If I'm Not Thinking About This Than Nobody Is

The first step in creating rising levels of stress and inadequacy.

The realization washed over me as I scrolled through a website's monthly checklist of wedding planning. There were things on there that I hadn't even thought about and in that moment I knew  because I hadn't thought about them, no one had. 

That meant, if something wrong were to happen (or not happen) at the wedding it would be because I didn't plan it properly. Yes, that is how my brain works. 

Thanks to that little thought burrowing into my brain my stress levels went bonkers. I piled on the self-pressure, demanding that I have all the answers even before people had the question. Mark asked how he could help, so I sent him a list but asked that he include me on everything, you know, just in case. 

Talk about task-mastering asshole. 

People ask me how long until the wedding and honestly, I don't know. I just know it's set to happen on August 26th and I have a shit ton of things to think about before then. 

Becoming a Morning Person

From someone who counts sleeping as a hobby. 

This is my New Year's Resolution post, three weeks in. I contemplated writing this when I first started my resolution but the last time I did something like this I didn't write on my blog for almost a year which was the exact opposite of said resolution.

Instead of making my resolution something like "Lose Weight!" "Stop Eating Shit!" or some other typical women's magazine cover headline, I chose to do something smaller (more on that in a minute) and more focused: to get down with getting up in the morning. 

My POV on mornings is a bit, um, muddy. While I love the idea of waking up early–getting shit done, owning the day, yada yada, (duh, Megan, who doesn't?) and I don't have problems waking up if something important is happening the next morning, I STRUGGLE with a.) waking up when my body is like, "Nah. This bed is the hottest club right now, where do you think you're going?" and b.) going to bed at 9pm the night before. 

Not to mention, I'm a better person when I get enough sleep. I'm happier, less cranky, more focused, and my skin looks alright. So in order for this whole *morning person* thing to work, I had to make sure I was still getting enough sleep. 

Even with all the internal struggles I had working against me, I did have some things working in my favor:

  1. Mark is a morning person. He comes from a family of morning people who all wake up at like 6am with lots of energy and zero complaints. #GOALS. When he's here it's not AS hard to get out of bed. 
  2. I started working the front desk at a fitness studio on Saturday mornings (PRIME SLEEPING IN TIME) meaning that I had one less day to worry about me breaking the routine. 
  3. This front desk job gave me an unlimited pass to all the classes and wouldn't you know they have 5:45AM (guhhhh) classes every single. damn. day. 

Guys. I'm three weeks in and I still don't have it figured out yet. I mean, the actual getting out of bed in the morning part (the hardest part IMO) has actually been pretty easy. I really like the morning workout classes and there's something nice about being able to be proud of yourself right off the bat each day. 

But. BIG BUT. I'm TIRED. 

And right now, I'm trying to figure out how to fix that. The morning classes are kicking my butt. There are plenty of times when I'm sore or my body is just exhausted and I don't want to get up. Thankfully, this wedding thing that's happening in 7 months provides backup motivation for that.

And sometimes. SOMETIMES I come back from the workout class and take a nap for an hour.  This week, my goal is to not do that. (Update: so far, so good.)

I've also slightly increased my coffee intake–to get me through the day–and I think it's affecting my bedtime and sleep. So. Goal #2: Coffee stops at noon. Tea after. No caffeine after 4pm. (Update: meh.)

Becoming a morning person is hard. I'm not there yet. And it's even harder when I have other goals I'm working toward like a.) working out every day and b.) eating low-calorie to shed some holiday weight. I'm not SUPER PUMPED about my progress right now, but I'm not mad or sad either–which for me is a step in the right direction. I'm excited that I've been following through and even though my body is not all about it right now, hopefully it will be soon. 

Until then, don't hate me if I'm cranky. 

Let's Get This Party Started: Making the Most Out of a Wedding Website

From the get-go I knew that our website would be one of those things that I would care about more than one might expect. I feel like a lot of people underutilize their wedding websites and I knew that would not be us. 

We have a lot of guests coming from out of town so being able to a have a one-stop shop where you could get all the information you need and then some was crucial. And making that one-stop shop a fun, easy-to-use and mobile friendly website seemed like a no-brainer. 

Here's ours: www.tinderhotdish.com

I love Squarespace. I use it for this website so it was only natural (and easy) to use it for our wedding website. The templates are awesome and it's so easy to customize the design. Some sites promise "a simple and easy wedding website" and that's exactly what you'll get - simple and easy. But if you're looking to make more out of your website, I suggest going with a place that offers more robust options like Squarespace.  

Consider Online RSVPs

It's 2017! Beyond the fact that I think paying double postage for RSVP cards is a waste of money, doing online RSVPs can be a huge time saver.

We put our RSVP button smack dab in the middle of the homepage so people can't miss it. And because it's a form, Squarespace allows you to download it into an Excel sheet making it easy to go through. 

Another bonus? We're able to ask more questions/collect more info than would fit on a itty bitty card. We're having a weekend welcome reception and a farewell brunch, and we're using the RSVP to gauge attendance for those events as well. 

Share Your Story (In a Fun Way!)

Just beyond the RSVP button is a fun, simple explanation of what the heck "Tinder Hotdish" means. Instead of writing out the story of how you met in one long block of text, websites now offer up the flexibility of telling your story through photos, small blocks of text, and even videos. Mark and I's story was pretty simple, but the nickname for it was silly, so we decided to focus on the "story of #tinderhotdish" instead of "our story."

Make it a Destination

I firmly believe that a wedding website gives you the opportunity to make your wedding feel like a destination regardless of where your guests are coming from. 

We created a page on website completely devoted to the location of our wedding, not just the hotel itself, but the area around it, too. We love our city and we wanted to give people options if they had any downtime.  

On top of that, by putting everything on a mobile-friendly website, guests can pull this out whenever they need it–whether that's when they land at the airport and can't remember the address or are just checking-in to the hotel and realizing they need a bite to eat. 

An Easy Way to Share Photos

When we got our engagement photos back, I was blown away. I loved every single one of them. But we really only needed one for our save the dates. Not only did we feature the photos in the design of our site, we created a gallery for relatives to easily look through the photos. We're planning on doing this with the photos from our wedding night. 

Squarespace also allows you to pull in photos based on a hashtag or from a certain user, so you can easily have photos your guests share using your wedding hashtag pulled into the website–again making it a one-stop shop for all things wedding. 

These are just a few of the ways we're getting the most out of our wedding website, but there's plenty of other examples and inspiration out on the web. A Practical Wedding (my wedding planning life-saver) has a good guide on what details to include on your website. Most importantly though–YOU DO YOU.

Fiction: I'm a 36-year-old mom of two and I fucking love recipes

Occasionally I write stories, letters, poems, etc. for fun. This is one of those things.

I’m a 36-year-old mom of two, and let me tell you, I fucking love recipes. My meticulously curated Pinterest is full of them, divvied up into somewhat specific categories like “Breakfast”, “Healthy Snacks” and “Things I will make when my children suddenly learn to feed and bathe themselves.”

I like to imagine myself in a kitchen that isn’t mine, something French but still modern, one that would make Joanna Gaines pee her skinny jeans. 

And ya know, maybe my kids are there, maybe they aren’t. They wouldn’t be my real kids (love you both!) but the well-behaved, getting along versions of them that I only see when they each have their own popcorn and Paw Patrol is on. Note: neither of those things are allowed in my fantasy kitchen.

Anyway back to the recipes. I am constantly looking for them. They are MY LIFE, despite what my LinkedIn, slightly fit body, and astute knowledge of everything Stranger Things might tell you. Which is WHY I’m soooo thankful that every possible resource and brand is constantly pushing them at me. Thought I’d share a few of my favorites, you know, for fun!

  • Yoplait Banana Caterpillar Kabobs: Almost all brands give me recipes that my KIDS will LOVE, and I cannot get over how well they know my kids’ daily-changing food preferences better than I do. That’s why I love stuff like THIS. Banana and strawberry bodies, pretzel legs, yogurt ligaments, grape heads, and sprinkle eyeballs?? I mean, how can I NOT?! Yoplait categorizes this as a “snacking activity” but I think I’ll definitely be filing this one under, “Soul-Crushing Snack Ideas that make me wonder who has time for this shit.”
  • Kind Snacks Smoothie Bowls: One commenter wrote: “Weird looking... looks liek bugs in soup!” And for a second I thought my five-year-old had secretly made a social media account just to mock me. But guys. I CAN’T RESIST A SMOOTHIE BOWL. Why drink a smoothie when I can dirty twice the amount of dishes and sip it from a spoon?! I do love how KIND’s addition to this smoothie bowl was taking one of their bars and dropping pieces into the bowl. I mean, who eats bars out of the wrapper anymore? Am I right?
  • Wavy Lay’s Spicy, Crunchy Deviled Eggs: Contrary to what you might think, I actually DO have friends over sometimes for get-togethers. And by sometimes I mean once a year, because that's how long it takes to forget what a fucking pain in the ass having guests over is. But this recipe caught my eye exactly for this occasion. Imagine it now: Karen walking up to a plate of deviled eggs, biting into one, and being like, “OH MY GOD, this is so crunchy and spicy. Megan, WHAT IS YOUR SECRET?” I nonchalantly smirk and say, “Hickory BBQ Wavy Lay’s, of course.” Except this would never happen, because when I open a bag of potato chips I usually just eat them. On the couch. Hopefully by myself.

HAPPY RECIPE HUNTING, YA’LL.

Sunday Morning

Thank god for ACs and light-blocking curtains. Sunlight peeked around the edges of the curtain and eight-plus hours of sleep gave me an 8 a.m. wake-up call I didn’t mind. I got up and brought Mark an extra glass of water to help him from his Saturday night out. I threw on leggings, a t-shirt and sneakers and headed out to do modern hunting and gathering for breakfast.

I felt like I was walking in a town close to the beach, the air just humid enough, the sun, hazy. I stopped at a corner store that I thought for sure would have eggs and some extras. It didn’t. I tried to buy a newspaper but they only took cash. Note to self: remember to always have a couple bills in your wallet.

Plan B. I stopped in the café next door and ordered two breakfasts to go: pulled pork hash and vegetable curry hash. Mark said he wasn’t hungry, but I liked the sound of both, so let’s hope he was just kidding about being not hungry.

I hadn’t grocery shopped in about a week and I was kind of glad I didn’t. This morning walk felt just right in a perfectly mundane way.

I got back and made coffee, texted Mark (upstairs) that it was beautiful outside, and made a combo plate of pork and vegetables. Second note to self: more pulled pork and curried vegetables for breakfast.

I opened my computer, turned on a “wistful and delicate film scores” radio station and read a few articles, saving some for future reference. We had plans to go to a food truck fair during the day before going to Mark’s parents’ house for a belated Father’s Day dinner but setting cruise-control seemed more right, so that’s what we did.  

Fiction: Dinner

Occasionally I write stories, letters, poems, etc. for fun. This is one of those things.

She entered the restaurant. 
The warmth delighted her.
“Hi, how many?”
“Just one.”
“One?”
“Yes. Just me.”
The hostess paused,
then smiled.
“Follow me.”
The hostess maneuvered through the busy restaurant
to a table toward the center of the room.
“Is this alright?
Would you prefer something more secluded?”
“No, this is perfectly fine,” she replied,
and eased out of her coat.
She sat,
nudging her chair closer to the table,
pausing to take a deep breath.
It had been a long week.
She started to look at the menu below her.
“Good evening miss.
Do you have anyone joining you tonight?”
She looked up and smiled.
“Oh no, just me,”
she replied.
“May I offer you something other than water tonight?”
“Yes, I’ll have a glass of Merlot.”
The waiter nodded and walked away.
She looked across the room.
An older woman was walking out
with her husband.
The woman acknowledged her
with an encouraging smile.
She looked back at her menu
and shook her head.
Being alone
involved so many people.

A repost from meganwinterhalter.tumblr.com

Closet Makeover: Why It's Nice to Have Friends With Power Tools

I’ve always known my closet was crap. The people who built it clearly did not intend on using it that much because half of it was unreachable. The plywood shelves were two feet deep and started at eye-level. There was raggedy carpet in it and the garment rod was bent.

So last weekend I gutted it.

beforecloset

I gutted it and turned it into something I don’t just mind looking at but can actually use.

I moved the rod to the right side of the closet with shelving above it and put floor to ceiling shelves on the back wall. I scored at Home Depot when I went to get supplies and was able to get a lot of wood for free since it was in the scrap bin.

closetafter

First screw into the project I was slowly beginning to realize I didn’t have the right tools. My Philips head did not want to work with the screws I had, so after a brief fit of angry tears, I texted a friend to come over with better tools and help. I left enough room at the bottom for a shoe rack and added a sheepskin rug for pumped up coziness. 

Before, I kept majority of my clothes underneath my bed or on a garment rack in my room. Now I have open space under the bed, and my garment rack is cleared of clutter.

closetafter3

The boxes are from IKEA, each one is $3.49 – which compared to container store prices is awesome, and they’re pretty durable.  Shoe rack and rug, also from IKEA.

A Lazy Tree Skirt That Doesn't Look Horrible

Tree skirts, the ones you buy at the store, are not worth the money. Most that I find are too over the top and don't fit in with my faux-artsy-hipster-chic lifestyle. In the past I'd just grab a spare piece of fabric I had and wrap it around the stand. This year however, I didn't have any fabric I liked lying around. My solution? Let's give this tree a flannel diaper. 

   

 

 

Since moving to Minnesota my flannel shirt collection has grown tenfold, needless to say, I had one to spare. If you don't, head to your nearest thrift store and pick one up. A men's L or XL is probably best. 

The steps to making this flannel tree skirt are simple and straightforward and just take a little messing around at the end to make it how you want it. 

1. Unbutton the flannel shirt and wrap it around the tree stand as if you're dressing the stand up to be your date to your company Christmas party. 

I started by putting the collar in the stand first and then wrapped the rest of the shirt around the rest of the stand. I then buttons the shirt a bit to keep it in place. 

Once buttoned, arrange the shirt so that it drapes the way you want it and covers the stand. Next, wrap the arms around the stand and tuck the cuffs of the shirt in at the top to hide the fact that this is a shirt around the bottom of your tree. Fuss with it until you like it, step back, and congratulate yourself for being such a Christmas tree skirt genius. 

Vanilla Sea Salt Pecan Cookies

If you ever want to seriously impress someone or your stomach, make these cookies. They're salty and sweet, and make a sick ice cream (gelato) cookie sandwich. Please stop whatever you are doing and go make these. 

VANILLA SEA SALT PECAN COOKIES

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 tsp. Sicilian sea salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 stick + 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract 
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tbsp. boiling water

RECIPE:

  1. In a large bowl combine flour, brown sugar, oats, sea salt, and pecans.
  2. Heat butter in a small saucepan until melted. Add vanilla. Let simmer to develop the buttery goodness.
  3. Heat 2 tbsp. water in microwave until boiling. 
  4. In a small bowl, mix together baking soda and water. 
  5. Quickly add butter from saucepan and mix together (the mixture will foam up, this is good!)
  6. Add butter and baking soda mixture to the dry ingredients. 
  7. Mix together until well combined. 
  8. Form dough into ping pong sized balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. 
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 350. 
  10. BONUS: After cooling, spread a dollop of Talenti Sea Salt Caramel gelato on one cookie and squish another cookie on top. Enjoy and then thank the baking gods for making the combination of butter, flour, and sugar taste so good. 
seasaltcookiesandwich

A Word on French Toast

Nothing really beats the sound of butter sizzling in a frying pan. Until you plop down a piece of eggy bread in the middle of it and cook up a solid serving of french toast. French toast used to be one of those things that I thought was incredibly hard to make so I normally just let someone else like a restaurant make it for me. UNTIL NOW. Because GUYS, it's NOT THAT HARD.

frenchtoast

 

I love keeping it simple. Nothing against the nutella-banana-stuffed-french-toasts of the world, but even the most basic homemade french toast feels comforting and decadent and lets the cook proclaim, "IT'S NOT EVEN 10AM YET AND I'VE BEEN PRODUCTIVE."

If you've got a baguette laying around (ah baguettes, a love/hate story for another day) go ahead and slice up a few pieces, dip those things in a egg whisked with a bit of milk, cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg and fry them in a pat of butter for a few minutes on each side. Bada boom. Bada bing. Your morning is automatically on the right track. 

 

Pumpkin Spice Pecan Cookies

Y'all, I was a production machine this weekend. I woke up Saturday morning, made a pretty good frittata, had my first cup of coffee in four days (more on that later) and was ready to take the day down. 

My mom came into town a couple weeks ago and while she was here we made serious baking plans full of cheesecake and cookies. Those baking plans were replaced with dinner plans and long story short, this all ended with me crawling out of bed at midnight to take the finally set cheesecake out of the oven, no cookies accomplished.

Back to this weekend. Lauren and I had finished hanging new curtains in the living room, and I was ready to stay on my DOING WORK train, so I pulled out this recipe. I love pecans and it has long been pumpkin season, so I was pretty excited.

OUTCOME SAYS: delicious. Make them now, because they are autumn in cookie form.

I think next time I'll skip the pumpkin spice and try more of a "brown butter pecan" cookie - because not too many things are better than the intensely rich nutty flavor of brown butter, but these are seriously good as is. Bake 'em, try 'em, and rejoice. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cream
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups pecan halves (roasted, unsalted), roughly chopped

DIRECTIONS:

  1. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or large mixing bowl and electric mixer) combine the butter, sugars, egg, vanilla, and beat on medium-high speed until creamed and well combined, about 4 minutes.
  2. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the cream, and beat on low speed until well combined, about 1 minute.
  3. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the flour, pumpkin pie spice, corn starch, baking soda, salt, and beat on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute.
  4. Stop, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and stir in pecans.
  5. Using a large cookie scoop, 1/4-cup measure, or your hands, form equal-sized mounds of dough, roll into balls, and flatten slightly.
  6. Place mounds on a large plate or tray, cover with plasticwrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 5 days.
  7. Preheat oven to 350F, line a baking sheet with a Silpat or spray with cooking spray. Place dough mounds on baking sheet, spaced at least 2 inches apart and bake for about 10 minutes, or until edges have set and tops are just set.
  8. Stuff your face and thank the baking gods for butter. 

Recipe originally from Averie Cooks, she does not suggest stuffing your face.

Side note: Don't let the poor quality of my photo influence your decision to make these cookies. Taking pictures for a blog is hard and not as easy as taking a selfie (which really isn't that easy either.) Bye, friends!

Fiction: Alone

Occasionally I write stories, letters, poems, etc. for fun. This is one of those things.

He hopped up onto the awning-covered stoop 
and shook the excess water off his jacket.
It wasn’t raining hard. 
Just drizzling. 
But it was Friday night 
and finding a place to park meant 
walking at least a block in the weather. 
It was Friday night inside, too. 
He pushed open the door 
and was greeted with the din 
of the neighborhood bar and cigarette fog. 
He recognized most of the people here and by the time he had hung up his coat, 
the bartender had a drink waiting for him. 
“How’s it going tonight, Jim?” 
“Same old, same old. Lookin’ like it’ll be pretty busy tonight.” 
Jim always said it the same way.
You could never tell if 
being busy was good. Or bad. 
He took a sip of his drink. 
An arm clapped onto the back of his shoulder. 
He turned and smiled. A friend from work.
“Hey Don, how’s it going?”
“Hey hey! It’s going, right? 
Glad it’s Friday and glad I’m here.”
“Heh, yea. Better than being alone right?”

Reposted from: meganwinterhalter.tumblr.com

Broccoli Goat Cheese Frittata

Last night, Lauren, Helene and I joined a few other of our girlfriends for a ladies'-night-in full of wine, talking, and John Legend's Mac and Cheese. We went through six bottles of wine so naturally I woke up this morning feeling like a turducken.

In order to redeem myself I decided to start the day with a legit breakfast.

Let me start off by say I love quiche. You're probably like, "Wait a second, the title of this post says frittata. Girl do you even know?" Oh, I do know. I know that I love quiche, but making a crust (which in my opinion is a REQUIREMENT for quiche) was just NOT on the docket today because turducken. 

So. Next best thing, frittata.  

The nice thing about quiches and frittatas is that you can essentially just throw a bunch of delicious tasting things together, add some eggs, and boom you've got breakfast. Okay, so maybe it isn't that simple but it does take the pressure off of having "all the right ingredients" - ugh, I hate when that's a requirement. 

Fast forward to me standing in the kitchen starting to pull out ingredients. I knew I had asparagus so I pulled that out. BUT living up to the irresponsible twenty-something demographic I belong to, one glance at it and I knew it was two days past edible.

Back-up plan: Broccoli in the freezer. Things just got easier. Threw that bag in the microwave and got to work on the onion and garlic. Onion and garlic because it's onion and garlic and the smell of those two things cooking alone is worth it. 5 eggs because that felt right. And cheese. The earthy creamy dairy currency that is goat cheese.  I put it all together, baked it long enough for the eggs to set and then I was set. With a nice creamy slice of frittata. 

The End. 

IMG_1248.JPG

Broccoli and Goat Cheese Frittata

Ingredients:

  • Olive oil spray
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 small cloves garlic minced
  • 1 bag steamable broccoli
  • 5 eggs, whisked
  • 2 oz. goat cheese
  • Shredded cheese of your choice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat oven-safe skillet to med-high heat. Spray with olive oil.
  3. Add onion and garlic and sautee until translucent.
  4. Drain broccoli. Add to skillet. 
  5. Add eggs and shredded cheese to skillet. 
  6. Top with goat cheese. 
  7. Pop in oven until eggs are set - 15ish minutes. 
  8. Eat the shit out of some frittata. 

 

A New Home

Since winter has officially hit Minnesota and the next six months of my life will be spent inside, I decided to make a change. Up until now I was trying to keep up with three different websites - a portfolio, a blog, and a shared blog with my roommate. On top of that I was trying to start an etsy side project. In the end, "keep up with" turned into straight up neglect. 

I've been neglecting all of it. So, in an attempt to get back on top of things, I've decided to consolidate. This website will now house my professional portfolio, my personal blog, and any other projects I'm working on. My old personal blog was completely devoted to free writing. I'll be keeping it where it is for now, but over the next few weeks, I'll be reposting some of my favorite pieces here. 

In addition, because I intend for this website blog to be a personal one and not just a writing one, it will also house other things I'm doing/creating/worrying about. You'll see what I'm cooking, baking, thrift shopping, doing with friends, and reading, so all of that will be captured here too. 

It will all be filterable by category, too, so if you don't care to read about all the fun things my friends and I are doing, and would rather just read what I have to write, you can.

I'm excited. Hope you are too!

Megan