happy thanksgiving with love.

hi friends! are you all ready for today? are your stretchy pants out, is your turkey defrosted, and is your thankfulness list written? i have a lot to be thankful for this year. a wonderful family, a thriving marriage, a healthy child, and general happiness. i’d say that’s a pretty good list.

i’ll be spending thanksgiving in minnesota with my husband, my daughter, and my in-laws. i’m really crossing my fingers for some festive snow and also some stovetop stuffing. (what is it about that stuffing that makes my heart sing? it’s just SO GOOD.) i might throw together a little brussels sprouts dish for the group, and if i get really crazy, i just might make the apple cider sangria that i did a periscope tutorial for last week. and of course there will be some serious football watching.

i want to wish all of you a very happy thanksgiving. may you have so much to be thankful for that it takes you the whole night to remember it all. i, for one, am thankful for each and every one of you who continues to come here to read this blog. sharing my life and my words with you is one of my favorite things, and it means so much to me that you all stick around.


happy thanksgiving friends! 

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apple cider sangria recipe.

we are now smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, and you know what that means. lots of parties, lots of hosting, lots of friends and family, and lots of need for fun drink recipes. this apple cider sangria recipe is a great addition to any party, because you can make a lot at once, and it’s incredibly easy to throw together ahead of time. in fact, i suggest you make it ahead of time.

[in related news, i did my first periscope the other day! it was simultaneously amazing/fun/terrifying/weird/wonderful. thank you to everyone who was able to join in or watch the replay. this is the recipe that i showed how to make, and there were some requests to put it on the blog for easy access. i aim to please, so here it is!]

apple cider sangria is a great variation on traditional sangria. it’s a fun twist on the classic drink, with just enough seasonal flavor to make it fun, but not enough to make it a pain to make. sangria should be made at least an hour ahead of time, the more time the flavors have to mix and marinate, the better. i’m including a full list of ingredients for you, but i do note the optional ingredients, as sangria should really be made according to your personal tastes. don’t like sugar? don’t add any. like a lot of fruity flavor? add more cider. half the fun is tweaking the recipe to suit your audience. (which hopefully is a large group of friends and family, but if it’s just you, that’s cool too. i won’t tell.)




apple cider sangria (makes one pitcher, can be easily adjusted to make more)

  • half an apple, chopped
  • half an orange, sliced
  • 1/2 C. pomegranate seeds
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (you can also use 1/2 tsp. cinnamon spice if you don’t have any cinnamon sticks.)
  • 1 bottle of cheap red wine
  • 2-3 C. apple cider
  • 1/4 C. brandy (optional. you can also use apple liqueur, apple brandy, bourbon, whiskey or nothing. this just adds more layers to the flavor in the sangria.)
  • 1/4 C. sugar (optional. you can also use a sweet pomegranate juice or something similar to add more sweetness.)

add the fruit and cinnamon sticks to a large pitcher. pour the wine, cider and brandy into the pitcher. if you’re adding sugar, stir in at the end. taste the mix (but not too much!) and adjust flavors accordingly. let sit in the fridge until serving.  you can make this in advance, as early as the night before, but the morning before serving is ideal. salud!


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how to find your personal style (part two).

if you missed my first post on this topic, i highly recommend taking a moment to go back and read it. it will give you all the background you need so you won’t be lost as we jump into part two of this series. make sure to save or pin these posts so you can come back to them if you decide to use these tips down the road!


now that you’ve gone through and cleaned out your wardrobe, you’re starting with a clean slate. you’re hopefully down to the clothes that you love and actually wear, which is the best feeling ever, right? and now comes the fun part, at least if you’re a nerd like me. taking what you have and using it to find what your personal style really is.

the great thing about the next step is that it allows to to learn things about your style that you might not have been aware of before (who knew that you liked relaxed denim more than skinnies?), and it allows you to be creative while still following a style blueprint that you set for yourself.

the important thing to remember as you go through and identify themes and name your style is that you need to make it a judgement free process. for example, i realized that i own a silly amount of leggings. but because i did the work to figure out what i love and wear, that’s okay, because they all get some use, even if it means i’m not the high fashion maven i wish i could be. once i let go of some of my preconceived notions of my style, i’m able to more fully express myself in what my style actually is instead of what i wish it was.

how to find your personal style

(identifying themes and naming your style)

  1. notice any common color themes. what colors does your style tend toward? are all your tops in vibrant, bold colors? do you lean more towards neutral tops with colored bottoms? or are you black on black on black, all day everyday? once you identify your color themes, you have a better idea of what to add to your wardrobe in the future. if you’ve figured out that you NEVER wear pastels, then you also know to not buy any pastels, because they’ll just go to waste. how-to-find-your-personal-style
  2. notice any common style themes. when i took a closer look at my wardrobe, i was shocked at how clear my style became. i clearly favor classic dress silhouettes, styles with nipped-in waists, and relaxed tops with fitted bottoms. when you start to notice style themes in your own wardrobe, you might see that you love tops that show off your arms, or high-waisted bottoms. it doesn’t matter what you find, as long as it helps you identify your style more clearly for the future. how-to-find-your-personal-style
  3. let go of your preconceived notions. we all have trends and styles we wish we could wear and look good in. but the reality is that some of us (me) will never look good in some styles (racerback tanks). and it’s okay to be okay with that. once you let go of what you wish your style was, the sooner you can embrace what your style is, and make it your own.
  4. give your style a name. this is my favorite part of the process, because you get to nerd out a bit. when you name your personal style, you make it official. i’ve dubbed my style “classic bohemian”. i tend to like classic cuts and colors, but at the same time lean towards styles that are more relaxed and easygoing. now whenever i see the words “classic”, “relaxed”, “bohemian”, “comfortable”, “polished”, etc. describing clothing, i know that there’s a good chance that it’ll fit my style. your style might be “retro chic” or “uptown polished”, but whatever it is, it’s yours to embrace!

next week i’ll share the final post on this topic and talk about filling the gaps in your newly identified personal style. hope to see you there!

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on the perks of solo parenting.

hi and happy saturday! if you’re new around here, you might not know that Mister Man has a pretty intense work travel schedule. he usually travels about two weeks out of the month, depending on the time of year, and so that means that i solo parent that same amount of time. we’ve been on quite the run here this month, so it’s on my mind more than usual. he does such a good job taking care of us, from making the sacrifice of being away from home, to being so FULLY present when he is here. it makes it so much easier for me to solo parent when i have him as a partner. it can be tricky at times…like when i have to take amelia with me to church choir practice, or when she is just NOT.HAVING.IT one day. but even on the tough days, there are still perks to solo parenting.


i get to do my christmas shopping without sneaking around.

i can eat an entire bowl of popcorn and watch the paradise on netflix without being interrupted.

i can do weird blogging things (like my periscope on thursday!).

i get quality mother-daughter time with little miss amelia.


i have more time to dig in and catch up on my blog reading. speaking of which, here are some good reads and things from around the internets lately, in my humble opinion:

  • on making self-care a conscious choice: this is a great read for all of us “recovering people pleasers”, i suggest you read it.
  • on being welcoming: “but there’s days when i see the tea cup holding my bracelets in it’s china hull and i wish she’d said, you’re welcome.” a simple phrase, but one that can make all the difference.
  • on the refugee crisis: “[the church is] always open to families coming to the United States who need help, and we are going to continue to do that.” makes me proud to be Catholic, i tell you what.
  • on new beginnings: casey’s dad is getting a bone marrow transplant! yet another reason to join the bone marrow registry with be the match (that link takes you straight to the donor registry page, go on, it’s easy…even i was able to join!).
  • jordan smith, a wondrous unicorn with the voice of an angel (he gives me full-body goosebumps EVERY TIME):

so you see, there are all sorts of good things about solo parenting. you just have to look a little harder for them when you’re working and running after a toddler on no sleep because her molars are coming in. maybe i should have included something about drinking wine and taking baths up there too…?

have a fabulous weekend folks!

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grandpa’s shrimp + corn chowder.


i made this soup during nap time on a good soup day. never mind that for the next week the temperature jumped into the seventies and eighties, and we regretted turning on the heat too early (why is it always too early?? we can never get it right!). for this day, it was a good soup day. and because this is the tundra, there are many good soup days to come…about six months of good soup days. related: why does no one ever want to come visit us here in minnesota?

shrimp chowder




if you look closely, you might notice something funny about this recipe…do you see it?

there is no shrimp in the ingredients list.

it tells you to add shrimp in the recipe directions, but it doesn’t tell you what kind or how much to add! this is why i love family recipes. when there is a typo, or the directions aren’t clear enough, i get to make up my own part of the recipe, and in that way, the recipe becomes mine. i made a couple variations on this recipe, so make sure you read the directions closely if you make it. (i definitely added shrimp, i went the easy route and used frozen, but you can be fancy and use raw shrimp. just make sure it’s cooked before you add it)




i’ve been more nervous lately when i make these soups. at first i didn’t know why, but after this one, i realized what it was. now i’m cooking for my daughter, and even though i know that the opinion of a one year old shouldn’t hold that much weight, it does! i find myself holding my breath as she tastes my cooking, especially these special recipes that have been passed down. every time she likes them, i feel a sense of relief and happiness flood over me, like i’ve made my grandpa proud. i’m passing down his love of cooking and family to her, and even though she’s tiny, she makes me feel like i’m doing it right.

make this soup for a big group of people when you want a great, homestyle meal without all the work. most of the ingredients are canned, so the prep is really easy, but the outcome is very impressive. sunday dinners would be a great place to try this one out. i’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, i’m just saying.




shrimp and corn chowder (makes a smaller batch, enough to serve 4-6. i’d double if you want to freeze any.)

  • 1/2 C. celery, chopped
  • 1/3 C. onions, chopped
  • 1 (2 oz.) can sliced mushrooms, drained
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (i don’t think that cream of shrimp soup exists anymore)
  • 1 1/2 C. milk
  • 1 can corn, drained (the recipe calls for corn with peppers, which i don’t think they make anymore. i cut up half a green pepper and used a small can of green chilies instead, and it was delicious)
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 (4 oz.) can green chilies
  • 1/2 lb. frozen cooked shrimp, dethawed and detailed
  • 1 C. potatoes, cooked and diced
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional, but highly recommended)

in a medium saucepan, saute celery, onions and mushrooms in the butter until tender, but still crispy. stir in soup and milk. mix well. add corn, green peppers/chilies, shrimp, potato, salt and pepper (cayenne optional). heat until hot and serve. i recommend serving with a hearty bread. we used cheddar and bacon bread from a local bakery here in st. paul, great harvest bakery. yum!

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