Tag: Seven Stones

24
Nov

Seven Stones Signed Copies & FREE SHIPPING!

I don’t know about you, but I am SO READY FOR THANKSGIVING! An entire holiday devoted to family, friends, football, and genuine gratitude? There’s nothing better. One thing I’m grateful for: this past Saturday was Shane and my TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!! Ten years ago on November 19th (at 12:29 am – how do I know the exact time? Shane WROTE IT DOWN and told me a few months afterward when I thought our anniversary was November 18th…he is adorable). These past ten years have been filled with more love, laughter, and adventure than I ever thought possible. We had an amazing weekend, and are so excited to be home and with more people we love.

Which brings me to the food. Oh, the FOOD. As you know, I’m a big rabbit so we will be bringing some awesome veggie recipes home to family Thanksgiving. Here are a few of the recipes I’ll be whipping up today:

Chai Spiced Sweet Potatoes

Maple Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Crustless Pumpkin Pie

AND my homemade Cranberry Sauce. Now, growing up, I used to think that cranberry sauce was picked from the vine in cans. I couldn’t possibly conceive the arduous, complicated process that went into the jelly-like, can-shaped red substance I relished every year. Right? WRONG. If you’ve never made Cranberry Sauce, this is your time. It is so stinking easy and SO much tastier than that canned stuff. My favorite recipe uses maple syrup for sweetener, but you can use granulated sugar if you prefer and just add a bit more water. Here goes:

Julia’s Super Easy Totally Delicious Cranberry Sauce

Nothing better than Wisconsin cranberries 😉

1 12 oz. bag cranberries

1 cup maple syrup (that’s right, a CUP)

1 cup water

Directions:

Put the cranberries into a pan. Awesome. Now add the water. Dump in the maple syrup. Great. Heat on Medium-Low until the concoction starts bubbling. Let it simmer for 10 minutes (the cranberries will start popping – this is my favorite part). After 10 minutes, remove from heat and let cool (the cranberries will thicken as they cool).

Boom. Cranberry Sauce. You’re welcome.

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! I also come bearing gifts. Hey, consequently do you know what makes an AMAZING gift? SEVEN STONES! It’s a perfect stocking stuffer, Hanukkah present (why not buy a copy for each night?!), or addition for your winter solstice celebration.

If you are looking to get some holiday shopping done post-turkey coma, don’t go out to a huge department store on Black Friday. Support small and local businesses on Saturday, and while you’re at it you can buy a few copies of Seven Stones for readers on your list! To celebrate this season of thanks and cheer, I would LOVE to send you a personally signed copy AND pay for your shipping!!!

How do you get such a great deal? Send me a message (or a private message through Facebook). Provide your address and what you would like me to include in your personalized message. We can talk about payment methods in your message or you can shop RiverPlace Press directly.

I hope everyone has a safe Thanksgiving full of too much good food and even better books!

Happy Thanksgiving!

11
Nov

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.

14
Dec

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!

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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!

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

¼ 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

¾ 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!

19
Oct

Upcoming Author Events!

Mankato bison!

Mankato bison!

What a wonderful weekend! We had friends visiting as a kind of pre-birthday celebration for Shane and had SUCH an amazing time. Aside from all the food (my favorite pumpkin muffin recipe will be posted soon!), the best part was the bison reserve at the Mineopa State Park. You might remember when I posted about Shane and my picnic at Mineopa Falls. As if this park had to get any cooler, it now has a herd of about ten bison!

I hear Mankato bison love Seven Stones...

I hear Mankato bison love Seven Stones…

We found out that bison used to be found in just about every one of the lower 48 states. Because of westward expansion and the mass killings in the 1800s to make way for the railroad, these truly amazing creatures were almost wiped out. This past year, the Mineopa State Park reintroduced a herd of bison to the Mankato area. How cool is that?! They opened up the reserve for public view this month, so of course we had to go!

So close!

So close!

Seriously, this was an incredible experience. Seeing the bison up close was breathtaking! I am so grateful for the conservation efforts that brought us such a fantastic opportunity.

And of course, we stopped at the falls!

And of course, we stopped at the falls!

Speaking of fantastic opportunities, I’m going back on tour this month! If you missed out on my summer book tour, now is your chance to hear me talk about my book and go home with a signed copy of Seven Stones! Here is a list of events I have going on so far. My publicist is hard at work booking more dates, so stay tuned (and feel free to contact her if you’d like me to come to your book club/library/bookstore!)

Saturday, October 24th: 1:00-2:00pm

Saturday, October 31st: 9-3:30pm

Wednesday, November 4th: 5:30-6:30pm

Monday, November 16th: 12:00-1:00pm

 

Happy Monday!

26
Sep

Weekly Wrap-Up: Royalty Checks, Conferences, and Celebrations!

Horray! Saturday!

It’s not Friday. I accept this. So, instead of Friday Favorites, I’m calling this the Weekly Wrap-Up. Better late than never, right? I’ve also accepted that writing three blog posts a week while starting a new job, grad school, trying to write a sequel, and have a semblance of a life is insanity. For now, at least, I think I’m going to switch to two blog posts a week. Not that I won’t write more when I have the time (haha), but two posts is much more feasible than three right now.

But enough of that–let’s get on to the actual post! This past week was a curve ball. I attended not one, but TWO workshops on early literacy and librarianship. One of the workshops was in the Cities (the Twin Cities or Minneapolis/St. Paul for those of you outside Minnesota), which was amazing because I got to have dinner with one of my close friends from high school. Also, I had my first full staff meeting with the whole library system. Does it make me a huge nerd to say that I was REALLY excited for the staff meeting? Most likely. 🙂

Besides the workshops, here are a few other highlights from my week:

My First Royalty Check!

That’s right, people! I OFFICIALLY HAVE MADE MONEY FROM MY BOOK! Actual, real money! From my own writing! I can’t tell you how amazing that feels. I literally danced around and sang when my publishers gave me the check. And speaking of Seven Stones

River Place Press is Running a THIRD PRINTING!!!!!

Third Printing!

Third Printing!

A third printing. Three printings in one year. Can you believe it?!? People are reading my book! PEOPLE ARE READING MY BOOK! If you are one of those people, THANK YOU!!! If you aren’t one of those people, you really should reconsider your life choices.

Eid al-Adha

I LOVE experiencing new cultures and ESPECIALLY new foods. On Friday night, I had the amazing opportunity to celebrate Eid al-Adha with new friends, and it was wonderful! Mankato has a very large Somali population, and most of the community practices Islam. I had never been invited to an Islamic celebration before, but when my cousin asked me if I wanted to attend a feast how could I resist?!

Because I’m a nerd who loves to learn, I did some research on the festival of Eid. Eid al-Adha is known as the “Festival of Sacrifice” which celebrates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son. After a day of prayer, greetings, and the exchange of gifts, there is a big celebration where you eat tons of delicious, delicious foods while visiting with friends. What could be bad about that?! Answer: nothing.

The spread!

The spread!

I had never had Somali food before, and found that it is FABULOUS! My favorites were Samboosa (fried savory triangles stuffed with spiced meat), Bur (a slightly sweet fried dough), Shaah Somali (a light, milky, very sweet chai-like tea flavored with cardamom and other spices. Shane hates tea, but he loved Shaah Somali. He drank a whole cup!).

Bajia: little fried bits of heaven

Bajia: little fried bits of heaven

My absolute favorite food was Bajia. If you like falafel, you’ll love bajia–they are little balls made from chick peas and fried to perfection. I. Love. Bajia. Also on the menu was Kahawa (fried coffee. That’s right. FRIED coffee infused with cardamom, spices, and sweetened) and a spiced rice, potato, and meat dish called Bariis Iskukaris.

All of the food was so good it was hard to stop eating! It didn’t help that all the other women kept telling me that I was too skinny and had to eat more. Oh well, twist my arm. 🙂 I love the spices in Somali food–especially the use of cardamom. Cardamom has always been one of my favorite flavors–such a sweet, earthy, spicy flavor–and it was in almost everything I ate.

Dessert: simple biscuits dunked in the sweet, spiced Kahawa or Shaah Somali.

Dessert: simple biscuits dunked in the sweet, spiced Kahawa or Shaah Somali.

I feel so fortunate to be invited to such a beautiful celebration! There I was, a Celtic lass talking and laughing with women from Somali, the Sudan, and Yemen. It was awesome! I met some new friends and found some new favorite foods. Eid Mubarak. 🙂

That’s my week! I’m off to do homework!

Happy Saturday!

05
Aug

Two Weddings & A Book Signing!

What a great book! ;)

What a great book! 😉

It feels so good to be back. Here I sit with on my comfy couch with a big pot of tea and my laptop, writing away. I missed this! Did you miss me? Of course you did. Well, sit back, relax, and get ready for some fun and an EXCITING announcement! But fun first.

Shane and I had a crazy, whirlwind vacation that included two weddings and a book signing. To get to the first wedding, we hopped on a train in Chicago. To be more specific, we boarded the Capitol Limited Sleeping Car and spent 20 lovely hours in our first class accommodations, enjoying all the food and free time. If you haven’t traveled by train, you need to give it a try. Not only do you get to feel like Harry Potter, but you are essentially forced to relax. There are no obligations, nothing to do, and nowhere to be. For 20 hours, Shane and I just got to be with each other–and on such a crazy trip, that was soooo nice.

My favorite part was getting up at sunrise as we were going through the Appalachian Mountains. I grabbed my laptop, a cup of coffee, camped out at a table in the observation car and wrote for a few hours. It was one of the best parts of my trip.

View from the Tidal Basin

View from the Tidal Basin

When we got to D.C., my friends Sarah and Patrick took even better care of us than the porter on the train. In our three and a half days in Maryland, they drove us around to sights, fed us, and let us crash at their beautiful apartment. And, of course, I got to spend some much needed girl time with my Sarah! She’s been one of my best friends since high school, and I was so happy to get to see her!

There's me and Sarah being just so fabulous

There’s Sarah & me being just so fabulous

And, of course, Wedding #1! It was a lovely ceremony that took place on a cruise down the Potomac River. Seriously, how gorgeous can you get?! My friendship with Matt also goes back to my high school days, and I couldn’t be happier for him. I was honored to be a part of the ceremony, and we had SO MUCH FUN! Congratulations, Matt & Josh!

Thanks for letting me be a part of your big day

Thanks for letting me be a part of your big day

After the wedding, it was back to Wisconsin for a few days with family. I FINALLY got to meet my nephew, Samuel, and spent some more time with my other little nephew, Ira. One of the days we spent in historic Cedarburg, walking around the town and touring the Cedar Creek Winery. And Shane and I got to climb in a barrel. No, no, that isn’t some innuendo. We actually climbed in a wine barrel. We are small hobbits, and the tour guide asked us if we wanted to shimmy through the tiny opening. Which, of course, we did. And now I have a shirt to prove it, thanks to my Dad. After the wine tour, we had a picnic in one of the downtown parks and all went to a Kenosha Kingfish baseball. It was an all-around awesome summer day with our family.

BEST BOOK EVER!

BEST BOOK EVER!

Then came the Book Signing at the SweetSpot! It was SO good to be back! I had a BLAST reading excerpts from Seven Stones, signing books, and answering all sorts of questions from readers. Thank you to everyone who came out to support me, and special thanks to Lacey and the crew for inviting me out and making my time magical and delicious. It was AMAZING! 🙂

Onto Wedding #2! We booked it down to Illinois (aka Enemy Territory to Packer Fans) for the wedding of another very good friend. The venue itself was GORGEOUS, the bride and groom were fabulous and happy, and the party was off the hook (if people still say that nowadays). Congratulations, Kayla & Brandon!

Congratulations, Mr. & Mrs. Thul!

A beautiful day for a wedding!

So, there in a tightly packed nutshell, is our vacation. We got to see friends & family, celebrate love, do a bit of sightseeing, and have an overall fantastic time. Now, friends, is time for the BIG ANNOUNCEMENT.

While on vacation, Shane got a call from a station in Mankato. After a second interview, KEYC offered him the weekend sports anchor/sports reporter position! I know how long he has been working for this, and I couldn’t be more proud. I am sad, however, to say goodbye to all of our Bemidji friends and can only hope you come visit us in Magnificent Mankato! Here’s to a new adventure!

We move in 10 DAYS! HOLY CATS!

I’m going to go pack. Happy Wednesday!

20
Jul

2015 Minnesota Scottish Fair & Highland Games!

Photo: StarTribune

The last thing I posted on Facebook about the Scottish Fair was, “Sweaty and gross after setting up my tent” on Friday afternoon. I was, indeed, both of those things. But I was also proud. I had made the four hour trek to the Cities all by myself, drove through rush-hour traffic, set up a tent for the first time in my life, and rewarded myself with a delicious trip to the Crescent Moon Bakery. I was full of Afghani baked goods and on my way to hang out with two incredible friends. Life was pretty awesome.

Then, I woke up at 1:00 am to a terrible storm. We’re talking crazy lighting, roaring winds, driving rains–the whole shebang. As I lay in my bed, I thought of my tent–my poor little tent being mangled by the winds.

Needless to say, I got up extra early the next morning and headed back to the fair grounds to assess the damage.

Ho-ly Cats.

The fairgrounds were a mess. It was only later that I learned a tornado was reported in the area (seriously? I feel like they are following me). My poor tent was reduced to a sad, twisted lump of metal. Other, HUGE tents were collapsed–some of which had taken the vendor hours to set up the day before and already had goods inside. Luckily, there were several stores nearby and I joined the clean up and a mad dash for tents. Through the kindness of others, I managed to set up my tent just in time for the fair to open. Though some tents took a few hours to sort out, it was really amazing how quickly everyone came together to help.

Who doesn’t love men in kilts?

The rest of the day was a GREAT success! The day was sunny and bright with a nice breeze, and there were so many people enjoying the beautiful weather. I met fellow writers, was invited to be a guest on an Irish radio show (named Malarkey–love it!), was introduced to distributors, made some new friends, and–best of all–met more new readers!

*Drum roll please* I SOLD FIFTY BOOKS!

Scottish Happy Dance!

AMAZING! And I couldn’t have done it without the help of so many–especially my friends Mike & Jenn who let me crash at their place, usurp their shower, fed me like a queen, and who even braved the heat to help me out at the fair. I had a truly awesome weekend, and I am just so grateful for yet another opportunity to share Seven Stones with more people!

Special thanks to Liz for coordinating the event and answering all my questions!

Next stop on the Seven Stones book tour: Whitewater, Wisconsin! I’ll be at the SweetSpot on July 31st from 5-7pm, for a book reading, author Q&A, and book signing (and, yes, I’ll have copies to sell)!

Happy Monday! I hope your weekend was just as fabulous as mine!

01
Jun

Seven Stones Book Trailer!

 

Seven Stones has an official book trailer!

I have been waiting for this day ever since I learned that I had been awarded the Region 2 Arts Council Individual Artist Grant back in March. I knew what kind of trailer I wanted, and I knew exactly who I wanted to work with. For the past month, I’ve had the great fortune to have the wonderful and talented Christy Brown of Brown Design in Brainerd, Minnesota craft an absolutely stunning book trailer. From the first rough proof to the finished product, being a part of the design process has been incredible! Christy not only understood the heart and essence of Seven Stones, she also makes me look and feel all swanky and important every time I view her creation (which is about once every five minutes).

I am very proud to share this trailer with you, and hope you share it with others! 🙂

What do you think?!

Happy Monday!

29
May

Friday Favorites: Wrapping Up the Birthday Week

I love being 27 already! My birthday was absolutely wonderful. I love any excuse to eat good food and hang out with amazing people, and birthdays give me the perfect excuse! Thank you to EVERYONE who sent me messages, called, stopped by, and made me feel so incredibly loved. Here are some of my favorite things from this past week:

Jane Austen Tea Party

My first ever tea party was even better than I imagined! My birthday dawned sunny and bright, and I spent the afternoon prepping tiny sandwiches and eating ALL the crusts (what else are you going to do with them?). The spread was absolutely gorgeous, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get pictures–we just started eating right away! I made 12 tomato-fresh basil-balsamic cream cheese sandwiches, 12 avocado egg salad sandwiches, and 12 cucumber-cream cheese sandwiches. All were marvelous, but my favorites were the tomato basil. I adore fresh basil leaves. To me, they taste like summer, cool and refreshing.

We also had pineapple, watermelon, fresh organic veggies, homemade cranberry-orange biscotti, and four types of delicious tea. The favorite of the night was the mocha hazelnut yerba matte–it was like drinking dessert! For actual dessert, I made green tea honey ice cream. So. Freaking. Good. And SO easy! Here’s my super simple recipe for a sublime summer treat:

Julia’s Green Tea Ice Cream

image from choosingraw.com

1 can coconut milk (full fat will be creamier, but lite works as well)

2 tsp. Matcha

1/3 cup honey

Mix everything together and pour into your ice cream maker. Voilà! You are an ice cream genius and everyone will be impressed. You’ll be the talk of the town.

Marrying Mr. Darcy

As we ate our ice cream and nibbled biscotti, we played Marrying Mr. Darcy. This game has it all for Jane Austen fans. You get to become a female character from an Austen novel (I got to be Elizabeth Bennet!), the goal of the game being to get your suitor to propose. The suitors, however, each require different things from their would-be loves (Darcy required his future bride to have a wit of 5 or higher).

Throughout the game, you try to acquire beauty, wit, friendliness, and reputation points by interacting with the cards. However, getting a scandal card makes you lose attributes and make sure you watch out for Mr. Wickham or you’ll be eloped and ruined in before you’re first ball!

The cards are very tongue-and-cheek, and the best part was reading them in our best (or worst?) aristocratic English accents. This game is definitely going on my need to own list! 🙂

 

Second Printing!

Website Cover Art

As an added birthday bonus, the final proof for the second edition of Seven Stones was officially approved and sent off to the printers!!!! HUZZAH!!! I can’t believe we’re actually running a second printing! Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has supported me and spread the word about Seven Stones! Keep telling friends, liking my Facebook page, reading this blog, and just being your amazing selves!

 

Word Count

Here’s to another year of adventures–literary and otherwise. My word count for this week? Unfortunately, I’m giving myself a NEGATIVE word count. I actually finished writing an entire chapter…and it just didn’t fit. I tried reworking it several times, but in the end decided to scrap it. This kind of process is necessary for a good end result; sometimes working through all the “bad” words leads you to the good ones. Let’s hope so, anyway!

 

Happy, happy Friday!

I’m lucky enough to celebrate with another birthday bash on Saturday. We’ll be enjoying the beautiful weather with a bonfire, roasting sausages over the flames, and playing lots of games!