party party

gift guides for everyone.

alrighty, buckle up people. i’m going to be coming at you with a lot of information in this here blog post. i thought about doing a series of gift guides for this holiday season, but then i was like, no! i have too many blog posts i want to write, and you can find awesome gift guides elsewhere on the internet (i even shared some at the end of this post). but i still love sharing gift ideas, so i decided to do it all in one post.

will this be too long? maybe. will you guys enjoy it? hopefully!

gift guides for everyone

gifts for the guys:

men are so hard to buy for! or maybe that’s just me. i have THE hardest time thinking of gifts for guys, especially my husband! i literally start thinking of what to get him for Christmas around august. if your guy (friend, boyfriend, brother, husband, whatever) is anything like mine, gifts they can use to make things are always a hit (like tools, books, or cooking/drink accessories), as well as gifts that are practical with a hint of fun. what guy willingly buys fun boxers for himself? and you know those ratty boxers aren’t going to last much longer…

gift ideas for guys, they're always so hard to buy for. tools, cocktail accessories and more ideas.

shown: dewalt drill $89, back to basics book $12, boxers $6, sphere ice cube mold $8, carryon cocktail kit $19

gifts for the gals:

i myself love to get consumable gifts (as well as give consumable gifts). i tend to gift things to the girls in my life that i would also love. partly because i love to share things i love with other people, and partly because i think that universally, most of us like to be pampered. and if we don’t like it, well, we need it in our life. self-care is important! so hand creams, bath salts, makeup, even clothes that i wouldn’t normally buy for myself are all good bets in my book. (here’s my gift guide for her from last year too…still good!)

gift guide for the gals in your life. easy pampering ideas from smartwool socks to makeup kits to bath salts.

shown: athleta en route dress $69 (on sale now!), clinique ‘whole lotta chubby’ set $25, san francisco bath salt company detox soak $10, smartwool socks $20, l’occitane almond delights $16

gifts for the kids:

in our house, we decided that until the kids were a little older, we would do the “something they want/something they need/something to wear/something to read” gift plan. so this year Amelia will be getting a couple little stocking stuffers like crayons and socks, and her gifts will have cost under $50 total. she will enjoy the things she’s getting, but because she is so young, doesn’t need us to buy her crazy gifts…plus, she has grandparents that love to do that. ūüôā the great thing is that there are so many great toys out there, you can spend as little or as much as you want to stay within your budget.

gift guide for young kids. a mix of useful and fun gifts are perfect for young kids while still being fun.

shown: pottery barn backpack (i got mine on sale) $29.50, Christmas socks $2,¬†the story of Christmas book¬†$7,¬†toy cleaning kit (Amelia loves to “help” clean)¬†$26, cozy outfit $20

gifts for the parents:

if your parents are anything like mine, you know they deserve more than you could ever buy them. you also know that they probably have a lot of stuff already, making them extremely difficult to buy for. so go for the stuff that means a lot: tickets to an event that means a lot to you both. a day out together. or create something nostalgic like a photo book to show them how much you care about your time together. lotion for mom and a good bottle of scotch for dad can’t hurt either.

gift guide for parents. what to get the people who gave you everything and have everything? make some memories, and pamper them.

shown: theatre tickets (source) $60, glenlivet scotch $52, shutterfly photo book¬†(source) $variable, l’occitane hand cream $50,

i hope that this provided a bit of inspiration as you finish shopping for those hard to shop for people in your life. i myself devour holiday gift guides during this time of year. you never know when you’re going to stumble on that perfect, genius idea you didn’t know you needed. here are a couple of my favorites i’ve already seen pop up around the internets if you need even more inspiration.

all that’s glittered¬†(for girls & for giving back)

cup of jo (for men)

dash of serendipity (for under $30)

merry shopping!

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party party || amelia’s first birthday


i’m just going to say this up front: i am a terrible party planner.

“oh, great thing to admit when you write about entertaining erin!”, says everyone.

hear me out. i like to throw parties. i like to plan them. but i have this problem where i don’t leave myself enough time to do it the way i want to do it. for example, i started planning amelia’s 1st birthday party when she was 11 months old. and when i say started planning, i literally mean i hadn’t even picked a date until then. yikes.

but it was all great! it turned out wonderfully, everything got done and i wasn’t even stressed out. the best part was that amelia had fun, which is what i wanted out of all of it. i also wanted to be able to drink a vodka lemonade, and i got to do that too.

we kept things really simple. no theme, just some fun pink streamers and gold balloons. i also printed out all of amelia’s milestone photos and hung those from a pennant banner with mini clothespins so you could see her progression over the year. that was my favorite part of the party actually, it was so fun to see how she had grown! we grilled burgers, had potato salad and corn, and watermelon (it’s amelia’s favorite). there was cake (and adult beverages) for the guests, and amelia had her own little smash cake that she oh-so-tenderly smashed when the time came. there was beer and cocktails and the weather cooperated (by being insanely cold for august, but we’ll take that over muggy and hot i guess?). wouldn’t you want to come to that party??

in addition to being terrible at planning parties on time, i am equally terrible at taking pictures during any major life event. so here is a nice little photo dump wherein i own two of the photos and the rest were taken by my sister maggie, without whom none of us would ever have any photographic evidence of big events. thank you mags.



[opening grandma and grandpa hooley’s gift – the vacuum!]

[thoroughly enjoying grandma and grandpa zauner’s gift – the chair!]

[channeling her inner molly ringwald in her new denim vest from auntie mary]

thank you to everyone for all the sweet birthday wishes you sent the little one last month. it meant a lot to Mister Man and me, and i know amelia would appreciate them if she had social media/could read. she is enjoying being one very much…she thinks it’s pretty much the greatest thing ever, and we think that she’s a pretty great one year old too.

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*as an aside, we spent less than $200 for the entire party, including invites, drinks and food for 25, and decorations. all decorations were bought at target, we made sure to buy any food we were able ahead of time with coupons, we sent out online invitations, and kept drinks really simple. we also didn’t buy her any gifts…she got plenty of new things from her family and friends, and she doesn’t understand anything like that yet. all that to say, if you want to, you can still have a fun party while keeping things reasonably priced and in a budget. etsy doesn’t need to own you! ūüôā

decking the halls is a serious business.


welcome to day 2 of¬†#12daysofblogging! if you’re just joining us, you can find out more about the christmas linkup¬†here. today’s prompt is “favorite ornament/decoration”. get inspired and spread the christmas spirit!

it’s almost impossible for me to not form some sort of sentimental attachment to my christmas decorations. i connect memories and emotions with physical objects (it’s amazing i’m not a hoarder), so while i wanted to write a moving, meaningful essay on my most beloved of all ornaments, i couldn’t pick just one. what you get instead is an annotated photo essay.

these ballerina slippers are my most treasured christmas ornament. it was my first, given to me by my darling godmother. growing up, no one else but me was allowed to hang them, unless they wanted an earful. and they must be hung so that the christmas tree lights shine on them for maximum effect.

our first creche is a hand me down. it was a gift given by my parents to our old babysitter, molly, as a souvenir from the holy land. when molly decided to enter the order of the nashville dominican sisters and became sister amelia, she gave it back to my parents. it was passed to Mister Man and i last year, and sits proudly on our table as a reminder of sister amelia, our faith, and the reason we celebrate christmas. notice the empty manger: the baby Jesus is hidden away and won’t make His appearance until december 25th.

fred the moose is a fixture on our wall year-round. but at christmastime he gets to participate in the christmas festivities. his antlers are the perfect spot for a couple of festive ornaments, and he wears them well.


and now i’m going to introduce you to someone who has more christmas spirit in her little finger than most of us do in our whole bodies. meet chelsea, one of my sponsors this month. she is a fellow midwesterner, a bride-to-be, and she’s counting down to christmas with her holiday challenge. i highly suggest you stop over to see her fabulous blog, you will be so happy you did!

I’m a “lifestyle blogger,” happily living in the middle of Iowa. it all began when I made a daring decision to move to new york city after my college graduation, ensuring I document a “major time in my life” and has grown into a space where I share DIY projects, cocktail recipes, daily happenings, and most recently the adventures of planning my destination wedding.¬†

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erin go bragh.

see what i did there? i used my name in a seasonally appropriate blog post title to tie it in to my own life. but it does fit pretty well, doesn’t it? erin go bragh means “ireland forever”, and i’m happy to share a name with such a wonderful place!

but even being proud of my irish heritage is not enough to get my butt to the st. patrick’s day festivities in downtown st. paul. too many people, not enough bartenders, and this year, way too cold! plus, Mister Man and i had more pressing celebrations to attend to on our own.

you see, as of saturday, we are officially credit card and short-term debt-free. we still have MM’s student loans to deal with, but in the last 8 months, with some serious budgeting, sacrificing and saving, we’ve been able to pay for trips, pay for my translation classes, and pay off all the short-term, high-interest debt we had from school and the wedding. and we are BEYOND excited!


see, i wore green to the russian restaurant on the irish holiday, i still participated in the fun.


this is about one-third of the bar. mostly vodka.

so we decided to celebrate with dumplings and vodka at moscow on the hill, an amazing russian restaurant down the street from us in cathedral hill. and celebrate we did…if you guys ever have a chance to eat real russian food, make sure you get the dumplings. holy cow, those things are so simple, yet so delicious. i can’t explain why, i think they put drugs in them, but they are amazing.


and those vodka drinks. goodness me. i was in the mood for a dirty martini, which they make goooood at moscow. i also had a drink called a skazka, cinnamon infused vodka with apple juice. that one could end you if you’re not careful, it is really easy to drink. Mister Man had a couple of fun ones as well, and the night was absolutely the best way to celebrate our newfound financial freedom!


the real st. patty’s day was spent like a good old-fashioned irish family. the husband woke up to put corned beef in the crockpot, and i whipped up a loaf of irish soda bread to go with it for dinner. then we headed to Mass at the Cathedral (i wore my green!) before straightening up around the apartment. we had mama z and my friend ashley over for a dinner of corned beef and cabbage right after a stop at costellos for a guinness, and thank goodness we had someone to help us eat the food! do you guys know how much steamed cabbage one head of that stuff makes? i’ll tell you: a crap ton. if anyone wants some, we have plenty of extra, i’ll bring it over to you! we finished the night with some green peppermint ice cream and sunday night cartoons.

corned beef

i really tried you guys, but there is no way to make cabbage photogenic. it’s not possible.

this recipe is the best.

the weekend was perfect, and now we will spend the week getting ready to jet off to sunny maui! which for us means that today we will do as much cleaning as possible while my husband is still at home (he is out of town for work until friday), then i will attempt to cross as much off the to-do list as possible until saturday. i don’t know if i’ve ever told you before, but i HATE packing for things. it’s just so much to think about! it makes me crazy and then i procrastinate until 2:00am the night before the trip. i may try to take my childhood friend caitlin’s packing tips to heart. she gives the best advice regarding fashion and related topics. (i highly recommend her blog¬†if you like pretty outfits!)


tulips from mama z.

hope your weekends were just as wonderful as mine and that you have nice, easy weeks ahead. raise your hand if you drank some green beer or participated in green-related activities! then tell me about them!

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snow and cookies.

dang you guys. i think about half the country got just dumped on by snow this weekend! nemo on the east coast, orko here in the midwest. (orko, really? how is that a name for real?) we don’t really react that strongly to snow here in minnesota, no school cancellations, no work closings, although they did close the highway to north dakota. which means that Mister Man has to postpone his work trip there until tuesday. what terrible¬†ridiculously awesome news!! in case you couldn’t tell, i really like having him here, for more than just the fact that he keeps the bed incredibly warm at night.

this weekend, i got to go to an incredibly fun work party, complete with signature company-themed cocktails and karaoke. yea, i have pretty much the best co-workers around. i spent saturday morning cleaning up the house and having a coffee date with myself, which was very therapeutic. then i got to have a long-overdue catch-up with a friend i’ve gone to school with from kindergarten through college. we now live less than a mile from each other and haven’t seen each other since my wedding. yea, i’m a terrible friend to have.

i went grocery shopping for our book club and got home just in time to welcome Mister Man home from his 10 hour drive back from rapid city, south dakota. book club is like fight club, so i can’t talk about it here, but it too was lovely, and we woke up to the grossness that was winter storm orko.

joe is a professional driver, especially in the snow. he drove my car with its broken driver’s side windshield wiper to raising cane’s on sunday morning. four of us made the terrible/wonderful decision to drive through the storm to get us some chicken and cane’s sauce. it’s worth risking life and limb for, trust.



when we finally made it home to the warm apartment, we proceeded to transform into the laziest bumps in the world. i finally made the chocolate-covered strawberry cookies i talked about here. holy crap, these were the weirdest/best/most delicious things ever. they are like fudgey brownie cookies that are super chewy, and tasted like strawberries and chocolate chunks. plus, they’re pink, so…obviously that’s awesome. my goal is to have at least one left to eat on valentine’s day. i’m bringing most of them to work so i don’t eat them in my loneliness when the husband is gone.





make these for valentine’s day. they are pink and delicious and lovely. the recipe is here, i followed it exactly, and i think that this woman is a cookie baking genius. if i lived in baltimore, i would make it my mission to be her friend so i could be the recipient of her leftovers!

hope you all had a fabulous weekend. thank you for all the kind words and support on my post from friday. i never really realized that one of the greatest things about this little blogging adventure is the support you get that you never really even knew you needed. and i had no idea how much i could appreciate people i’ve never met. you are all pretty amazing.

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