Real Talk: Christmas Card Grammar.

If we are close, you know that I’m a stickler for good grammar, and although sometimes I mix up the usage of I/me and overuse commas, I’m pretty much on top of grammar/spelling related things…and won’t hesitate immediately correcting a mistake – my friends can attest to that. Sorry, y’all.

Unfortunately…lots of people aren’t quite there. Far too often I see Facebook posts, texts, or cards with apostrophes where they shouldn’t be, annnnd the (more than) occasional misuse of its/it’s, to/too, or their/there/there.

SO in hopes of minimizing those mistakes in your Christmas cards this year, here are a few tips – with a bit of assistance from The Oatmeal.

Let’s talk apostrophes:

Quite possibly the biggest issue my mom and I notice when it comes to Christmas cards is people being way overzealous with their apostrophes.

Pluralization does not equal possession.

To the Brown’s: Season’s Greeting’s! Love, The Smith’s.  <- No more of that, okay?

There should not be an ‘apostrophe s’ after your last name when signing a card.

There should not be an ‘apostrophe s’ after the name of the family you are addressing a card to.

There should not be an ‘apostrophe s’ after holiday or season.

Never ever EVER. I promise. It’s that simple. 

Other common issues:




The Oatmeal doesn’t have a cute, snarky image describing to/too usage sadly. For that, we’ll just go the boring (and very generalized) definition/description route!

To: A preposition. Used to express direction toward a person, place or thing.

Too: An adverb. Used to express sameness (Me too!) As well, also.

While we’re at it, I’d like you to meet the alot, which is much different than a lot.ALOT

With that, I’m going to begin writing our cards and addressing envelopes! Peace out, grammar nerds.


Happy Monday!

Gosh, I almost forgot to do this today – my brain has been in Cyber Monday mode (knocking out all the rest of my Christmas shopping, woohoo!) Can that be my #1 thing for my Happy Monday post?

      1. Other than general Christmas shopping, Mochi Things is having a 30% off sale. I’m not exactly at all sure how I discovered this website, but they have my absolute favorite pens in the entire world. Super fine point (.38) and cute patterns. I have 6 new ones headed my way – hooray!! Here are my favs: 1 2 3
      2. We picked up our Christmas cards this weekend!Screen Shot 2015-11-30 at 3.12.08 PM
        I had them printed at the printer that did all of our invites/programs for our wedding – so much cheaper than going through Minted…and you get exactly what you want. Best of both worlds. Nothing against Minted though – that’s where my parents are getting their (equally as cute) cards printed.
      3. All of the snow in Kzoo melted! Hallelujah! We weren’t able to get all of our leaves up before we were dumped on with 8-10 inches of snow two weekends ago, so hopefully we can take care of that before we get more snow on Wednesday. Icky. Can it be next Thursday yet? I’m ready to go to Disney.
      4. Since the first Hunger Games movie came out, me and my friend Olivia have been seeing them together shortly after they come out, and Joe and I were able to stop on our way back to Kzoo last night to see the movie with her and her boyfriend! The movie was lovely, and I’m so glad we were able to see the entire series together! I’m a stickler for tradition.
      5. I’ve been getting lots of things to sample/review/write about lately from places like BzzAgent (Barber Chicken), Influenster (a humidifier), Crowdtap (Splenda, Robitussin, Cottonelle) and Brandbacker (face cream, eye gel, hair care, and natural snack sticks.) I kind of feel bad for the mail man/UPS man for having to deliver so many packages, but it’s pretty great, not gonna lie. Anyway, I have yet to get the snack sticks, but they’re holding a giveaway! Chomps Snack Sticks are based out of Chicago, and are made with 100% Non-GMO Grass-Fed Angus Beef, sourced from New Zealand. They contain no artificial ingredients (no nitrites, nitrates, MSG, colors, flavors) and are shelf stable for a year with the help of celery juice! If you enter, good luck! 🙂 I’ll be writing a review sometime in the next few weeks.

Hope your week is off to a great start!



Weekend Update – Happy Thanksgiving!

Good news: Joe and I got most, if not all of the parts and pieces for our Winter Mickey wreath! Super excited to start putting it together this week. Fingers crossed that it comes together as nicely as the fall one.

Bad news: I have completely failed the “drinking 5 bottles of water” thing since being home. Sorry, plant. I’ll get back on that tomorrow.

Our Thanksgiving/weekend was super lovely all around. We spent lots of quality time with friends and family (with more to come – stopping on our way back to the Zoo to see the newest Hunger Games movie with one of my bridesmaids) which definitely made both of us feel a little “home”sick, but we’re also looking forward to getting back to our home to start decorating for Christmas, celebrating Joe’s birthday, sending (adorable) Christmas cards, and of course, packing for Disney! (Plus my butt got kicked at Pure Barre, we got to ride the K-Line trolley for one last time this year, we looked for Christmas trees…I could go on and on.)

We found some nickels in the basement, which of course meant we had to play with the slot machine at 1am. So many elementary/middle school sleepover memories.

Like I think I mentioned in my last post, this was my family’s first time hosting Thanksgiving, and of course we went all out. A pretty table, homemade stuffing, turkey on the grill (with a spice rub from the spice market in Turkey, of course) champagne we bought for our wedding weekend and failed to consume until Thanksgiving dinner, and our traditional poppers/paper crowns! Doesn’t get much better than that!  IMG_4185

I hope everyone else has had a fantastic Thanksgiving/post-Thanksgiving weekend, and that you’re coming up with lots of creative ways to use up all of that leftover turkey! 😉




Black Friday!

No early Black Friday shopping here – just a trip to JoAnn’s to get wreath parts (it’s gonna be cuuuute!) and Staples for clear sticker paper. Online shopping though? That’s a different story. Sorry, bank account.

In other news, a year ago today we got our engagement photos back! In retrospect I suppose I wish I had worn something a little different – but hey, it was COLD! I didn’t want to take off my vest:)

I didn’t think I’d be that person that is going through wedding photos and gushing about them months later, yet here I am, gushing about year old engagement photos. Oh well 🙂

Yesterday was the first time my family hosted Thanksgiving, and it was quite a success – full post on that later – for now, let’s just admire this: 


Plant Nanny Update – Yay Hydration!

Plant Nanny, hydrationHoly moley, I did it! And it only took two near-(plant)death experiences to get there! My lovely dandelion is now happily growing in the app’s virtual garden, because I’ve been drinking my full 5 bottles of water the past few days. Probably for the better, since the second half of this week will probably be full of…not water – my apologies in advance for the impending near-death experiences to the Devil’s Ivy I’ve begun ‘growing’ in the app.

I gotta say, I’m still quite impressed with how successfully this app has gotten me to drink more water – “Ugh I want a beer (or cider, juice, or Pepsi…) but I need to make sure my plant gets enough water!” has been a relatively common phrase in our household as of late – it’s actually quite amusing. Gamifying dull tasks, I’m tellin’ ya, it works!

In case you’re interested, here’s the link to download the (free) app for iPhones. Yay hydration!


Happy Monday!

It’s Thanksgiving week, and one week until Cyber Monday! Priorities, right? It really is the best time to finish up Christmas shopping. Really though, I’m looking forward to going to the Thanksgiving parade and having everyone around the dinner table in a few days! Meanwhile…some Monday goodness:

1 ) It snowed SO MUCH this weekend, and I realized right away how thankful I was for my AWD car. Despite icky roads, the Edge drove pretty much as if there was nothing on the ground – a far cry from sliding ALL over the place in Fiestas for the past 4 or so years. Holy moley. Saturday night we took advantage of my beast of a car and drove up to a friend’s house for a few hours of Cards Against Humanity and Heads Up. Maybe the snow isn’t too bad. (Okay nope, that’s a lie. I do not like the snow.)

2 ) We have a lot of greenery in our house – a couple of IKEA plants, lots of succulents left over from our rehearsal dinner (the number is dwindling relatively quickly though…oops) and a spider plant. Last week while we were making dinner, Joe joked that we should plant one of our garlic cloves. Well, I did, and it’s growing SO FAST! Well, sprouting so fast? We have no idea how the clove will actually turn into a larger
thing of garlic. Hooray science experiments! 😛

Growwww, my little garlic clove!
Growwww, my little garlic clove!

3 ) Speaking of rehearsal dinner succulents, I’ve been thinking back to our wedding weekend lately for no reason in particular, and everything about it makes me so happy! We had so many of our loved ones all together and everything was just so perfectly great. That is all. Also wow, I just went through my phone’s pictures to find a picture to post with this, and there are so many photos from our wedding weekend that I don’t even remember taking – just since so much was going on. So good.

Heyyyy lack of teeth smiling. My bad.
Frozen custard fire truck. Yes please and thank you.

4 ) It’s almost Pure Barre time! Between this weekend and next (and Christmastime) we’ll be back in GP quite a bit, so I bought the 5 class package for PB that I will be taking full advantage of! Don’t get me wrong, Bent 9 has definitely grown on me, but nothing is better than tucking with my PB loves (and my sister!!)

5 ) I think I’m going to work on a Christmas/winter themed Mickey wreath to hang in place of our fall one! I still have no idea what it will look like, but I think a trip to JoAnn’s will solve my creative block quite quickly. Excited to do another DIY post 🙂 

Happy Monday, and (early) Thanksgiving y’all, be sure to eat lots of yummy food!


Mail Day – Pantone Fun!

pantone books

Alright, so if you know anything about design, you know that the contents of the 25 lb box that was delivered earlier this week are super exciting! Granted…I may never actually use them, especially since *technically* you’re supposed to replace your Pantone color books every year, but now I feel like our house is officially the house of designers 😉 The last time I looked at a Pantone book, I was picking out colors for our wedding! Eep!

Speaking of packages, I also got the whole set of hedgehog baby clothes from Gymboree that I ordered this week, and it is every bit as cute as I had hoped. Now for it to sit in a box for 4.5 years, when hopefully Joe and I still have a soft spot in our hearts for hedgies (I’m pretty confident we will. Poppy’s a weirdo, but we love her.)

pantone duotone

Plus I mean really, who doesn’t want to learn about the fast track to duotone success!?



claire cooks: crockpot turkey chili!

Joe and I have been trying to eat at least slightly healthier lately, especially with Thanksgiving, Disney World, and Christmas coming up (realistically, I’ll probably gorge the most at Disney.) We’ve done our best to kick our “glass of wine/beer almost every night” habit, and I’ve been scouring Pinterest for yummy recipes that are a bit healthier. Enter: Turkey Chili!

Fall has hit Western Michigan in full force which means one thing to me…soup! And raking leaves. And getting blisters from raking leaves. But most importantly, soup! (Or in this case, chili. Close enough.)

The crock pot and I don’t typically get along (…remember the mac and cheese disaster of 2015?)  but I’ve been trying to tame the beast, slowly but surely. Although I do not, not, not like onions, peppers, or tomatoes, something magical happens when they’re all combined in chili, because I can (almost) always scarf it down without picking around what I don’t like.

Spices are so pretty! I guess the beans are nice too.

Let’s get down to business. Here are the ingredients, slightly adjusted from Freebie Finding Mom‘s recipe:

1.5 lb. lean ground turkey
1 large onion
1 sweet bell pepper (I used an orange one. It was small.)
2 15 oz. cans tomato sauce
2 15 oz. cans diced tomatoes
15 oz. can dark red kidney beans
15 oz. can black beans
15 oz. can sweet corn
1 Tbsp. cumin
1 Tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp. garlic powder
1-2 tsp. olive oil


  1. Finely dice the onions and pepper. Geez. I feel like most of my recipes begin with dicing onions…despite my distaste for them. Sigh.
  2. Brown the turkey, onions, and peppers in a large skillet with olive oil, drain any juices.
  3. Place the cooked turkey, peppers, and onions in the bottom of your crockpot.
  4. Pour in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, kidney beans (drained), black beans (drained), corn (drained), cumin, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper, stir well.
  5. Cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. Serve! We buttered some bread to dunk and topped our chili with cheese (probably enough to make up for the calories saved by using turkey over beef.)IMG_4053


Oy. I feel like I’ve written “I’m going to write a blog post about that soon” a handful of times in previous blog posts, but have yet to actually write about any of those things. I’ll try to get better at that 🙂




Real Talk – Paris etc.

Last Friday the unaccompanied man next to me at the movie theater ordered a beer, left the theater before it was delivered, and never returned.

Last Friday I couldn’t focus on how amazing Daniel Craig – I mean Spectre – was, because I was too busy worrying about where that man went, taking note of the nearest exit, and planning what I would do if he came in, guns blazing.

Last night my friend texted me a picture of the aftermath at the Bataclan in Paris.

Last night I sat on our couch, caught off guard by the tears suddenly pouring down my face out of sadness and anger toward everything going on in the world right now. (She has since apologized a zillion times and all is well.)

I’ll be the first to admit that my mind gets away from me from time to time, but in an ideal world there wouldn’t be any reason for me to worry about taking the train from Michigan City to Chicago this weekend…except that Michigan City is apparently on ISIS’ hit list. In an ideal world, when someone leaves a movie theater without drinking their beer, paranoia/anxiety shouldn’t set in, thinking about all of the what ifs. And who knows how long it will be until I can share my favorite international destination, Istanbul, with my husband without being put on someone’s watch list.IMG_7066

Although people are frustrated that similar/recent attacks in Beirut, Baghdad, and Kenya are being ignored, I think that because Paris has been featured in so many books and movies that most people feel some slight connection to this romanticized city, whether they’ve been there or not. The same can’t be said for the other cities, but that’s a different conversation for a different time. If changing profile pictures to a washed out French flag or re-gramming the Eiffel Tower peace sign is how a person reacts to all the crap going on right now, more power to ’em.

Amazing view of Sacre Coeur.
Amazing view of Sacre Coeur.

I’m not one to typically get hung up on major issues, political or otherwise, but for some reason I feel like I have so much going on in my mind just floating around. My heart is heavy. Maybe because I was just there. Maybe because I’ve had a connection to French culture/France since the 4th grade (thanks, French Back to Back!) Maybe because of the relief I felt as I saw a handful of Facebook friends checking in as ‘safe’ on Friday evening before I even knew what was going on. Maybe I don’t need a reason.

Selfie, minus mumsie.
Family selfie, minus mumsie.

I don’t really have anything monumental to say about what is happening that hasn’t already been said in another blog, news article, or Facebook post. Assuming all Muslims have a hidden agenda obviously isn’t the answer. Assuming all refugees have a hidden agenda isn’t the answer. Hopefully someone out there knows what the answer is…I want to bring my (future) kids into a world that has more good than bad.

Disneyland Paris, May 2015
FullSizeRender 6
Been to Paris twice now, have yet to actually visit the Louvre.

 Oof. That was heaaaavy for a blog that usually posts about food, married life, and hedgehogs. I need to get my butt back to the Happiest Place on Earth for some self-medication…but in the meantime, Christmas music + raking leaves while it’s still nice out.


Happy Monday!

Can we just talk about how fantastic the weather is for a quick second? Mid 60s in mid-November?! Sometimes I don’t think I’d miss the snow if we moved to Florida.

Anyway, it’s Monday, so here we go!

1. After Joe and I got home last night, I made a paper chain counting down to our Disney trip. 24 days and counting, woooo! My parents just got home from their annual Food and Wine Festival trip, so talking to them about their trip while we were home this weekend made us even more excited! Hopefully with everything coming up (mainly Thanksgiving and birthday celebration) time will fly and we’ll be there before we know it 🙂IMG_4030


2. Today I’m going to sign up for the monthly unlimited class package at Bent 9. I took class at Pure Barre this past Saturday and still miss it (and the people) like crazy, but I think hot barre/flex/flex 2.0 will work quite well for me when I can’t LTB in GP 🙂

3. We finally found some artwork to hang in our bedroom! Thank you, IKEA, for having Picasso’s animal sketches mounted and framed. We also found an inexpensive frame for Joe’s Focus RS poster – the one we had fell and cracked 🙁 24×36 frames are expensive in the non-IKEA world!IMG_4032


4. This weekend my mom jokingly mentioned the fact that Trader Joe’s had stuffing flavored kettle chips. Welp, I had planned on going to Loft to get a shawl/poncho/giant scarf (whatever you want to call it) – and Trader Joe’s happens to validate parking for the garage behind Loft…so of course we had to pop in and buy a couple bags of chips. Holy moley. They are amazing, and actually taste like stuffing. Two thumbs up. Oh, we also picked up two chocolate advent calendars. Yay Christmas!IMG_4031


5. When Joe came home for lunch today, he discovered that my keys were still in the door (from when we got back last night). Thank goodness we live in a safe neighborhood, otherwise we could have been without my car, and everything in our house would have been free for the taking. Yikes.

Hope everyone has an amazing week!