christmastime is here

It’s been so long, it’s hard to know where to begin. I haven’t visited my blog for so long. With three posts in my cue, I question why I never shared them.

And I know why. This has been such a year that it never felt appropriate to post something. People were/are/will be dealing with so much, that I didn’t know how to add to the conversation, and I didn’t want people to think I was out to lunch (mentally) either. (Although I will say, ignorance is sometimes bliss these days.)

That said, I have missed writing, so here I am. Back, older, not sure if wiser, but eager to share again. So, here goes!

Merry Christmas, everyone!!!! Christmas was a little crazy for us this year, in that our plans were ever changing. We try to alternate Christmas every year, and this year was scheduled to be at the farm. We were there the weekend before for an extended family celebration (a fun, delicious, whirlwind of a weekend!), and were due to go back on Saturday morning.

We got the call that Nate’s Mom had been sick in bed, as so many have already been this cold and flu season. Eek! So we decided to postpone our visit to next weekend when all are better.

So what would we do? Luckily my aunt gladly took us in for Christmas Eve, and the plan was to go to my mom’s or sister’s on Christmas Day.

An interesting note: Since we’ve been married, Nate and I have never been in our own apartment for Christmas Eve. Never slept at home. Never put out cookies for Santa. Never opened presents with just my husband and now daughter.

Let me tell you, it was simple and nice. This is the first time Ellie is really into Christmas, and it’s been such a joy to share it with her. Decorating cookies, teaching her patience with the Advent calendar, sharing both our Swedish (Nate) and Polish and Catholic (me) traditions. Her excitement is infectious, her joy never ending. Truly makes my heart happy.

And on Christmas Day? More sickies entered the picture (my Dad and nephew), so we just enjoyed a quiet day at home, with the exception of a visit to my Grandma’s house with my mom (who is also now sick). It was fun to watch her play with her new gifts (like her Melissa & Doug salad set) and just relax. We are always on the go, that it’s nice to sit back and breathe.

And for dinner? Some good ole Trader Joe’s veggie fried rice, orange chicken, and dumplings with edamame on the side. You know, because we were not prepared for a traditional feast thinking we would be elsewhere. Who knows, maybe it’ll be a new tradition!

In the middle of dinner, Ellie randomly said, “Amen!” So we decided to hold hands and say a little prayer. Ellie liked this so much that we held hands and prayed a few more times during our short meal. She surprises me, that one.

What did I learn? Roll with what life gives you, and make the most of it. You can celebrate with family any (and every) day, so don’t sweat it when things don’t go as planned. Who knows, it might just be quite wonderful.

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend! More soon, I swear!

surprises when you least expect them

I grew up in a northwest suburb of Chicago. I didn’t really have any idea what farm life was like until I met Nate. Literally, I went to a farm in kindergarten and remember liking the chicks. Little did I know one day I would call a farm home!

I didn’t really think about where my food came from either. Farmers markets weren’t as popular as they are now. I loved going to the grocery store with my mom, and we ate on the healthier side, but I just didn’t think about it.

As a teenager, when my parents would go to buy flowers and plants and bushes in the late spring, I would ask to pick out one flower plant and would try to keep it alive. I always failed, and deemed myself the opposite of a green thumb.

Fast forward to meeting Nate. I remember one of the first times I went to Walnut Grove Farm, I posed for a photo with a cow; I was just so in awe. The spring and summers would come and go, and we would eat fresh veggies and fruits from the garden, something that was really foreign to me in the best way possible. 


As the years passed (we’ve been together for almost 15!), I’ve grown to appreciate respect the farm, and love the production gardens. We were married there almost six years ago, featuring mostly local vendors and the majority of the flowers were from the farm.

Fast forward even more to last weekend, when I pulled up probably 30 radishes and some green onions, picked fresh greens, and planted watermelons and squash to enjoy later this year.


There is something so gratifying about harvesting from a garden. It’s difficult for me to describe. I find such peace in it. And excitement. It just feels right.

Radishes, in particular, are super fun (I realize what a nerd I sound like right now, and I’m completely okay with it) because it’s like a surprise with each radish. Is it mature enough? What color is it? Long and thin or short and plump? Will it be really sharp or mild in flavor? Not to mention they are beautiful.


Radishes now signify the beginning of the growing season (other than another new favorite–rhubarb!). It means a summer filled with fresh foods that my mother-in-law planted and hopefully I can harvest. Gardening is something I’m not sure I’ll be good at on my own, but I really hope one day Nate and I will have the land to have our own garden.


Teaching Eloise about the farm, the gardens, and about the foods she eats; getting her to eat a lot of fruits and veggies; and trying new foods are very important to us. 

Today, Ellie wanted blueberries instead of a bakery cookie. That to me was a small, simple parenting win. And I’ll take them however they come!

I’m so grateful she has the farm as her home away from home, and that’s all that she knows. It gives her balance from the hustle and bustle of the city, the ability to run and be free, and spend quality time with her family with home-cooked, home-grown meals. What could be better than that?

Spotlight: Nice, France

Well, talk about a throw back! It’s about time (almost 5 months) I share some pictures with you from my time in Nice, don’t you think?!?

Back in January, I made my second trip in Nice; my first time was for two days when I was 18 years old (needless to say, it’s been awhile) while on a European getaway with my friend Ali. 

Although I was there for work this time around (I know, my job IS awesome!), I was able to enjoy lots of good food and see the city, and even visited Cannes and Monaco. 

I was also 14 weeks pregnant at the time, so no tartare, soft cheese, or wine for me! Well, I had one sip…guess I’ll just have to go back!!!

I am not really sure how to share a week in paradise with you, but I’ll share some of my favorites moments, meals, and memories (through photos) with you! 

Nicoise cuisine is a mix of French and Mediterranean, including lots of fresh fish and seafood, olives, veggies, cheeses, and don’t forget the rosé wine! Here’s a good article on 5 things to eat and drink from Nice.

Some of my favorite meals and snacks included:

  • Farcis: a classic Nicoise dish made from vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini, hollowed out and stuffed with ground meat, garlic, and bread crumbs.
  • Fresh clementines I bought from a local grocer (they sell them with the leaves and stems still on)
  • Red mullet fish and greens 
  • Artisan apple tart
  • Coq au vin 
  • And lots of croissants! 

Take a look:
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Want more? Check out this video I made for work: http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=TNJBzXIlN_k 

Au revoir for now!