Weekend in St. Paul

Lucky for us, the sun and warmth arrived in St. Paul just in time for our visit last weekend. I didn’t wear a jacket for three whole days!

My future sisters-in-law hosted a wonderful bridal shower for me at a country club in St. Paul, complete with custom-designed candy bars and cookies.

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photo credit: Rebecca Martin

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We received so many special things! A blender, our place settings, serving platters, a cutting board, and a bundt pan from Mike’s mom with her handwritten poppyseed cake recipe so I can make Mike’s favorite dessert. (She also gave us a beautiful Waterford platter to display it on!)

They say you can’t choose your spouse’s family, but I may as well have, because I can’t ask for anything better.

My mom, sister and aunt also made the trip to Minnesota, which meant the world.

They are like twins!

They are like twins!

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Maybe we are too!

Another big moment of the weekend: meeting our godson, Daniel John Martin. Isn’t he so precious?!

Say cheese!

Say cheese!

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Mom’s Chili (aka Win-His-Heart Dinner)

Some people pour dozens of ingredients into their chili, but I’m convinced that the best way to make it involves just four: 1 lb of lean ground beef, 1 can of diced tomatoes, 1 can of kidney beans and 1 magical seasoning packet.

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I accidentally bought “mild,” but “original” is preferred.

This is the recipe my mom uses, so it always reminds me of home. It’s perfect on a rainy, snowy or cold night.

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This chili can also steal a man’s heart. It’s the first meal I ever made for Mike, and it’s still his all-time favorite. Soon after I made it, we officially started dating, and now look at us…

So ladies, if you’re in love, make this for your man and he’ll be yours forever.

Mom’s Chili (aka Win-His-Heart Dinner)

INGREDIENTS
1 lb lean ground beef
1 can (16 oz) kidney beans, undrained.
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained, OR 2 (8 oz) cans tomato sauce
1 packet McCormick Original Chili Seasoning

DIRECTIONS
1. In large skillet, brown meat until cooked through, drain any fat.
2. Add chili seasoning, beans and tomatoes to pan.
3. Stir to combine ingredients thoroughly, bring to boil.
4. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Dress it up with cheddar cheese, crackers and red onion.

Source: http://www.mccormick.com/Recipes/Main-Dishes/McCormick-Chili

Officially ‘Late 20s’

To mark my 27th birthday, I started to think about how much I’ve enjoyed this decade of my life. It’s hard to believe it began when I was a sophomore in college. Though I’ve got a lot more living to do, I think I’ve learned some good lessons so far.

Life is worth the leaps. The 20s seem to bring lots of Big Decisions about jobs, moving cities and relationships. I stewed over several Big Decisions for far too long and learned that it’s better to go with your gut, even if it means taking a leap. Taking chances can bring great rewards, or at the very least, a lesson learned.

Friendships need care. This became so clear after college, when my dearest friends in the world suddenly lived thousands of miles away, instead of across the hall. Our lives set out in all different directions, spanning time zones. Friendships don’t require proximity, but they do need care. Call. Text. Send birthday cards.

Time heals wounds. I experienced great heartbreak when I was 22. I truly thought I would carry its weight for the rest of my life. My mom told me time would heal, and now I see how the passage of time can indeed bring peace. The wounds fade, and the remaining scars make you human.

And the most important:

Dogs aren’t scary. I was scared of dogs until I met Larry Martin. Though they beg for your dinner and make you pick up their poop, they always love you and just want to cuddle.

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An April Shower

I am biased, but I think Mike and I have been given the best bridal showers imaginable. Yesterday, my Aunt Kathy and Aunt Susan hosted a beautiful celebration in Granger, Indiana.

It was so perfect, they thought of everything. The decorations, the flowers, the food, the opening blessing, the cake!

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My beautiful aunts and I. They planned such a memorable day for me.

My beautiful aunts and I. They planned such a memorable day for me.

It will never feel normal to receive and open so many gifts. But I love to think that when I use my pancake-flipper and cooking spoons, I will think of the Beeler girls. Or my loaf pans and measuring cups, I’ll think of my amazing friend Kim.

My sister gave us HANDMADE pillows! She sewed them herself and they look like they are from Anthropologie. So adorable I can hardly stand it.

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My mom gave us a Le Creuset Dutch Oven. I’ve read so many great things about the durability and versatility of this pot, I can’t wait to try it out.

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“Mom, is this what I think it is? You didn’t!” (Love Maggie’s face)

Every single gift meant so much. Especially the ones from my future family, the Martins, who drove all the way from Chicago and St. Paul to be there.

I felt so overcome by the people and the presents that I cried when I thanked everyone for coming. It was such an incredible day.

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(Thanks to Maggie and Kim for capturing it all in photos!)