your squash (or Shane just likes it scooped out like mashed potatoes) and put it on top of the wild rice.
  6. Snag some beets and drop fat beet (or several) on top of the squash.
  7. Add the cheese.
  8. Sprinkle on cranberries and walnuts.
  9. Drizzle with dressing.
  10. Serve with a nice red wine and some fresh local fruit! We’ve got DELICIOUS apples in season right now!

Eat Salad. Be satisfied. You’re welcome.

Happy Weekend!

21
Aug

Wine & Words (…and then maybe a bit more wine)

0814161121I went back to work at my library after a WONDERFUL vacation this week and hit the ground running. Now, my job is a little different from most people’s, so here is what a full week looks like to a Children’s Librarian: Monday was the launch of a new family event called BREW (Bike Ride Explore Waseca) where we had Larger Than Life Games, a bike-themed story time (led by yours truly), and a beautiful family bike ride around Lake Crystal. I totally spotted an ice cream place near the end of the ride, and I’m TOTALLY making that the finish line there next year! Tuesday was my last Yoga Story Time of the summer, Wednesday was a collaborative event with United Way (complete with bouncy houses!), Thursday I had an outreach Baby Lapsit and finished the day by playing–um, I mean leading a kids program–with 3D Printer Pens. Just a week in the life. Isn’t it fabulous? 🙂

This week also meant back to school. Not officially–class doesn’t begin until September 6th–but what can I say? I’m a big nerd. This is my LAST SEMESTER OF GRADUATE SCHOOL and I want to make sure that nothing stops me from walking across that stage in December! So, I’ve been working ahead and getting a jump on my first big project.

So, that was this past week. But I still have two more highlights from my vacation that I want to share with you: Wine & Words, and my book club visit!

Wine & Words is one of my favorite nights of the year. I got to drive up to Brainerd and hang out with a bunch of my old library friends during a night of great books, authors, food, and WINE! Let me walk you through what Wine & Words entails: Laurel (aka, super-awesome-reference-librarian-hero) and I arrived and grabbed our souvenir wine glasses and proceeded to fill them with wine. Repeat. Alright, that’s enough for now. We perused the classy silent auction gift baskets (I bid on all the chocolate ones), ate an AMAZING dinner, and heard five authors speak about the importance of libraries: Allen Eskens, Joshilyn Jackson, Brian Freeman, Laura Childs, Helen Klein Ross, and our enigmatic MC for four years running, Lorna Landvik!

Right before this picture was taken, I said, "Smile with your eyes!"

Right before this picture was taken, I said, “Smile with your eyes!”

The next morning, I got to attend a wonderful writing conference at the Brainerd Public Library that really inspired me and got me rearing to go on the sequel.

On Sunday, my vacation wrapped up in the best possible way.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to brunch by a Minneapolis book club who had read (and loved!) Seven Stones! I had a BLAST meeting readers, getting to meet such a fun group, and answering such great questions. Thank you all for reading and making me feel so welcome! I can’t wait to see y’all after the sequel is published. 🙂

Thank you, guys!

Thank you, guys!

BEST NEWS: I’ve got ANOTHER book club “booked” for tomorrow afternoon! Loving it! If you have a book club, tell them all to read Seven Stones! I’d love to come meet you. 🙂

Happy Sunday!

11
Jul

Minnesota Highland Games & Seven Stones eBook!

I’m a sellout. Literally! Shane and I traveled up to Eagan (still feels weird saying “up” when referring to the Twin Cities area after living in Bemidji and Brainerd so long) this past weekend for the Minnesota Scottish Fair and SOLD OUT OF BOOKS!!!

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I enjoyed the Scottish Fair this year even more than I did last year. First of all, there was no tornado the night before (tent intact!). Selling out of all my books was a big plus, but my absolute favorite part of the Fair was meeting readers! I had so many people come up to my table and tell me that they bought Seven Stones last year and LOVED IT! Seriously, there is no better feeling in the world. 🙂 Thank you to everyone who stopped by our tent, has read Seven Stones, bought a signed copy, grabbed a bookmark, or added your name to our email list. I love you all!

Thanks for reading and making me feel like a super star, Katrina and Andrea!

Thanks for reading and making me feel like a super star, Katrina and Andrea!

Me and my newest reader, Abbie!

Me and my newest reader, Abbie!

Readers also came by to tell me to get my butt moving on the sequel. It is great motivation for a writer to hear the sequel is anticipated, and I really hope to get the manuscript done by the end of the year! I’ve had so much support and encouragement, now I just have to get a draft down that I actually like and we’ll be in business. This latest draft is very promising–I’ll keep you updated!!

Speaking of updates, SEVEN STONES IS NOW AN EBOOK!!! It is available here through Amazon. TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS! Then, tell all your friends to write Amazon reviews (they are a HUGE help). I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally have an eBook version of my novel. It’s one of those things that makes me feel all official and swanky and whatnot. Yes, I said swanky. And you can be swanky, too! My eBook comes with extra swankiness! Okay, done writing the word swanky.

As you can see, July has been a wonderful whirlwind! Thrown into the mix was Shane and my SIXTH wedding anniversary yesterday! In case you don’t know, Shane is the most impossibly amazing husband and best friend anyone could ever hope to have. Six years being married to this guy, and I still feel like we’re on our honeymoon. I wouldn’t be able to do this whole author thing without his constant love, support, and encouragement.

Thanks to the love of my life for six amazing years!

Thanks to the love of my life for six amazing years!

We had a perfect day: slept in, made a big breakfast, watched the Euro Cup final, did some yoga together, had a beyond incredible fancy dinner at our favorite Italian place, Neighbor’s, and finished the day with video games. Now, it’s back to my library for another week of awesomeness and back to my writing chair to work on the sequel.

Happy Monday!

24
Jun

Friday Favorites: Deep Valley Book Festival!

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Friday Favorite! But this week definitely deserves it. After today, the third week of Summer Reading will be in the books, I’ve gotten some writing done on the sequel, and I’ve got a book festival coming up on Sunday! Let’s check out some awesome happenings:

International Yoga Day

June 21st was International Yoga Day! I have been doing yoga for over four years now, and it has totally changed my life. For those of you who don’t know my hero backstory, I used to be hard core into martial arts (Muay Thai primarily) and competitive weight lifting. I trained six days a week, fighting in the ring as much as possible. Until one day. I got my knee blown out in a fight–I saw the kick coming and brought my knee up too late–and my fighting days were over. I got knee surgery in 2008, but couldn’t continue training at that level anymore.

A few years ago, I tried a yoga class for the first time and fell in love. The low impact was perfect for my knee; the intensity and challenge reminded me of why I loved martial arts. Over the years, yoga strengthened my knee so much that I can now mountain bike and hike without pain.

In honor of International Yoga Day, here’s one of my favorite classes with instructor Ali Kamenova (I highly recommend).

I do all my yoga at home, for free, solely through Ali’s videos on YouTube. You don’t need a fancy gym membership or equipment to give her classes a try! They come at all levels and lengths of time, from 15-minute Tabata intervals to over an hour of power yoga. Her style changed my idea of what yoga was (don’t think it’s all relaxing stretches. Ali will kick your BUTT and make you feel good at the same time). Yoga = Awesome.

Bubble Wrap Art

 

I was SUPER excited about this art project! What is Bubble Wrap Art? Prepare to be amazed.

Step 1: Take a piece of bubble wrap

Step 2: Paint it

Step 3: Put a piece of paper on a tarp

Step 4: Lay the bubble wrap paint-side down on the paper

Step 5: STOMP ON THE BUBBLE WRAP!

This project was so much messy fun, I can’t wait to do it again!! We had over 140 people come to paint and stomp. Thank goodness for tarps. 🙂

Deep Valley Book Festival

My first ever Mankato book event is happening THIS SUNDAY! I’ll be at the Deep Valley Book Festival on June 26th from 11:00-4:00. In addition to selling and signing copies of Seven Stones, I’ll also be doing a Romp & Rhyme Story Time at 11:30, and a Yoga Story Time at 1:00 (so come say hi to Shane who will be manning my author table during those times. Make sure you ask him all the really tough questions about writing 😉 ). See you on Sunday!

Book of the Week

Trespassing Across America: One Man’s Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland by Ken Ilgunas

Book of the Week!

“It started as a far-fetched idea—to hike the entire length of the proposed route of the Keystone XL pipeline. But in the months that followed, it grew into something more for Ken Ilgunas. It became an irresistible adventure—an opportunity not only to draw attention to global warming but also to explore his personal limits. So in September 2012, he strapped on his backpack, stuck out his thumb on the interstate just north of Denver, and hitchhiked 1,500 miles to the Alberta tar sands. Once there, he turned around and began his 1,700-mile trek to the XL’s endpoint on the Gulf Coast of Texas, a journey he would complete entirely on foot, walking almost exclusively across private property.

Both a travel memoir and a reflection on climate change, Trespassing Across America is filled with colorful characters, harrowing physical trials, and strange encounters with the weather, terrain, and animals of America’s plains. A tribute to the Great Plains and the people who live there, Ilgunas’s memoir grapples with difficult questions about our place in the world: What is our personal responsibility as stewards of the land? As members of a rapidly warming planet? As mere individuals up against something as powerful as the fossil fuel industry?”

You need to read this book. PERIOD. I usually don’t get into non-fiction, but I’ve been DEVOURING this narrative. It is told like a story, with plenty of adventure and Lord of the Rings references to keep me happy. Plus, it is a topic close to my heart. I highly recommend!

Happy Friday!

 

08
May

Celebratory Carrot Cake Pancakes with Homemade Whipped Cream!

Another year in the books!

Schooooooooooooool’s out for SUMMER! Schooooooooooool’s out FOR-EVER…well, really just until September. But right now, three months feels close enough to forever.

That’s right, I’m FREE! I turned in my final research paper…and promptly contracted Strep Throat. *Sigh* *Cough* *Sniffle* Friday I just barely sniffled my way through the day on full Zombie Mode (not realizing how sick I was). Saturday morning, I woke up with lovely white spots dotting the back of my throat. Ewwwwwww. Shane (the wonderful man that he is) got me my antibiotics and I spent the entire day in a blanket nest on my couch. This morning, I feel a bit more energetic, a bit less like a disease-filled zombie. I’d cheer if I had a voice.

Here’s what I do have: a big batch of Italian Wedding Soup (my favorite), the best nurse in the world (Shane believes that ice cream has healing powers–he is wise and good), and BIG plans for the summer!

First of all, this will be my FIRST SUMMER READING PROGRAM! I’ve got some HUGE plans and tons of fun events for the community, so wish me luck! I’m hoping it is the BEST SUMMER EVER!!! I’ll definitely be posting pictures!

I’ve already been invited by TWO book clubs to speak at summer meetings. For anyone wondering, I LOVE going to bookclubs and talking about my book. If you don’t live in the Midwest, I’d be happy to Skype in. If you have a bookclub and you’d like me to come and talk, contact me or my publicist Krista!

I’m lining up some great stops on the book tour front: stay tuned for more information! For now, I can definitely say that I’ll be back at the Minnesota Scottish Fair and Highland Games, as well as the Wisconsin Highland Games.

Lastly (and certainly not least), I’m pumped to take all those hours I was working on homework and spend time WRITING my sequel. I’m on the 4th draft (3rd complete rewrite) and things are finally starting to click. Here’s to hoping I can finish a final draft by the end of 2016. I hope to also update this blog a little bit more regularly throughout the summer. Remember when I was only working part-time at Accidentally Cool Games and as a substitute at the Bemidji Public Library and I posted 3 times a week? While I seriously doubt I’ll have enough time to manage that anymore, I do hope I can update more than once a month now that the blog won’t have school to contend with.

So, how to celebrate all this awesome? Carrot Cake Pancakes sound like a grand idea!! I came up with these on a Sunday morning in April. It was one of those lazy days where breakfast is top priority. We had an excess of carrots and I thought, “I bet I can do something delicious with these.” And so, Carrot Cake Pancakes were born. These are loaded with good stuff: carrots, raisins, coconut, pineapple, and whole wheat four. But, they are also a bit naughty with the homemade coconut whipped cream. The best part: these pancakes, whipped cream and all, are 100% clean and made from whole foods. The end result is a decadent breakfast that doesn’t break the nutrition bank.

Who said you couldn’t have your cake and eat it too? 🙂

Julia’s Carrot Cake Pancakes w/ Homemade Coconut Whipped Cream

pancakes

2 cups whole wheat flour

dash of salt

1 Tablespoon baking powder

2-3 medium carrots

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup coconut shreds

1/2 cup pineapple chunks, drained of juice

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 egg

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 Tablespoons stevia

Directions

Preheat your griddle to 350 degrees.

Mix the milk and vinegar together in a small bowl and set aside.

Take your handy dandy food processor and shred those carrots. Add the pineapple and coconut. Scoop it out of your processor and squeeze out any excess juice. Okay, you’re ready. Mix in the dry ingredients and set aside.

Now take the milk/vinegar mixture and add the maple syrup, egg, and stevia. Whisk that around. Add this to the dry ingredients. If the mixture seems too dry or gloppy, add more milk until you reach your desired consistency. Looking good.

Ladle out that goodness onto your griddle and make yourself some pancakes!

Now you probably want that homemade whipped cream. I’ve got you covered.

CoconutWhippedCream

Forget that store bought stuff. This is the real deal.

1 can coconut cream

2 Tablespoons sucanat

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

It’s best to keep your coconut cream in the refrigerator, upside down.

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open it from the bottom and just pour off the liquid. Easy.

When you’re ready to make the whipped cream, grab it from the fridge and open the can. Drain off the liquid (don’t throw it away! Keep that good stuff for smoothies), and plop (that’s exactly what it does) the coconut cream into a bowl. Whisk the sucanat and vanilla in. Whisk. Whisk more. Whisk until the cream turns fluffy and whippy (less than 5 minutes,usually). Scoop onto pancakes and DEVOUR!

*Note: if you use sucanat, your whipped cream will be caramel colored. If you can’t handle tan-colored whipped cream, use a different granulated sweetener*

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! If I were home, I’d totally make these pancakes for you. 🙂

 

17
Apr

Waseca Historical Society Author Talk

Seven Stones at the Waseca Historical Society!

Seven Stones at the Waseca Historical Society!

Hello, Everyone! Hello, Spring! As I sit here with my cup of tea on his lovely Sunday morning, it is 73 degrees outside. 73 degrees! During the last week, April shook off the last of  snow and chill, and we are officially DONE with winter.

And then I realized: it’s April 17th. April is more than half over. HOW IS APRIL MORE THAN HALF OVER ALREADY?

Last time I wrote a blog post, I was excited about my upcoming author talk at the Waseca Historical Society and getting ready to go to my friend’s wedding on the East Coast. Since then, I’ve been going into work early almost every day, making up time I missed in order to get ready for one of my biggest library events yet: Larger Than Life Games. It’s an Early Out (so, 3 hours long with over 50 kids attending) with a GIANT game theme. My volunteers and I have been hard at work making and prepping Giant Candyland, Live Pac-Man, Giant Jenga, Giant Dice Games, Giant Puzzles, Giant Bananagrams, and Live Angry Birds. I hope it will all be worth it! I promise to post pictures and let you know how the kids like all the activities. 🙂

But that’s not happening until this Wednesday. Let’s go back a few weeks and talk about the Waseca Historical Society! Thursday, March 31st, I wrapped up my morning Romp & Rhyme Story Time and headed over to the beautiful Waseca Historical Center. This was my first author talk/luncheon where people actually paid for tickets to hear me talk about my book! The Society sold over 55 tickets!

A full house!

A full house!

I was a little nervous (after all, these people PAID to see me. I better be worth it!), but had prepped a short PowerPoint to help me remember all my major points and had practiced my talk with Shane all week. This talk was different from my previous author talks because I got to delve more deeply into the historical aspect of Seven Stones and all the research I conducted. And I have to say, it was the most fun I’ve had giving an author talk!

Having fun at the Waseca Historical Society!

Having fun at the Waseca Historical Society!

As soon as I got up and started talking to the crowd, I felt comfortable and excited for the opportunity to share my novel with new readers. Afterward, I got to sell and sign lots of books and was invited to speak at several book clubs. I can’t wait! It was such a pleasure to speak at such a wonderful location (if you’re in the area and haven’t seen the Waseca Historical Society’s Timeline exhibit, you NEED to!). Thank you SO much to Joan and Carol for making my visit possible! I can’t wait to come back and talk about my sequel. 🙂

Thank you, Joan!

Thank you, Joan!

From there, it was just a few short days and Shane and I were off to Sarah’s wedding in Maryland! A whirlwind of traveling, enjoying ourselves heartily at the rehearsal dinner, and the day was HERE. Sarah and Patrick’s wedding was just amazing—a wonderful start to a truly wonderful couple. I love them both so much, and am so honored to have been co-maid of honor on their big day!

Best wedding party EVER! :)

Best wedding party EVER! 🙂

Shane and I danced the evening away and got to spend the night at the Vandiver Inn (we had the O’Neill suite). This place is so beautiful it shouldn’t be real. I felt like I was a character in Downton Abbey—seriously could get used to that kind of treatment (and FOOD).

Congratulations, Sarah & Patrick!

Congratulations, Sarah & Patrick!

This morning was the first time I’ve had to sit and relax since returning from Maryland. Shane and I made carrot cake pancakes with coconut whipped cream (recipe coming in my next post!), and I’m writing while we watch Liverpool (Shane’s favorite football club). It’s a warm, lazy, sun-soaked morning that I fully intend to indulge in before the craziness of this week begins. Starting tomorrow, I have three library tours, two story times, Mother-Daughter Book Club, Larger Than Life Early Out, a Summer Reading Program meeting, and am leading two sessions (healthy kids’ snacks and kids’ yoga) at the library’s How-To Festival. Oh, and I have a final research paper to write for my Youth Services class.

Wish me luck, everybody!

13
Feb

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix and Book Updates!

If you’ve been concerned about my lengthy absence, worry not! I’m not dead. I’m just in graduate school (which some days makes leaves me feeling pretty close to dead). Nay, dear reader, I’m alive and very well.

The past few weeks have brought about a new semester, but also some exciting news! First, my book has been chosen for my regional library’s teen Battle of the Books competition!!! The library system bought 80 copies of Seven Stones to give to teens who participate in the event! 80 teens are going to read my book!!! AND my library system has asked me to be present on the actual day to sign books and meet my readers.

Hopefully not at the book signing

If that wasn’t exciting enough for you, the Waseca County Historical Society has invited me to speak about Seven Stones in March! It feels so good know how many people are reading the story I wrote and really connecting with it. That’s amazing.

How shall we toast all this amazing? With hot chocolate, of course! I don’t know what the climes have been like in your area, but in Minnesota we’ve had two blizzards in two weeks. With another on the way tonight. Three blizzards in three weeks. The hot chocolate has become mandatory.

Good advice!

But as you know, I am not a fan of store bought packages of anything that contain hard to pronounce (and harder to stomach) ingredients. During the first blizzard (yup, that’s an accurate way to keep track of time up here), Shane and I decided to play around with our very own hot cocoa mix, and I am prod to say that it is fabulous! Real ingredients, real good hot cocoa. All we did was pour the goods into a mason jar and shook it like polaroid picture. Done. Sip. Mmmmm.

Hot Cocoa Mix of Love

Makes 1 large mason jar of mix

Or 2 of these little guys to give as gifts!

2 cups organic nonfat milk powder

2 cups organic cocoa powder

1 cup stevia (I like the baking mix)

1/4 cup Sucanat or other granulated sweetener

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tablespoon cinnamon (optional)

Easiest Directions Ever

Pour all ingredients into a mason jar. Give it a few vigorous shakes. Done.

I like my hot cocoa really chocolatey, so I do at least 4 Tablespoons in a mug of hot water or milk. Snuggle up with a mug and your favorite book. Seven Stones, perhaps…

23
Nov

Thankful Chocolate-Cranberry-Coconut-Oatmeal Cookies!

Everyone else be like:

Snow…

Me:

Snow!!!

I’m one of those obnoxious people who LOVES snow. Every year, November rolls around and I’m crossing my fingers for a white Thanksgiving. Last Friday, when the flurries started to fly, I was literally jumping up and down at work. Yes, I’m that person.

The first snow ushers in some of the best parts of the year: holidays with loved ones, sipping hot cocoa next to a crackling fire, fuzzy slippers, sledding, skating.

Finals.

I’m there anyway, right?

Yes, finals time is here again. Everyone rejoice. I’m elbow deep into TWO huge projects at the moment (and have two more just around the corner! Finals projects are truly gifts that keep on giving), but have managed to thoroughly enjoy myself this past week.

Isn’t it gorgeous?!

For one thing, I had my speaking engagement at the Red Lake Nation College on Monday! To say I was honored to present at the college during Native American Heritage Month is a drastic understatement. Being invited by the Red Lake Nation represented a humungous achievement for me as an author, and really made me thankful for all the amazing opportunities and people Seven Stones has brought to my life. I had a fantastic time talking about my novel with the Red Lake faculty and students, and hope to visit the Red Lake Nation College again! Miigwetch!

We had about 50 kids team up and create awesome duct tape outfits on Wednesday!

After a five hour drive back down to Mankato, I was off and running again on Wednesday with my Duct Tape Fashion Show. I’ve been working super hard on making the library’s Early Out events successful, and this one might just be my favorite yet! The kids’ creativity and imagination was AMAZING to see, and everyone had a fantastic time watching the teams strut their stuff on the runway.

Needless to say, after all the excitement of the week, I was ready for a break. This weekend was nothing short of perfect. Shane and I made ridiculous amounts of good food, and he did mountains of dishes as I worked hard at hashing out a final term paper. In between eating and homework, we managed to go on an hour-and-a-half hike around the Rasmussen Woods on Saturday, and a two-hour bike ride along the Red Jacket Trail on Sunday. Though the temperatures hovered around 19 degrees, it was sooooo great to get outside and MOVE! We got back from our bike ride–chilled, but happy–and treated ourselves to hot chocolate, a bubble bath, and these cookies.

Look at all that deliciousness! Aren’t you thankful for this recipe?! 😉

I’m dubbing these my “thankful” cookies, because I’m seriously thankful I get to shove them in my mouth by the handful. Based off my favorite cookie from my old Co-Op in Bemidji, these bad boys have a lot of good things in them, like oatmeal, craisins, chocolate chips, and coconut shreds. They’re like oatmeal raisin cookies on steroids. And that’s exactly what I need to get me through a week of final papers and holiday traveling.

Soft, chewy, satisfying, with just a hint of sweet and a ton of oompf, I hope these make you thankful, too!

Julia’s Oatmeal Cookies on Thanksgiving Steroids (aka, Thankful Cookies)

cookie

adapted from Love & Flour’s Cranberry Coconut Oatmeal Cookie recipe

Ingredients

1 cup white whole wheat flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

Âź teaspoon salt

1½ cups old-fashioned oats

½ cup dried cranberries

½ cup sweetened coconut

½ cup dark chocolate chips

½ cup walnut pieces

½ cup Earth Balance

ž cup Sucanat

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, ground cinnamon and salt.
  2. Stir in the oats, cranberries, chocolate, walnuts and coconut.
  3. In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Then beat in the egg and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix ’em all up!
  5. Roll the dough into balls (dough will be wet and sticky) and place them on a cookie sheet, flattening the balls into fat little (or, in our case, HUGE) cookies!
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 10-12 minutes. These cookies will be slightly golden brown on the edges, but still soft in the middle. PERFECT!
  7. If you have self-control, allow the cookies to cool on a rack. If not, go ahead and eat one, but you will burn your mouth. I know from experience.

 

Suggested Pairing

A table full of your favorite people and big ol’ mug of hot chocolate!

Happy Thanksgiving!

09
Nov

Crustless Pumpkin Custard Pie!

Impossible Vegan Pumpkin Pie

The original pie recipe from the Fat Free Kitchen

Of all my many pumpkin loves, pie is number one. I’ve always adored pumpkin pie, but I can’t admit ever really liking the crust. Last year, I came across this recipe and my life changed forever. This pie is a creamy custard whose edges brown into sweet deliciousness–no crust required!

I adapted it slightly from the original recipe, and present it now to you: my crowning pumpkin achievement! Creamy, satisfying, and wonderfully spiced. As a bonus, my pumpkin pie is healthy enough to eat for breakfast! It is the perfect way to enjoy the flavors of Thanksgiving while still eating clean and healthy.

Julia’s Crustless Pumpkin Custard Pie

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups milk

2 eggs

1 Tbsp arrowroot powder or cornstarch

1 tsp vanilla

2 cups pureed pumpkin

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup Sucanat

1/4 tsp ginger powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 9-inch deep dish pie pan with parchment paper.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together and whisk well.
  3. Pour into the pie pan and bake for about 60 minutes. The top and edges should be brown, and crispy, but the edges should not be over-done. To check if it is done, wiggle the pie pan back and forth. If there is any liquid in the center, put the pie back in for a few extra minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting. DEVOUR! 🙂

Suggested Pairing

Top with homemade coconut whipped cream for a delicious end to any meal!

I had such a fantastic time at the Waterville Public Library this past Wednesday, and am looking forward to visiting the Red Lake Tribal College next Monday! I am SO honored to be invited to speak about my book at the college, and can’t wait to tell all about it!

Have a wonderful week! Happy Monday!

 

26
Oct

Halloween Pumpkin Chili

Halloween is THIS SATURDAY! For those of you who don’t know, Halloween is my FAVORITE of holidays. What is there not to love? Dressing up, delicious foods, bonfires, crunchy leaves, candy, caramel apples, pumpkins, hot apple cider, and a bit of magic–Halloween has it all.

This year, the holiday is going to be even more special because I am hosting a Harry Potter Party this Wednesday at my library. Three hours, fifty kids, Hogwarts classes, and Muggle Quidditch. Talk about magical! I have tried to plan everything so the kids literally feel like they are living the book (and, secretly, so I can feel like I’m living the book, too 🙂 ) Wish me luck, everyone!

When I haven’t been thinking about Harry Potter, I’ve been celebrating! Shane’s 28th birthday was this past week, and we had an amazing day hiking through Seven Mile Creek State Park and enjoying games and good food with people we love. Here’s to another year of love, adventures, laughter, and magic!

Happy Birthday, Hobbit Man!

The other highlight of the week was going to the Spring Grove Public Library for an author talk. I had a FABULOUS time. The library itself is cozy, welcoming, and warm–but that was nothing compared to the people. I have been fortunate to meet some truly wonderful people while on the road with Seven Stones, and this trip was extra special because I was able to connect to a cousin I’ve never met before!

Shane, me, and Sue!

It was such a pleasure to meet my cousin Sue, spend time with her, and make a family connection that will last the rest of my life. Thank you to everyone who came out to meet me, support my writing, and tell me they were fans of my book! Did you hear that? I HAVE FANS! *Happy Dance!* I can’t wait to go back to Spring Grove for another event!

Reading an excerpt from SEVEN STONES

Reading an excerpt from SEVEN STONES

After such an exciting week, I was ready for a lazy Sunday afternoon cuddled on the couch with a bowl of chili with Shane and a romantic movie. Instead, we helped some friends move into their new house. But I DID get my chili! And this isn’t your ordinary bowl of chili. Oh, no. It is the best chili around: PUMPKIN CHILI!

I think I may have mentioned before that pumpkin is one of my favorite flavors. This fall, I’ve been processing pie pumpkins at a rate of about one a week. I scoop out the seeds to toast, then roast and puree the sweet pumpkin “meat” to bake into breads, muffins, and even put into main dishes like my pumpkin chili.

I love simple, delicious food. This pumpkin chili recipe delivers amazing taste, nutrition, and is comforting and warming—perfect for those chilly fall nights. To top it all off, this recipe couldn’t be simpler: just dump all the ingredients in the slow cooker and walk away! Most of the work you have to do is chopping: how easy is that? You can throw everything together on Monday and have homemade chili for the rest of the week. As a bonus, the orange of the pumpkin and black beans make a festive Halloween dinner!

Julia’s Scary Good Pumpkin Chili

Serve up a scary good Halloween feast!

Serve up a scary good Halloween feast!

Ingredients

1 can (15.9 ounce) black beans, rinsed and drained

2 cups diced tomatoes

2 cups pumpkin puree (or 1 15 oz. can)

4 cups vegetable broth

1 cup lentils

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 Onion, minced

1 green bell pepper, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 Tbsp chili powder

1 Tbsp cumin

1 Tbsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp Sucanat or other granulated sweetener

Dash nutmeg

Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

Add all the ingredients to the slow cooker. Turn on “low” and cook for 6-8 hours (if in a hurry, crank on “high” and let cook for 3-5 hours).

That’s it! Top with grated cheese (non-dairy or dairy) or any other chili toppings you like. DEVOUR!

Happy Monday!