Category: School


New Chapter

Excuse me. EXCUSE ME! MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE? I have a very important announcement to make. That’s right, raise a glass, mug, or chocolate bar high: I am done with graduate school.

MLIS Candidate for Graduation

After the week we’ve all had, I’m happy to be able to tell you some good news. I have officially finished my final project of my final graduate class. I am done. No more homework. No more posting at crazy hours, staying up past midnight working on research papers, eating way too much chocolate (okay, that will probably still continue), and getting way too little sleep. On December 18th, I will walk across the stage at UW-Milwaukee and official be a Master of Library and Information sciences.

And it really couldn’t have come at a better time. Because no matter what else divides us, words can always bring people together. No matter what kinds of walls people build, books tear them down. If you think you are so very different from your neighbor, read their story. Words have the power to bring people together, and it’s time I put mine back to work. If I can be thankful for one thing that came out of this week, it’s given me more motivation than I know what to do with. This whole ugly election cycle has at least given me a strong focus for the sequel to Seven Stones – which, at its heart, has always been about fighting stereotypes, finding your voice, standing up to bullies, and facing your fears.

Writing about Keilann has taught me a lot about myself – I hope reading about her story has done the same for my readers. As I continue her story, I know I will have more to learn and I am so grateful for that. Writing and reading make us more empathetic, compassionate, and understanding human beings. You simply can’t believe stereotypes once you get to know someone as an individual with the same hopes, fears, dreams, and flaws you see in yourself.

You want to make America great? Read a book. Celebrate our differences. Write your story.


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!


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


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


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.


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.


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. 🙂



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. 🙂

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


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?


Power Monday Breakfast Pudding!

Photo courtesy of The Daily Burn

What a difference a week makes! Last Monday, we were in the low 30s and covered in snow. Yesterday, Shane and I took advantage of a beautiful sunny day and biked around Lake Bemidji. It was so great to actually spend time outdoors, and the nice weather almost tricked me into believing it was summer. The good news? I only have three more weeks to go this semester!

That means only THREE weeks until the start of my OFFICIAL BOOK TOUR!!!! If you haven’t seen my Events page lately, we are adding author events every week! My first book signing will be in Bemidji at Kat’s Book Nook on May 16th from 1-3pm. It will be an end of the school year celebration, as my last exam takes place on the 15th. If you are in the area on the 16th, stop by and say hello! I would love to see you and hear what you thought of Seven Stones, sign a copy, or tell you a bit about my book before you take it to a good home. 🙂

After Kat’s Book Nook, I have a great book tour schedule that keeps growing. If Bemidji is too far away for you, fear not! I’ll be making lots of stops around the Midwest. If you want me to stop in your area, let me know! I’d be thrilled to come to a book club, library, bookstore, or festival! Stay tuned and check out my Events page to see if I’ll be coming to your area in the next few months!

Okay, so that’s the good news. The bad news? I only have three more weeks to go this semester. Three weeks to get all of my final projects put together and study for my exams. In order to power through school, keep writing, working two jobs, cooking, and twisting into yoga poses, I need some serious energy. Enter, my secret weapon: Breakfast Chia Pudding.

Chia seeds are crazy awesome. One serving is packed with calcium, protein, and magnesium. Chia seeds can soak up to 10 times their weight in liquid, so they are ideal for making puddings without any other thickener required. If you like tapioca pudding, breakfast is perfect for you! This simple breakfast pudding recipe is one that I created specifically for exam weeks. It’s light and healthy, but packed with nutrition and taste. The chia seeds keep absorbing liquid in your stomach after you eat, so this is a breakfast that will leave you full and satisfied until lunch.

My simple recipe is coconut flavored, but feel free to mix it up! I’ve omitted the coconut extract and done chocolate (add 2 TBSP cocoa powder), Matcha (add 2 tsp Matcha), vanilla (add 1-2 tsp vanilla), and lemon (add 2 tsp of lemon juice) flavors. Experiment to find your favorite flavor! Just make this EASY recipe the night before to have delicious pudding for breakfast! Enjoy! 🙂

Julia’s Breakfast Pudding of POWER

1 can coconut milk (I use low fat, but full fat is great as well. Use your preference)

1-2 tsp coconut extract

1/3 cup chia seeds

2 TBSP pure maple syrup


Mix everything together with a whisk. Pour into a container, cover, and put in the refrigerator.

Go to sleep.

Wake up.

Top with shredded coconut, pepitas, almonds, fresh mango, strawberries, peaches, bananas, etc. DEVOUR! You are now ready to face your day head on!

SO EASY and SO DELICIOUS! Happy Monday, Everyone! 🙂


Quiet, Please! Test in Progress

Exam time

This week has been a doozy. I finally succumbed to the cold that Shane’s been suffering through the past ten days. In case you are wondering, it’s a bad one. Whenever I haven’t been at work or doing homework, I could be found curled up on the couch surrounded by a pile of used Kleenex and cough drop wrappers. It has been a bit rough, especially considering that midterm exams begin on Sunday.

Because I’ve been sick and pretty much out of commission, I’ll be spending the next few days studying and preparing for two exams as much as I can. The plan is to get one done before the book release and finish the other after the party (though it is hard to plan ahead that far right now. All my being is focused on NEXT SATURDAY!!!!).

The upside to being sick this week is that I SHOULD be healthy in time for the party. Keep your fingers and toes crossed for me, both for my health and my test results! Since my favorite things this week have consisted of cough drops and Sudafed, I’m going to take a break from Friday Favorites and instead just ask for good thoughts and wishes from everyone during the upcoming week!

I’m going to take Monday off to focus on my midterms, but I will see you on Wednesday to share one of my favorite muffin recipes! Then Friday will be the last blog post before the big day…

Stay tuned! I hope everyone reading this is healthy!



A Day in the Life

dream breakfast

My Dream Breakfast, Hobbit Style

When I describe all the projects I’ve got going on, a question I get a lot is “How do you have time for all of that?” That, my friends, is a fair question. Someday, the ultimate dream is to be a full-time writer. How amazing would that be? I’ve often thought about what my “dream” Monday would look like. Here’s what it would look like:

Dream Monday

6:00am: Wake up

6:30am: Sit down to write with a mug of tea in hand

9:30am: Take a break for breakfast with Shane

10:30am-12pm: Check email, social media stuff, etc.

12pm: light lunch/snack

12:30pm-5:30pm: Write!

5:30-6:30pm: Yoga and shower

7:00pm: Dinner with Shane

8:00pm-Bed: Relax, hangout with friends, movie, reading, fun time

Sounds pretty great, huh? That’s the dream writing day with no other commitments or obligations. For the moment, however, here is what a day in the life of Julia normally looks like:

Real Monday

6:30am: Alarm goes off. Hit snooze.

6:35am: Alarm goes off again.

6:45am: Cannot ignore alarm anymore. Reluctantly dismiss alarm and groggily find way to kitchen where I’ll make tea and feel somewhat more human.

6:45-7:15: Check emails, update social media, etc.

7:15-8:15am: Work on homework. This includes reading chapters, articles, answering prompts, and working on projects

8:15-8:45am: Breakfast and get ready for work

9:00am-4pm: Work at the library. I actually love being a librarian. Being surrounded by books is the next best thing to reading/writing them.

4:00pm-6:30pm: More homework

6:30pm-8:30pm: If Shane’s having a good sports day, he’ll have an opportunity to come home for dinner and we’ll spend the next few hours eating and hanging out. Possibly playing Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. I’m obsessed.

8:30pm: Shane goes back to the station to be sports anchor on the 10 o’clock news.

8:30-9:00pm: Check email, social media, etc.

9:00pm-10:00pm: Yoga and shower

10:00pm: Time to watch Shane on the news!

10:30-11:00pm: Do a little cleaning up (laundry, dishes, etc.)

11:00pm: Get in my jammies, grab my notebook and pen, and finally–finally–have a chance to write. Some nights I won’t actually get into bed until midnight because I’ll continue working on homework after yoga. Regardless of my bed time, I’ll write until I fall asleep.

It’s all a bit crazier this semester because of the book release party, but I’ve managed to be very successful with my grad school classes so far. The work load for these classes is more intense than I’ve experienced with other classes, but I’m doing okay. I just have to keep up by constantly chipping away at assignments. It’s all worth it, though, because I genuinely love being a librarian. It doesn’t even feel like work. So, while I would love to be a full-time writer, I know that relying on my writing for my primary source of income isn’t very realistic. At least, not at this point. Hence, the grad school classes. But you never know, maybe someday my dream day will be a reality. Until then, I’m still having a pretty great time!

What does your dream day look like?


So It Begins

Just realized today is the first day of grad classes

Just realized today is the first day of grad classes

After a long and truly wonderful winter break from my grad classes, I’m back to the grindstone today. For those of you that do not know, I am currently in my fourth semester of my Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. It is my dream to one day become a Youth Services or Reference Librarian. I am passionate about libraries. Libraries are the guardians of intellectual freedom and represent the best aspects of democracy. Seriously, where else can you go where everything is free and people just want to help you? For free. No ulterior motives, no sales gimmicks.

I love libraries.  I love books. And I’m a big nerd (my husband calls me Hermione and I love it), so I even love school. But this is the first semester I have not looked forward to starting classes. This semester is different because I’ve never launched a book before! My goal for winter break (and I think I’ve done a fairly good job keeping pace) was to work on book release stuff and write, write, write the sequel to Seven Stones (more on that in another post!). First and foremost, I wanted to get the website up and begin blogging. Thanks to my FABULOUS web designer and the wonderful folks at RiverPlace, those goals have been achieved.

However, there is still so much to be done. I have come to accept that there simply will never be enough hours in the day to write as much as I want. The hardest part of going back to school is that all the free time that I set aside for writing will now be devoted to homework and term papers. Usually, during the school semester I will maybe get one good day of writing a week. ONE. It kills me, and my writing seriously suffers. My goal for this semester: write every day. It doesn’t matter if I write for five hours or five minutes, but I want to at least practice my craft daily. It is true that writing anything helps foster creativity and motivation, so I am hoping that this blog will keep me on track and accountable in my novel writing.

Goals for the school year:

  1. Uphold my 4.0 GPA
  2. Write every day
  3. Have a successful book release (!!!)
  4. Maintain illusion of sanity

​Can all of these goals be accomplished simultaneously? Only time will tell…​

Happy Monday!

What are some of your goals for the year?