Virtual Tea (or Coffee) Date

Well, hello! It’s so good to see you again. I’m having an iced lemongrass oolong, and it’s so refreshing. Can I get you anything?

If we were having a real tea date, I’d tell you that last week was hard. The days ran together, and confusion, pain, and sadness muddled together into a powerful poison that seeped through me. Then I remembered that no matter what I lose, I never lose myself. As my dad told me last night, I’m a piece of tempered steel, and the fire can only make me stronger. So you know what? I’m okay.

If we were having a real tea date, I’d tell you that I’ve decided to dye my hair red. This is a big deal for me, because I’ve been anti-hair dye since the orange and black cheetah hair disaster of 2009. Fortunately my college graduation cap covered up most of it. This time, I’ve decided to splurge and get it done professionally, because I’ve probably only had my hair cut at a salon five or six times in my life, so all the money I’ve saved evens out.

This is the color I picked out.

ChelI hope I like it when it’s all said and done. I was emailing various pictures to my friend Em, my mom, my sister Moriah, and my brother Tyler, and this was pretty much the only one that they all liked. My brother responded with “Yeah! Fire!”

If we were having a real tea date, I’d tell you that my sadness last week culminated in a little retail therapy this week. But I’m still as frugal as always, so it was only a $12 splurge on Boy, Oh Voyage pants at Modcloth’s summer clearance sale.


I sent a picture to my friend Em who said she loved them. I sent a picture to my sister Moriah who called me five minutes later and said, “Really?” She didn’t remember me ever wearing anything so loud, so clearly she doesn’t remember the disco ball shirt I wore in middle school.sequins

If we were having a real tea date, I’d tell you that I actually wish it would be hot for the next few weeks so my tomatoes would thrive. My parent’s garden looks like a page out of Martha Stewart Magazine with huge, lush plants and nary a weed in sight. All I’ve got left is a few Brussels sprouts, red cabbages, five out of the eight tomatoes we planted, and a pepper plant that hasn’t grown an inch since we got it. I’m thinking about going to the farmer’s market this weekend to get some cucumbers to pickle and pretending they came from my garden.


I told Dad I’d trade him a jar of dill pickles for a jar of the dilly beans he canned last week. Pickle ALL THE THINGS!

If we were having a real tea date, I’d tell you that I’ve been eating entirely too much bread and cheese the last week (if there is such a thing). There is currently no more cheese in the house, and I’m going to keep it that way until Friday. I sent my friend in Washington a bag of cheese curds, which made me want to eat cheese curds. I ate a whole bag in two days, minus a little help from Dave. Cheese problems….I have them.

*Edited to add: I just remember we have cream cheese at home. It’s not like I sought it out…

cheese curds

If we were having a real tea date, I’d tell you that summer is going too fast. I still have things I want to do before school starts for….other people. I want to have a low country boil, at least one more bonfire, a beach day. I want to make mint juleps with the mint from my garden. And…..GO!



Eats Lately

Eats lately have been a little strange, as I try to search for inspiration and new, relatively quick things to cook after my ten hour shifts at work (normally while still waiting for Dave to get home, as he tends to work 13 to 15 hour shifts).

Of course, there’s always pizza.


This was made with one of our frozen pizza doughs (so handy!) and topped with crushed tomatoes, dried herbs, mozzarella, fresh basil from the garden and chopped spinach.


I served mine with a side of buffalo-roasted cauliflower. A bit of a strange combination, but it worked.

001Another night, I made myself chili cheese fries, which I love because they sound terrible for you, but are actually pretty healthy. Roasted sweet potato fries topped with vegetarian chili, shredded sharp cheddar, and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt. 

Finally, a new version of one-pot pasta!

002Instead of spaghetti, I used whole wheat rigatoni and cooked it with with onions, diced tomatoes, Mexican black bean salad, spinach, and taco seasoning. Topped off with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt (of course).

003I planned on making chicken sandwiches with brie and jam one night until I came home and discovered the brie was gone. Instead, I made chicken in red wine sauce and served it with cheesy mushroom quinoa and roasted cauliflower and brussels sprouts. The chicken did not look very pretty (nobody really wants to eat red chicken….), but it was actually really good. I loved the wine sauce and scooped a little over my quinoa.


And the coup de gras…two ducks, one cooked with Dave’s famous rib recipe, one cooked with orange sauce with plenty of rice and veggies to soak up the goodness. I contributed brie en croute with lobster pate. 

What was your best meal from the week?



Perfect Saturday

I couldn’t have planned a better, more relaxing Saturday.

Goodness knows why I waited so long to get a bike lock–now that I have one, the world is my oyster.


008I can bring Old Blue anywhere!

I started my day on Saturday by biking to the library to finally get a card. (I think one of my worst habits is terrible follow-through. I talk about things or start things, and I either forget about it, lose interest, or just plain don’t do it for no reason whatsoever–I moved to Point in October and it’s taken me until now to get a library card!). 



I was so excited when I had my library card, I started walking down the aisles and breathing in the scent of books. Paradise. I hadn’t intended to check any out that day since I was on my bike, but I couldn’t help it: four books went into my bag. After that, I biked down the street a little ways more to the Farmer’s Market. One baguette from the French baker, a rye loaf from the Bavarian baker (we’re not sure he’s Bavarian, but that’s what I have decided to call him), and a bunch of onions from a vegetable vendor.

I went home to drop off my loot, then headed right back out by bike to the grocery store for a clove of garlic. I was craving ice cream really bad since it was so hot and muggy outside, so I grabbed a pint of vanilla frozen yogurt to make a smoothie when I got home.

I salvaged what I could from a mango I bought a week ago, then added a 1/2 cup of the frozen yogurt, some plain Greek yogurt, milk, and ice to the blender make a mid-day treat, which was pretty much my breakfast and lunch.


Then I read. For four hours. It was glorious, especially with a kitty snuggled up next to me.


I did take a little break to make some pizza crusts with Dave to keep in the freezer. He even let me use part whole wheat flour. We made two double batches and ended up with 10 14-oz pizza crusts.


Just as it started to rain, Dave asked, “Do you want to go get some ice cream?” Rain be damned! We hopped on our bikes and headed over to Belt’s, where we shared a S’mores flurry under the roof. I got a medium, not realizing how big it would be.


Nice face, Dave.

Dave and I were so full afterwards that we didn’t end up eating dinner until 9:00! (Well, I ate at 9. Dave ate at 10). 

Dave said he was in the mood for spaghetti and meatballs a few weeks ago, and I finally delivered. The meatball recipe was courtesy of Smitten Kitchen, but I cannot tell a lie: the cheesy garlic bread I made from the baguette was my favorite part. 


We ate our dinner while cuddling on the couch and watching part of Honey I Shrunk the Kids, until I fell asleep.

Thank you, Saturday, for being so good to me.

What is she wearing?!

A friend sent me an article the other day and asked for my opinion on it. It came at the perfect time, because I had been mulling over something similar I was thinking a few weeks ago. The article in question is called My Daughter Wears Booty Shorts, and I Learned to Love Them. I highly encourage you to read it, whether you have a daughter or not.

A few weeks ago, my friends and I were at our local coffee shop when we saw a little girl, about 7 years old wearing a skirt and a crop top. “First bikinis for toddlers and now a crop top on a 7 year old? What is this world coming to?!” I thought. But then I started to wonder, is there really a certain age when it becomes okay for females to show more skin? The reason I was worried was because the message this little girl’s clothes were giving off: more skin = more desirable to creeps in the world that may find it so.

But guess what? There are always going to be creeps in the world, no matter what you wear. Clothes are not an invitation, and those who choose to believe they are are missing something.

The over-sexualization and objectification of women is not something new. School dress codes skate by things boys can’t wear and focus on what women can’t wear: spaghetti straps, too short shorts, skirts that don’t touch the floor when you kneel, anything showing stomach. Most schools are worried that boys will get too distracted if they see a girl’s bra strap, legs, or stomach. 

Dave and I got into a discussion a few years ago about a girl we saw at a bar wearing shorts that covered only 3/4 of her butt. I thought they were trashy. Dave thought she should be able to wear what she wanted. The reason I thought so was not really because of her shorts, it was how she was carrying herself. I didn’t know her. She didn’t look like somebody I would be friends with. She looked like she was putting herself on display instead of comfortable in her own skin. If she was the girl in the article wearing booty shorts while at Crossfit throwing weights around, I guarantee I wouldn’t have thought them trashy.

I know my female friends are strong, confident, unique women with just as many hang-ups about their bodies as I have about mine. And if they chose to wear short shorts and show off the legs that carry them around doing all their strong, confident, unique stuff, I wouldn’t care one bit.

It’s hard to be 100% okay with your body, no matter what you look like. Curvy girls wish they were skinnier, skinny girls wish they had more curves. If a girl chooses to wear something that shows more skin, should we really condemn that fact that she feels confident and beautiful enough to wear something like that? (Deciding what body type someone should have before wearing a crop top is another discussion).

If I had a little girl who picked out a two-piece swimsuit at the store to wear, should I really tell her that it’s not okay to wear it because I would worry about creeps looking at her? I guarantee the last thing she would be thinking about is putting herself on display for the world. She would think she liked the colors and felt pretty in it. And isn’t that what it’s all about? If she wanted to wear a cape because she liked it and felt good in it, I should let her wear that, too!

Instead of focusing on bringing up girls who don’t dress “trashy,” maybe we should focus on bringing up strong, confident women who are kind, have big ideas, and are proud of their bodies. Instead of telling girls they can’t wear spaghetti strap tank tops at school because it might distract the boys, maybe we should bring up strong, confident boys who respect women for their kindness and big ideas and let them know that clothes are not an invitation.



Eats Lately

Hey guys! How was your week? For me, each day seemed longer than the last. Ten hours in front of a computer is clearly not great for my eyes–I got cited last week for replacing an ‘O’ with a ‘0’ off an insurance card. I swear, the text on insurance cards keeps getting smaller and smaller–and I have perfect vision! I also had my six month review this week (2 months late) and passed with high marks.

Monday night, I came home prepared to cook, but Dave was really in the mood for pizza.


I bought this $5 pizza at Aldi to keep in the freezer, and I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was for the price. Good crust, tasty sauce, lots of cheese. Good job, Aldi! 


I doctored it up before it went in the oven, because I felt like doing a little cooking: half sausage and sauteed mushrooms, half roasted vegetable. 


Tuesday night, I used the last of our bread from the Farmer’s Market to make tuna melts with provolone, pepperjack, pickles, tomatoes, and mustard. Sweet potato fries with ketchup on the side. We haven’t had ketchup in the house for awhile, and I’m glad it’s back! Not that I minded dousing stuff with sriracha instead.

Wednesday, Dave had off, so I was half expecting him to have dinner ready when I got home. He did–pizza. Ha! 


Thursday was taco salad night. I marinated chicken and shrimp in lemon and lime juice for awhile before cooking them on the stove top. Lettuce from the garden, roasted onions and kale from the market, tomatoes, shredded cheddar, and avocado rounded out the meal.

Last night I was craving veggies, so I made vegetable curry with basmati rice.


I’ve been keeping bags of frozen California blend in the freezer for curry, and I like to add a jar of diced tomatoes and chickpeas for a little protein. Greek yogurt mixed in at the end and dolloped on top.

After my first bite, I thought: “This is really good!” Second thought: “Dave is not going to eat this.” He had one spoonful to taste test, but it was too spicy for him. Every. Time.

Guess what he had for dinner instead? Pizza!

Here’s hoping next week will have a little more variety. And that I will be able to someday make a curry that Dave can stomach. 

Would You Rather….

Happy Friday!

I distinctly remember playing the Would You Rather board game with my cousins Jake and Amanda. I don’t remember how you play or win the game, just that you have to choose between two things and, more often than not, it’s a lose-lose situation. Questions include “Would you rather have hiccups for the rest of your life or be permanently caught in a sneeze?” “Would you rather stick pins in your eyeballs or slide down a cheese grater naked?” This is a much less painful game.

Would you rather….

Speak another language or get a higher degree?

Speak another language, especially since I’m not sure what I’m doing with the degree I have. I’ve decided to take a sign language course this year. It’s never too late to teach an old dog new tricks.

Have a beautiful singing voice or be a fantastic dancer?

A fantastic dancer. They have ways to fake people’s voices into being beautiful, but there’s no way to make someone look like a better dancer than they are. Every time I watch a musical, I twirl around the house, and it would be fun to follow my dream of being on stage in a famous play at least once in my life.

Be a CEO of a huge company or run your own small business?

Small business. There’s so much more character in a small business, as well as a bigger reason to be proud of what you do. Less stress, more fun.

Fly like a bird or teleport?

Teleport, no contest. I think if everyone stopped what they were doing for one day and worked together, we could make teleportation possible. Let’s get on it.

Eat only sweet food or only salty food for the rest of your life?

Salty food. I like sweets in small doses, but my cravings are almost always salty. Especially now that I no longer have access to Target’s gelato. 😦

Do yoga or lift weights?

Hmmm, I’m not really super good at either, but I guess yoga. It requires just as much strength and calms the mind a little more.

Be a SUPER fast runner or be SUPER strong?

Be a super fast runner, because it would feel like flying! Plus, if I was super strong, Dave would be too jealous. He likes being stronger than me, and I don’t mind.

Have 8 kids or no kids?

Ye gads. Eight is too many–I wish I would have enough patience for that, but I highly doubt it. I would go with no kids and get a couple extra pets, then volunteer to baby sit my nieces and nephews. 

Have a small, older home with character or design a big brand new home?

It’s all about character! The bigger your house is, the more you have to clean. As long as I have a nice kitchen and yard, I would be a-o-k with a smaller house.

Cook a romantic dinner at home or go to the nicest restaurant in town?

I cook four or five nights a week, so I would definitely prefer going out. I love cooking, but it’s much more romantic when you don’t have to do dishes afterwards. Plus, it gives me a reason to dress up, and I love seeing Dave in his nice button-down shirts. 

Drink only beer or wine?

Oooh, that’s a tough one. I guess I’d go with wine. I love good beer in the summer, but summer doesn’t last very long in Wisconsin. If I move to Florida, ask me again.

Eat cookies or eat cake?

Cake, because it’s easier to stop after one slice. I could eat a million cookies at once, which is why I don’t make them very often.

Have only brothers or have only sisters?

Brothers. I had to think hard about this one, because I love my brother and sisters equally, but this is my rationale: if I had only brothers, I am more likely to become really good friends with my sisters-in-law than I would brothers-in-law. Hanging out with a sister’s husband alone on a regular basis could be a little weird, whereas a sister-in-law would be awesome.

Go to Africa or Asia?

Africa, because I could go on a safari! I’m not a fan of zoos, so it’s the only way I could see certain animals. I’d go to Asia in a heartbeat, too, though.

Eat sweet potato fries or regular fries?

If they’re baked: sweet potato. If they’re fried: regular. Ordering sweet potato fries from a restaurant, I have a 50/50 chance of them being good, whereas regular is more like 90/10.

Own an SUV or a sports car?

I guess a sports car would be better for the environment. I’ll take a silver Aston Martin, please.

Sleep for 9 hours every night but no coffee, or sleep for 6 hours a night and have coffee?

Nine hours. Sleeping is when your body recharges, and my brain needs all the help I can get. I am already getting pretty forgetful. (Plus I can still have tea–win!)

Read a book or watch a movie?

Read a book, because I can do it alone. I love watching movies, but they’re usually more fun to see with people or I get distracted.

Live on the east coast or west coast?

West. Washington or Oregon would be nice.

Have your toenails painted or your fingernails painted?

Toenails. I bite my fingernails, so there is no need to paint them.

Go to the beach or the mountains?

I don’t access to much of either, but I would pick the beach. Warm, sunny, relaxing…

Birthday Weekend

What a whirlwind of a weekend. It’s a good thing I take pictures or else I probably wouldn’t remember it all!

I kicked off my long weekend Wednesday night by walking down to Sugar Bar to celebrate my birthday with a martini. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the bar, but when I heard that you get $1 martinis on your birthday in a glow-in-the-dark martini glass, I simply had to try it.



018Emily, Dan, and Dave met me there. We made friends-for-a-night with a guy named Dennis who insisted on buying us all a round of birthday shots. Don’t mind if I do!

017He asked if I was turning 21. Ha. Guess I still look good for my age, right? Dinner on birthday night was pizza & sushi, courtesy of my dad.

011The gourmet vegetarian at Papa Murphy’s is my favorite. The grocery store sushi was a nice treat since we have it so rarely now, but it is getting way too flippin’ expensive! I really need to start making my own.

Thursday, Dave had the day off and treated himself to a massage. I treated myself to some window shopping at Girls & Pearls while trying to decide how to spend the gift certificate my mom gave me. We met  back up at Shopko so Dave could look for a new pair of glasses, and it was such a beautiful day that I suggested we sit outside and enjoy a cold adult beverage at Guu’s. 



Later, Dave and I tag-teamed our mutual honey-do list. I went grocery shopping while he stayed home and cleaned the house. Dave went to bed early as he had to work on Independence Day, but I got to have a little fun: I biked with my friends Em and Dan to Pfiffner Park to enjoy the first day of Riverfront Rendezvous.



005We hung out with friends, listened to Horseshoes and Hand Grenades (a local bluegrass band), drank beer, played cards, and shared cheese curds and fries. A lovely little Thursday night. The hipster in the tree thought so, too.


Friday, I did a little more tidying around the house in anticipation of my brother and my friend Amanda’s arrival. It’s a good thing I did, because later that day, my sister Emily, her boyfriend Christopher, and my darling niece Aurelia surprised me with a visit!



010 What a wonderful gift. They came toting bag of groceries and Emily immediately started working on dinner for us. Amanda and Tyler came later and the weekend got even more fun!


We had a lovely afternoon playing yard dice, grilling out, and enjoying a big bonfire.








I think I’m mastering Aurelia’s signature smile.

For some reason, I couldn’t convince Emily and Christopher to skip work the next day, so we had to say goodbye.





My brother gave me a beautiful pipe for my birthday!

Normally I’m up pretty early on the weekends, but this weekend, especially with guests, it was nice to sleep in a little. After coffee and showers, we met up with Em & Dan and walked to the Farmer’s Market. Gosh, I am so happy it’s summer! Have I mentioned that?



Ty’s new hairstyle.

After stocking up on veggies and local meat, we met up with our friend Katie and her kiddos for brunch at Emy J’s. Iced matcha, a portabella pesto burger and salad for me.






After lounging, snacks, and a viewing of What About Bob? we got all fancied up for dinner at Christian’s Bistro. We’d been to the sister restaurant Father Fats twice before before and loved it, so I was anxious to try Christian’s. 


Unfortunately, neither Dave nor I was impressed. Though the service was top-notch, I wasn’t a fan of the food at all. It was okay, just not $30 dollars a plate oh-my-gosh-I need-this. Plus, I was a little unhappy that the upcharge from rail gin to Tanqueray was $2.50 per drink.


Fortunately, the company was wonderful! Our friends Luke & Kirsten joined the group of us, which was splendid. Kirsten pointed out that Dave and I may be food snobs, and while I did mull this over for awhile, I don’t think a girl who eats (and loves) Cheez-its and gummy worms can be accused of being a food snob. I just like good food, and I don’t like being overcharged.

For this restaurant, I really don’t want to go into the details of why I didn’t like the food, especially since it is one of my friends’ favorite restaurants. Instead, I’ll just tell you what we ate and remind you that I love the chef’s other restaurant Father Fat’s.

The chef sent out an amuse bouche of sliced pork tenderloin in a cream sauce (just one example of the excellent service we received).


For an appetizer, we ordered two cheese boards which featured six different varieties of cheese served with grilled bread, pistachios, and jam. (Now that I think about it, this was my favorite part of the meal. It’s hard to screw up good cheese!)


We also had pork steam buns.


And I had a bowl of tomato bisque with pureed kalamata olives.

This was actually pretty tasty.

This was actually pretty tasty.

For my dinner, I ordered the Cobia which was served with farro risotto and garlic scapes in a thyme butter sauce.


I had a little more than half boxed up, and then the server brought us out complimentary desserts, which she described as bananas foster, but tasted more like French toast with a banana sauce.


Even though the menu stated that they were unable to split checks for parties of six or more, the waitress asked us if she could, which was incredibly generous of her. 

Needless to say, I think Dave and I will be keeping Father Fat’s as our fancy restaurant. But it was so nice to have dinner with some of the best people I know.


After we went home and changed into comfy clothes, we settled in to watch Robin Hood: Men in Tights, which was the perfect movie to end the day. Dave bought Rumchata and root beer for my birthday dessert, which, as you can expect, was fantastic.

The next morning we slept in again, then met at Em & Dan’s later in the day for breakfast: gingerbread dutch babies, courtesy of the Smitten Kitten cookbook. Yum! They smelled and tasted like Christmas.


We hung out for a few hours before saying goodbye to Ty and Amanda and the weekend.

27 Things

Today, I turn 27. It’s strange and horrible and wonderful, isn’t it? To keep getting older and older and older along with the earth and everyone around you? Sometimes life is all too much and sometimes a host of quiet, beautiful moments and days fall into your lap “like pearls slipping off a string,” and you are grateful to be alive, no matter the cost.

As I told one of my co-worker’s husbands one night when I had one too many martinis: “Think of how old the universe is. Our human lives are just a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things, whether you’re twenty or one hundred!” (I was very popular that night).

In honor of my 27th birthday, I’d like to share 27 things I have learned in the short amount of time I have spent on this earth.

1. Listen to people. I mean REALLY listen to them. Stop thinking about what you’re going to say next and listen to what they are saying right now.

2. Live by the 80/20 rule. 80% good-for-you food and 20% I-probably-shouldn’t-be-eating-or-drinking-this keeps your body healthy and happy. The little bit of rebellion does a body good.

3. Don’t get too jealous of others. You are always the hero of your own story.

4. Don’t fake liking something for someone else’s sake. It’s simply too exhausting to be anyone more than yourself.

5. Don’t boil vegetables. They just don’t taste good that way.

6. Always keep an extra sweatshirt in your car, but not your best one. This way if it gets lent to a friend and never returned, you won’t feel so bad.

7. Get an external hard drive and back up your files. That way, when your computer dies, you will still have some of your sanity.

8. Don’t date someone who’s wrong for you just so you can say you did. Be with someone who is worth your time.

9. Listen to your parents. They’re pretty much always right.

10. Don’t fight over the restaurant bill. If someone offers to pay, thank them, and then remember to pay for the next drink or meal. If you’re friends long enough, things will all even out.

11. Make a fuss when your significant other gets home. The simplest things can do wonders for a relationship.

12. Give people small, unexpected presents. They often mean just as much (if not more) as presents on holidays. My favorite random gifts from Dave include Burt’s Bees chapstick, cheese curds, and red wine. In the past I’ve given Dave a Star Trek beach towel, a “Real Men Like Cats” coffee mug, and a glow-in-the-dark Ghostbusters t-shirt just because. This is true love, friends.

13. If you don’t want to go to your high school reunion, don’t. You will still keep in contact with the people you wanted to, so unless you want to show off the fact that you designed a new kind of rubber used in shoes, stay home with friends and watch Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.

14. Some things don’t need to be documented with a photograph. Some do. Keep a camera with you just in case (unless you have a friend like me who is always itching to take pictures).

15. Spend money on experiences instead of things. The memories from a trip can last a lifetime; a new TV that’s two inches bigger than your old one probably won’t.

16. Don’t exclusively shop in the junior’s section when you are over 25. Some things just fit better from the women’s section, especially if you want shorts that actually cover your bum. (Men don’t seem to have this problem as they go straight from Boyz II Men in the clothes department).

17. Friends are as important as family, and family is as important as friends. Treat them as such.

18. Bad customer service sometimes happens because you are a bad customer. Be kind to those who serve you and mistakes will be fixed much more quickly.

19. Love is hard. A good relationship requires a lot of communication, more “I’m sorry’s” than you’d like to own up to, and a willingness to deal with change. It’s worth it.

20. There are few things in life that a martini can’t fix.

21. Wisdom from Red in Orange is the New Black. “Don’t ever let go, not until they make you.” This applies to so many things, including but not limited to: life, love, and the pursuit of happiness.

22. Do what you say you’re going to do. If you’re not going to do it, say “no” up front. It’s better for everyone involved.

23. Not everyone you meet is going to like you. It’s okay.

24. Plant something.  It shows you have hope for the future.

25. It’s okay to feel stupid. It’s a sign of growth. People who are truly stupid often think they’re brilliant.

26. Celebrate every birthday. Some people get too few, so every birthday is your very own gift to yourself.

27. Life is hard. Sometimes, you just have to jump in the pool.

And one to grow on:

28. Happiness is a choice. Everything else is a matter of perspective.