humpday happy list.

two in one month?! what is this madness? does erin even have a schedule for these things anymore? or is she just flying by the seat of her pants like we all suspected she was this whole time? (and apparently talks in the third person now?) you all will never know!

let’s drink some summer drinks and eat too much salt and obsess over laundry rooms that only exist in magazines. because i think that’s what summer is for. and it is most definitely summer now. warm weather and cabin time and everything. hoorah!

at least this posted on a wednesday.

1) laundry rooms.

i’ve been obsessing over laundry rooms lately and i don’t even own one. i cannot wait for the day that i don’t have to put quarters or a laundry card into my washing machine. i can just throw a load in! what frivolity! what freedom!

2) beer.

beer flight

it’s summer so obviously this is just normal. but i have been craving frosty bottles of beer lately. it reminds me of the river and the cabin and happy hours on patios after work. i’m making myself thirsty now…

3) this cocktail.

okay, so when i was in spain in college, they had this drink called tinto de verano. it was crappy red wine mixed with orange or lemon fanta (the bartender would ask, “naranja o limon” and you got to pick!) it sounds disgusting, but i’m telling you, it is nectar of the gods status. it cost 1 euro most places, and there is nothing more refreshing than a pitcher of tinto on a hot day in the south of spain. joy’s is the grown-up version. although between you and me, i’d buy the crappy wine and fanta, it’s just as good. and now i’m making myself thirsty again…

4) fried pickles.

i just need to make these guys. because they are fried pickles people. oh, you’ve never had one? i just took a moment of silence for your tastebuds. i may have already talked about these in a different happy list, but they are like my ultimate guilty pleasure food. and yet, slightly refined somehow? if they are in chip form? i don’t know, i’m trying to justify eating a whole basket of them a couple times in my life.

5) mimosa kits.

aaaaaaand now i know what i’m bringing to hair appointments the morning of my friend’s wedding in august. just enough champagne to get a little bubbly, not enough to head too far down the road to sloppy in the morning.

6) patio lights.

aren’t they just so dreamy? just like my laundry room dream, this is not a reality…yet. i will have patio lights someday. and i will drink a gin and tonic under them with my love and know that i can die happy.

7) backpacks GUYS.

i fought it for so long. i loved the idea of big totes and purses as a carry on in addition to my suitcase, but on a recent work trip where, after a series of unfortunate events, i had to pack work materials in my suitcase, and my clothes and personal effects in another bag, i finally broke down and borrowed the husband’s backpack. and now i can’t go back. he says that i can keep borrowing his, but it’s so manly and i think i need a more feminine one, don’t you?

8) more laundry rooms.

i.have.a.problem. (probably the fact that i did laundry while writing this didn’t help…)

9) ranunculus.

these beauties were in my wedding bouquet, and i am still in deep, deep love with them. they are so round and folded out and gorgeous. they just demand a darling little vase or cup to live in, maybe on your mantel?

10) potato chips.


i’m obsessed with eating potato chips right now you guys. i don’t know why. maybe a sodium deficiency. that would explain the fried pickle obsession i suppose. (and the pickle juice drinking, but that’s a different story.) it’s not good for swimsuit season, but it’s so good for my mouth season.


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sources: 13 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

coffee cake and long weekends.

happy memorial day weekend everyone! i hope all of you are able to do some type of barbecuing/bonfiring/beer-drinking with your family and friends. and i hope you’re all making sure to toast the memory of the brave men and women who have fought, even to their last breath, for your freedom to do all those things. it’s a sacrifice i can’t imagine, and am so thankful to them for!


because the tundra is still warming up (i think it keeps forgetting that it’s supposed to be feeling summery already…), we have been keeping a pretty low profile this weekend in terms of the above activities. but the crappy weather hasn’t stopped us from keeping very busy around the z household. there was some house hunting on saturday morning (unsuccessful), followed by golf for me with an old roommate and dear friend (she just bought a house, and made me feel tons better about the whole process!).

on of the highlights of the weekend was that some of Mister Man’s college friends were in town from texas and maryland, and we managed to get a big group of people together for a last-minute saturday night reunion! i love his friends so much, but we don’t get to see them very often, so it’s such a treat to have them all in one place. i probably owe them big time for making sure he made it out of his college years alive and in one piece…

this morning i had a major wedding planning brainstorm with the lovely bride-to-be, ashley, or as i’ve called her since middle school, bitchface. the invitations are printed and ready to assemble next weekend, the bachelorette party list is made, and the wedding shoes are purchased. all that’s left is flowers, shower planning with the mother of the bride, and planning the most kick-ass bachelorette party ever, and the marriage can commence! both of us talk a mean streak, so what would normally be a one hour planning session turned into two and a half, but i wouldn’t have it any other way.

sometimes after a morning/weekend like this, you have to decompress though, you know? so i decided to go on a baking spree. two loaves of banana bread went into the oven, and i still didn’t feel like i was done decompressing. and that meant it was time to keep my promise to sally and test out her coffee cake recipe in comparison to mama hools’ recipe. (see, i told you i’d let you know what i thought!)


the main difference between sally’s coffee cake and my mom’s is that my mom’s coffee cake is a very basic recipe made with sour cream, less butter, and no buttermilk. oh, and sally’s coffee cake happens to be called “super crumb coffee cake”, which basically means that it’s half crumble topping, half cake when you take it out of the oven. it’s pretty crazy and will put you into a sugar coma.

i’m just going to link you all back to her website for the recipe, because there are some very specific instructions re: the temperature of the egg and the buttermilk and she does a much better job of explaining it than i would. but i will note that when i made the recipe, i used raw cane sugar instead of white sugar, and i used 1 tsp. of vanilla and 1 tsp. of almond extract instead of 2 tsp. of vanilla. other than those two minor changes, i followed the recipe to a tee. and the result was a very sweet, flavorful coffee cake, that was so moist and so decadent, Mister Man and i were in disbelief when we tasted it. i was not expecting this to taste so much like an actual cake. it was definitely more of a dessert than a brunch food!

(please ignore my christmas themed spatula that never got put away…)

the verdict between the two is that it’s a tie. i honestly cannot decide which recipe i like better. i was so surprised at how different they were, because really, coffee cake is kind of difficult to improve upon, and you think when you’ve tasted one, you’ve tasted them all. i will say that my mom’s recipe is a lot easier to throw together and get an awesome result (especially if you’re like me and never think about things like bringing your egg to room temperature). you will never go wrong with hers. but if you ever needed to impress someone at a breakfast or brunch, say, a boyfriend, a husband, some girlfriends, etc., it would probably be worth the extra time and thought for a “fancy” coffee cake like sally’s.

let’s be clear though. i will never be shy about how much crumb topping i put on my coffee cake again, no matter what recipe i’m using. that stuff is bangin’.


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humpday happy list.

because we need a little happy in our month, especially right now. in addition to everything else, as a really good start to my workweek today, i made it halfway through my bus ride to work before realizing that i left my laptop at home. my superhero husband picked me up on the side of the road with it and drove me to work. so i owe him huge, because it was COLD this morning! love you my dearest…

i’m clearly craving colorful and fresh and fruity things right now. i mean, look at those photos. someone is clearly going through withdrawals from the best things in life. i was talking to a friend who came to my grandma’s wake, and we both realized that we’ve been buying really bright flowers for our apartments in the past couple weeks, which we don’t normally do, just because it’s been so miserable here and we need all the color we can get.


1) humpday want: gap camo pants.

i can’t explain to you all how much i wanted these pants. they were in my shopping cart in the morning. i was ready to purchase them that same evening. and i got home and they were SOLD OUT. and they just went away completely. i’ve even tweeted at gap to beg them to bring back these gorgeous things, and i don’t think i have enough pull to make them happen. any other huge bloggers out there want to give it a try?

2) humpday want #2: striped maxi.

hi, my name is erin and i have a maxi skirt problem. i can’t help it! they just make me look really long and slender and at 5’3″ i will take that wherever i can. and these look so comfortable, like you would be walking around looking all cute but feeling like you’re in your pjs. and stripes!

3) humpday craving: bruschetta.

my mother-in-law made some amazing bruschetta the other day, and it tasted like summer. something about tomatoes and olive oil, you know? this recipe is from the pioneer woman, and she can do no wrong in my world. if i ever meet her, i will lose my ability to speak.

4) humpday cocktail: this sangria.

first of all, if you ever want a delicious, albeit time-consuming cocktail recipe, you need to visit “how sweet eats”. she is hysterical for one, and amazing at creating awesome recipes for two. i would venture to say that she is my most pinned blogger that i read. anywho, this pomegranate-vanilla sangria looks so mouth-watering. smooth and fruity at the same time.

5) humpday flowers: ranunculus.

i had ranunculus for our wedding flowers, in the bouquets and the boutinierres. i love the way they look beautiful from right when they start blooming up until they open up all the way. these particular ranunculus are from my lovely cousin who came over to watch pitch perfect with me on the day my grandma died.


6) humpday zen practice: not caring about the snow.

i am being very calm and accepting about this snow. because it will melt. and it will no longer be here. maybe even by next week. deep breath in, deep breath out. all on a count of 10. whoosh.

7) humpday flowers #2: tulips. (can you tell i need some color in my life?)

i mean, tulips look you in the eye and scream “SPRING!” at you at the top of their lungs. and isn’t that really the theme of this entire thing? how could i not include some tulips?

8) humpday travel plans: pittsburgh.

to visit my darling dove in her adopted stomping grounds. i’ve been to pittsburgh twice now, and love it so much more than you could imagine. maybe it’s because she lives there now, and i like it better because she’s made it her home, but i really do think it’s a lovely place! each neighborhood has its own personality, and there are so many gems scattered all throughout. so excited to visit again!

9) humpday DIY: gold-leaf terracotta pots.

let me be clear, i have not done this yet. because i don’t have a patio or a garden, or even a deck. but these would be so cool sitting on the front steps of a little house in the city, wouldn’t they?

10) humpday craving #2: peanut butter bacon pancakes.

i’ve already informed Mister Man that he needs to put these on the list of pancakes he will make me next. he is the pancake guru of the ‘z’ household and aren’t these just made for a sunny (or snowy) saturday morning, paired with a steaming cup of coffee? joy the baker, your recipes make me so happy. so so happy. will you be my friend?


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sources: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

cold water and raw onions.

we used to beg my grandma to turn up the heat on the swimming pool at their house. we would beg and beg and beg, and she would say, “well, i did turn it up! it’s at 70 degrees already!”. that was what she considered to be warm water. the woman could swim in subzero temperatures and not bat an eyelash. so on our annual family vacation, when a few brave people started to swim in the ocean at sunset, she decided to make it a mandatory tradition that the entire family (all 35 of us) be in the water by the time the sun dipped below the horizon. rain or shine, waves or still waters, hot or cold, we all were expected to be down on the beach to participate in sunset swim.

she also had taste buds of steel. the woman could pile her hamburger high with raw onions and just nom it down, no problem. she never met a meal she didn’t like, and yet somehow was the tiniest human being. even when esophageal cancer made it hard for her to eat solids, grandma would put her foot down and demand a taste of whatever was being served for dinner, side effects be damned. i will always be thankful to her for passing down her appreciation of food to her entire family. that gift made for a lot of awesome family dinners.

the saying on her sweatshirt in the above photo says, “there is reason to believe that some people can marry an irish person and still go on to lead a normal and productive life.” too true, too true. i learned lots of awesome sayings like that from her. i also learned that flirting with your husband after over 60 years of marriage is a requirement, and you best believe that frequently smooching on your spouse is as well. that’s one legacy that i will be sure to carry on.


today, she would have loved to sit in her spot in the kitchen, looking out on the lake and enjoying the snow falling. even though it’s late april, it wouldn’t have occurred to her to be upset about the weather. she would have enjoyed her coffee and her brilliant smile would have lit up the room, just like always. we’re going to miss that smile.


from my post on prayer, which i wrote two months ago around the time i lost one of my grandfathers:

“when we get to the part that says, “thy will be done”, let’s stop there and repeat, repeat, repeat. then pray that soon, “i want” and “do what is best” will be one and the same.”

for my grandma. 

the winter that would not end.

in light of the horrible events that took place yesterday in boston, i wanted to wait a day to post my completely unnecessary complaints about the weather. one day later, is it any less bad that i complain about this? probably not, but sometimes (and this is just my opinion), the fluff of our everyday lives is the only thing that keeps us from staying down in that pit of despair we fall into after we see and cannot comprehend the actions of evil people. take from it what you will. and don’t stop your prayers. 

here are some good links for you if you need a pick-me-up about it all:


oh minnesota winter. i try so hard to love you. i defend you when people talk trash. i actively participate in outdoor events in january. i write entire blog posts about how to have fun in the tundra. and you aren’t usually so bad, you hardly ever outstay your welcome. but lately you’ve been clingy and you really can’t take a hint. i need you to just go away for a while. we all do.

you see, it’s april now. and even though us minnesotans are made of pretty hardy stuff, even we can’t stomach the thought of snow in the second half of april. there are sports to be played, boats to be ridden, walks to be taken, and none of that can happen if you don’t get the hell out. well, scratch that, it actually can all happen, but it’s infinitely less fun when you’re around. my face stays permanently like this:

for example. Mister Man and i love baseball. minnesota twins baseball to be exact. and those minnesota twins have an outdoor stadium now. and we had tickets for last saturday’s game that we were not going to let go to waste. so we put on our parkas and hats and scarves and froze our little tushies off on those seats. (the twinkies lost, so you know, insult to injury and stuff).

the next morning we woke up to go to church and were greeted with more snow that had a nice icy feel to it. this prompted us to have a nice long conversation on our walk to the cathedral about moving to des moines, iowa, and we came up with the following reasons why we think it would be a good idea:

  • it’s warmer.
  • there is no snow there right now.
  • cooney’s bar with their hot sauce popcorn is there.
  • steph and alex are there (which is the top good thing).
  • lower cost of living.
  • i could totally find a job at one of the many insurance companies there.
  • it’s warmer and not snowing there.

that is what this endless winter is doing to us. we are having SERIOUS conversations about the PROS of moving to IOWA. we can’t do this anymore. the only thing i will say for this weather is that it gives you an excuse to stop at the bodega after church and purchase ingredients to create amazingly delicious nacho concoctions. we call ours “snowy-day-in-april survival nachos”. they were so good that trisha may have made a healthier version herself….not my fault!

snowy day in april survival nachos

  • tortilla chips
  • cheese (obviously)
  • banana peppers
  • chili from a can
  • green olives
  • salsa

make one layer of these babies with all the ingredients except the salsa. then add another layer. put in the microwave until the cheese is melted. top with salsa. nom them down with your main squeeze while saying, “i love you, we’re such fatties”.

it’s probably going to snow again tomorrow, so we’ll be looking for houses in the greater des moines area and crying into our parkas. what are your plans for this week? go outside for us please.


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