#HLS13

By this time tomorrow, I’ll be on my way to sunny (?) Minneapolis for the 2013 Healthy Living Summit! This year marks my third year at the Summit, and my second year speaking.

Some of you might remember that last year I gave a presentation on Blog Photography 101, and this year I’m teaming up with my gals Lauren from Me and the Mountains and Cassie from Back to Her Roots for a panel on how blogging has helped lead to our dream jobs (without having to blog full time AS our jobs).

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I’m super excited, not only for the panel, but getting to reunite with Lauren, who moved from this area a few months ago, and to finally MEET Cassie, who I feel like I’ve already known forever. Cassie designed an absolutely epic presentation and I know it’ll be amazing.

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(I mean, seriously, it is the most beautiful set of slides I’ve ever seen in my life. Do you SEE why I asked her to design my book cover now? :D)

Here’s the official blurb for our panel in case you’re interested in exactly what we’ll be speaking about:

From Blog to Job: Utilizing Your Personal Blog to Elevate Your Career

Unfortunately, it is a small (itty bitty, teeny weeny) percentage of us that will be able to turn our blogs into a full-time career on their own. But that doesn’t mean that blogging can’t help lead to great things for our careers! Join Cassie from Back to her Roots and Lauren from Me and the Mountains for a panel led by Gretchen of Honey, I Shrunk the Gretchen, on the ways that blogging has helped these different women find their dream jobs.

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In addition to leading the panel, I’ll also be front and center at the HLB Book Club meeting which is on… my book, TERRA! Yay! Hopefully this will be the final push I need to finish out Book 2! Hehe.

If you’re at HLS this year, PLEASE make sure to say hi! I like to think I’m fairly easy to spot now that my hair is purple. Purple and pink. Kekeke.

Founding Farmers, Take 2

Happy President’s Day, everyone! I’ve got the day off, and thus have sworn to high heaven that I’ll be making use of my holiday by writing (we’ll see how well that goes), but for those of you who are stuck dredging away the day in the office, I’ve got some mouth-watering photos for ya.

As I mentioned in Friday’s post, I had dinner with my good friend Lauren from Oatmeal After Spinning, and my new friend Kelly from Kelly Fiore Writes on Saturday! Lauren and Kelly are best friends from high school, and while I’ve known Lauren for a while thanks to the mad and lovable world of blogging, I got to meet Kelly for the first time last weekend (at the Frederick Restaurant Week sneak peek).

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We dragged our significant others out to dinner to belated celebrate Lauren’s birthday, and to celebrate Kelly’s husband’s birthday. While I was obviously super excited to get to hang out with these lovely ladies (and their equally lovely husbands), I was admittedly a little hesitant as well. See, our dinner destination was the Montgomery County location of Founding Farmers, and some of you may already know that I had a pretty miserable experience at the original Founding Farmers in DC a couple years back. So even though I knew this was an entirely different location, I was still a little bit unsure of how the experience would go.

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Well, I’m happy to report that things went MUCH better this time around! It wasn’t an impeccable dining experience, service-wise, but it was like 10,000 steps up from what I experienced before. And since the food was indeed delicious, and the company was perfect, overall I really did end up having a great time. I started with a glass of Willamette Valley pinot noir (the best!) and we all shared a few of the small plate appetizers from FF’s extensive farm-to-table menu. (Seriously, I spent like 15 straight minutes poring over the menu–so many options that ALL appealed to me!)

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The selection of apps included housemade ranch popcorn, bread and dips (including this garlicky green goddess dip that I wanted to spoon directly into my mouth), and spicy pickled carrots. Lauren also ended up getting a thing of skillet corn bread with her meal, which ended up being my favorite thing on the table. Lots of real pieces of corn, and an epic honey butter (which was literally butter and honey combined in one little condiment cup, haha)… mmm, I’m drooling just thinking about it. Regretting not having snagged a picture.

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For my meal, I started out with a sample sized Farmer’s Salad, which included romaine, avocado, figs, cherry tomatoes, grapes, slivered almonds, olives, and a bit of parmesan cheese. Yum.

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Then, for my entree, I ordered the Lemon Meunière Diver Scallops, which were delicious. I loooove scallops, so it’s pretty hard to screw them up for me, and these were garlicky and lemony and cooked very well.

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They were served with a butternut squash risotto in the middle, which ended up only being okay for me. While I loved the concept of the butternut squash in the risotto, there was just something off about the flavor–it had kind of a bitter aftertaste that I wasn’t expecting. Still, overall I enjoyed my plate a lot. And I also enjoyed the bites from Sean’s steak and enchilada dish that I stole, hehehe. Ultimately it was an awesome dinner out with friends, and certainly helped redeem Founding Farmers in my eyes–at least at the Maryland location.

Now I’m off to write! And if you’ll allow me just one li’l shameless plug before we part ways here, I do have a fun announcement: My book, Terra is currently on sale!!

Pick up a digital copy for your Kindle, Nook, Kobo, or iPad/iPhone for just $3.99. Happy President’s Day!

Two Good Things

Good thing #1: I’m almost done being sick! Almost. I actually have my voice semi-back to normal, and my temperature has been down in the normal range for over 24 hours. THANK GOODNESS. I am so over being sick. Donezo. Bright side? This flu has been the most effective diet ever. Down 6 pounds in 5 days! Now, if only I could make it stay that way… sigh. Too bad I, you know, am actually excited to have an actual appetite again. C’est la vie.

Good thing #2: The giveaway winners for signed copies of my book, Terra, have been drawn! If you are one of them, email me at [email protected] with your address. Oh, and if you’d like me to sign the book for someone other than yourself, just let me know in the email!

So, without further adieu, the winners!

1) Megan @ Love, Literature, Art, and Reason

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2) Sam Dailey

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3) Jasveen

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4) Allison W.

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5) Janice

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Congrats, guys! Again, be sure to email me with your deets!

And if you didn’t win, don’t lose heart. Terra is only $4.99 on Kindle, Nook, iTunes (YES, NOW IN THE iBOOSKTORE!!), and Kobo, or $9.99 for a paperback on Amazon!

Thanks to everyone for participating, this was my most-entered giveaway to-date! Which feels awesome, because it means you guys want to actually read my book. (Or, at least you do if it’s free, hahahaha.) For those of you till on the fence, definitely check out all the awesome reviews Terra has been getting on Amazon and Goodreads and decide if it’s something you’d like to take a $5-chance on. 😉 (End shameless plug here.)

‘Til next time, friends! <3

Terra (Giveaway!)

UPDATE: This giveaway is now closed. Thanks to everyone who entered! See if you’re one of the winners here.

Hi friends! Happy Thursday — we’ve almost made it to the end of the week! And in order to make this NOT-Friday just a little more bearable, I’ve got something really (in my opinon) pretty great.

I don’t know how many of you follow the bodacious blog (yeah, I’m bringing back “bodacious”) Back to Her Roots, but my homegirl Cassie is hosting a book club today featuring none other than…

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My book, Terra!

If you’re interested in reading about Cassie’s thoughts on the book (she asks some great questions!) or leaving commentary of your own, definitely head on over there! And in order to celebrate not only the book club feature, but a pretty epic sales milestone (details on my writing blog), I’m giving away FIVE SIGNED HARDCOPIES of Terra!

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Yep, five smooth, glossy, trade paperbacks of my baby, personally signed and mailed from my house to yours. And if you’re good and promise not to stalk me via return address, maybe I’ll include a little something-something extra in the package. 😉

To enter, simply leave a comment on this post telling me what one of your all-time favorite books is!

Additional entries will be granted for the following (remember to leave separate comments on this post for each thing you do!)

– Following me on Twitter
– Liking my Author Page on Facebook
– Blogging about, retweeting, or posting on Facebook about this giveaway! (Sample tweet: Love YA dystopian lit? @gretchenpowell is giving away FIVE SIGNED COPIES of her book #Terra! Check it out: http://bit.ly/Vw2J1J)

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The FIVE random winners will be drawn on Wednesday, February 6th (also my mama’s birthday!) — good luck! And thank you so much for all your support throughout all of this, seriously. I love you guys.

Twinsies

You know that person? That one friend who is so eerily similar to you, it’s a little bit frightening? I like to think that most people have someone like that in their lives. And for me, that person is my good friend Aileen.

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Our friendship story has either been in the works for a very long time, or it’s still pretty new–I can’t really decide which. In the grand scheme of life, we haven’t actually known each other that long, but I think we all know that time isn’t everything. Aileen is the sister of Joanna, my freshman year college roommate. I’d heard about this mystery sister quite a bit that year, but we didn’t actually meet until many years later. Joanna and I reconnected after we graduated from college (go Dukes!) due to the amazingness that is social media, and it was at this point that I connected with Aileen as well.

And thank goodness for that.

See, Aileen and I are basically twins. Which hopefully Joanna won’t get mad at me for saying, since she and Aileen are ACTUAL twins. Like, born-60-seconds-apart, shared-the-same-womb twins. (…as opposed to the other kind? Hahahahaha.) But there is just so MUCH that Aileen and I share: a tendency to stray toward the melodramatic, lifelong battles with the neuroses that actually make us totally awesome and super good listmakers, and a deep, unyielding love of Harry Potter, cheese, and American Musical Theatre. Oh yeah, and there’s this:

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That’s right, in case you hadn’t already pieced it together from the numerous mentions I’ve made of her before, Aileen is my glorious, patient, wonderful book editor as well. In fact, check out this interview article where Aileen talks about what the painstaking editing process for Terra was like, or her own blog post on it!

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Aileen has been such a HUGELY integral part of Terra being as awesome and kickass as it is (in my, y’know, totally unbiased opinion, hahaha), and last night we finally got to celebrate the book’s launch together… and in the best possible way. With a homemade meal, mini bottles of champagne, and pumpkin-spice rice krispie ball pops (!!) that Aileen brought over.

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Being the good sport that she is, she happily (?) helped make my garlicky dreams come true by helping me whip up my delectable Chicken with Forty Cloves of Garlic recipe.

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We also had roasted Brussels sprouts (uh, duh) and I found this particularly huge B-sprouts stalk at the grocery store… which reminded me that while it really does look cool, but it’s such an extra pain in the patooty. Which I guess is why I’m lucky that Aileen was willing to shuck the stalk, hahahaha.

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Aaaanyway, the two of us got down to business in the kitchen, chopping and dicing and drinking champagne–as all truly great chefs do, I’m sure–whilst simultaneously taaaaalkingtalkingtalkingtalkingtalking because we’re really, really good at that.

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Also, we peeled so much garlic that my hands still smell like garlic as I type this. I keep vacillating between whether that’s a good or bad thing.

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PEEL ALL THE GARLIC.

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Ultimately, garlicky-fingers or not, we ended up with a feast fit for kings. Er, queens. Er, modern day self-proclaimed princesses. We also made the recipe for Celebrations Quinoa with Dried Cranberries and Spiced Pecans that was served at Anne’s wedding.

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I have been sitting on this recipe since Anne sent it to me and now I do not even understand why I waited. It. Was. Phenomenal. Seriously, make it, make it now. SO easy and SO delicious. I don’t even love quinoa that much, and I’m still saying it.

ANYWAY. Basically, it was kind of a perfect Tuesday evening. Which is actually awesome, because I make no attempts to hide my general hatred for Tuesdays. They are typically the very worst day of the week, after all. But not this one! There was delicious homemade food, booze, baked goods, and my amazing friend. Also, schnauzers in Christmas sweaters. Win-win-win…win.

(Also, I know I linked to it way at the top, but it bears mentioning again that Aileen’s blog, Army Pants and Flip Flops, is amazing. It’s seriously fracking funny, and you should read it. Her writing is legitimately laugh-out-loud hilarious and there are many, many, MANY references to cheese. And Harry Potter. And basically all things awesome. Okay, I’m done now.)

Happy Wednesday! My sister flies into town tonight and is going to be here through Christmas, and I’m SO EXCITED!! And scared, because I haven’t seen her in over a month and I really have no idea what to expect with regard to her super-preggo-baby-belly situation. If you feel like winning a bet tonight, I suggest you put money down on me crying.