Sweet Daughter

Sweet Daughter

Your eyes sparkle when you smile.

Your nose wrinkles when you laugh, just like your mom.

You are stubborn and steadfast and determined.

You’re smart as whip and your memory is remarkable.

You like to think that you’re wild (daddy says you’re as wild as a dodge caravan ☺️).

You enjoy the sweet, simple things in life-

Reading for hours, coloring, sorting, and stretching your imagination as far as imaginations can stretch.

You’re a homebody with a spirit of contentment.

I admire you in this.

Your giggle is contagious.

Your hugs are gentle and sweet.

We never have to ask you twice if you’d like to cuddle.

Yes… always yes.

You don’t know it yet, but you already affect lives for the better.

You make friends everywhere we go.

I’ve witnessed your silliness brighten a stranger’s day.

You just might change the world-

In just three years time, you’ve certainly changed mine.

Happiest of birthdays, to you-

Sweet daughter.

Sweet DaughterSweet DaughterPhotography: Sarah Blesener

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I Wouldn’t Call It Bliss, But I’d Call It Real

I Wouldn’t Call It Bliss, But I’d Call It Real

Here’s a fun fact for you: I haven’t written a single blog post specifically about marriage since I was engaged, and for one simple reason: I feel I am highly UNqualified to speak on it.

David and I just celebrated five years of marriage. Though it may be a small milestone in the grand scheme of life, it’s a milestone nonetheless.

Would you like to know what I’ve learned in five years of marriage? If you’re still reading this, let’s assume you do.

In five years of marriage I’ve learned: I know absolutely NOTHING about marriage. All of my expectations and all of my picture-perfect dreams of what a husband should be like and how I would be as a wife were simply unrealistic and untrue.

Don’t get me wrong here though- maybe yours is a very romantic marriage and is everything you dreamed it would be. If you’ve been married more than 2-3 years and that’s you…please, give me all of the advice; I’ll take it.

I think the hardest thing I’ve had to let go of is that while we love each other unconditionally, I’ve found that it’s impossible to LIKE each other unconditionally (my goodness have I tried).

And yes, it goes both ways.

The “cute” habits we had when we were dating and newlyweds suddenly aren’t so cute after awhile.

We’ve aged. We’ve changed. In some ways for the better, and in some ways that we need to improve on.

We’ve weathered our share of trials. Some common. Some that I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Ever.

We’re imperfect people, in an imperfect marriage.

But here we are. Five years. It’s hard, you guys. I’m not going to sugar coat it and pretend our marriage is something it’s not.

It’s not always butterflies. It’s not always fun. It’s not always pretty. It’s not always romantic. Its not always wedded bliss.

But man-oh-man. It’s SO REAL. So, SO very real. This man- he knows E V E R Y single part of me. Both the good, and the bad or ugly parts in the depths of my soul. He knows my opinions, the times I’ve judged, the times I’ve been judged; my insecurities, my failures, and my flaws. My past, my present, my hopes and dreams. He doesn’t always like everything he sees; but even still; he chooses to be mine. And I, his. Every day.

I like to think that this realization of expectation versus reality is a sign of maturity. Perhaps it is. But here’s what I know for sure…

Five years of marriage and I can proudly say:

We’re still figuring it out. It’s a beautifully difficult journey learning to do life with another person. A person with different opinions, different annoyances, and different interests.

Love isn’t always pretty. It is ALWAYS worth it, though. This guy- he’s worth the fight. Our marriage- is worth the hard stuff.

Every day we get a little bit better at this marriage stuff. A little bit wiser. A little bit more realistic.

We laugh. We fight. We love.

This is marriage, 5 years in.

And I’d do it all again.

Here’s to the next 5, times forever, my beloved.

❤️

I Wouldn’t Call It Bliss, But I’d Call It RealPhotography: Sarah Blesener

Toddler Room

Once it was time for little man to take over the nursery, our sweet girl got to graduate to her toddler room; so, we packed up our guest room, sold the furnishings, put some fresh paint on the walls, and created a special space for our big girl. *insert tears*

E is feisty but she has such a sense of wonder, girly-ness and sweetness about her; I hoped to capture those personality attributes in her room.

We were also able to include some very special pieces;

  • Her bed frame was hand carved over 80 years ago by her great, great grandfather. My grandmother, my mom, and I all had it at one point or another. The rest of her furniture was based around the bed.
  • Her kitchen was built by my grandfather for my mom and her siblings. It was passed down to my cousins, and eventually to my siblings and myself; I’ve since painted it and bought new hardware and it shines like new! Both of the kids can be found playing in this kitchen daily and it brings me so much joy!

A lot of her decor was upcycled from her nursery. We updated her canvas art to reflect her interest in Minnie and Daisy, her flag banner is from her first birthday party, and her oversized unicorn was a gift from an uncle; it’s perfect for making sure she doesn’t fall between the bed and the wall.

*The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. All are items I have actually purchased.

Items and essentials that we purchased for her new room were: cozy pink sheets (seriously, they are SO soft!), a bow pillow, a round white rug, a toddler bed rail, and sheer white curtains from Target; a subtle Minnie Mouse comforter, Minnie and Daisy accent pillow cover (both from Amazon), a mesh canopy from Five below, silk peonies to use as curtain tie backs and ivy for the canopy from Michael’s, a small gray fur rug from IKEA for her reading nook, small crystal chandelier, and floral contact paper (Amazon) for her night stand to cover up some wear and tear. (My mom purchased an adorable Minnie Mouse piggy bank for her for Christmas as well- a perfect addition!)

❤️

Apple Pie Red Eye

Food recipe? Check. Drink recipe? Coming right up.

Every year I make the same two “punches” in spiked and non-alcohol versions, along with some other basics to round out the beverage selection. Making a few of the same things every year makes it easy for me to get the recipes right (rather than experiment and fail- that happens a lot), and to plan for however many guests we’re expecting.

Alongside our sparkling cranberry punch, we always serve an Apple Pie Red Eye. It’s super sweet and smooth, but it’s STRONG; though it doesn’t necessarily taste like it is.

I found the recipe online about five years ago, and have referenced several others over time. That’s to say: there are a lot of ways of making this stuff. If you search for it online or on Pinterest, you might find it under Red Eye or Moonshine; but aside from slight variations most of the recipes are the same.

HERE is how I make mine:

Ingredients:

  • 8 Cinnamon sticks
  • 1 gallon GOOD apple cider
  • 1/2 gallon apple juice
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 liter Everclear* (see note at bottom)

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, bring cider, juice, sugar, and cinnamon sticks to boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar.
  2. Once boiling, reduce to simmer. Simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Remove from heat. Once it has stopped steaming, add Everclear.
  4. You can serve warm, OR:
  5. Allow to fully cool before transferring into containers (takes several hours- I usually make at night, cover, and let cool overnight). I usually transfer back into Everclear bottle and cider/juice containers using a ladle, small strainer (cheese cloth would work, too) and funnel. •I also remove cinnamon sticks at this point. This is optional•
  6. Serve!

*Note: I live in Minnesota, so I can only get my hands on Everclear 151. Traditionally, this is made with 190 proof (guys- it’s so strong). If you use 190, reduce to a 5th (roughly 750ml).

*Another note!! This is a general recipe, and honestly it makes quite a bit. I usually run out, though, so I increased my amounts slightly this year: I used 1.5 gallons cider, a gallon of juice, and 1.75 L Everclear. (Divided between two pots, used 1.5cups sugar in each and 8 cinnamon sticks in each) -I didn’t QUITE double it so it wasn’t an exact science. But hey- it tastes awesome.

*Wait- one more note! 😉 other variations (if you want to try them) can include any of the following and more: spiced rum, cloves, nutmeg, brown sugar, more or less sugar, pumpkin pie spice.

YUM.

Spicy Cranberry Meatballs

Every year my husband and I host a Christmas party for our neighbors, family and friends. I try to mix up the menu a little bit each year, but also stick to a few staples that our guests have come to expect year to year. Lucky you: I’m going to share TWO of my recipes with you!!

Spoiler alert on the first recipe; it’s the title of this post. Shocking, I know.

My spicy cranberry meatballs is my most requested recipe. It’s honestly just wonderful for feeding a crowd; easy, straightforward, and not terribly expensive- but most importantly: DELICIOUS.

It’s a crockpot recipe, so, you’re welcome.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bags frozen Italian meatballs
  • 2 cans jellied cranberries
  • 8oz chili garlic sauce (I use Huy Fong brand)
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce

Directions:

  1. Dump meatballs into crockpot set to high heat. (See? Easy already)
  2. In a bowl, whisk together ketchup, brown sugar, and soy sauce. If you want to make it even easier, you can cheat and use 1 cup of sweet bbq sauce.
  3. Once sugar is somewhat dissolved, whisk in the jellied cranberries and chili garlic sauce.
  4. Pour sauce over meatballs and stir until meatballs are coated.
  5. Cook on high for 1 hour, then on low for 5 hours.

Serves about 25 (at 4 meatballs/person).

Yes, it’s that simple. Enjoy!

**Stay tuned for another recipe next week! Don’t worry, I’ll have it posted before Christmas 😉 **