THE OPEN BOOK

17
Aug

Wine & Words, an Interview, and the First Goodbye

Don’t worry. I haven’t named a volleyball “Shane”…yet…

After my post on Wednesday, I fully intended to follow-up with a Friday Favorites detailing all the excitement of my trip to Mankato. Then, Friday came about with a coffee date, a drive back to Bemidji, a full day of work, volunteering, and Shane’s very last show at Lakeland. Needless to say, my best intentions of writing a blog post were quickly forgotten.

But now is the perfect time. It is Sunday afternoon and the Hobbit Hole is quiet. There are boxes waiting to be packed, dishes needing to be done, laundry to do. But I’m curled up on my couch with my laptop, a big mug of tea in hand.

Shane just left for Mankato. His very first day at KEYC is tomorrow (well, actually today for you guys reading this on Monday). I am so excited and happy for him. But it was hard to see him drive off. I know it’s silly, but I cried when he left. It’s only a  week-and-a-half, but I’m going to miss that guy.

Anyway, let’s talk about all the good stuff that happened over the last few days. First, the interview! As soon as I walked into the library, it felt like a place I could spend hours in. Though nervous, I brought my A-game to that interview. I felt good about my prepared program ideas, my storytime example, and I had fun talking with the library director and lead librarian. I loved the library and the staff. So now I just have to wait! Regardless of if I get the job or not, I am really grateful to be considered a candidate for my dream job. I did everything I could possibly do to prepare. Now, we have to see if I’m the librarian they’re looking for!

wine2

Hanging with my library friends!

After driving five hours down to Mankato and interviewing for an hour-and-a-half, I turned around and drove 3 hours back up north to Brainerd for Wine & Words! Even though I got stuck in rush hour traffic in the Cities (Ugh), my library friends took care of me–like always. I arrived late, but my friends saved my dinner (complete with a heat tray to keep it warm), a piece of chocolate cake, and (thankfully) a glass of wine! Huzzah!

wine

Ain’t no party like a LIBRARY party!

If you’ve never been to Wine & Words, it is the best book lover’s party EVER! There’s a fancy dinner, a silent book-theme auction, and authors from around the country come and speak about the importance of libraries. William Kent Krueger, Lorna Landvik, and Kathleen McCleary were among the speakers this year, and guess who was sitting next to me at my table? Nadia Hashimi, author of The Pearl that Broke it’s Shell! I JUST picked that book up from my library! I sat down, saw her name tag, and couldn’t believe my eyes. She’s an author, mother, AND pediatrician! Makes me feel like a major slacker. What an unbelievably good time, and the perfect way to unwind after all that driving.

Yummmm….

Friday morning came coffee with friends (and a melt-in-your-mouth scone from Stone House Coffee), MORE driving, work, and Shane’s last show at Lakeland. I got to come in and be part of it on prompter. Being in the station with our friends is when it really hit me: Lakeland has been a part of our lives for four years. And that was the last night we’d ever be there. I think that was the first time I realized we were moving. Not just to Mankato, but to another chapter of our lives.

The show was perfect, Shane got a great on-air send off from the News director, and afterward, our friends showed us a tribute video they made for Shane. It was AMAZING! Thank you to everyone who contributed to the video, especially Stefania, the mastermind behind it all. Having such amazing friends means more to us than you’ll ever know, and we are so lucky to know each and every one of you.

Which brings us to Saturday: Shane’s final day in Bemidji. It started with French Toast (the perfect way to start any weekend), a bit of packing, and then ended with seeing Ant-Man, making pizza, and playing games with friends until after midnight. It really was the perfect day, and a great last day in Bemidji for Shane.

Really, the last few weeks has just emphasized how lucky we are. Thanks to all of our friends who make it hard to leave the North Woods behind.

Phew! What a post! I’m off to pack!

Happy Monday!

12
Aug

One Last Walk Through the Garden

Cute little cukes!

Cute little cukes!

Packing, cleaning, moving.

The last week has been full of craziness, but the last few days have been crazy awesome. For one thing, we officially have a Mankato address! After much debate over two very nice apartments, Shane and I decided on one that is slightly more expensive but has a garage, onsite laundry, and is MUCH BIGGER! It has wide windows and an open floor plan that will be ideal for hosting visitors. 🙂

With the dilemma of finding a place to live out of the way, I didn’t think Monday could get much better. But then it did.

Soon after finding out about Shane’s job offer a few weeks ago, I began looking for jobs myself. Can you imagine my excitement when I saw a fantastic position for a Children’s Librarian?! Needless to say, I applied immediately. On Monday, the library director invited me down for an interview!!! It is set for TOMORROW, and I have been doing everything I can to prepare. I hope to report that it went splendidly! It is quite literally my dream job and I am thrilled that I’ve at least got a shot!

This past week, I’ve also had a chance to be in my garden. I’ve got to admit, leaving my little patch will be one of the hard parts about leaving Bemidji–especially since it’s just been going NUTS!

IMG_1511[1]

The garden in full bloom!

The pumpkin plant is bigger than I am!

Monster pumpkin plant!

Monster pumpkin plant!

Look at those gorgeous pumpkin blossoms!

Look at those gorgeous pumpkin blossoms!

There are also carrots, beets, beans, greens, squash, popcorn, cucumbers, and potatoes!

Carrot Jungle!

Carrot Jungle!

A bounty of beans

A bounty of beans

I may not get to see most of my produce come to fruition, but I DID get a chance to dig up over 5 lbs of organic red potatoes!

I couldn't BELIEVE how many potatoes I dug up!

I couldn’t BELIEVE how many potatoes I dug up!

This was my first year growing potatoes, and I’m definitely going to do it again–they are DELICIOUS! I’ll be posting some yummy potato recipes next week that are sure to inspire you!

Goodbye, Little Organic Garden!

Goodbye, Little Organic Garden!

Wish me luck!

Happy Wednesday!

10
Aug

Healthy, Refreshing Coconut Key Lime Pie

Photo courtesy of Choosing Raw

Gorgeous photo courtesy of Choosing Raw

This past weekend was a whirlwind of driving, apartment hunting, packing, and saying goodbye. We woke on Saturday at 5:30 (that’s right, in the morning) to make the 5 hour drive down to Mankato. Our mission: tour no less than 7 apartments and duplexes in order to find the next Hobbit Hole.

And let me tell you, people: some of those places were scary. We’re talking rats-in-the-walls, a-drug-dealer-is-my-neighbor kind of scary. But some were really nice. We applied to our top two choices and now we wait to hear back from the landlords to see if we have a place to live come this Saturday. Wait and pack.

On Sunday, we packed until we literally ran out of boxes (about 6 hours). The good news is we have most of our stuff ready to go and managed to give even more stuff away to Goodwill. *Note: If you are a friend or relative, please never, NEVER give me presents of stuff EVER again. Just buy my book. Or give me cash. Or cheese. But for the love of all that is holy, please do not buy me more stuff. I’ll just have to move it again.*

After we were done packing for the day, Shane and I had one last bonfire with some of our Bemidji crew. The idea was pretty last minute, but I was really touched by how many people showed up to wish us well, tell lame jokes around a fire, give us hugs, and promise to visit Magnificent Mankato. We won’t have a lovely yard in Mankato, so we had to burn the rest of our firewood. Mission accomplished. How bittersweet.

At this point in our venture, we are pooped. We want to nap. To hire movers. To obtain magical, Harry Potter-like powers so the boxes float on the moving truck with the wave of a wand. But mostly, we want PIE.

And not just any kind of pie. The kind that is cool, satisfying, and refreshing. The kind that will put a pep in your step and some sass in your attitude. I’m talking Key Lime Pie.

Intimidated? Don’t be. This recipe is stupid easy and CRAZY delicious. All you need is a blender, really. Oh, and some limes. I supposed I cheated because the limes I used are not Key Limes, just regular old limes. But one bite of this amazing pie and you won’t either know or care. It is that good.

Key Lime has always been one of my favorite pie flavors, but I figured it was way too hard and time consuming to make. Not so! This recipe comes together in a matter of minutes. As a bonus, it is made with whole food ingredients like coconut milk, cashews, and oatmeal. And it is totally raw–no baking required.

Coconut Key Lime Pie. Yum. So, sit back, prop your feet up on a few well-packed cardboard boxes, and take a bite of what is quite possibly the best pie in the world. You’re welcome.

Julia’s Coconut Key Lime Pie

YUM!

YUM!

For the Filling:

1 1/2 cups cashews, soaked for 2-4 hours

3/4 cup coconut milk (light or full fat)

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup lime juice (I even added a bit more, maybe just shy of 1/2 cup. I like my pie sassy.)

1/2 cup maple syrup

Pinch of sea salt

1-2 tsp organic lime zest (optional)

For the Crust:

1 cup regular rolled oats

1 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1/2 tsp salt

1 heaping TBSP Sucanat or other granulated sweetener of choice

1. Make the crust: put all ingredients for the crust in a blender or food processor and blend until the mixture turns into crumbly goodness.

2. Place a round of parchment paper in the bottom of a pie pan and press the crust into the bottom of the pan. Nice. Place that bad boy in the fridge. You’re ready to make the filling!

3. Drain the water from those soaking cashews. Pour the cashews into the blender. Add all other filling ingredients. Blend until thick and creamy.

4. Now’s the time to taste that filling to see if it is limey enough for you. I added more lime juice at this point, but you do what is right for you.

5. Once the filling is tweaked to perfection, take the crust out of the fridge and pour the filling on top. Sprinkle with some more lime zest if you like.

6. Pop the pie into the freezer. After about an hour, move the pie from the freezer to the fridge for maybe 2-3 more hours so it is nice and set. *Note: Tell you the truth, my friend Stefania and I couldn’t wait that long. We took the pie out of the freezer before an hour was up and ate it while it was still a bit gooey. Didn’t matter. It was all kinds of awesome.*

DEVOUR!

Suggested Pairing:

A tropical beach, ukuleles playing in the background, and your toes in the sand

Happy Monday!

07
Aug

Friday Favorites: Bemidji Favorites

See ya later, Paul & Babe!

See ya later, Paul & Babe!

This Friday, I want to focus on all my favorite parts of our time in Bemidji. Though we were only here for ten months, it really has been a wonderful experience–mostly because of all the truly AMAZING people we’ve come to know and love. So, here is a look back at our days in the North Woods!

The Little Red Duplex

We were incredibly lucky to find such a great place to live. After living in apartments since we got out of college, Shane and I were ready for more space and a yard of our own. It is cozy, inviting, and really became our home in just a short period of time. Here’s a (terrible) video that I shot during our first weeks in Bemidji. Shane has since critiqued my camera work (which is pretty hilariously bad), but it gives you an idea of what our house looked like between all the blurred images. Hey, I never said I was a photographer. I do words, people. 🙂

Region 2 Arts Council

I couldn’t have done any of my marketing or publicity without the generous folks at the Region 2 Arts Council. They awarded me the Individual Artist Grant back in March so I could hire my wonderful publicist, Krista, to plan my book tour, and Christy of Brown Design to create the Seven Stones Book Trailer. Without the financial and professional support of the Council, I definitely wouldn’t be able to reach as many readers!

Check out the original post about the Artist Grant!

My First Book Signing

The table!

Thanks, Kat’s Book Nook!

My very first book tour stop was at Kat’s Book Nook in Bemidji. I was SO nervous and excited to actually be doing my first ever book signing! So many people showed up to support me, and I ended up having a wonderful time. I can’t thank Kat enough, or the community for their amazing support. Bemidji gave me a great start to my book tour, and helped boost my confidence as an author!

Check out the original post from May 16th!

Evening Horse Rides

We're BFFs

We’re BFFs

Imagine riding through a lush, forested state park at sunset on a gorgeous chestnut mare with a great friend by your side. Afterwards, a group of tiny, fuzzy kittens literally romp all over you in the stable. Yup, I got to live a 12 year old girl’s dream thanks to my friend and fellow Packer fan, Kori. I had SUCH great times with her, the horses (my best friend, Firefly, is pictured above), and the barn cats. It was beyond amazing to be able to hit the trails anytime we wanted.

I got to take my very last ride (*sob*) Wednesday night while the sun was setting in brilliant oranges and reds. It was cool, windless, and quiet–a perfect night for a ride, and one that I badly needed. I was super stressing about the move and packing, but once I was in the saddle, everything was okay. I’m sure going to miss our rides, but I’ve got great memories to take with me to Mankato!

Bemidji Community

Northern Lights Farm

For a little town, this place provided us with AWESOME amenities. My favorites were the beautiful Harmony Co-Op, the local board game store (Accidentally Cool Games), the Bemidji Public Library, and our fresh from the farm CSA. I hope Mankato treats us as well as Bemidji!

The PEOPLE!

We love you, Bemidji Friends!

We love you, Bemidji Friends!

Last, and most importantly, we are going to miss all of our friends! We have met amazing people during our time here, and have had some great times! Some of the highlights of our months here:

Jane Austen Tea Party

Outdoor Movie & Video Games

Thank you to everyone who made us feel loved and welcome. We will miss you from the bottom of our hearts! Friends will ALWAYS be welcome in Mankato! Stop by anytime. I’m sure I’ll have something delicious cooking, a board game to play, and a pot of tea to share.

Happy Friday!

 

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!

22
Jul

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.

DEVOUR!

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!

 

 

 

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!

15
Jul

Cherry Street Books & Brainerd Brown Bag Lunch!

Fantastic time at the Brainerd Public Library!

Fantastic time at the Brainerd Public Library!

WOW!

What a crazy, fantastic, scary, wonderful, amazing weekend! It all started on Saturday while I was on my way to Cherry Street Books in Alexandria for a book signing. I was about an hour out from the book store, when I got rear-ended while pulling over for an ambulance. I’m okay, the car can still drive, and the other driver’s insurance is covering the damage to the bumper (it’s pretty much falling off). Waiting for the sheriff and state trooper to arrive and document the accident took about an hour-and-a-half, so needless to say, I was late to my book signing.

At Cherry Street Books!

At Cherry Street Books!

By the time I got to Alexandria, I was a little frazzled. Then, I turned the corner and saw Cherry Street Books. Oh my goodness! It is such a cute, inviting, comfy shop with so many great books and gifts for book worms. Kathleen sat me in a big, cozy chair and I ended up having a wonderful afternoon, meeting new readers and spreading the word about Seven Stones. Afterwards, I got to have dinner with a friend and made it back to Bemidji without any more excitement. So, a day that started out a bit dodgy ended in a very positive note. I am very grateful to the awesome folks of Cherry Street for hosting me and graciously invited me into their store. I will definitely be back! If you are in Alexandria, check out this independent book store (and feel free to pick up a signed copy of Seven Stones while you’re there!).

Beautiful!

After a brief rest, Shane and I were off to Brainerd on Sunday for Shane to shoot some sports highlights, attend a wedding, and prep for my Brown Bag Lunch. What we didn’t plan for was the CRAZY storm! You’ve probably heard by now, but it was SCA-RY. The storm ripped up trees, toppled power lines, threw trees on cars, tore roofs off buildings, and caused more damage than I can describe. There are–as of now–no reported injuries, however, so that is something to be grateful for. Shane and I spent the storm huddled in an equipment room under a desk. I was quaking like a scared little rabbit. Shane fell asleep. During a tornado. Can you believe that boy?

I had so much fun!

I had so much fun!

The next day, I made it to the Brainerd Public Library unscathed and excited for my Brown Bag Author event at noon. I used to work at the Brainerd Library (I LOVED IT!), and used to dream of being a part of the Brown Bag program someday. Because of the storm and clean-up, I was afraid that few people would be able to make it. But as I set up and chatted with friends, people just kept arriving! I had a full room! AMAZING!

Thanks to everyone who made it out to see me!

Thanks to everyone who made it out to see me!

I started off talking about Seven Stones, doing a few short reading excerpts, then talked about my writing process, my publishing experience, and the sequel in progress. The audience was AWESOME! Before the event, I was nervous about filling up a whole hour without being boring, but I had SO MUCH FUN! People kept asking really great questions, and even made some touching comments about my writing. We talked about everything, from my early writing inspiration, Ojibwe & Celtic research, cultural identity, and what house I’d be in at Hogwarts (Hufflepuff Pride)! We had such a great energy buzzing in the room that my talk ran a little over an hour! 🙂

The line for my book signing!

The line for my book signing!

After the presentation, there was a line of people waiting to buy my book and say hello. INCREDIBLE! It is humbling and gratifying to know that people are connecting with my story and with my journey as a writer. I am still smiling from the warm reception, avid readers, and all-around awesome people of the Brainerd Public Library. A HUGE thank you to the library and the Friends of the Brainerd Public Library for inviting me to be a part of their wonderful program.

The Seven Stones dream team!

The Seven Stones dream team!

My publishers and I got to have a celebratory lunch at–where else?–Prairie Bay! I got the new Thai Curry Pizza (YES! TRY IT!), and we had a delightful time toasting the success of the Seven Stones book tour!

Next, I’m off to Eagan for the Minnesota Scottish Fair & Highland Games! I’ll be there ALL day so stop by, grab a signed copy of Seven Stones, and say hello! I’ll be driving all day Friday, so I’ll see you next on Monday with pictures from the event!

Minnesota Highland Games: July 18th!

Happy Wednesday!

10
Jul

Friday Favorites: Five Year Anniversary!

The radio interview this morning was AMAZING! A HUGE thank you to the folks at KAXE for inviting me on the show and letting me spread the word about Seven Stones. I was a teensy bit nervous (read: really, REALLY nervous) about going live on the radio, but Heidi and John were so easy and fun to talk to! Thank you to ALL for listening!

I am off to Cherry Street Books in Alexandria to sign books from 12-2pm tomorrow, then to the Brainerd Public Library on Monday from 12-1pm for the Brown Bag Author Program. I hope to see you there!

All these things are reasons to celebrate. But the REAL reason I am celebrating July 10th? It is Shane and my FIVE YEAR WEDDING ANNIVERSARY!

Five years!

Five years!

I can’t believe it. It feels like we just got married yesterday! Our wedding was an absolute fabulous event, and the marriage that has been taking place since then has been a dream come true. Shane is my best friend, partner in crime, confidant, cheerleader, and the love of my life.

Look at those chops!

Look at those chops! Such cute Freshmen.

Having him as a husband is the best part of my life, and gives meaning to everything else I do. There is no way I could be doing what I am doing without his constant love, support, and encouragement. He makes me want to be a better person, and is always there when I need him with a hug or ice cream 🙂 (there have been plenty of both in this relationship!). These past five years have been some of the best of my life, and I can’t wait to see what the next five brings!

What a good looking couple!

What a good looking couple!

Tonight, we’re celebrating by grilling, a bonfire, going through our wedding photos, reading our vows, dancing, and plenty of delicious treats! To mark the occasion, I changed out of the fuzzy purple robe I conducted my radio interview in and put on my wedding tiara, Irish necklace I wore for our wedding, and a fancy dress. 🙂

Here's to the next five years!

Here’s to the next five years!

I’ll see you guys on Monday after I get back from the Brown Bag program with plenty of photos and stories. Until then, I’m going to relax and enjoy my anniversary!

Happy Friday!

08
Jul

My First Radio Interview!

“So, Julia, how do you feel about being a published author?”

Can you say “I’m ready for my close-up” when you’re talking about a radio interview? How about, “I’m ready for my mic check?” However you say it, I’m READY and EXCITED! This is my first radio interview EVER! I can’t wait to talk about Seven Stones to folks over the airwaves at 8:10 in the morning this Friday on KAXE.

Would you like to listen?! Of course you would! If you live in Northern Minnesota, you can get KAXE on the following channels: Grand Rapids 91.7 FM, Brainerd 89.9 FM, Bagley/Bemidji KBXE 90.5 FM. If you don’t live in the broadcast area, visit the KAXE homepage and click “streaming” to listen to the interview live on Friday morning! We’ll be chatting about Seven Stones and spreading the word about my upcoming Brown Bag Lunch event at the Brainerd Public Library.

July 11th 12-12pm!

And that’s not all! Don’t forget that I’ll be driving to Alexandria, Minnesota for a book signing at Cherry Street Books from 12-2pm!

So many exciting things are happening in the month of July! Stay tuned for updates and tune into KAXE on Friday morning to hear my interview with Heidi Holtan! 🙂