Posts Archived From: 'June 2013'

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Mr. and Mrs. Nine Months Later

I looked at the calendar yesterday, counted on my fingers, and let out a little gasp.


Nine months!


Has it really been nine months since Matt and I walked down that grassy green, rose lined aisle, sealing the deal as husband and wife?


Indeed, it has. In some ways the wedding seems light years ago; in others, only a heartbeat or two.


Before the wedding, Matt and I were together for nearly six years. Our wedding was a wonderful bookend to that chapter of our lives. September 21 turned the page to a new chapter. Shiny and new in some aspects, wonderfully familiar in many others.


In the nine months we have been Mr. and Mrs., here are some of the lessons I have learned and observations I have made about making our marriage work, every single day.



• As creatives, our alone time is just as important as our together time. I need time to write, read, brainstorm, and daydream. Matt needs time to produce and record audio jingles, work on his website, write, and create and build in his workshop. The more we honor each other’s alone time, the happier we are together as husband and wife. In a marriage, I think it is your responsibility to present to your spouse your very best self whenever possible. To do so, remember and honor who you were before you were married. It is those little quirks and personal passions that brought you two together in the first place.



• I am an early bird, while Matt is a night owl. We understand and accept each other’s natural schedules. There is no point trying to change one or the other. I enjoy my quiet time in the morning. Matt’s creative juices start flowing around 10:30 p.m. Bless Matt’s heart for wanting to start a movie at 11 p.m., but he knows I will only last until the opening credits.


• In most cases, a bottle of wine at home is far more enjoyable than overpriced cocktails at a crowded bar at 1 a.m. There was a time for those late night/early morning adventures, but rarely (if ever anymore) do I feel guilty for “staying in” on a Friday night. It’s one of my most favorite things about our marriage right now.


• Laugh. Laugh a lot and laugh often. Laugh together. It’s the humor (OK, largely Matt’s humor and creativity) that brings me such entertainment and joy. Need proof? Just watch this. And this. And this one.


• If you’re newlyweds, get Netflix. The films, TV series, documentaries, and more that you’ll discover together (and share with one another) will provide hours of together time and conversation. See the above note; Netflix goes great with a good bottle of wine (red for Matt, white for me).


• Embrace each other’s differences. Avoid changing your spouse. I like spaces neat and tidy, Matt enjoys his belongings here and there and out in the open. Not long after we moved in together six years ago, I surrendered the idea of “fixing” Matt and his daily habits. So what if he’s a little messy from time to time? It’s OK. Really. I love him far more than his little (and sometimes big) piles of socks. (A side note: Our home allows us the opportunity to truly have our own spaces. The basement is Matt’s space, the upstairs is more my sanctuary. If we ever move, we will need a similar setup to truly make our marriage work.)



• Few things make me as happy as riding on the back of Matt’s motorcycle. Yes, me … on a motorcycle! The thought of such exciting and brazen transport never once crossed my mind
unti Matt bought his bike a few summers ago. I was cautious at first, but quickly learned to sit back, savor the scenery, wear my helmet (safety first), hold on, and just enjoy the ride. Embrace each passing mile; it flys by awfully fast.



Whether you have been married for five days or fifty years, you undoubtedly have learned what makes your marriage work. Share your advice and lessons learned below. And consider: What advice can you offer those couples in their first year of marriage?



A Stella & Dot Jewelry Giveaway

Large lapel pins and long beaded necklaces have always been my accessory calling cards. Label it my allegiance to a Granny Chic lifestyle, or perhaps the influence of my two late grandmothers. While sparingly embracing fashion trends each season, I have found greater satisfaction in styling looks using pieces from my ever-growing jewelry box.


Of course I veer toward vintage pieces, yet I am continually growing my collection with new pieces, largely fashion jewelry by Joan Rivers or fun accessories from Charming Charlie.


I first discovered the Stella & Dot line of jewelry years ago while paging through the slick, glossy pages of its catalogue a co-worker brought to the office. I wear more gold jewelry than silver, and was delighted to see the variety of pieces in matte gold and highly polished gold.



Recently another coworker and friend, Shannon Gilroy, joined the Stella & Dot family. And much like the last time I encountered this iconic brand, I immediately fell in love with a number of the pieces.


My favorites as of late include the Zinnia Bracelet, the Christina Link Bracelet, and the set of Laurel Rings, all of which I wear in some combination or another nearly every day. Sometimes I wear them alone, other times they’re mixed in with other pieces.


I invited a number of friends and family to a Stella & Dot trunk show earlier this month. The ladies who attended purchased a variety of pretty pieces perfect for the spring and summer months, some of which are my personal favorites.


To browse the extensive and varied jewelry pieces, scarves, and handbags, visit the Stella & Dot website. If a particular piece tickles your fancy and you make the purchase, you’ll be entered into a drawing to win one of my most beloved pieces! (Keep reading for the details.)


Readers who make a Stella & Dot purchase by Friday, June 7 will be entered into a drawing to win the Secret Garden Cuff. Any and all purchases via my trunk show will have a chance to win. Ladies, good luck!






A Gathering of Newbie Knitters

Knitting and I have become the very best of friends since my mother-in-law showed me the ropes in December. Since then, knitting has evolved into a craft, hobby, and opportunity to gift pieces for family and friends.


Connecting with other knitters around the world (thanks to Google, Instagram, and Twitter) has been a lovely byproduct. When seeking inspiration for a new style of scarf, pot holder, coaster, or even a blanket, I grab my iPhone or my iPad and start searching.


Sharing the progress of my pieces has been another great way to connect with knitters half-a-world away. Yet with the reach social media provides, it’s often easy to forget that friends and family mere miles away are knitters, too.


And if they’re not, they’re eager to learn.


That was the case earlier this spring. Updates and photos of my latest knitting projects yielded not only likes and kind comments, but requests to learn this longstanding craft. The more I thought about my small circle of knitters – at the time it only included my mother-in-law and my cousin – the more I realized that an increase of local knitters could mean more inspiration and more gatherings. (And if tasty snacks and beverages accompanied our little knitting parties, all the better.)


Which is why, last Saturday, I opened my home to a handful of lovely local ladies who yearned to learn how to knit.


We began with the basics: understanding the relationship between knitting needles and yarn, casting on, and the common knit stitch. (Well, actually, we began with a few nibbles and refreshments that my cousin, Shannon, and I discovered on Pinterest: corn dip, party popcorn, white sangria, along with chocolate and vanilla macaroons from Trader Joe’s.)


The knitting lesson began after snacks were shared and introductions were made. Two of my friends knitted once before but suffered, as Beth comically described it, “knitting amnesia.” After a few starts and stops, my friends (and now, fellow knitters) were helping each other learn, stitch by stitch.


I was struck by the contrast of it all. While my twenty- and thirty-something friends texted and tweeted during our get-together, they (and I) were forced to put down our phones to learn a craft that easily dates back hundreds of years.


From the excitement of learning and the talk of new knitting projects, I’m pleased to report that my cozy knitting circle has now grown by six. Later in the evening on Saturday, I delighted in seeing tweets and photos that displayed the progress of my fellow knitters. It seems they have thus far found success and even caught the knitting bug. Further proof that it’s truly contagious, in the best way possible.




























Editor’s note: I wish to extend a special thank you and round of applause (when I’m not knitting, of course) to Lion Brand Yarns, the sponsor of today’s blog post. Lion Brand Yarns provided each newbie knitter with needles, two skeins of their signature Thick & Quick Yarn, a tape measure, and a tote bag. Lion Brand Yarns is a wonderful resource for new and seasoned knitters alike. Follow @lionbrandyarn on Twitter, subscribe to their blog, and connect with the company on Facebook and Pinterest.


Eat This: Cheesy Pasta Bake

Recently I stood at my kitchen cabinets and discovered I had precious little to prepare for dinner. The staples for spaghetti with meat sauce were within reach, however. But spaghetti again?


Instead, I relied on a favorite recipe from my mom: cheesy pasta bake. It’s essentially your standard, predictable dish but baked with a thick layer of melted, bubbling mozzarella cheese on top.


Some thirty minutes later, my 9×13 casserole dish was being pulled from the oven. Served alongside garlic bread and salad, this dish is effortless, delicious, and hearty enough for lunch the next day.




Cheesy Pasta Bake

1/2 pound of penne or rigatoni pasta, cooked and drained

1 pound of ground beef, browned and drained

24 ounces of your favorite pasta sauce

1 cup of shredded mozzarella cheese

1/2 cup  of grated parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Once the pasta and ground beef are prepared as directed, combine together, mixing in the pasta sauce and a small handful of shredded mozzarella. Top with the remaining shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan. Bake for 25 minutes, or until the mozzarella cheese is melted and bubbling slightly.


Knitting by Wendy is Open on Etsy

Of the five sets of knitting needles that I own, at least two are occupied with a project at any given time. Bundles of soft, colorful yarn sit in piles throughout my home office. A scarf here, a coaster or pot holder there. Just this morning I stopped by the post office to mail two separate knitting orders.


What joy this small, quiet, and unobtrusive craft has created!


After hearing from many of you, I spent a few hours on Saturday afternoon and opened my first Etsy shop. Knitting by Wendy currently has four styles in stock, but more will be added as I continue knitting … and knitting and knitting.


It’s spring in Nebraska and it should be in the sixties and seventies. But today? It’s rainy, windy, raw. Highs in the mid-thirties are forecast, along with snow — yes, snow! — on Thursday. Seems as though cozy knitted scarves may be worn just a bit while longer.


And now, a few snapshots of what’s filled my knitting needles these past few weeks.


Following Along via feedly

Earlier this year I boarded the Google Reader bandwagon to manage the countless blogs I follow throughout the week. And to make following my blog easier, I added an RSS link to on my homepage.


By now you likely have heard that Google Reader will go silent this summer. I made the transition to feedly a few weeks ago and haven’t shed a single tear for Google Reader. Feedly’s user interface is clean and simple, allowing blog content to take center stage.


If you find yourself looking for a new RSS reader, I highly suggest giving feedly a try; especially if you routinely read your subscriptions on devices such as an iPhone or iPad. Feedly’s mobile apps work together seamlessly.


Content on can also be accessed via feedly. Join feedly and subscribe today!



Eat This: Creamy Garlic Pasta

There are nights when I arrive home from work and feel like a dinner that’s lighter than usual. A bowl of cereal. Some fruit. Cheese and crackers. Cottage cheese.

But last night? Last night was certainly not one of those nights. Cheese, garlic, carbohydrates. That is what I craved. And thankfully, after rummaging through my pantry, I found the fixin’s to assuage my hunger for the holy trinity of goodness.

This pasta recipe was one I discovered last year after joining Pinterest. Upon reading the brief description by a fellow pinner (“I won’t be able to sleep until I can EAT THIS Creamy Garlic Pasta”), I saved this recipe for later. It is one I have returned to countless times and one that pleases nearly every pallet.

Last night I substituted basil for the parsley, and it tasted just as delicious. In past preparations I have also added sauteed mushrooms and diced chicken.


Creamy Garlic Pasta

2 teaspoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons butter
¼  teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
3 cups chicken stock/broth
½ pound (8 ounces) spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
¾ cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped

In a pot, warm the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and stir, allowing it to cook for 1-2 minutes. Mix in the butter until melted. Add the salt, pepper, and chicken stock. Raise the heat to high and let it come to a rolling boil.

Additionally you can add grilled vegetables to enhance the flavors, an indoor grill is the best option in such cases.  Now add the pasta and cook for as long as the box’s directions indicate. Reduce to medium heat and mix in the Parmesan until completely melted.

Turn off the heat and stir in the cream and parsley. Serve immediately.

Say Hello to Purl Soho

In the past few months, knitting has quickly become a hobby-turned-passion-turned-obsession. There’s something about the serenity, relaxation, and creativity that this craft provides at literally any hour of the day, any day of the week.


I have mastered the traditional (and most common) knit stitch, finishing a number of soft, colorful scarves for family members and friends. Coasters quickly followed, a small and quick project that looks adorable when bundled together and tied with a ribbon.


Hobby LobbyMichaels, and Mangelsen’s have become the holy trinity of my knitting sanctuaries in Omaha. Hours spent wandering the yarn aisles, reflecting on the possible projects, and touching every skein are nearly as enjoyable as knitting itself.


Yet the internet, as we all well know, brings forth limitless possibilities of anything. A few searches on Pinterest, Google, and Twitter yielded a bevy of knitting blogs, knitting groups, and knitting retailers. (Needless to say, my Feedly account has never been more plentiful with inspiration.)



In the links and links I clicked and saved, I discovered Purl Soho. From its branding alone, I was hooked. Purl Soho is a boutique knitting shop in New York that appears as friendly and charming as it is inspirational.


While planning my next knitting project, I sent a quick email to Purl Soho, requesting a yarn recommendation. Within a few hours, their reply sat in my inbox, including links to their yarns. Success!


Earlier today my first Purl Soho order arrived on my doorstep: two skeins of Super Soft Merino in Yellow Yellow, one skein of Baby Alpaca Chunky in Poppy, and Straight Bamboo Knitting Needles, size 13.


The Poppy yarn will be made into the heart coasters. As for the Yellow Yellow? Possibly a scarf or a few more heart coasters.


What are you knitting? What’s on your project list for the spring? I’d love to learn more!










Editor’s note: Photos courtesy of One Sheepish Girl and Purl Soho.

My Home Office is Granny Chic

Random snapshots of my newly redecorated home office have sporadically populated my Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram feeds these past few weeks. But a full feature of photographs? Not until today!


Jessica McKay of Birdhouse Interior Design, who on Monday was featured by Design*Sponge (Yay!), patiently held my hand as we transformed the space from boring and predictable to a phrase she coined: granny chic. (Jessica and I also worked on my living/dining space to reach maximum granny chicness.)


The pink walls, floral chair, drapes, wooden desk, orange pouf, my collection of Vera Bradley bags, and even the artwork (by Felicia P. Dadak) beautifully work together to create a space that has quickly become my favorite room in our home. I find myself spending hours knitting, writing, reading, thinking, browsing (the web and magazines alike), and wishing for warmer weather while surrounded by bold color and vivid patterns. And I couldn’t be happier with the finished product.


Welcome to my home office!



















Eat This: Tuna Noodle Casserole

Long before I expanded my palate to the savory foods that arrive with adulthood, I was steadfast in my love of simple, homemade meals. My mom’s recipe for tuna noodle casserole was one of them. It quickly became a Friday dinnertime favorite during Lent. Yet thankfully, we enjoyed it much more often than that.


It wasn’t so much the tuna I anticipated as much as the crispy, salty, crushed potato chips that gently sat on top. Each tasty crunch made me smile and left me wanting another spoonful (or two) before dessert.




When I first made this recipe many years removed from my childhood, I forgot the dill weed. And let me tell you that the casserole I remembered was anything but. After the potato chips, the tender flavor the dill weed provides makes it just about perfect.


This casserole is prepared in a flash and uses pantry staples that easily cost less than $10. Best of all, it reheats beautifully and is nearly foolproof.


Tuna Noodle Casserole

2 cups of rotini pasta (or any pasta you prefer), cooked and drained
2 small cans of tuna, drained
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 can of cream of celery soup
1/2 cup of peas, canned (drained) or frozen
1/2 cup of milk
1 teaspoon of dill weed
A few handfuls of crushed potato chips


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter your casserole dish if it’s NOT nonstitck.


Combine all ingredients (except the crushed potato chips) in a casserole dish. Mix well. Top the casserole with the crushed potato chips.


Bake uncovered for 30-35 minutes, until the casserole is bubbling and heated through.


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