THE OPEN BOOK

20
Feb

Hello, Spring?

My sister and I…and Dad photobombing in the background ūüėÄ

*Cough Cough* *Sniffle Sniffle*

Hello (imagine that said in a pathetically scratchy voice). Yes, I’ve been hit. I was so proud of my immune system for keeping me healthy when all my friends and family succumbed to the flu. I got cocky. Then, a few weeks ago, I got hit with the respiratory flu. Hard. To make a long story short, I’ve been a congested pile of goo since February 3rd. I’ve slogged through it for the most part, but I missed my Dad’s 60th birthday party because I was in Urgent Care on February 5th. Happy Birthday.

I tried everything, from homemade chicken¬†& rice¬†soup to my immunity boosting tea. Despite my best efforts, it seems like these little buggers have settled in and are sticking around for a while. This weekend, though, I was DETERMINED to make it back to Wisconsin for my Dad’s 60th Birthday Redo (we planned this shortly after I missed his actual birthday thinking, “Surely I’ll be ALL¬†better by the 18th!”). The week leading up to Dad’s Birthday Redo didn’t help my health – although it was REALLY fun! Here’s what it looked like:

Saturday: Lego Club & Lego Story Time

Sunday: Laundry, Clean and Disinfect the Apartment, Bake Bread, SLEEP

Monday: 3D Doodler Kids’ Program and 2 story times

Tuesday: Yoga Story Time (and YES, Shane and I did celebrate with our traditional spaghetti, Lady & The Tramp, and chocolate-covered strawberries. Just imagine a big Kleenex box in the middle of us. Magical.)

Wednesday: CHOCOLATE OLYMPICS. My 3-hour, 50+ kid program was this week. We played chocolate relay races (Oreo stacking, Chocolate Unicorn, rolling Whoppers with their noses and the¬†Chocolate Kiss¬†Oven Glove Race where kids had to unwrap a kiss while wearing¬†gloves,¬†¬†and had chocolate challenges (M&M minute to win it games, candy trivia, bingo, Chocolate Shuffleboard…am I making you hungry ūüėČ ). Needless to say, it was AWESOME. Also needless to say, by the end of 3 hours my voice and head were wrecked.

Chocolate Oreo Relay Racing

Thursday: Story Time…the voice was getting worse, but I made it through and guzzled tea the rest of the day

Friday: I squeaked through story time and CRASHED

I slept all of Friday, got lots of drugs in me, and was determined to make it home for my Dad’s party on Saturday. AND I MADE IT! It required a lot of sleeping in the car (love you, SHANE!), an excessive amount of hot tubbing (my Dad had knee surgery, Shane back surgery, and I’m sick – you can imagine how much a hot tub appealed), delicious food, and laughter. I got to see my family and celebrate my Dad (the best Dad in the world, in my opinion) mark such a big milestone in his life. Lucky guy ended up having two parties, so getting sick wasn’t all bad. ūüôā

Waterfall along the trail

On Sunday, Shane and I tromped through Pets Park (Petrifying Springs Park in Kenosha for those of you not in the know). The fresh air did my sinuses a TON of good. And did I mention we walked IN OUR T-SHIRTS? In February? I walked outside thinking, “How long have I been sick???” I’m used to writing blog posts about the frigid air of Bemidji. This year is just NUTS. As I sit writing this post (thank you, President’s Day), it is 50 here in Mankato and raining. Insane. But, don’t worry. We’re supposed to get slammed with a blizzard next week.

In the meantime, I’m going to go write. Hopefully, I’ve turned a corner and can start being a human again.

Happy Monday!

What I’m Reading This Week:

16
Jan

Possibilities

The rollercoaster continues. Shane went back to work this past week. He was “just tired of doing nothing,” and decided to give it a go. How did it go? We’ll give it an 8 out of 10–that’s the hospital pain meter with which we’ve become something of rating experts. Poor guy. That was Wednesday. A refilled prescription of Tramadol and a weekend of rest later, and he is feeling considerably better (he even gave me a pain rating of 1 the other day. 1!!!). Shane had an appointment with his general practitioner this morning, and we remain cautiously optimistic. Here’s hoping he’s back to being his old hobbit-self soon.

I solemnly swear I’m up for some cake

In other news, I have amazing co-workers. When I got to the staff meeting on Friday, there were 2016 decorations, Packer paraphernalia,¬†one of the coolest cakes ever, and a bunch of really thoughtful gifts (including my own Time Turner!!! SERIOUSLY!). It made me feel so special and loved–and now I’m officially a cool kid with my Packers scarf, Captain America earrings, Time Turner, and Out of Print clothing. ūüôā

The BEST part of this week? THE PACKERS ARE GOING TO THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! After trying to kill me (aka giving up an 18 point lead and letting the Cowboys rally to tie the game), Mason “The Bomb” Crosby¬†scored a field goal delivered on angels’ wings to win the game with 3 seconds left. I laughed. I¬†cried. I screamed. I ate way too much delicious food (what did I bring? Glad you asked. I whipped up¬†Life Affirming Vegan Nacho Dip from the Oh She Glows Cookbook. It was, I’m proud to say, a HIT with a crowd that was definitely NOT vegan. Angela Liddon is a plant-based GENIUS)¬†. And I get to do it all again next week. That thought alone will fuel me through the 3 hour Pok√©mon party I’m running for 50+ kids at the library on Wednesday…and about a gallon of coffee.

Amidst¬†everything that’s been going on in the first few weeks of 2017, I’ve been trying to figure out my word of the year (inspired by the amazing Sheila DeChantal). 2016’s word was GRATITUDE because I have so very much to be thankful for in my life. I bounced around a few words (SEQUEL being one of them ūüėČ ), and have chosen *drum roll please*: POSSIBILITIES. I am hoping that 2017 is a year of bright possibilities (not the least of which being Shane fully recovering and having no more back pain). I am going to try my darndest to be positive, bright, and look for the good this year. Let’s see what 2017’s got.

Happy Monday! I’m off to write chapter 2 of the sequel *inside peek: it takes place in Chicago where we meet a¬†brand new character…*

Book of the Week:

07
Jan

2017: The Year of the Sequel

Happy New Year! Now that we’re done with holidays, hospitals, and emergency room visits, I have time to write a blog post. December was a doozy. Let’s start with the good:

MLIS!

I GRADUATED!!! I am officially a Master of Library and Information Sciences. You may call me Master Lee. Or Librarian Supreme. I’m not picky. After 3 years of graduate school, it was surreal to walk across the stage and be handed an empty diploma case (it’s coming in the mail, fear not. I just think it’s¬†kind of ironic¬†that you have this big ceremony¬†during which you¬†don’t even get your physical degree). But it was also incredible. And a relief. Afterward, my family, friends, and I celebrated by going to Fuddruckers and watching the Packers beat da Bears. Perfect.

WISCONSIN

December was filled with trips to my favorite state. We made the six-hour trip back-to-back weekends for my graduation¬†and Christmas. The weekend of my graduation,¬†I got to see two of my best friends¬†(one flew in from Maryland for the weekend!) for a night out in¬†Milwaukee (to clarify, a night out means dinner and a play–we saw A Christmas Carol!). My dad was recovery from surgery and Shane was getting ready for his surgery, but we had a marvelous time and I got to see *most* of the people I loved. There were quite a few who were sick with the awful stomach bug, but I will catch you next time!

NOON YEAR’S EVE

I threw a giant New Year’s Eve party for families with kids ages 2-6 at the library. We had crafts, games, a photo booth, and a giant balloon drop right at noon complete with a bubble wrap stomp. It was epic.

500 WORD CHALLENGE

My friend and fellow writer, Katie, challenged me to a 500 word-a-day writing marathon to last the entire year. Though it has been a bit of a rough start (see EMERGENCY ROOM) below, I’m excited to be getting into a routine and have a goal for my writing.

Okay, those were all fabulous things that have happened in the last month. Here are the other things.

SHANE’S SURGERY

In and of itself, the surgery was actually a good thing. We drove straight up from Christmas at his family’s to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. The surgeon, nurses, and staff were absolutely amazing. He had an abnormal hemangioma (cluster of blood cells like a tumor) in his spinal vertebra. They removed it and everything went well. Until one day…

EMERGENCY ROOM

So, Shane was recovering well and his pain was manageable. Then, earlier this week, he was resting and took a deep breath. Bad idea. He was immediately in SO much pain, he had trouble breathing and got really dizzy. We spent 5 hours in the emergency room that night, and it was one of the worst nights of my entire life. I was terrified that something went wrong in his spine–how do you fix that? Luckily, everything in his spine looks perfect. He doesn’t have a blood clot, and his gallbladder, liver, pancreas, and kidneys are all doing fine if you were wondering. He had a back spasm that popped a rib out of place which made breathing painful. He’s been on pain killers and muscle relaxants since then and hopefully will just continue healing until he is 100% better.

So, with all the time spent in hospitals lately my word count for this year is: 800 words.

First book of the year: (!)

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 ūüėČ

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.

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. ūüėČ

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? ūüôā

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. ūüôā

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. ūüôā

Happy Sunday!

10
Aug

Cilantro-Lime Chickpea & Black Bean Burritos

I did it! I made it through my first Summer Reading Program as a Children’s Librarian!!!!!!! There seriously aren’t enough exclamation points for that statement. The past two months have been fun, exhausting, and exhilarating as I got to run programs that got kids in the library and reading during the summer months. My favorites included Bubble Wrap Art, my weekly¬†STEAM-based programs we dubbed “Level Up!”,¬†our HUGE Water Carnival on July 6th (350 people attended!), and our grand finale: Mr. Lemoncello’s Library Olympics.

I have learned SO MUCH from running my first Summer Reading Program, and I’m¬†happy to say that it was pretty awesome! Before I go full-gear into fall programming (and the Wisconsin Highland Games coming Labor Day Weekend!), I HAVE A WEEK OF VACATION! Woo-hoo! So far, Shane and I got to grill & bonfire with our cousins, went to Winona, MN¬†for a wedding, explored the Great River Bluffs State Park, and met my parents and Aunt Eileen in Tomah, WI for two days of fun. We ate way too much food, played board games, picnicked and played Bocce at Winebago Park,¬†grilled out,¬†swam, hot-tubbed, and watched the Olympics!

I was also invited to the Traverse des Sioux annual Battle of the Books competition in St. Peter, MN! Seven Stones had been chosen as one of the books teens read and answered trivia questions about. I got to be at the competition, signing books and meeting teen readers. It was AMAZING; filled my heart with so much joy to have teens not only want my autograph, but also telling me that they loved my novel!¬†A few actually wanted to take their picture with me. I am telling you, I’ve never been more cool in my life. It was such an honor to be a part of Battle of the Books. Thanks TdS!

Battle of the Books as the teens answer questions about Seven Stones!

Battle of the Books as the teens answer questions about Seven Stones!

Today, here’s what’s on my schedule: write, do some¬†yoga, a little bit of grad school work (my LAST CLASS starts in September!), drink tea, eat chocolate. I can handle that.

To celebrate vacation time, here’s a recipe that ANYONE can handle: Cilantro-Lime Chickpea & Black Bean Burritos. Shane actually made this recipe up and we have been munching through it all summer long! And if you are a meat lover who is looking at this recipe skeptically, let me repeat that: Shane made up this recipe. He doesn’t mess around with his protein. Cilantro-Lime Chickpea & Black Bean Burritos are:

  • Tasty
  • Flavorful
  • Easy (no cooking!)
  • Quick (comes together in 15-20 minutes, perfect for a weeknight dinner)
  • Healthy
  • Filling (lots of protein from the chickpeas & black beans)
  • Fresh
  • Versatile (change/add/omit to your taste!)
  • Vegan (if you don’t add any cheese)

Have I convinced you yet? This is a sure-fire recipe that you’ll come back to again and again!

Shane’s Stupendous Cilantro-Lime Chickpea & Black Bean Burritos!

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Mmmmmm

Here’s What You’ll Need (remember, add/omit/change to your taste!)

3-4 medium tomatoes, chopped

1 large bell pepper, chopped

1 onion, diced

1 15-oz. can corn (or a cup or more fresh sweet corn kernels, if in season!)

1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 15-oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped

Lime juice, to taste

Cumin, to taste

Garlic salt, to taste

Some avocado

Fresh greens

Whole wheat tortilla wraps

Grated cheese, if that’s your thing

Salsa

Directions

Mix the first seven ingredients together in a large bowl.

Once everything is mingling together, add the lime juice, cumin, and garlic salt, to taste. I usually add a bit, then taste, add a bit more, then taste again until I get it right. A few tips: a little salt goes a LONG way in this recipe. Also, I LOVE cumin so I probably add way more than the average human. Again, it’s all about you and what you like. Just keep adding and tasting until you find that sweet spot.

Okay, now that the bean mix is perfect, time to make your burrito! I like to take a big whole wheat wrap and layer it with fresh greens, avocado, cheese, salsa, and the chickpea-black bean mixture. And, yes, my burritos are about the size of my face.

DEVOUR!

Happy Wednesday!

 

 

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. ūüôā 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. ūüôā

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 ūüėČ ). 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‚ÄĒto 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‚ÄĒan 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‚Äôs 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‚Äôs plains. A tribute to the Great Plains and the people who live there, Ilgunas‚Äôs 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!