New year and revisiting old things

I’ve been absent from this space and now, post wedding planning, post wedding and post holidays, I feel like I am finally settling back into a routine.

I didn’t want to believe the many well-intentioned friends who shared with me that post-wedding blues are a phenomenon – the big event is over, now what? And yet – here I am, noting that I have been feeling a little bit of that exact sentiment since the wedding. One of the biggest days of your life and it’s gone in a flash.

It was a wonderful day – a day to see friends I hadn’t seen in a long time, old family friends who have since moved away and family that I don’t get to visit with very often.  And there is something about standing up in front of all of those you love and affirming that this – this person is your chosen – for the rest of your life.


Photo by the fabulous Emily Griffith of Emily Griffith Photography

Thank you to all those of you who were able to be there with us. It was a marvelous day.

But on to the new year and revisiting this space!

As part of a reset after the holidays and the wedding, we are doing Whole30 for the third time. It’s always amazing now, having done an intense Whole30 now three times, how great the feeling is to cook fresh, whole meals that are helping to reinstill those healthy habits.

If you’ve not ever done Whole30, the best resource, is obviously  Lots of great information on why this is a method that works and why you should consider trying a lifestyle change like this! I personally am always amazed at how good I feel – much like when I went gluten-free. I didn’t realize how BAD I felt until I cut it out of my diet.

So – with that in mind, if you’re interested in trying out a switch to Whole30, here are a few of my tips/tricks for success and survival! And up front, you have to be willing to put in the time and do the work. It is a lot of work, but it’s worth it, I promise.

  1. Read the book. I’m serious. It will help you understand why things are set up the way they are and what you’re trying to accomplish.
  2. Plan out your meals. I created this tool that works well for me. It gives me space to plan the meals plus a notes and prep area. Feel free to borrow it! Copy it and make it your own.
  3. In the vein of planning (because planning is crucial to not just randomly ordering pizza on a snowy night) – try and do all your prep and shopping for the week on Saturday or Sunday. I like to organize my grocery list by the way my store is laid out. #turningintomom
  4. READ the recipes from beginning to end before you start! And make note of anything that tripped you up the first time you made it or special notes you want to remember (i.e. this only makes enough for one meal, etc.).
  5. Mise en place! Mise en place (MEEZ ahn plahs) is a French term for having all your ingredients measured, cut, peeled, sliced, grated, etc. before you start cooking. Pans are prepared. Mixing bowls, tools and equipment set out. It is a technique chefs use to assemble meals so quickly and effortlessly. DO IT. You won’t be sorry.
  6. Have fun! You will learn how to be a better cook and how to eat better on a more consistent basis. The food is GOOD. Don’t think of it as depriving yourself, but simply as eating delicious things every day.

A few books I’ve found particularly useful are:

The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom
The Whole30 Cookbook: 150 Delicious and Totally Compliant Recipes to Help You Succeed with the Whole30 and Beyond 
Whole30 Fast & Easy
Well Fed Weeknights: Complete Paleo Meals in 45 Minutes or Less

Stay tuned for more dinner plans and tips as we work our way through these 30 days!

What are your tips and tricks for Whole30?

Small change, big impact, faith, and more

“Faith is the audacity to believe in the not yet seen.”

I’ve been listening to Jen Sincero’s book, You are a Badass, which was recommended to me on Audible because I listened to Amy Poehler’s book. She’s funny, she’s irreverent, and I would definitely recommend listening – she’s got some great quotes, and one-liners of advice on living your best life – the one that you should demand. Because why not?

The quote about faith stuck with me and I repeated it to myself a few times to remember – because the audacity to believe in the not yet seen is one of the best ways of describing faith that I’ve heard – in simple, every day terms.

Sometimes, we all need to be reminded of the journey we’re on and what we want out of life and it never hurts to be reminded – so check it out.

This concept of running my own business – joining Beautycounter – was scary. I’ll admit it. It was stepping out of my comfort zone and even though I knew I believed in the mission of the company and absolutely loved the products – there were so many things I didn’t know.

And I still don’t know. But that’s okay. I keep working on …[business budgets and tax itemization, building my contacts, my marketing plan, my ideas, my next steps]… the best way that I can share the mission of this company.

This is not just about products, it’s not just about make-up – it’s about the fact that more than 80% percent of people have no idea that the products they use on their bodies and their family’s bodies every day are potentially harmful to their health.

It’s about small changes that can make a big impact.

What small change will you effect to make a ripple that will spread? 

I want to know – I want to hear about the ways that you are going to help us change the world. We need to hold ourselves accountable for the change that we can create when we all commit to doing – not just saying.

The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

Saturday Favorites

Happy almost end of April! I thought I’d share a few favorites and discoveries from this past week.

Sylvan Esso – this is a collaboration between a singer-songwriter from the Appalachian indie folk trio Mountain Man and an electronic producer/bassist – which results in a happy electro/pop/folk sound.

Holst’s The Planets – heard a snippet of this and was reminded about how much I love these pieces.

Because we were down and out with the crud and busy this week, I didn’t cook (okay – maybe one night).  As a result, I’ve been studying recipes and also ate out a fair bit for lunches this week. Some of my new favorites and ideas!

Bep Eatery – Because I hardly ever venture out into the skyway, a coworker of mine had to introduce me to this place – and it was delicious. And most of their food is gluten free, because: rice noodles. I got some pho and not only was it affordable for a lunch, a large quantity, but I got to choose everything I wanted from the protein to the sauce. Comfort in a bowl.

This Ricotta Dumpling with Asparagus and Green Garlic looks amazing (putzy, but amazing) and perfect for spring. On my list!

One of my friends and I have decided to revamp happy hour to fit how we feel on Fridays. Because really – let’s face it – most of the time on Fridays, you don’t really want to go out (translate – we’re not as young as we used to be). So our new plan is to go and get snacks from a restaurant or have them on hand and then bring them, the wine and yoga pants to the happy hour. Best ever. Last night she had fries and this Sriracha Mayo – delicious.


I’d forgotten how much I like to take a bath every now and again, until my chiropractor told me to take a epsom salt bath last time I was in to help relax my muscles. I love this Lavender and Honey scent from Calgon. Great before bed with that lavender!

Young Living Essential Oils certainly have their following and my sister has now introduced us to the joys of a diffuser with essential oils. Our diffuser came yesterday (it may or may not be the same one that both she and my mom have) and I could not be more excited to try it!

Sea Salt Spray is something I’ve used for a few years, but haven’t found one that I really liked until recently. Growing my hair out for a special occasion is not new to me, but this time, because it will be my wedding, is a different story. My hair is pretty fine and thin, so as it gets longer, I have to putter around with it more to make it look decent. Sometimes, I don’t want to and end up air-drying/retraining it to be wavy/curly. I love how light the Beautycounter spray is, plus it adds body and some level of hold and is free of so many ingredients I don’t want to be using!

And completely unrelated, I purchased some Yankz laces on the recommendation of my triathlete friend and just finally got them on my retro Sauconys – easy for putting on and cute!


What are some of your new favorites or discoveries?

Cheers to Saturday!

Power veggies and chicken – weeknight dinner inspiration

Today was an April day. Warmish, but with rain that hit towards the end of the day, making all of the green things even more green.

This is a busy time of year for us at work and with the crud that’s going around I ended up staying home from work for two days last week. Not an ideal time to be out, but at least I wasn’t sharing my germs!

I spent two days sleeping and drinking my go-to cold remedy: hot water, honey, lemon juice and a dash of cinnamon (or ginger or turmeric, depending on my mood!). I finally feel like I’m on the mend and actually made it to yoga tonight (but man was I glad when it was over so I could grab a Kleenex!).

All this to say that once I was done with yoga and finally home, (with a few work projects yet to do) – I had no desire to make the chicken soup I’ve been planning and no desire to go to the grocery store.

Order in? Grocery store? Make something?

Days like this – I wish that I had a pantry that I stocked for occasions like this, but given our current kitchen situation, there isn’t a lot of room for a pantry situation.

Days like this you want to thank the self of how ever many grocery trips ago got extra chicken breasts (and froze them for future use!). When we were doing the Whole30, I learned a good method of cooking a chicken breast that is now my favorite.

It’s simple and makes good use of my cast iron pan. Perfect for two people!

Salt and pepper your chicken breasts
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
Put two tablespoons of olive oil in the pan, get it nice and hot! You want to see that shimmer on the oil. Swirl it around and put your chicken in the pan with the rounded side down. Sear for 3-4 minutes and then flip – here’s the key thing – DO NOT attempt to turn if the chicken is still sticking to the pan. If it’s been properly seared – you should be able to turn it with no resistance.

Turn off the burner and put the pan in the oven – cooking for 10-15 minutes – until the internal temp of the chicken is 160 degrees. A good meat thermometer is a great tool to have and can be used for many things!

I normally don’t buy prepackaged, precut veggies, but this Power Blend called out my name last time I shopped. (Dear vegetable/fridge gods – thank you for keeping this fresh!) I heated some olive oil, added some minced garlic and sautéed these until they had a nice browning on them.

Add some of Udi’s Gluten Free dinner rolls that were in the freezer and VOILA! Dinner is served.

Now to enjoy the smell of the rain, the cool air coming in with a cup of hot tea and a cat. Perfect spring evening.

Sundays in the city

Happy Easter everyone! Spring has really sprung this weekend after several thunderstorms and some gorgeous sun today. Greenery poking out, flowers starting to bloom and lots of birds flitting about.

We’ve had a nice weekend, checked a few things off the wedding list, had a nice long walk, and spent some quality time with family. My nephew joyfully searched for his Easter eggs this morning – and we had a really great (as always) Easter brunch.

This morning’s brunch included:

Obligatory Easter ham, grilled by my dad
One of our favorite ways to make scrambled eggs – with asparagus and parmesan cheese – this isn’t the recipe we use, but pretty darn close!
Pastries from one of the best bakeries in the area – Swedish Crown Bakery – which always has lovely gluten free pastries. We ended up eating ours this evening while watching reruns of The Great British Baking show.

Not a bad way to end the weekend.

A busy week ahead, but I’m ready to embrace spring – though I still need to swap out my closet so that all of my lovely spring/warm weather clothes see the light of day again! Ready for open- toed shoes, dresses without tights and lighter lipstick (busting out my Rose Lip Sheer!).

What’s your signal that spring is here? Mine is daffodils, crocuses and the lovely warm sun.

April snow is the best kind

April snow is the best kind. It’s light, it’s unmarred and doesn’t usually stay around that long.

Last night as I was getting ready for bed and shutting the blinds, I noticed the snow outside. It had already covered the grass and the tops of buildings and was sticking to the trees and power lines. It was coming down as if someone was sifting powdered sugar over the whole earth. I must have watched it for at least 10 minutes, the silence broken only by the sound of cars driving by and the wet snow from the road was shushed to the side.

This kind of weather is perfect for a winter/spring meal combination. One of my favorites is Jamie Oliver’s Chicken in Milk. I discovered this recipe last year and it has quickly become staple for two reasons.

First – it is easy. Beyond browning the chicken whole (which you need to make sure you have plenty of strong utensils and possibly a friend near by), there is minimal prep. Second – it is delicious. It results in a tender, falling off the bone meat with a delicious sauce.


Pre roasting.

I’ve seen this recipe on a few websites and recommend the following substitutes/suggestions. Please – use butter. Use all the butter. And – here’s a big one – do NOT toss it out. Keep it in the pan. I promise, it will be amazing.


Nearly gone!

Even though this recipe says to keep the top off the entire time – I stumbled on this blog from the Kitchn and did the same thing as she suggests. Cook with the top on for the first hour and then take it off for the last 30 minutes.

Serve with a light green salad – spring greens and snap peas and a hearty loaf of crusty bread. Maybe a red wine, too. Delicious, easy, and seems a little fancy – so do not hesitate to serve to your guests. Don’t be surprised when you find yourself standing over the pan after everyone else is gone or in bed, sopping up the juice with a piece of bread.

And then the next morning, you wake up and the house still smells like lovely roasted chicken and a hint of cinnamon, but the snow is nearly gone. Evidence sticks to the grass, but the birds are chirping and it is still spring.

“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want—oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!”  ― Mark Twain

Meal planning, the Whole 30 and more…

Anyone else here identify with a little thing I call “winter eating?”

The hearty stews, soups, wine to warm you to your toes, the eating out with friends and walking out into the bracing winter air – cooling your rosy cheeks, red from wine and laughing and cozy restaurants. All part of what I love about winter.

And now we’re in April.

It’s starting to get warm, and I won’t lie – I’m also gearing up for dress fitting and all that comes with it. So Z and I are going Whole30 (or at least most of the time – Whole30ish?) – getting a handle on what we’re eating again.

The first time we did Whole30 – meal planning is what saved my life. I do most of the cooking, and Whole30 is a cycle of cooking, prep and more cooking (or at least for me!).  Getting to the grocery store early on Sunday, before all the crowds is key.

Sunday I made this recipe of Whole30 Carnitas – which is absolutely amazing. I got a 3 pound pork butt and was going to 1.5 the recipe, but ended up forgetting until I went to add the spices to the onion/garlic mixture. It still turned out amazing. I used the slow cooker for 8-10 hours instead of on the stove.

We’ve been eating it on lettuce with salsa and an avocado for lunches – tomorrow, fried eggs for breakfast with pork!

Other meals on the docket this week: chicken cacciatore, curried beef with green beans and a sausage tomato chard soup!

If you’ve done the Whole30 – comment with your favorite recipe – I’d love to see some more options!

Sundays in the city

Another week, another Sunday!

After being gone last weekend, and a busy week – it’s been a weekend of getting things in order. You know that feeling when you’ve been absent from your home and while you don’t notice it, things keep piling up? Clothes, dust, dishes, (and your fridge is empty because you haven’t been home enough to cook). Everything needs a reset.

That was much of the weekend. We’re doing a mini-Whole30 this week and I spent much of the morning at the store and prepping food for the week. My feet are tired!

As The Knot keeps reminding me – we only have XXX days until our wedding! This didn’t really stress me out until this past week when it suddenly seemed like we were behind. I know it will all get done and it will be fun and no one will notice if all the details we planned aren’t finished, but there are definitely some things that have to be done sooner rather than later.

We managed to tick off a few of those things this weekend – like getting Z’s suit, scheduling a cake tasting, eyeing up some invitations, looking at flower shops to make appointments and registering (which was really fun). I know that there is more to come, but so far – we’re just having a lot of fun.

If you’ve been married – what was your favorite registry gift? And was it something you’d registered for or something you just got?

Before I sign off for the night, a few things to check out in the Mpls/St. Paul area that are rapidly becoming favorites:

Heirloom in St. Paul – cozy, delicious food, fantastic wine list and great bartenders.
Minnesota Orchestra’s Symphony in 60 (we saw the Rite of Spring last week and I forgot how intense it is.) I have been so impressed with the way the orchestra has made a concerted effort to get people into the hall – especially now, we need to be patronizing the arts. It’s important and good for the soul.
Mucci in St. Paul – prosecco on tap, need I say more?
Baseball starts tomorrow!

Cheers to a great week – happy April!


Sundays in the city

Home from a much needed weekend getaway with a few of my best friends. Returning back to your own bed and the familiarity of home after being away – even for a short time is always strangely lovely and sad at the same time.

The unpacking, the memories, the sudden panic when you realize that you’ve got a busy week ahead and it’s late on Sunday night. The laundry, the grocery shopping, all of it.

Oh well. Tomorrow is another day.

We had a great weekend in Davenport, IA – eating, drinking, laughing uncontrollably, getting pedicures and doing facial masks, watching lots of Chopped. Perfect girls weekend.

A few pictures with the promise to write more about a few of our favorite places this week!

Weekend getaways and packing dilemmas

I’m heading out of town for the weekend tomorrow and as per usual, I found myself completely paralyzed when packing. Do I have enough outfits? What about shoe options? Can’t pack my makeup and other skin care routine items until tomorrow morning, so a hastily scribbled note on the counter is my reminder and I’m certain to change my mind at least 2 times on what I wear in the car on the way there and back before I ultimately throw my suitcase in the car tomorrow and head out.

Leaving directly from work presents an extra special challenge as I have to dress for meetings tomorrow, but certainly don’t want to wear a suit in the car for 5 hours.

Packing. Is. Stressful.

I’ve been known to break down in the middle of it (usually some food and/or wine is needed) before I emerge on the other side.

So I resort to googling things like “what to pack for a weekend away…” and end up in a rabbit hole that is the Travel and Leisure website. Sometimes it’s helpful and sometimes it’s not.

I don’t have a shirt like that! I need to get some shoes that are cute, but functional, but then I need to break them in… 

(Don’t tell me you haven’t had these moments. And if you haven’t – please share your secrets and thank you.)

There are a few occasions that I remember packing perfectly. The right combo of outfits and shoes and it all fit in my suitcase and wasn’t too much.

But that’s rare, am I right?

I am certain that tomorrow we’ll arrive and all will be fine, but stay tuned on how many times I repack – add/subtract before I leave.

My go to items usually include: some sort of sweater/hoodie/wrap for the car/plane to and from, at least one cute/dressy but casual shirt that can be repurposed if need be, jeans, one pair of flats (black) and one pair of cute but comfortable shoes. For beauty products – something like this handy jet-set so I don’t stress out about the TSA bottles plus mascara, concealer and lip gloss. Snacks are in their own category – Larabars and beef jerky are a good car/plane snack – water is a must. Books/magazines, phone charger and music (right now I’m obsessed with Spotify’s daily mix feature –  how does it know?!).

What are your go to items for a weekend away?