Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Minnesotans (Three!) in BH&G

Minnesotans, be sure to check out the current issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine (May 2014). Three talented Twin Cities women are featured in the issue!

The gorgeous garden of Minneapolis horticulturalist Heidi Heiland, who owns Heidi's Lifestyle Gardens, is featured starting on page 73. Heidi and her husband live on Gleason Lake in Plymouth. Her backyard is a zen paradise filled with flowers, vegetables, rain barrels, garden towers, beautiful hardscapes, a tranquil lake view, a chicken coop, and even an outdoor shower. I was lucky enough to write the article about Heidi, whose no-pressure "it doesn't need to be perfect, it just needs to bring you joy" approach to gardening is right up my alley.

This is BH&G's innovations issue, and the cover features a fun and colorful kitchen designed by a fantastic Twin Cities interior design duo, Jen Ziemer and Andrea Dixon of Fiddlehead Design Group. Last year I got the chance to scout and style a kitchen redo they did for a young couple on Minnehaha Parkway in Minneapolis. It was way wow. When that kitchen pops up in Kitchen & Bath Ideas magazine, I'll be sure to post it here.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Yep, That's Parenthood: Loving This New Coke Ad

Watch this Argentine commercial for Coca-Cola and I guarantee there will be a smile on your face in about 60 seconds.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Adorable Alphabet Donuts

What do you do when your son turns seven on Thanksgiving and has to play second fiddle to a turkey? Treat him to a breakfast of "Happy Birthday" donuts from Angel Food Bakery! My mom gets all the credit for this awesome find. Twin Cities moms can pick up custom-ordered donuts from Angel Food Bakery's downtown Minneapolis location (right above Hell's Kitchen), where you can also grab a seat at the counter and watch these from-scratch baking goddesses decorate the pants off cupcakes, cookies and other ridiculously yummy treats. Thanks, Mom! 

Angel Food Bakery: // 612.238.1435

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Cover Your Turkey in Thanks

Last year I made this "Our Family Gives Thanks" sign, had one of my kids color it, had another one of my kids cut out a bunch of paper feathers, and asked all of our guests at Thanksgiving to write what they're thankful for on a feather and affix it to the turkey. It was fun — and enlightening! ("Your thankful for fish balls? Really? What the heck are fish balls?") We'll be doing the sign again this year, and I'll once again take a picture that will end up in our Pearson Family Yearbook 2013 as an easy reminder of what we were thankful for this year. You can download your own bird by clicking on the link below. Happy Thanksgiving!

Download a copy at my Scrib site by clicking here here

P.S. Fish balls are a Norwegian staple food that my brothers and I grew up eating at our grandparents' home in South Dakota. They're like a meatball, only made out of, well, fish. My grandma was the best cook I've ever known ever, and in her capable hands (and with her perfect mashed potatoes and homemade gravy), these were a truly delicious treat. On Thanksgiving and always, I'm thankful for memories of my beloved grandma!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Delicious Baked Sandwiches for a Crowd

Saturday night we hosted a glow-in-the-dark golf party for the awesome parents we've met through our oldest son's basketball and baseball teams. With 20+ golfers, I needed some yummy prep-ahead eats for a crowd. Enter my friend Sarah and her best-ever baked sandwiches. I've been meaning to blog about these puppies for a couple of years. With heavenly melty cheese and a sauce that gets this caramelized, perfectly gooey quality, these sandwiches are a guaranteed hit. I tried them for the first time at Sarah's house when she served them at a neighborhood party. After eating at least three sandwiches and swooning for a good five minutes, I asked her for the recipe. Since then, I've passed along the recipe more times than I can count. A few more people asked me for the deets on these sandwiches Saturday night, so I'm finally posting the recipe on MKEC. Thanks for sharing the wealth, Sarah!

Sarah's Best-Ever Baked Sandwiches

Using small buffet buns (my friend Kathy swears by the big package of Hawaiian rolls sold at Costco), make 16 ham-and-cheese or beef-and-jack sandwiches and line them up in a 9x13 pan. 

Bring the following to a boil, stirring frequently:
1.5 sticks butter
2 Tbsp poppy seeds
4 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp yellow mustard (the hot dog kind)

Allow sauce to cool a bit then spoon over the sandwiches. Cover pan in aluminum foil. Refrigerate at least two hours or overnight. (Any longer may result in soggy bread.) Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes; uncover for the last five minutes to brown. Serve warm. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

BeYOU{tiful} T-shirts for $10

My friend Heidi (of Lemon Coconut Pound Cake fame) got me addicted to the Very Jane website about a year ago, and ever since, one of the first things I do when logging into email every morning is eagerly open my Very Jane "daily deal" to see what fab jewelry, home dĂ©cor item, or little-girl frock is going to test my discipline. And — oh, my — the temptations do abound. Here's just one example: Today's deal is a $9.99 tee with a beautiful message for girls. But if that doesn't make you click "add to cart," just continue scrolling. Perhaps you'll find yourself needing another of the fresh deals offered up daily, such as a $7.50 crystal arrow bracelet, or a $13.99 hand-stamped necklace, or a $7.99 herringbone pashmina infinity scarf, or a $14.99 pencil skirt, or a.... You see what I mean.

This is what my "daily deal" email looks like, and below that you'll see all of the BeYOU{tiful} t-shirt color options. If you decide to sign up for Very Jane's daily emails, just remember that I warned you. (Although, when you think about it, what's wrong with exercising your self-discipline muscle every morning? You might lose the battle once in awhile, but you'll score a sweet deal in the process.)

Very Jane sends emails like this seven days/week.

Starting at size XS (4-6) to XL (14-16)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My Cost-Saving Tips for a Custom Kitchen

My kitchen is in this issue of Kitchen+Bath Makeovers, on newsstands now. 

So I'm standing in the checkout line at Target yesterday afternoon and see the latest issue of Kitchen+Bath Makeovers on the newsstand. This is one of my favorite national magazines, so I picked up a copy and started flipping through it. Lo and behold, there was my very own kitchen! The magazine shot it last fall, but I had lost track of when it was supposed to appear in print. And because the magazine features photos of my kitchen in a very rare state (read: fantastically clean and shiny with no empty Gatorade bottles, stacks of mail, and Cheez-It crumbs scattered all over the counter), I barely recognized it. 

I'm a field editor for this magazine, so it was especially fun to have them shoot my place. While this title primarily focuses on makeovers, it also loves to inspire with affordable design approaches of any kind. My kitchen story illuminates how it's possible to build a new home with a completely custom kitchen — but without a completely high price tag. The article, written by yours truly, offers up three big money-saving tips that can be applied to any remodeling or new-build kitchen project. It also includes my steal-of-a-deal sources for everything from the appliances to the accessories. I'm not a designer by any stretch, but I can bargain hunt with the best of them! 

Well, that's my attempt at a teaser. Now go out and support print journalism by buying a copy. Bonus: This issue also features an incredible bathroom transformation by DiGiacomo Homes & Renovation, one of my favorite builders/designers in the Twin Cities. That story is called "Sibling Revelry" and starts on page 104. 

A sneak peak at a few of the images featured in "Party of Six," pages 44–49 of the Fall/Winter 2013 issue of Kitchen+Bath Makeovers magazine. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

You Deplete Me: Summer Confessions of an Introvert Mom

We're 58 days into summer vacation here in beautiful Minnesota. Of those 58 days, I have spent 56 with my four kids, ages three to 11. I, like you, have the best kids in the world, and we've had a ball this summer. But after 1,344 hours of near-constant togetherness with my angel dumplings, my introverted soul — like the big bottle of SPF 50 I bought in May — is nearly tapped out.

The classic definition of an introvert is one who is energized by being alone and who can feel drained by being with other people for too long. (Take this one-minute "Quiet Quiz" to see where you fall on introversion/extroversion spectrum.) See the nearly unavoidable dilemma for introverted moms?

Introversion + stay-at-home motherhood + summer vacation = 0.000 time to re-energize

It's the perfect storm, really.

Being a mom, especially in the summer, can be a tough gig for anyone. In between all of the awesome summer moments — and there are boatloads of awesome summer moments — there's a whole lot of schlepping, bickering, juggling, and general wearing-thin of patience. Halfway into summer, any woman who tells you she isn't getting just a teensy bit irritated around her kids from time to time is a liar-liar-pants-on-fire. (Or maybe she's just an extreme extrovert who relishes every minute with her kids, even when all four are belting out different Maroon 5 songs in the minivan like a discordant, insane barbershop quarter.)

For introverts like me, motherhood in the summer months is akin to running a marathon while your favorite band gives you a personal concert from a flatbed truck the entire way. You're simultaneously thinking, "It doesn't get any better than this!" and "I'm not going to make it. I'm seriously not."

I'm bananas about my kids. I squeeze them and laugh with them daily. But several times each week I want to line them up, look at them with Jerry Maguire earnestness, and very slowly say, "You. Deplete. Me." Because sometimes they do. They just do.

So, 58 days into summer, where is this depleted introvert mom getting the energy and time to blog about depleted introverted motherhood? Like a bottle of Evian handed to someone who's been lost in the desert for 58 days, my husband handed me a night to myself at home by taking the kids to a resort. Since wrapping up a freelance project yesterday afternoon, I have been blissfully, fabulously alone. I went for a pedicure. I picked up my favorite ahi tuna salad and ate it in my quiet kitchen. I mindlessly drifted around Netflix. I read. I hit the hay early. This morning I listened to a podcast in bed and then, at the urging of my dear friend Heather the other night, decided to blog. (Because Heather told me she misses my little blog, and she knows that non-work writing makes me feel like I'm doing something for me. That's a good friend, isn't it?) Next up, a run. Then a facial.

Soon after that my family will come back home, full of sand and stories, to a rested and replenished me. Fueled up with 24 hours of peace, solitude, and the gratitude that comes when someone gives you something you really need (thank you, Nate!), I will be re-energized and ready to enthusiastically dive into the last 31 days of summer.

Not like I'm counting.

Monday, June 10, 2013

My Friends' Fabulous Kitchens

Check out the current issue of Kitchen + Bath Makeovers magazine, which features the kitchens of two friends of mine — both of whom have received props in this blog (see below)! My friend Daeaun transformed her kitchen's dated oak cabinetry with chic ebony paint, new hardware, and savvy ideas like creating a backsplash detail with pressed-tin for $20. An incredible transformation. My friend Kaylen's 1925 cottage is equally inspiring because nearly everything is reclaimed or recycled. For example, she scored a Sub-Zero fridge on Craigslist for $90 and freshened it up with chalkboard paint. So resourceful!

I had the fun of styling both of the shoots and writing the accompanying articles. I'll repost with PDFs of the articles when I receive them from the publisher, but in the meantime, you can hit newsstands to pick up the current issue. (Try Barnes & Noble, Home Depot, Target, and your local grocer.) Daeaun's kitchen, "Black Magic," starts on page 58. Kaylen's kitchen, "Cottage Charmer," starts on page 82 — and there are loads of other great kitchens and bathrooms in this issue, too. Kitchen + Bath Makeovers is one of my favorite magazines because the ideas are always inspiring yet always accessible. (No $3,000 light fixtures or $800 counter stools here.)

Previous posts about Daeaun:
Ladies (and Husbands and Kids) Who Brunch
Pretty Simple Bouquet

Previous posts about Kaylen:
Super Bowl Sunday: Trophy-Topped Wine Stoppers
Sweet Soaps

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Twin Cities Summer "Could-Do" List for Families

My friend Nancy emailed me last night with the kind of question I love. Her daughter is nannying two kids this summer and is looking for "free or very inexpensive things to do, so the parents don't have to spend lots of money each day." Those are precisely the kinds of things I look for every summer! 

Last summer my boys and I made a list of things we wanted to do before school kicked in. It wasn't a must-do list, which would be way too much pressure and would kind of defeat the purpose of an easy-going summer pace. It was a could-do list — things we could do when we had a rare free morning or day. Nothing went on the list unless the prospect sounded good to everyone. As a result, most of our field trips ended up being, according to the boys, "epicalistic." 

At the end of the summer, we didn't worry about the stuff that we never got around to doing. There were plenty of days when I was too busy (or simply not in the mood) to play family camp counselor. On those days, I told the kids to figure out their own fun — which often resulted in me repeatedly saying: "Really? You're bored? Only boring people can get bored. Are you boring?" 

I truly am becoming my mother. 

This summer we tweaked the list. Some things stayed, other things fell off, and we swapped in a couple of new-to-us hikes and parks. I was going to just share this list with Nancy, but aren't we all looking for "free or very inexpensive things to do" this time of year? Maybe there's something on here that's new to you. Many thanks to my mom friends who gave me a lot of these summer could-do ideas. Keep 'em coming, and here's wishing all of us an epicalistic summer! 

I sent my list via email to my local OfficeMax and had them increase the size and laminate it, then my kids took turns checking off the items on the list with a Sharpie. 
P.S. Yes, our summers are ridiculously short, but here's an awesome Minnesota fact that my Houston brother sent to me today: Ninety-four percent of Minneapolis residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park, one of the factors that has led the city to the top of the best-park-system table in the USA. —USA Today