all things

“Are you a koala?”
“Excuse me?”
“It’s just that you’re meeting koala-my-expecations.”
A Tinder-man used the pick-up line on my friend, and she shared the comment with our book club tonight.  The silly introduction made her smile, and then it convinced the 12 of us that the man deserves a date.  Men, take notes.

Jon and I road-tripped home from Wisconsin today, and we passed the four-hour drive listening to TED talks.  Has anyone listened to how Amy Webb hacked online dating?  I read my favorite wedding blogs as I listened to Amy talk about attracting people online, and it got me thinking about capturing ‘love at first sight.’  More specifically, we have so many photos of people that are engaged, married, and celebrating anniversaries, but we have so few images that capture the first time those people met.
Does anyone have a photograph of the first time they met the person they ended up dating and/or marrying?  If i was a photographer, I would do a series called ‘the first glimpse.’  It would be tricky following people around on all their first dates (snapping pictures and hoping they see each other again), but I think it might be worth it.
My head was filled with all kinds of ideas about photography and dating when I arrived home, but I shoved them aside to begin preparing for book club.  A different girl hosts each month, and July was my month: game time.
Lucky for me, I happened to have exactly 12 of everything necessary to host the group.  Funny how things tend to work out, right?  I did get a little scroungy (is that a word?) pulling out anything that would suffice as a wineglass (oh college skills), but all is well that ends well.  Before the group arrived, Jon and I tested some drinks (I think he was just anxious to try the strawberry lemonade) and we found that slipping fruit into a wineglass ups the fannnnciness about 99%:
Okay okay, the silly beverage photos are a little more about us playing with our new camera than trying drinks, but what can I say?  We replaced an old camera, and now I’m snapping photos left, right, and center — which makes me wonder, where do you get photo inspiration? Do you ever just want to run out the house and photograph all things? Maybe that’s just me, but I definitely felt that way today.  I had to resist every urge not to snap photos of these lovelies all night long:
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I like good books and the girls that read them.  The ladies pictured above are some of my favorite people in Minneapolis, and I couldn’t be happier that our book club has turned into a ‘lets get together for all things’ club ❤

That’s my update here: Are you in any clubs? Any suggestions for what I can photograph?

king me

My clock blinked 7am and I realize it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  The early morning events didn’t influence me directly, but whenever Jon’s luck turns for the worst, I’m in the passenger seat.  
Jon works two days a week in Wisconsin, and when these days role around, he wakes up long before the crack of dawn to drive 2 hours to his ‘country’ office (Mondovi, Wisconsin – town of 2,000).  Yesterday, just after waking, he couldn’t find his car, assumed it was towed, and took mine for the long drive to work.  He phoned the impound during the drive, and he quickly learned that they didn’t have his car.  
He turns around and comes home to file a ‘stolen car report.’  It’s now 6:50am.  Luckily, I’m taking Kinzie on her morning walk, and I notice Jon’s Jeep parked on the street.  Odd, right?  I call and ask what’s wrong with his car (why else would he take mine?)  Can you imagine the relief in his voice?  Problem solved, he realizes he parked 2 streets away from where he thought he parked, and there really isn’t a crisis at all.  Phew.  
My sweet husband made it to work on time, and I felt so awful about his hectic morning, that I designed that ‘Goodness, I love you more than” graphic at the top of this page.  Whenever he’s frustrated or tired or upset, I try and do little things to boost his mood.  Did you know a 30 percent increase in one spouse’s happiness will boost the other spouse’s happiness?  It works the other way too, so if one spouse has a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day, then their partner will catch the mood.  
I had some important stuff to tell you in this post, and I’ve left it all for the bottom.  Oops.  Thing is, I taught Jon to play checkers last weekend, and it was even more fun than when I played at summer camp in 1995.  I hadn’t played in nearly 15 years, and so I taught him the wrong way, and we only figured it out when none of our players could move.  We ended up reading all the rules together, and then playing 4 rounds to declare a true tie.
We got ice cream after the game, and Jon commented that our checker strategies are the opposite of our real-life strategies: in the game, I think slowly and rationalize every move, while Jon moves quickly, crosses his fingers, and hopes for the best.  In this real world of ours?  I’m quick to jump and Jon likes a 15359-point plan before making a move.

PS – Is post-script allowed in blogs?  I hope so!  Anyway, we finally wrote our initials in something — I’ve been waiting for the right moment, and when I saw the Jenga set with names scrawled across the tops and sides, I knew the moment had come.  See the JP+JP up there? That’s us 🙂  Do me a favor and don’t tell the owner?

such sweet goodness

My heart is so full!  I usually try to write what’s on my mind, but I’m too excited about these photographs to compose a paragraph or five. Can I share my anniversary photos with you?  Is it okay if I just let the pictures do the talking?
Jon’s parents froze our wedding cake to be enjoyed on our first anniversary.  My parents knew we were planning to celebrate with a champagne picnic, and they sent “Mr & Mrs” flutes for the occasion.  How lucky are we?ImageImage
Britta at Sage Photography took photographs of our celebration, and I could not be more grateful.  Isn’t she an amazing photographer?  The love captured in these images gives you a glimpse into Britta’s great big heart.  Image
Friends and readers know that my first year of marriage was filled with laughter, adventure, friendship, health scares, and loads of love.  I’m grateful for the memories of our first year, and I’m excited to go through what comes next (taking the happy with the sad and the good times with the hard) as we enter our second year of marriage.Image

guilty pleasures

I hid it on the top shelf behind two dirty rags and a box marked ‘weights & stuff.’ Tonight, nothing was coming between me and Property Brothers.  Before long, however, my guilty conscious started screaming and I turned myself in: I stopped the treadmill and handed Jon the remote.

We’re that sickly-sweet couple that runs side-by-side on the treadmill and yells things like ‘race you’ and ‘keep going’ while offering up high-fives.  The gym routine is all cake-and-cream, but it becomes complicated when we’re sharing a TV screen.  
Jon wants to watch baseball or the news, and I want to watch Property Brothers or Top Chef.  Most times we debate back-and-forth until one of us gives in (I’ll let you shower first if …..) but Jon was late to the gym tonight and it occurred to me that we could skip the debate if the remote went missing….

Sweet Jon checked all the bikes and treadmills and stair-masters when he arrived at the gym.  Defeated, he told me that the remote was missing and we’d have to watch whatever was already on (Rehab Addict).  His whole search took about 10 seconds, but I felt guilty and told him to look on top of the bookcase behind the rags.  Jon grabbed the remote, smiled, and put on the Brewers vs. Pirates game.
Before he started running, Jon did Zoolander-type stretches that made me laugh so hard I almost fell off my treadmill.  No one else makes me laugh that way — the ‘lose control and grab your side and hope you don’t snort’ kinda way — and I realized that he could have the remote forever.  I like him that much.  

forever grateful

Before we loved, they showed us how to hold a marriage together with kindness, trust and laughter.  Thank you.

opposites don’t attract

Jon and I didn’t get along the first three times we met.  Well, okay, he liked me just fine (he kept asking me out, after-all), but I went home and told my friends that he was ‘”a business-type who loved sports and never read books.”  I didn’t think we had much in common, and so I gently explained that ‘although you’re a really nice guy, this probably isn’t going to work’ right after our third day.

He likes caramel.  I like chocolate.  He likes movies.  I like books.  He likes sports.  I like theater.  He likes business.  I like art.  He likes planning.  I like spontaneity.  He likes staying home.  I like going out.

We ended up running into each other at a music festival a few (7) months later, and, despite my belief ‘that we were just too different,’ we ended up making jokes and laughing for nearly an hour.  I learned then that we had the same sense of humor.

He called me after the festival and asked me out to dinner.  I agreed, and we spent the entire meal talking about our brothers and sisters.  I learned then that we’re both extremely close to our family.

We spent almost together after that dinner, and we began discovering how much we had in common: we were both sincere, motivated, loyal, and easy-going.  I began to realize that surface level descriptors like “business-type who loves sports and never reads books” doesn’t really tell you anything about a person’s core.  Soon enough, I learned that we were identical when it came to important things like values, believes, and, of course, a sense of humor.

Our differences allow us to step outside our comfort zone and try new things — little foray’s into the other person’s world, if you will.   I’ve always enjoyed making homemade chocolates, for example, but since Jon doesn’t like chocolate (IMAGINE THAT) I spent today learning how to make caramels.

My experiment is your gain — these caramels are soft, chewy, and delicious.   Trust me: even a chocolate-lover can appreciate this gooey goodness.  The recipe is below:
Here is the recipe:
-2 cups white sugar
-1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup of water
-2 tbs of white corn syrup
-1 stick of butter
-3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream

Mix sugar, water, and 1/2 stick of butter in a pan and bring to a low boil.  When the mixture is at hard crack (You could use a candy thermometer want wait for the temperate to reach 300 degrees Fahrenheit , or  you can wait use s a glass of water to test the temperature.  If using the glass of water, drop a few drops of the hot caramel into a glass, and if it sticks together you’re good to go).   Take the caramel off the heat and add the other half of the butter and the heavy cream.   Put back on the heat until boil reaches 240 degrees (or when you drop in water it forms a ball that feels soft but still holds together).   Finally, pour batter onto buttered parchment paper and let cool for an hour.   You’re done 🙂

Artwork by the lovely Rhianna Wurman.

poetic distraction

We had a wonderful weekend of, well, not much, and it could not have been more wonderful.  I made breakfast-in-bed on Sunday, and then used my good deed to convince Jon to do a rah rah rah project with me.  Of course he didn’t need much convincing, but he asked if I’d take a new work picture of him first, and if we could see Gravity in 3D after. Yes and yes, check check check.

I got a little playful with his work request, and drove us to a hotel downtown known for luxurious work spaces.  Jon got new photos for the company directory and LinkedIn, and I had fun pretending I needed a new company photo too.  Would either of these work?
After Jon got the most serious pictures possible (and I got the most silly, of course) we did a rah rah rah project that I’ve been looking forward to for a while: decorating bus-stops with poetry packets.

I did the gratitude experiment last Friday, and my list of things to be grateful for looks something like this:
1. Family
2. Friends
3. Literature
4. Comedy
5.  Art
6. Poetry
7. Chocolate
8. Sunny days
(The order gets confusing after #2)

I wanted to incorporate poems into my random acts of happiness, and I figured that people waiting for the bus (especially on a cold day) might appreciate a poetic distraction.

I put 5-6 poems in each of the packets, but all of them included my  favorite:

By Lawrence Raab

Years later they find themselves talking
about chances, moments when their lives
might have swerved off
for the smallest reason.

   What if
I hadn’t phoned, he says, that morning?
What if you’d been out,
as you were when I tried three times
the night before?

                          Then she tells him a secret.
She’d been there all evening, and she knew
he was the one calling, which was why
she hadn’t answered.

                               Because she felt—
because she was certain—her life would change
if she picked up the phone, said hello,
said, I was just thinking
of you.

            I was afraid,
she tells him. And in the morning
I also knew it was you, but I just
answered the phone

                          the way anyone
answers a phone when it starts to ring,
not thinking you have a choice.

a love story

A sparkling engagement ring seemingly invites unsolicited advice from co-workers and family alike about the trials and triumphs of a happy marriage.  One of the most common stories is that the first year of marriage is the hardest, but, if you manage to survive, you’re headed for domestic bliss.  The advice of the well-wishers is based on statistics provided by the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • 20% of married couples divorce within 5 years; 50% of married couples divorce within 20 years.
  • Couples marrying between the ages of 20-24 are 50% more likely to divorce than couples that wait until their late twenties to marry.
  • Couples without a college degree are 20% more likely to divorce within 10 years than a college-educated couple.

It appears the wisest course of action is to get a college degree and marry in your late twenties.  Once married, cross your fingers and hope hope hope that you’re still married in 20 years.

I’m  a newbie to the matrimony game, but my thoughts on the first year are already drastically different from the perception touted by society.  In summary:
Life didn’t change much after the wedding: I was happily in love before the ceremony, and I am happily in love now.  The largest change, perhaps, was the mutual acknowledgement that we are in this marriage for life, and that our marriage contract doesn’t have an escape clause.

The ‘marriage is forever’ mandate offers an incredible degree of security and liberation inside the construct.  A secure marriage encourages both partners to continue growing as individuals, and understands that a marriage evolves as consistently as the individuals within it.  A husband and wife must be active participants in their marriage – they must each grow as individuals while learning and re-learning the details of their partner and their union.

There is an incredible sense of freedom in knowing that you are loved come what may.  Feel free to try new things, change your mind, and pursue your wildest goals – you are securely loved, and your partner will stand by your side come what may.

Jon caught the common cold, and so we spent the majority of our weekend in bed.  We did, however, brave an outing to the apple orchard to make sure we got a pumpkin before the farms sold out.  Not much to write about, but a perfect example of an ordinary weekend inside a happy marriage:ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

getting lost together

Fall is on my mind, and since I’m the cheesiest romantic out there, I’ve been thinking about seasonal date ideas.  I happen to love surprises even more than romance and cheese, and so I created a game that surprises the receiver with fall date ideas.  I’m calling the game ‘Fall in Love,’ but if you’re on the normal end of the romance scale, you can call it anything else that you want.

The game works like this:  write 12 occasions that will occur during the fall season on envelopes, and then the envelopes with surprise dates to be opened on the given occasion.  For example, the envelope that says “1st Day of October” has a card inside that reads ‘we’re going to spend the day at a corn maze.’   The envelopes and cards I made are below, and you can download them here: fall1 and fall2.  Or you can make your own and personalize the dates 🙂

rolling around in ice cream

People often ask how life changed when I got married.  The question fills my head with pictures of me&Jon pulling the car over to run through sprinklers, getting in trouble for popcorn fights at the movies, and staying up all night (on a Tuesday) to watch every episode of Breaking Bad. 

It seems that people expect me to lament over all the cooking and cleaning, but the apartment only takes 30 minutes to clean (it’s as tiny as a treehouse), and I love cooking meals and hosting dinner parties.

There seems to be a stigma that being married makes you grown-up.  Dear reader, I’m here to upend that nonsense.  I may have a ring on my finger, but my childhood definitely isn’t over. No way, no how. I decided long ago that I would prolong childhood as long as possible, and I’m still reaping the benefits of that glorious decision.  So bring on the puddle stomping, the pillow fights, and the opportunities to play with my food.
ImageYayLabs! supported my love for playing with food by sending me an ice cream ball.  If you know me, then you’re realizing that not many things would make me much happier. I love ice cream (and cookies, brownies, fudge, candy – I have very sweet teeth), games, and any excuse try something new.

The ice cream ball only works when shared with others. Literally. After you pour in the 3 or 4 ingredients needed for your dream concoction (flavors range from chocolate covered cherry to toasted coconut fudge), you need to roll the ball around for approximately 20 minutes.  Perfect for a rah rah rah experiment, right?

You’re already probably guessing what came next, and you’re right: I took the gadget to the lake and made ice cream with strangers:
ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageIf you’re thinking that the pictures in this post look better than usual, that’s because Justina Louise spent the day with me again.  It’s somewhat like heaven to have a friend that works as a wedding photographer but enjoys photographing goofy experiments.  It’s also awesome that Apricot Lane keeps making me look so fly in all the photographs.  Thanks for making playtime so much fun y’all 🙂