Thankful for the art of the thank you note

It’s the day before my birthday, and already I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some early birthday celebrations with friends and family. That means I’ve also been writing a lot of thank you notes lately.

Thank you notes are a form of correspondence that I hope continues on in some form or fashion, no matter what ends up happening to mail in the future.

Because mail is the BEST. Okay, fun mail is the best, junk mail is a pain and waste of paper, bills are a reminder of adulting, and Restoration Hardware catalogs are encyclopedias. But really, checking the mail is one of my most favorite daily rituals, which means Sundays and holidays are wah-wah for me in that department. Ever since I was little, I have loved running to the mailbox to see what’s inside.

In the same way giving presents has become even more fun than receiving presents as I’ve gotten older, I absolutely love sending mail. And while the art of letter writing has mostly gone by the wayside, there’s still something very special, and necessary, about the art of the thank you note.

Gratitude comes in many forms. While thank you notes can seem old-fashioned in a world where we can tag, tweet, and text, taking the extra step to write out a little note goes that extra mile.

My favorite stationery for thank you notes are the Green Inspired cards from Target, because of course. Their cards are whimsical and feel great, and I particularly love the corresponding envelopes.

Aren’t these pretty?! Why shouldn’t an envelope be as special as what’s inside?

Another thing that makes thank you notes even more special to me is a fun stamp. Even though it means braving the post office with at least one child in tow, I love picking out the decorative Forever stamps. These Disney Villains ones are my new favorites:

Someone else who also loves and appreciates the art of mail and cards is Jen, who created the fantastic amaze balls card seen at the top of this page. Her Etsy shop has a ton of hilarious and fun designs for cards. Jen gave me a set of her cards a few years ago, and I’m still holding onto some of them because I can’t bear to send them away yet.

I’m thankful that the art of the thank you note isn’t dead. I’m thankful for the things that make the art of thank you note writing fun.

And I’m so beyond thankful for the people on the receiving end of my thank you notes.


Roasting root veggies and eating my colors

One of the easiest ways I’ve found for my family to enjoy eating vegetables is by roasting a pan full of root vegetables. I enjoy a variety of combinations, but my go-tos are sweet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, and baby carrots, sometimes mixing in cubed butternut squash and parsnips.

Roasted root vegetables are my favorite side dish to accompany chicken thighs, flank steak, meatloaf… basically anything! I could eat a plateful of roasted root veggies and nothing else and be completely happy.

For tonight’s dinner, I used sweet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, and rainbow baby carrots.

To prepare, I lined my large baking sheet with foil to make cleanup easier and also keep the veggies from sticking to the baking sheet. I also sprayed the foil with nonstick spray. I washed and cut the veggies up into similarly sized wedges, and then tossed them with olive oil and sea salt in a large bowl.

My favorite olive oil for this is Filippo Berio, which can handle the hotter temperature in the oven. For sea salt, there’s nothing better than Maldon sea salt flakes. Trust. Get some at Williams Sonoma.

I always make way more veggies than we need at dinner because they make great leftovers for breakfast or lunch the next day, and if I’m already going through the trouble of cutting and roasting the veggies, it’s so easy to make extra.

I roasted these veggies for around 40-45 minutes at 475 degrees, although the cook time always ends up depending upon the types of veggies I’m using and how big the pieces are.

Tonight’s veggies ended up cooking up perfectly with nice, crispy edges. YUMMMM.

I made chicken thighs tossed in Trader Joe’s Everything but the Bagel Sesame Seasoning Blend, which was one of those impulse buys the last time I was in a TJ’s. I’m still needing to experiment with the seasoning, but so far it has been delicious on chicken.

With all of the Blue Apron meals we’ve been making lately, I had gotten away from this simple go-to in my dinner rotation. It really hit the spot tonight, and gets me excited for some cooler fall nights and a plate of yummy, seasonal root veggies.

Give them a try!




Celebrating fall with my favorite candle

It’s officially the first day of fall, and even though the dream of the 90s has been alive in Michigan the last couple days, I have been getting into the fall and Halloween spirit. It’s hard to think about cozying up to watch “Hocus Pocus” when it feels like we should be spending our days at the splash pad, but I couldn’t help myself this week.

I loved digging out the Halloween bins from our basement and rediscovering all of the fun decor I’ve collected over the years. Fall in Michigan is one of my most favorite times ever, so busting out the ceramic pumpkins and witch dolls and painted gourds in September has helped me soak up the season even more. However, the plastic skeletons will just have to wait until October.

One of the best parts of fall is the array of smells. Cinnamon, apple, wet leaves, fire, caramel, and of course pumpkin. There are plenty of options when it comes to finding fall-scented candles, but last year I discovered my most favorite pumpkin candle.

The Pumpkin Patch candle from the Kalamazoo Candle Company captures the sweet smell of the season so well for me without being overpowering. I can barely walk past the Yankee Candle Co. in the mall without getting a headache, so I love how this candle is subtle and yummy. I’m also very happy when I can find and support a local Michigan business!

The Kalamazoo Candle Company’s candles are in a simple and beautiful votive with a wooden lid, and come in a large range of scents. Pumpkin Patch is my jam.

Their candles can be found locally at October Moon in Old Town, where I’ve purchased mine in the past, and Kean’s in Mason, where my friend Stephanie just bought me one for my birthday. Yay! They’re also available online and other stores around Michigan.

I’m very excited to be stocked up and ready to go with a pumpkin-scented house over the next few months.

Happy first day of fall!






I’m kind of obsessed with my letter board

It’s safe to say, my handwriting stinks. I admire anyone with beautiful penmanship in their thank you notes, especially because my handwriting is a strange hybrid of cursive and print. I connect a lot of my letters the way one might do with cursive, but it’s not true cursive.

Why do I connect the t to the e and then the e to the f in my first name? Why do any of these letters connect? Who knows who’s really to blame for this mutant handwriting of mine. But it means I am incapable of making cute things with my handwriting. Posters, signage, letters… all a lost cause. I will never be able to create beautiful works of chalk art for Starbucks menus.

And this also means that the newer trend of parents creating posters or custom chalkboards for their kids’ first days of school is enough to give me anxiety. In this social media age, the pressure to photograph the cutest things at all of the holidays and life milestone moments is at an all-time high. I’m doing all of this for my daughters and their memories, sure. But really I’m also doing it for selfish reasons. LOOK AT MY CUTE KIDS AND MY WITTY INSTAGRAM CAPTIONS AND THEIR OUTFITS ARE COORDINATING AND DID I MENTION #NOFILTER?

I digress.

When it came time for Stella to go back to preschool, I wanted to jump on this first day of school sign trend in a way that wouldn’t make me feel like an amateur in a world of printing Picassos.

Enter letter boards. These awesome signs are getting to be pretty trendy for home and office decor, and it makes sense considering how often I see quotes and song lyrics shared on Instagram and Facebook. Letter boards marry that love of text with something physical and interchangeable. I love that they can work as something informative, inspirational, or even just silly.

And I love how clean, simple, and perfect they look.

I found this one for Stella at Hobby Lobby, although there are many different sizes and colors that can be found online.

After Stella’s first day of school this week, I decided I needed to come up with a fun lyric or quote for the letter board next. My friend Ellen shared a photo on Instagram of a Drake quote on hers (“must be hard to be that fine”) and I thought it was amazing.

So, considering it’s September and my most favorite month ever, I decided an Earth, Wind & Fire lyric was necessary:

I can’t wait to keep swapping out what’s on my letter board, especially as the holidays start rolling in.

I need to start brainstorming ones for Halloween!



Four highlights from the Detroit Free Press Food and Wine Experience

Zack and I love to watch Top Chef on Bravo. Of all of the cooking shows out there, it’s the one we watch religiously for every season and every incarnation. And it has always been our dream to be one of the goofball members of the public who get to try the chefs’ food during the challenges.

When I first read about the Detroit Free Press Food and Wine Experience, it sounded like the type of event that would live up to our Top Chef dreams. A Saturday in September, just days after Zack’s birthday? The perfect birthday present. Dozens of restaurants from around downtown Detroit and other parts of the state were going to be convening in Campus Martius Park for an afternoon of delicious food and wine, as well as panel discussions and cooking demonstrations.

But the crown jewel was the announcement that lifestyle queen Martha Stewart would be the headliner. CAN YOU IMAGINE? For decades, Martha has been an icon. My mom has always told me how much the Martha way impacted how she entertains, and I think all would agree my mom is an A+ entertainer through and through.

The event was held yesterday on one of the most gorgeous days of the summer, and we couldn’t have been happier with how everything went. I enjoyed seeing so many people downtown and celebrating the innovative food options all of the restaurants had to offer.

Here are my four highlights of the Detroit Free Press Food and Wine Experience:


Part of our tickets was the opportunity to have a book signing with Martha and also receive some fun Martha swag (craft paints and a square ladle – Martha says it’s perfect for making jams because the squared-off edge allows you to pour it into a jar without spilling so obviously I will be making jams very soon while using it). I barely spit out that my mom adores her and that I wanted one of our books made out to her and she gave me this smile and it gives me life. It will keep me warm through the next dozen Michigan winters.

I’m also kicking myself that I didn’t bring her a present from Michigan, like one of the Kalamazoo Candle Company Pumpkin Patch candles I’m obsessed with and will be blogging about in the near future. Maybe she would have talked about them in her blog or in Martha Stewart Living. I’m still kicking myself for this blown opportunity. Martha and I might have been real friends and she could have invited me to her farm in Bedford.

Alas, she was lovely and our time together was too short. Until next time, for your 90th cookbook.

    It was lunchtime when we went through the gates of the festival, and we were ready. At first we thought we’d do a lap before committing to eating things, or start in the back and work our way forward like you do in Cedar Point (pro tip right there), but the early tents enticed us and it was a free for all. Some of my favorite things I had were the cold brew float with cake batter ice cream (!!!!!!!) from New Order Coffee, the pork belly slider from Wright & Company, a chicken schwarma on a steamed Chinese bun from Grey Ghost, and this salad from Gold Cash Gold:
    I wish I had taken more photos of the food, but truthfully I didn’t want to be that person, and I was gobbling things up before I even had a chance to set up a photo. We also received stemless wine glasses to try different wines, ciders, and other drinks, so there was a lot to juggle.As someone with a shellfish allergy, I appreciated that I was able to try more than 90% of what was being offered by the restaurants. One of the only things I couldn’t try was the shrimp and grits.

    I had only been to Campus Martius Park during the holidays, which was very magical even though it was freezing cold that day. I remember the ice skating rink and doing Christmas shopping in a pop-up shop, and despite the cold there was a nice amount of people enjoying Detroit.Yesterday was textbook perfect as far as the weather went, and the areas of shade were a welcome reprieve from the sun, especially after sitting through Martha’s cooking demo in the bright sunshine.
    I love that Martha wore shades for the whole demo.

Because we were able to get into the park an hour ahead of the general public, we had the opportunity to walk around before it got very crowded. A jazz band did a few sets, and that music paired with the food and the wine and the cute little green metal tables made it feel like Detroit was the most happening place alive.

The book signing (and some of the other add-on events) was held at Parc, which is an absolutely gorgeous and very cool restaurant. I loved the light fixtures, the large portraits of Michael Jackson and John Lennon, the way the glass doors were slid open to the patio and created an open-air feel. I’m definitely dying to go back there for lunch or dinner. It was the perfect setting for the book signing and a place to lounge as we waited.


Yes, it’s true. As we were getting ready to walk through the Martha Stewart tent, we saw Martha walking right toward us with an entourage of cameras and people. She was filming a Facebook Live video, and if you go to about the 11:25 mark in the video, you’ll see us in the background and me freaking out about it.

Hi, Martha!

I’m not sure if subsequent years will be able to top this fantastic event, but I’ll be happy to find out next year if they do it again. A sunny afternoon of eating, drinking, and people watching was a wonderful way to celebrate Zack’s birthday. It’s a good thing!


For the love of apple cider and donuts

September is my most favorite month for a litany of reasons. First and foremost, I was born in September, so from birth it has always been a magical month. September is also home to my husband Zack’s birthday, my dad’s birthday, my sister in law’s birthday, and several special sapphire friends’ birthdays.

September weather can bring some of the most delicious Michigan days of the year. Back to school excitement is in the air, as so wonderfully observed by Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail”:

And September also means a very special time: CIDER MILL TIME. Michigan apples are bomb, and everyone knows it. So, naturally, apple cider from Michigan apples is the nectar of the gods.

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Strangers, please don’t tell me I have my hands full

When I run errands with my two girls, there are a handful of things that typically happen. The combination of automatic doors and Midwest politeness means there’s almost always help getting in and out of a store. There are remarks about the girls being cute, or questions about their ages. A lot of times at the grocery store, people will say Stella is such a good helper as she wheels around her Stella-sized cart while I push Margot in the stroller.

The questions and comments are something I don’t mind; in many ways I’ve grown used to unsolicited conversations with strangers ever since the first time I was pregnant. Often they’re well-meaning, but can stray into inappropriate town. “When are you due? What are you having? Are you having twins?” Over time I think all moms learn how to smile, nod, and be polite when faced with the infinite and limited loop of questions about themselves and/or their children.

But the seemingly innocent, throwaway comment that grinds my gears the most is when someone says, “you have your hands full.” At least people have enough of a filter to leave out the “wow” or “eesh” or “good luck to you, lady.” The sight of a woman simultaneously pushing a stroller and pulling a cart with another kid riding shotgun must seem overwhelming enough to elicit this response. To me, it’s a Thursday.

This proclamation clearly has a negative, glad-I’m-not-in-your-shoes connotation. It doesn’t offer something positive, it doesn’t lend a hand. It’s also stating the obvious. Yes, this shopping trip would probably (okay definitely) be more productive if I were flying solo right now. Yes, I am rolling deep with two ladies under the age of five. My hair is also brown.

What’s annoying is that I thought I was kicking ass in this department. I have figured out where to park and who to unbuckle first and the easiest way to navigate a store. More often than not, shopping trips with my little ladies have been relatively pain-free up to this point, save for the mid-trip potty break for Stella or digging through my bag to find a toy for Margot that’ll keep her occupied for a few more minutes. Yet nearly every time I’m shopping with the both of them, I hear it. “You have your hands full!”

I don’t need a medal or a pat on the back for doing what people do each and every day, even though a successful errand with kids can feel like a personal triumph. I also don’t need a stranger’s verbal assessment of what I have going on. In this increasingly scary and wild world, filled with hateful people and extreme weather events and devastation, my “hands full” is pretty low on the totem pole compared to what others are dealing with.

When it comes down to it, moms are pretty incredible. My cousin Alexis just flew alone with her four children back to Germany, where they are living the next couple years for her husband’s job. My friend Amy sent me a Snapchat today of herself having to pump on the floor near a choir room at her school. My friend Stephanie teaches Zumba throughout the week and does graphic design work while her girls are napping. My friend Julia taught yoga up until the day she gave birth her second daughter.

That is just a handful of the amazing, multitasking moms I have the pleasure of knowing. We’re all doing our best and kicking ass and don’t have time for people saying our hands are full instead of helping hold the door or giving a smile that says “you got this, girl” or simply going about their own days without the running commentary.

Yes, sir, I guess my hands are full. So is my heart.

Now can you please move your cart so mama can get her hands on some of that Halo Top?

loving: Sigh Studio of Music in Old Town

When it came to being home with two little girls this summer, I learned how ever-important it was to have at least a couple outings planned per week. That is, beyond adventures to the grocery store that either went very smoothly (a patient baby Margot) or not so much (a Supermarket Sweep-level of maneuvering with the cart in the middle of Kroger for a Stella potty break).

Last Friday was our first visit to the Sigh Studio of Music in Old Town, which was holding a free demo class for children. I first met Melissa Sigh a few years ago, when she was holding music classes at a location off of Saginaw in Lansing and at Mother & Earth Baby Boutique in Old Town. Stella enjoyed the classes very much when she was smaller, so the free demo seemed like a great opportunity to see how Margot might do.

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