Tag: Road Trip


Seven Stones Coming to Wisconsin!

Now that I’m rested from my trip to the Highland Games, it’s time to get back on the road! I’m officially on vacation mode!!! Shane and I are taking some time off to visit friends back home, take a train to D.C., and stand up in two weddings. It is going to be an action-packed vacation! But what would a vacation be without an author event?! That’s right, during our vacation, I’ll be making a stop at my old coffee shop, the SweetSpot in Whitewater, Wisconsin!

I love the SweetSpot!

What?! You’ve never been to the SweetSpot?! Now is your chance! The SweetSpot has some of the BEST food and coffee this side of anywhere. I used to spend hours after getting off of my barista shift, writing short stories and scraps of scenes that would eventually inspire Seven Stones.

I’ll take one of everything, please!

I’ll be at the SweetSpot for a book reading and author Q&A from 5:00-7:00pm on Friday, July 31st. After I’m done talking with everyone, I’ll be selling and signing copies of my novel. Good food, great coffee, and a signed copy of Seven Stones? Now that’s what I call a perfect night!

One of the most exciting parts of the trip for me will be the train ride to D.C. I LOVE trains–they are my favorite way to travel. And this year, Shane and I sprung for a first-class cabin as our five-year anniversary gift to each other. I’ve never traveled first class before, and I can’t wait to share beautiful photos from the train windows and especially report back on the food (first class cabins come with meals on the dining car included). After reading so many Agatha Christie novels, I feel like I’m Poirot about to embark on an adventure. But I’ll be okay if no dead body mysteriously appears on the train. 😉

Our food for the train trip is taken care of, but there is still the 10 hours of driving between us and the station in Milwaukee. That means road trip snacks! Here’s what Shane and I are packing in our coolers and bags:

Fresh veggies from our CSA (including snap peas, cucumbers, turnips, radishes, and greens)

Fresh fruit

Dried fruit: mango, figs, & dates

A batch of homemade granola bars

Pizza Popcorn

Hard boiled eggs

Now, that list may seem like a lot, but we’ll be visiting friends and family, sharing the extras along the way. And, as hobbits, those snacks are just the barest of essentials (can’t miss second breakfast).

One of my absolute favorite snacks EVER is popcorn. I could eat it every day–and most of the time, I do. I’ve had popcorn every way: microwaved, air popped, those Jiffy tins. Over time, I’ve grown to be a bit of a popcorn connoisseur and the best way to make popcorn, in my expert opinion, is on the stove.

Stove top popcorn has such great flavor, is leagues healthier than the nasty wannabe microwaved stuff, and is open to almost endless topping combinations. The one I’m taking with me on my trip combines two of my favorite foods: pizza and popcorn! Salty, crunchy, and dusted with herbs, this snack is sure to satisfy! As a bonus, I add nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast has 8 grams of protein per serving and about 200% of your daily B vitamins–plus it gives the popcorn a lovely cheesy flavor.

As for oil, my favs are coconut oil, EVVO, and Earth Balance. Usually, my go-to is coconut oil, but I use different ones depending on what I feel like that day. Each will give a pleasant and unique flavor to your popcorn.

So, get ready to experiment, have fun, and munch on a whole grain, unprocessed snack that packs a powerful flavor punch!

Julia’s Pizza Popcorn!

Photo courtesy of noshon.it

Popcorn + Pizza = BRILLIANT!

1 cup organic popcorn kernels

1/4 cup oil (coconut, olive, Earth Balance–whatever you fancy)

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

2 Tbsp Pizza Seasoning 

Salt to taste

Turn a burner on medium-high. Grab a large pot (with lid) and add oil. Once the oil is hot, add the popcorn kernels and place the lid on the pot. Begin shaking the pot gently back and forth over the burner to prevent kernels from popping. The kernels will be popping and filling up the pot–keep up the shaking motion until the kernels are almost done popping (until there are considerable pauses between pops. Like five seconds between pops).

Remove pot from heat. Remove the lid (once you’re sure the popping is done. Otherwise, you’ll have popcorn all over the kitchen 🙂 ). Add the nutritional yeast, pizza seasoning, and salt. Put that lid back on.

Now’s time for the best part. Grab that pot and SHAKE it, shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture. Or like you’re trying to disperse the seasoning and salt evenly. Whichever works for you.


Suggested Pairing

A cold glass of iced tea and the open road

3D Glasses optional

What is your favorite popcorn flavor?

So long for now! I’ll see you when I get back with lots of pictures and stories from vacation!





A Writer’s Road Trip

Friday Favorites: Road Trip Style

Road Trip Essentials: Notebook and a Clicky Pen

Road Trip Essentials: Notebook and a Clicky Pen

Who doesn’t love a road trip? Singing along with your favorite songs, hanging out with your best friend, and (of course) the snacks. Fresh and dried fruit, nuts, veggies, a mushroom pizza with truffled goat cheese, smoked mozzarella, and brie…I am all about the road trip snacks.

Road trips are a writer’s best friend. While I don’t usually write a ton during a trip, I am always looking out the window and tucking tidbits away for future stories. Writing is all about observing, and the constant change of scenery, people, and new experiences are an inspiration goldmine. Driving through the small towns that are sprinkled along the route often give me ideas for a setting. As cars pass me on the highway, I often wonder where that person is going or what her day has been like. Before I know it, I’ve got the beginnings of a story.

Most of all, road trips take me out of my element. When I’m traveling, my brain relaxes and just takes everything in.

9 hours is a long time, so you might as well make it fun. We do everything we can to make the trip part of the vacation instead of just driving time. Though there is quite a bit of napping, there is plenty of time to talk, laugh, and just enjoy some extra alone time. Some of the best memories of a vacation can come from the drive. Here are some of my favorite things about our road trip through Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin last weekend:


A view from Enger Tower

A view from Enger Tower

I love this city. Shane and I went here on a mini-vacation last September and had a blast. From the lake walk to Enger Tower, this town has some seriously beautiful views. Every time we pass through Duluth, we make pull over at the rest stop just outside the city. Situated on a hill, the rest stop offers a panoramic view of the surrounding area. Gorgeous.

Wisconsin Cheese



I’m a cheesehead in every sense of the word. A road trip simply isn’t a road trip without stopping at one of the many local cheese stores and creameries. This past trip we visited Ehlenbach’s Cheese Chalet in DeForest and sampled dozens of cheeses from Vanilla-Carmel-Coconut Chevre to Bacon Muenster. In the end, we took home a pound of Brick cheese (my favorite), a pound of Smoked Cheddar (Shane’s favorite), and a half-pound of Ginger-Apricot Cheddar. Suffice to say that we’ve been enjoying exquisite grilled cheese sandwiches all week.


The road goes ever on and on...

The road goes ever on and on…

Audiobooks are amazing, especially when you are as busy as I am. Between graduate school, the book release, writing, work, and life, finding time to read for pleasure is tough. With audiobooks, I get to read while I’m driving. They are freaking fantastic! For this trip, we brought along The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (Tolkien is one of my favorite authors and Shane’s never read him before!) and Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan.

What is your favorite part of a road trip?