ace of dates

I’m not celebrating Valentine’s Day this year.  Thing is, I made a big deal of the holiday until I fell in love.  When I was single, I would gather up my girlfriends and plan a night out that celebrated friendship.  If I had a boyfriend, I  got excited about the roses and the chocolates and the declarations of adoration under the moonlight.

Now, however, I see the day as an almost trivial reminder of the things that we should be celebrating every single day.  We should make an effort to celebrate love whenever we can, not only when the calendar rolls around to February 14.  I said ‘i do’ on my wedding day, but I make a point of reminding myself of that promise all year round.
This year, I’m boycotting Valentine’s Day.

But there’s a catch — I’m going to celebrate love all the other 364 days of the year.  And, just so my husband doesn’t feel left out, I’m planning a surprise indoor picnic for him on February 13.

How does the surprise work?  I’m going to give him a clue about the details of the indoor-fondu picnic for 6 days leading up to the big surprise.
If you want to make something similar, it’s cheap & simple & hopefully fun — all you do is write the clue number on the front of the envelope and then leave a note hinting at the surprise inside each of the cards.
I decorated the outside of the cards with stickers that I received in my monthly mail package from Ginger Mail.  ImageImage
In case you’re wondering, Ginger Mail is like Birchbox for paper lovers: each month a themed package of cards, stickers and small crafts arrives in your mailbox to inspire your work (and make you smile).Image
What do you think of Valentine’s Day? Do you celebrate every February 14th?

the chaos of stars

Lucky for me, my husband doesn’t read this blog.  That means I can say anything I want about him.  You won’t tell, right?  Okay, good, because I’m too excited to keep this a surprise.

For better or worse, Jon’s birthday is December 26.  Year after year we spend December 25 eating cookies, opening gifts, sledding, playing with the dogs, and running around in the snow.  The morning after, for Jon’s big day, we sleepily sing happy birthday and try our best to eat cake (except we’re usually too filled with cookies to do much damage).

My sweet husband is as humble and kind as they come, and he never complains that everyone is gone for his birthday (friends fly home), that he only gets half the gifts (not from me, of course), or that everyone (including him) is too tired to celebrate.
I started Christmas shopping for my favorite man well before Christmas, and I made sure to get him a variety of practical (work-related) and fun (baseball-related) gifts.  When it came time to wrap, everything got tied up with a red, green or white ribbon.  And then, of course, I panicked — what would I do for his birthday?

Well, well, well.  You see that collage up top?  I made it with an app on my phone, and it got me thinking it might be fun to put photos on canvas for the apartment.  A few minutes later I started playing with a video app and thought it would be neat to make Jon a film.  And then, voilà!  – I decided to make a collage combining out favorite memories and inside jokes.
Jon is turning 29, so I printed my 29 favorite photos of us, wrote sweet notes on the back, and then pasted the images onto a canvas.  So you’re wondering how he knows what I wrote, right?  Don’t worry- that’s where the video comes in.  Before I pasted everything, I made a video explaining why the pictures were important to me and what was written on the back of them.

What do you think?  Will he like it?

drinking from my saucer cause my cup has over flowed

“You know I never did make my fortune and I guess it’s a little late now
But I never did worry about that much
No shoot I was happy anyhow cause you see
As I have journeyed down life’s road
I have reaped a lot more than I’ve sowed
And I’m drinking from my saucer cause my cup has over flowed” – Bill Anderson

i came home from a lunch date and found jon home from work early, laying on the couch with roses for our 2 month anniversary.  i grabbed my camera to capture the moment, gave him a kiss, and then thought of the lyric “i’m sipping from my saucer ’cause my cup has overflowed.”  my heart was full, and i wanted to share the poem with you all.


12 days of christmas giving

so! to make this holiday extra special, i decided to try out a little thing called “12 days of christmas loving.”  the idea is that jon gets 12 gifts for christmas, but in a patterned way: on december 12th (the first day) he gets 1 gift, on december 13th (the second day) he gets 2 gifts, and so forth, until the final and twelfth day, december 25th, when he gets 12 gifts.  how fun does this sound?

i also made my sweetheart commit to building a gingerbread house:

a winter photo shoot:

And a couple other things that I consider my favorite holiday activities:


  • Ice skating
  • Chop a Christmas tree
  • Sledding
  • Dog sledding
  • Cross country skiing
  • Snow mobilig
  • Ice fishing
  • Snow shoeing
  • Build a snowman
  • Go mistletoe picking
  • Make ornament from tree trunk
  • Build a snow fort
  • Winter picnic with little candles
  • Zoo lights
  • Day after thanksgiving shopping
  • Write Christmas cards
  • Adopt a family

Needless to say, we’ve been busy…

Happy holidays!!

we were together. i forget the rest.

Jon and I had a busy weekend entertaining friends from Minneapolis last weekend, and when they left on Sunday afternoon, he told me to grab my coat and my camera.  The sweet boy had made a list of places he thought I should photograph while the leaves were bursting with color:

After we had taken some pictures, he surprised me and took me to a vineyard Elmaro, tucked along the Mississippi.  We’ve been exploring a lot of the Wisconsin vineyards, and it’s convinced us it would be fun over the next year to make a game out of seeing how many we can visit.  Apparently, there is already something known as the Wisconsin Wine Trail, which begins in Iowa and runs up the Mississippi to Minneapolis (or, I suppose, you could say that it begins in Minneapolis and runs down the Mississippi to Iowa.. either way).  Guess we’ll be learning a lot about wine (I currently only know that you drink red in winter and white in summer.. oh! and white with fish and red with meat. Apparently, my current wine knowledge could all be obtained with a Dr. Seuss book on the topic, so I have a lot to learn.)
We also used the trip home to take more pictures:

moonlight on the riverbend

When Jon and I first moved to Wisconsin, we knew we were signing up for adventure: biking, kayaking, hiking, and all those activities that come with living in the country. What we didn’t expect, however, is that we would be able to explore vineyards and spend our days like we were vacationing in Napa or Tuscany. Northern Wisconsin has dozens of vineyards and wineries, lots of them scattered along the Mississippi, and exploring them has become one of our new favorite hobbies.


i want love to be simple

I want love to be simple. I want to trust without thinking. I want to be generous with my affection and patience and love unconditionally. It is easier to love a person with their flaws than to weed through them. I want to love the whole person, not parts; and this is how I want to be loved.” – Jewel Kilcher

I think that making love the center of your life allows the every day pieces to fall into place a little easier.  Or, as Vicci Martiniez says, “Now that I’ve made the commitment to myself, to enjoy my ride, everything seems so effortless.  In a way, I think it has set me up to be ready for whatever may come and to welcome it with open arms.”

I suppose that’s a lot of rambling about love as a recipe for simple and good living, but it’s true, and it’s what this post is about.  Yesterday was nothing out of the ordinary, but it was such a wonderful day, just because of my gratitude for the little things.  

Anyway, one weekend a month, this abandoned warehouse downtown is taken over by artists, and I am always excited to go and see what they are painting, sculpting, composing, etc etc etc.  Not too many people know about the market, so it always feels like I’m part of a secret when I enter the warehouse and ascend the stairs to the artists’ studios:

When I got home, I baked some chocolate chip cookies inside oreos for Jon.

He loves these cookies almost as much as oreo stuffed chocolate chip, red velvet with white chocolate chip, funfetti with bluemoon frosting— eeh, I think the boy just loves cookies.  I was planning dinner as well, but he called and said it was the perfect day for a picnic.  Before he came home, I got a blanket and snacks ready, and then we rode our bikes down to the river. We played Lumineers Pandora and munched on wraps and salads while
watching the sunset.

home sweet view

in my last post i said that jon was my home. that’s true. in all sorts of sentimental ways, our relationship makes my abstract home sweet, but in a very physical sense, i believe that a view makes or breaks a home.  wouldn’t you agree? in chicago, i rented a restored 1890s mansion with a couple of friends, and the home was a stunner: hardwork floors, filigree details lining the walls, bay windows, fireplaces- a chicago hotdog with all the fixins’.  what was missing, however, was anything to look at beyond the curtains adorning that beautiful bay window.  my bedroom view was simply the redbrick that was my neighbor’s house, and that lackluster view kept the otherwise impressive mansion from being anything exceptional.

now, the apartment jon and i shared in chicago had a view for the books — facing west (an untraditional view in chicago where the most coveted view is east toward the lake), and overlooking all the activity of the city.  the two of us spent many o days sitting porchside with cream soda and chatting about what the neighbors were doing in the building across, who was going home with whom below, and which places we would visit when we descended the 28 flights of stairs…

well, enough of that.  this was our view in chicago:

now, we are living in the country (cheating a little bit since we’re living in an apartment building, but hey- it’s still a rural area), and we have this view:

this view doesn’t afford us too many opportunities to muse about the behavior of the city, but it does allow us to draw constellations, watch the sunrise, and observe the changing of the leaves.  
jon took work off yesterday, and with the help of the movers, he had all of our things in the apt by the time i came home:

i was ready to start unpacking and decorating, but he asked if we could just have dinner and watch a movie. ha, as if he needed to ask.  i made sausage tortellini, and then we shared a bottle of wine on the porch.  we laid there with kinzie for an hour or so, just chatting, and i had that feeling that we have ended up exactly where we needed to be.
oh? and for the movie? we went throwback with a beautiful mind.  it’s an oldie but a goodie.

cheers to 960 more months

Jon and I got engaged after four months of dating, and we’ve come to expect a bit of shock & disbelief when we explain to people that we’ve been together 5, 6, or even 7 months.  Most people answer with a tactful “when you know, you know,” but others chime in about the responsibility of marriage, and the importance of being “sure.”

well, we were both sure after 4 weeks, and we’re more happy today, 1 year and 2 days later, than we’ve ever been.  july 28 marked our one year anniversary since our first kiss, and we decided to spend the weekend together kayaking in Bayfield, Wisconsin.
Jon began the anniversary by sending roses to my office:
When I got off work, we drove north toward Lake Superior, and stayed at a quaint B&B in Bayfield, Wisconsin.  We had a nice dinner at Wild Rice on Friday night, and then ferried to Madeline Island to go kayaking on Saturday:

After we finished kayaking, we wandered through the town hand-in-hand, exploring mom&pop shops and specialty boutiques.  We had a lot of fun, and found these interesting things to entertain us:

Sunday we woke up early and went to a flower and berry farm outside the city.  I intended to come home with lots of fruit for pies and muffins, but we ended up passing out fruit to hitchhikers and homeless individuals on the way home.  

i do i do i do

jon and i traveled up to Minneapolis for a wedding (1 of 8 that we are going to this year) and watched our friends Ann & Dan tie the proverbial knot.  we’ve made a game out of wedding going: we’ve decided (actually it was jon’s idea) to incorporate something fun from each wedding into our own  — this wedding had an awesome candy bar and DIY wine corks as seating cards, so it’s a toss up which idea we’ll be taking…

exploring minneapolis is always a good time too (we think it combines our favorite parts of Chicago with what we love best about the country).  we took sunday to bike around lake calhoun and lake of the isles, and then we brunched at a little bistro called barbette (if i was a yelper this place would get five stars.)  as this blog  continues you’ll come to see that jon is a true midwestern boy — we sat down for our breakfast and he started commenting on all the cheeses — chevre, goat, ricotta, etc — and told me he was going order “bacon and cheddar eggs — i’ve had enough of these funny cheeses, jen.” haha. i giggled and told him to just try the goat cheese with ham and bacon.  he thanked me.

the weekend got even better when we returned to Eau Claire on Sunday afternoon and I got to see my puppy again (his parents had been watching her for the weekend).  Sweet Kinzie back in my arms.