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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merry christmas to all of you.


welcome to day 12 of #12daysofblogging! if you’re just joining us, you can find out more about the christmas linkup here. today’s prompt is “merry christmas eve”. get inspired and spread the christmas spirit! share your link below!

can i just say how wonderful it’s been over the last couple of weeks to spend some extra time reflecting on the christmas season for this linkup? this has been such a wonderful experience for me, both in how it encouraged me to be extra thoughtful as christmas approached, and in how many new people it helped me find. a GIGANTIC thank you to my lovely sister-friend amber for running this with me and being just generally wonderful.


and thank you to all of you who have been here with me over the past year. whether you’re a commenter or a secret reader, i hope this christmas brings you all that you could wish for, and peace and love and warmth on top of all of that.

i’ll be taking a break from regular posting to enjoy the holiday with my sweet husband, crazy family, and dear out of town friends that are back home for the quickest of visits. see you on the other side.

love and peace and blessings from the ‘z’ family.


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twelve days of blogging christmas.

i’ve told you all about my soul sister amber before. she is a lovely person who is always there when you need her, and she also happens to love the christmas season just as much as i do. amber and i were talking about the upcoming season (and blogging, as we do), and we had a moment of inspiration: why not host a blog series focusing on our favorite parts of christmas? and because we’re creative little elves, why not call it “12 days of blogging christmas”?

12 days of blogging christmas will be 12 days of christmas cheer and reflecting on the season. each weekday, between december 9 and christmas eve, we’ll be writing a post in response to a christmas prompt (see the list of prompts by date below). you can also link up your posts both here on hooley with a ‘z’ and over at mr. thomas and me, so we can all learn a little more about each other’s traditions and christmas wishes (and find some lovely new blogs to read in the process!). there will be a new linkup set up for each day, so you can write blogs for as many of the prompts as you want and share your post each time. (get creative with the prompts and don’t be afraid to do a photo essay or interpret the prompts in your own way. and for you non-bloggers, get in on the fun in the comment section!).

can you even stand the excitement?!?

the purpose of the 12 days of blogging christmas is truly to just bring some fun and festivity to our blogging during what is one of the busiest times of the year. it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of all the parties and shopping and family get-togethers that come with christmas. and those things are all wonderful, but if you’re anything like me, christmas comes and goes, and you realize that you never really reflected on the season. well, not this year. this year, let’s be mindful of the christmas season, and reflect on why it makes us feel like little kids when it comes around each year.

is everyone ready to get REALLY into the christmas spirit? i know i am. and i can’t wait to read about all of your traditions and christmas favorites.

here are the prompts, listed by date. (no weekends because that’s when the fun happens!) the first linkup will open at midnight on december 9, U.S. central time. you can also share your posts on twitter or facebook using the hashtag #12daysofblogging.

let us know if you’ll be following along and joining in on the christmas blogging fun starting december 9! we’re already excited!


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two too many gin drinks.

i don’t have many life rules, but the ones i do have are very important. here are two of them:

1) if you ever have the opportunity to order a cocktail that you could maybe argue is your namesake drink, always order it. even if it’s your second gin drink at a speakeasy. even if it’s too expensive. always order your namesake cocktail.

mine is the {tenacious “e”}. 

2) if you are ever given the opportunity to spend saturday night with two of your best girls sipping gin in a basement lounge, say yes, no matter how cranky you are earlier that day. it will be worth it. you might even find your namesake cocktail (see above).

these life lessons have been brought to you by two too many gin drinks and erin’s brain.


now i want you all to meet nikki, also known round these parts as the rural rookie. rural meaning she lives smack dab in the middle of nowhere, rookie meaning she used to be a city girl. i have loved getting to know her through her honest blogging and fabulous sense of humor about living life in the boondocks (seriously, it’s so fun to live vicariously through her with that stuff). nikki and i have a similar habit of looking for the silver lining in everything, and she is a joy to know. i highly recommend you get going with that.

“I’m a 20-something almost-married girl, living in rural PA with my country boy, Mr. B. My blog started as a way to document my adventures after moving to the country, but these days I write about a little bit of everything.

I’m thankful for so much in my life, I don’t even know how to sum it up. I truly am lucky to be where I am in life. I’m trying to make the most of each day – appreciating the little things and soaking up everything life has to offer. Planning a destination wedding, figuring out domesticated life, living life with the man I love, learning about life in the country…I’m in the middle of such an exciting time in my life, and I’m so grateful for it!”

find more of nikki here:



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of dinner dates and happy hours.

do you want to know the thing that surprises (quite a lot of) people the most about Mister Man and me?

it’s not that we didn’t live together before we got married. it’s not that we’re practicing catholics who go to church every sunday. it’s not that we were only engaged for 7 months before making it official.

it’s that we eat dinner together every night that we’re home together.

i know! WHAT?! i had NO idea that so many couples ate dinner separately. now, this is not the first time that i’ve been incredibly naive about things that are common knowledge to most people (see: how i used to think airplanes took off). but because of both his and my upbringing, i just assumed that families ate dinners together when they were home. add that to the fact that he travels so often, and you get a pair of people who both value dinnertime with each other a ton. sometimes it’s the only chance we get during the week to spend real time together, talking and catching up.

(monday night’s dinner. except we ate the meat fully cooked.)

and we love preparing for dinners together too! MM is an amazing cook, and one of our favorite things is planning meals together. last night, for example, we made grilled cheese sandwiches with caramelized onions, green peppers, turkey and chipotle cheese, served with good old-fashioned tomato soup. gourmet all the way baby.

(not last night’s meal either, but a delicious one nonetheless)

i know that it can be hard to make time to eat dinner together. i know this. someone wants to work out, while the other wants to finish a project around the house. someone has to work late, or the other has an after-work happy hour (or #happyhourhangout) to go to. but here’s the thing. i believe that making the time to eat together is one of the most important things you can do as you start a family. it’s an automatic time set aside to talk to each other, without having to make special dates to do it. it builds a habit that continues well into your lives together, when you have babies, then children, then grown children with grandchildren. it carries through all the way to the time in your lives when you’re alone with eachother again.

eating dinner together helps you learn to “just be” with each other.

so that’s my rant for the week. and you know what? i hope the next time i tell someone that Mister Man and i LOVE eating dinner together, they’ll be like, “yea, us too!”. and then i’ll know that my job here is done. life lessons for everyone!


and now, a note about my night last night.

i was able to get on a google hangout with a bunch of lovely ladies to chat about life and blog business (as a note, i usually try to treat my blog like fight club….the first rule about my blog is that you don’t talk about blogging on the blog, but i made an exception for this amazing event). the happy hour hangout was started by ashten and amber as a sponsorship, and a way to get a lot of bloggers in one place to pick each others’ brains and drink booze together. mainly the drinking booze part.

i had no idea what to expect from 10(!) ladies on an online video chat, but let me tell you, i was so pleasantly surprised at how fun it was! everyone was so honest and positive (and hilarious), that even some technical snags didn’t take away from the girl-bonding that took place. i learned so much from each and every one of them, and i am newly inspired to continue with this little space of mine, however slowly it decides to grow.

i will absolutely be a part of this in this future (although fyi, the november hangout is totally full…go click on ashten and amber’s faces in my sidebar to get signed up in advance for the next one!). i’ve found some lovely new blog friends to spend my time with, and i think i may even get to meet a couple in person now! thank you to you all for a fabulous night of wine and chats, let’s do it again!

click on these links to see for yourself why i’m raving about these lady friends:

(and ladies, i’m sorry i had to leave early to eat dinner with the Mister. now you know why!)


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