absolutely yes

A polar-vortex brings swirls of snow and bursts of cold that can only mean one thing: time for a road trip.  Not a typical reaction, perhaps, but the promise of white-capped mountains and glistening pines had us cruising down I-95 by 9am on Saturday morning.  That’s right – we wake early enough to shower and nosh and pack before even Target is open.
Mashed up pictures from the weekend, but only the top right is actually in the car: bottom right is the pup, top left is a gift from Jon, and the bottom left is a murder mystery party from Friday night.  For inquiring minds — we did not solve the murder.
Totally changing topics: I wanted to make a fun game that encouraged thinking about people & things you love.  My solution?  Sweetheart mad libs.  Perhaps sweetheart isn’t the very best descriptor since this mad lib is good for best friends, pets, books, and, well, just about anything else you love.  Problem is, ‘things you love mad libs’ just didn’t sound as good.

The quirky mad lib is a simple & silly way to reflect on the unique reasons you’re grateful for the people and things in your life.  If you want to see the game, you can download it here.

To get a little rah rah rah with the mad libs, I brought them on our road trip and left them in small town cafes between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The best part of the weekend happened when we got home and I had a letter from my dear friend Emily asking me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding.  Emily and Mike are the type of infectiously happy couple that everyone wants to be around, and I’m so honored to help them celebrate their big day.  Can you tell I’m excited?

2 dollars for 1 smile

What could be more wonderful than stumbling upon friendship?  I studied abroad in Rome my junior year of college, and oops, silly me, I didn’t take an Italian language class before I moved there.  Typical American girl just got too excited about streets of gold, palaces of art, and endless gelato.  Best decision ever.

The school arranged for a representative to meet me at the airport and take me to my apartment.  Luckily, that representative forgot to show up, and I ended up walking to-and-fro in the Fiucimo Airport wondering how to get a cab.  I made a few inquiries, and within a couple minutes, I was swarmed with people claiming to be taxi drivers and promising the lowest price in Rome.

And then!

Like a dream come true, a pretty brunette grabbed my hand and asked if I was American.  I nodded my head yes, and she told me to come with her.   I followed her through the airport, and she explained about the importance of only using certified cab services, avoiding people without uniform, and always knowing the appropriate price beforehand.

We shared a cab to the university, and the 30 minute drive was filled with more jokes than a comedy show at Second City.  The two of us decided to meet up again the following weekend in Dublin.  Three weeks later we  found ourselves in Prague, six months later in Berlin, two years later in Chicago, and five years later (as in this past weekend) in Minneapolis.

Dear Clare, you’re the greatest friend in the world, and I’m so grateful that you came to visit.  I was going to post about making you a handmade Thank You card, but I just ended up writing all about you (couldn’t help myself).  Your card is included at the bottom of this post.  LOVE YOU.

Clare and Jen circa 2008:
At my 2013 wedding:
I made Clare’s thank you card by making sketches on paper, uploading the drawings onto my computer, and then arranging them into fun designs:

woo hoo for you


The US Census estimates the world population at 7,113,000,000.  In terms of birthdays, 19 ½ million people are entitled to blow out candles and eat cake every single day of the year.

With millions&millions of birthdays being celebrated each day, it might seem silly to focus too much on the annual celebration.   When you think about birthdays as an opportunity to celebrate a unique individual, however, it seems like much, much bigger deal.  If that quirky person is your BFF or your sweetheart, you may even want to organize a street parade or a block party.

The people we love bring something unique to our lives, and for one day, we have the opportunity to celebrate how special they are.  It’s so simple and happy, really: a birthday is a reminder to celebrate the unique qualities that each of us bring to the world.  Think about what makes your friends and family special, put on a party hat, and make a toast to their individuality.

I’m having a birthday this week, and kind letters from friends and family have already arrived to make me smile.  Their sweet notes have inspired me to research creative HBD cards.  I zoomed around the web, and this is what I found:


Quite a variety of ways to a say HBD, right?  Everything from your standard birthday card to a pinata in the mail to a cookie greeting card.  Which card would you most like to receive?