in the kitchen


I am no chef, but since I moved into my first apartment in 2009, I've slowly learned how to cook for myself. I started basic... you know, things like eggs, chicken, pasta, etc. Throughout college, I probably ate the same 10 meals on rotation. I was content because most fit my busy student lifestyle, but provided the health and nourishment I needed to reduce stress levels. Fast forward to married life presently, and I'm back in the kitchen more than ever before. 

I'm quickly learning what meals do/do not work for both my husband and I. A prime example: one night, I made spaghetti squash thinking, "We're a healthy family!" only to watch my husband ignore the majority of his plate. Lesson learned: faux carbs do not work for this man. He wants the real stuff. So, that being said, I'm always really curious to know what everyone else is whipping up for meals in the kitchen! These days, I'm trying to use recipes that rely on fresh spices, roots, or vegetables vs. things like frozen veggies or pre-made sauces. It is tough. I definitely cheat like every week in one way or another, but it's the effort that counts. This week, I thought I'd share a few meals/treats we've made lately that will absolutely be repeated in this household again!

+ above is the homemade tomato soup I whipped up for just myself for lunches this week
+ I made these pretzel chicken tenders for dinner last week and my husband just about leapt for joy at the sight of them
+ we made a batch of these chocolate chip cookies that have been our dessert all week
+ these three cheese zucchini stuffed lasagna rolls were so so good for dinner
+ crispy garlic sweet potato fries were an awesome side for meat
+ I made this vegetable and cheesy pasta bake while husband was out of town and loved it
+ I've also whipped up pumpkin cookies, blondie bars, and about a million different potato recipes this month

What are y'all cooking lately?

maine: the good, the bad, and the ugly


Moving to a new region of the country sends a shock through your system. Sure, moving states is a big enough change for most. But moving to a new culture? That certainly comes with the good, the bad, and the ugly. Since moving to Maine, I've been working consistently on keeping an open mind about this new culture. Some days are easy to embrace, and others leave you willing to crawl back to your home state. Today I thought it would be interesting to share my observations of this new culture I've been thrusted in to.
The good.
Seemingly all of the towns here are straight out of a storybook. Everything is quite quaint!
Most people here are just as friendly as they are in the Midwest.
Nature galore. Seriously, there are so many trails, lakes, mountains, and coasts here. It's marvelous coming from a region where everything is pretty well flat and most lakes are over-crowded.
Living near the ocean is muy bueno in my book.
There are T.J. Maxx's a plenty since their HQ is just one state away in Mass.
Everything here simply has that old-school charm. 
Fall in New England = heaven.

The bad.
The highways here terrify me. Driving at night here is one of the scariest encounters I've had on the road. Why is everyone moving so fast when it's pitch black with so many road curves?!
The entire state is remote. With the exception of the city of Portland, the entire state likely has more moose than people, I'm pretty sure. Target is a 25 minute drive away. J.Crew is an hour. Tears.
Everyone keeps warning us about winter. I mean, I'm from WI. Will it really be much worse?
There are so few great coffee shops here (aside from in Portland). 
Cell phone coverage is quite sketchy here, even when I'm in the heart of my town near businesses. 
I've noticed that SO many people smoke here. Come on, people!

The ugly.
Driving at night on the highways. Yes, this deserves to go on two lists it scares me that much.
I'm also quite terrified of hitting a moose on the highway at night. This haunts my dreams.
Some buildings/homes here are simply left to shambles. Some areas of town/other towns are entirely run down, it makes you think if people even care about their properties!
Right when we moved here, some lady called me a dumb b**** because I started to move forward when the light was green at an intersection instead of letting her cross the street on foot, first. Oh, sorry m'am. 

Overall, this state is growing on me as time goes on. I'm interested to revisit this topic in a few months to see where my thoughts have changed!

**added note: After reading a few comments, which are very much appreciated, I just wanted to make clear that I am actually really liking Maine! It's a beautiful state with a lot to offer, and I truly hope this post is not putting out the vibe that I'm hating on this region. My idea in writing this was to simply document my observations about a new and unfamiliar home! It really is treating us quite well, and although there are a few things that I'm adjusting to, I still feel very blessed that God had plans for us to move and settle here. Thanks guys!


october edit


I am currently in one of those uninspired phases when it comes to getting dressed. Most days, I want to assemble the most basic outfit with minimal accessories and call it a day. Some days, I'm perfectly o.k. with this. Other days, I feel frustrated with myself for not trying more! It's leaving me in an awkward phase where I want to downsize my closet while simultaneously wanting to purchase new items and replace the old. (These "new items" I speak of being primarily what's above.)

When I am feeling motivated, I can say with certainty that the one thing I'm craving beyond compare this year is plaid. Ok, I know. Plaid for fall... how exhilarating and unique. Maybe it's my new residence in a state that I can only presume has more lakeside cabins than actual people. Maybe I want to actually live in said lakeside cabins with plaid flannel everything and spend my days drinking coffee overlooking the mountain-surrounded lakes without a care in the world. (Because that's a reasonable vision, right?) I have yet to see a moose here, but when I do eventually see one, I can only hope I'm sporting plaid, Bean boots, and a puffy jacket with a fur hood. Then, and only then, will I know I'm truly a Mainer.

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