i’m dreaming of a white christmas.

it’s currently the day before christmas eve (christmas eve eve, as some like to call it), and i’m watching some snow fall from the sky. none of it’s sticking, but i have high hopes that if it lasts long enough into the evening, it’ll get cold enough for the snow to stay. i mean, i know that plenty of people survive christmas with no snow, but i’m from MINNESOTA people. a green/brown christmas is simply unacceptable. there must be snow so when we put on our parkas, it feels like there is a reason for it. so yes, i’m dreaming of a white christmas in a big, desperate way.


we’ve got some big holiday plans lined up for the next few days. celebrating christmas with both our families and both our extended families, seeing friends in town, and my favorite: watching amelia open presents and hang out with her aunts, uncles and grandparents. i’m so excited to see everyone and i can’t wait to watch amelia slightly comprehend christmas this year. she’s opened a couple presents already and has REALLY enjoyed that process, so it’s shaping up to be a hilarious wonderful christmas morning. i’m so excited that i’m tingly and a little twitchy and i’m fairly certain i’ll want to stay up all night long until everything starts. totally casual and normal, i

and now for the love…

i hope that all of you are with people you love this christmas, and that you feel so much grace and peace surrounding you during this time. i am so thankful for all of you (i’ve said it before and i’m saying it again, because it’s true). every time i get to interact with one of you, whether it’s in the comments of a post, online talking about a recipe or a cocktail that you tried, or in person talking about our lives, it brings me so much joy. i write here for me, yes, but i also write for you, in the hopes that something i make or something i share will inspire you. and so even though i don’t know most of you, i’m wishing you a merry christmas all the same, and i mean it from the bottom of my heart.

may your days be merry and bright, and may all your christmases be white.


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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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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! 🙂

things we never thought we’d say.

when you become a parent for the first time, you know things are going to change. you know there are sleepless nights ahead, and that your main focus is no longer on yourself. you even expect to become somewhat of a hermit as opposed to your normal, social self.

what you don’t expect is for the topics of all your conversations to revolve SO MUCH around your baby. and because all your baby does is eat, sleep and poop, you start talking about things that generally aren’t considered to be part of polite conversation. so that naturally leads to certain things being said between mom and dad that we never thought we would say. just for fun, here are a few things Mister Man and i have said to each other in the three weeks(!) that Amelia has been with us:

“i just got pooped on and i didn’t even yell. be proud of me!”

“did you hear how loud that fart was?? that was amazing!”

“those four hours of sleep felt SO GOOD. i can really tell the difference between three and four.”

“she’s so advanced, i can’t believe her umbilical cord fell off after just 7 days!”

“do you realize that our pillow talk now revolves around our daughter’s bowel movements?”

“should we use the natural gas drops or the regular ones?”

“it was so nice to go outside today…i haven’t been out of the house in three days.”

MM: (said in pinky’s voice from ‘pinky and the brain’) what should we do tonight erin? me: (said in brain’s voice from ‘pinky and the brain’) same thing we do every night pinky…bathe the child, try to get the child to sleep, watch an episode of ‘sleepy hollow’ and go to bed.”

so yea. that’s our life now. i’m sure it’ll get a little less ridiculous eventually, but for now we are the lamest. and we kind of love it if we’re being honest.


and now, i’d like to introduce you to one of my newest sponsors. meet martha kate, of leaving perfection, learning grace. i just started to read martha’s blog, and my goodness, if you want some thoughtful reading in your blogroll, hers is one you need to check out. i wanted martha kate to introduce herself to all of you in her own words, so here she is!

My blog is all about learning to live a life filled with grace and leaving perfection in the dust. It’s about my journey through eating disorder recovery and everything else in between. 

i  asked her to share her favorite part of my favorite season (fall!) with us to get to know her a little better too: I LOVE comfy sweaters, cozy scarfs, riding boots and mocha drinks, all which signal fall is here!!

isn’t she ADORABLE?? you can find martha kate at her blog, leaving perfection, learning grace, and also on twitterfacebook, pinterest and instagram (personal and blog). head over to get to know her and tell her that erin sent you.

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mister man goes to washington.

[and me. and baby z. obviously. we all went to washington, d.c.!]

in all truth, we took this trip about a month ago now. we had been thinking about taking a trip for a long time, since it’s been about a year since we’ve gotten away from st. paul. and that’s just too long. we tried for a fall trip, but it got away from us, and so i tasked the husband with planning a march trip for us as a surprise. so he planned us a lovely ski trip to northern minnesota. and then i got pregnant. and as it turns out, skiing (or more, specifically, falling down while skiing) is not on the recommended list of activities for us preggos. back to the drawing board.

we happen to have a lot of close friends who have relocated to the east coast over the past few years (still waiting for you guys to come back), and we haven’t had many chances or the budget to visit them yet. so it came to us that we should start our journeys out east with a trip to washington, d.c., where we could see a few people who live in the area, and spend some extra quality time with these kids. i hopped online, scored us some cheap tickets, confirmed that we had a place on their floor to crash, and we were off.

 [baby z. and uncle sam’s first photo! <3]

[it was a little chilly, hence the hoodie in all the photos.]

Mister Man had never been to washington, d.c. before, and i haven’t been since i was about 15, so we were all about being the quintessential tourists. show us ALL THE MONUMENTS! let’s just say we did our fair share of walking and sightseeing, baby z. was quite the trooper with the long days we had. plus, it was so much fun to watch MM see all these famous sites for the first time, and it was so fun to see them as an adult for myself.

[get out of the way sam! we’re trying to take a photo of a fake castle!]

[leave me alone, i had to.]

my favorite part of the trip by far was the day we walked around the national mall. i’m not kidding you guys, we saw EVERYTHING. the supreme court, the capitol, the natural history museum, the air&space museum, the washington monument, the jefferson memorial, the fdr memorial, the mlk jr. memorial, the lincoln memorial, and the vietnam memorial. i couldn’t feel my feet after that day, but it was so worth it. there is so much history and reverence in all those places, and for a history nerd like myself, a full day is even too short to soak everything in.

[their album cover.]

we also saw a lot of the neighborhoods in the city, and i don’t know how you’d ever decide which one to live in! there are great restaurants and markets in a lot of them, and each one has a very distinct “personality” (because neighborhoods are like people, they can be temperamental, and you need to make sure you like their personality along with their looks). so fun.

[we were very sad that the reflecting pool was drained. but you must take the photo anyway.]

i have to mention that we had some fabulous tour guides in sam and kari, they are the MOST gracious hosts and such wonderful friends. they walked around with us to places they have already seen many times, showed us their favorite parts of the city, and they even gave us their own bed to sleep in for goodness sake!! everyone needs friends like them.

[two pregnant erins!]

so with the exception of a quick cabin trip or two this summer, that was our last trip before the two of us become three. and it was everything we wanted it to be. seeing a new place, enjoying old friends, relaxing just enough. it actually made me excited to take a first trip with our little one, i love exploring with Mister Man, and i know showing our child new places is going to be so dear to my heart.

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