Wedding gifts we still use and like: brightly colored dinnerware

wedding gifts

Wedding season is coming to a close, but I bet you till have some weddings to attend. Anyway, I thought I’d share with you the wedding gifts we still use and love, in case you need some inspiration for what to bring to those upcoming nuptials.

I tried to keep things pretty simple on our wedding gift registry. We picked the simple flatware, the white dishes set, and we added some purple dinner plates and cereal bowls because TCU. And normally I would tell you to just stick to their registry, but one of our wedding guests bought us a beautiful multi-colored striped pitcher and chip and dip serving set. It was the perfect punch of color to add to our dinnerware. I have it on display in my kitchen year-round and love using it for parties.

If you have no idea the taste of the bride and groom, then stick to the registry. But if you know them a bit, or if you can come up with an item in a complementary color or pattern that will go with the rest of their kitchen items on the registry, then I think that’s a great option!

For example:

A super awesome Rachael Ray serving bowl, but only if they like orange.

If they like abstract florals in warm colors, here are some awesome items to choose from in this inexpensive dinnerware set.

Some amazing patterns and colors in this set.

A kind of weird and artsy serving platter, but I love the colors.

On sale from Crate & Barrell, a set of lime mixing bowls.

And the most famous of all the colored dinnerware sets… FIESTAWARE!

Would you love this as a wedding gift?


Advice for Brides: no mind reading

advice for brides

With wedding season finishing up for this year, I thought I’d give some advice for brides and future wives periodically here on the blog.

Hey there, bride. Your groom is pretty great, isn’t he? He is going to be an amazing husband. He has crazy super powers like making you feel loved, finding ways to provide for you, finding ways to surprise you, and generally being an awesome human being that you actually want to hang out with for the next 50 years.

But there is one superhero trait that he does not have: mind-reading.

I don’t care how long you’ve been together, how long you’ve known each other, or how often you finish each other’s sentences. He can’t read your mind.

And yet, we all act like our husbands, boyfriends, and fiances can. We say things like “he should just know what I wanted for a birthday gift.” Or “I said that it was ok for him to stay out super late with his friends, but he should know that I’m not really ok with it.”

Nope, sorry. This is just a bad habit, and it’s really, at least in my experience, just an excuse to avoid a difficult conversation. Or it’s just an excuse to get mad about something silly. Of course you don’t want to actually tell him what you want as a gift, and of course you don’t want to be the big, bad, mean wife who doesn’t want her husband to have any fun… but being a little more open is a lot more productive than just hoping he’ll read your mind and then resenting him when he interprets your hints incorrectly.

Most of the time, if you’re just up front with how you feel, he may not agree, but he’ll respond well and be willing to talk about it.

But the perfect way to frustrate your husband and yourself is to say one thing, mean something else, and then get mad when there’s confusion.

Just go ahead and decide that neither one of you is going to be a mind-reader (not even Harry Potter was good at that, so why should we be?), and you’ll be about 5 years ahead of most newlyweds.

Agree or disagree?

Wedding Gifts we still use and like: a knife block

wedding gifts
During wedding season, I thought I’d share with you the wedding gifts we still use and love, in case you need some inspiration for what to bring to those upcoming nuptials.

A wedding gift we still use and like? Our knife block!

Let’s face it, unless the bride or groom is a chef, they probably just want a decent set of knives and something to store them in, but would really rather not buy it themselves. It’s one of those annoyingly pricey but super useful purchases. If it’s out of your price range, but you’d like to get it for them, consider going in on a purchase with someone else, purchasing just the knife set or just the block, or stalking the web for a great deal.

Just for fun, here are some knife blocks (and variations on the knife block) that caught my eye:

I love the classic dark wood of the Chicago Cutlery Belmont 16 piece knife set or you could go with the fancier and more modern steel set with more knives, an in-block sharpener (WHAT?!?!)  and a lighter wood. Both sets have kitchen shears, which are an essential item in my kitchen!

Not a knife set, but a cool block that holds 11 knives, a sharpener, a set of shears, and also swivels and has a ledge for your tablet or cookbook on the back side.

For the super, modern (and also super clean) couple a clear magnetic stand and knife set.

If you happen to know they plan to use bright colors in their kitchen, this Rachael Ray set with orange handles is pretty cute!

A classic (but lower-priced) 14-knife set option from Ginsu. Bonus, this one looks like it takes up a lot less space on the kitchen counter. Great for small space dwellers!

Advice for Brides: Simple, Classic, Elegant

advice for brides
With wedding season upon us I thought I’d give some advice for brides and future wives periodically here on the blog.

While you are wedding and marriage planning (yes, you should be planning for your marriage as well) there will be lots of decisions you have to make. And some, are less important, but you still have to make them.

What types of plates are you putting on your registry?

Which wedding dress will you buy?

What are your wedding colors?

What colors should your towels be?

How will you decorate for the ceremony or the reception.

The more important questions are things like where will you live? How much money are you going to spend on your wedding, your honeymoon? How and who will deal with your finances as a couple? How will you handle time with family and vacations? How much time do you expect to spend with your spouse on a daily basis?

But somehow, sometimes we seem to get caught up on those lesser questions and they end up eclipsing the more important issues.

So here’s my advice to you. When you have a question of style, instead of obsessing over all your options for registry items and wedding décor, decide that these three aspects will guide your choice: simple. classic. elegant.

You will make the simple choice. It will be classic. And go for elegance.

Sticking to simple, classic, elegant will keep you from hating your dinner plates in a year, avoiding looking at your dated wedding photos in 5 years, and also help you obsess less and spend more time on the things that really matter.

What parts of your wedding were simple, classic, and elegant. What parts were not so much? I’m so glad I went with plain and simple white dinner plates but I wish my parents and I had spent less time worrying about the guest list, which was truly complicated. It ended up being great, and no matter what it would have been fine!

Wedding Gifts We Still Use and Like: Money

wedding gifts

During wedding season, I thought I’d share with you the wedding gifts we still use and love, in case you need some inspiration for what to bring to those upcoming nuptials.

What wedding gift do we still use and like? Money.

I mean, I’m pretty sure we don’t still have the money we were given as a wedding present… that is long gone. But we’re not broke and we have every kitchen item we could ever need (except a pasta maker, because I do not need pressure to make my own thankyouverymuch). Pretty sure every single check we got helped with that.

I know money’s not personal. But neither is a wooden spoon. And you need both.

Don’t know what to get or is the registry picked over? Just give a check. I guarantee you there will be no talk of “Can you believe they gave us MONEY?!?!?! How tacky!”

No it will go more like “Oh my gosh! Look at these checks!  Let’s use them for our honeymoon/our anniversary dinner/that couch we want/our nest egg/the down payment on a house/the down payment on a car/to pay off some of our student loans/to buy those ridiculous registry items that no one else wanted to buy!”

Give them a check. Boom. You’re Done.

And you’re welcome.

Do you give checks for wedding presents?

36 hours in Chicago


A good friend from high school got married 2 weeks ago, and it was a beautiful wedding (reception was at the famous Drake Hotel!) and a fabulous excuse to FINALLY get to visit ChiTown!  I also got a chance to chat with some friends from high school, stay with a good friend from college and finally meet her fiance (they are getting married this Friday!), and they were kind enough to show me around the city. We saw the highlights including Millenium Park, Michigan Avenue, and I even stopped into Zara… because of course we did… I loved how laidback the downtown area was on the weekend, how easy public transportation was (ACTUAL TRAINS!), and all the public and green spaces there are in and amongst the skyscrapers. Also, bean selfies!

Advice for Brides: Pick 1 Thing…

advice for brides

With wedding season upon us I thought I’d give some advice for brides and future wives periodically here on the blog.

While I was wedding planning I heard a few horror stories. One that stuck with me, for some reason, described an acquaintance who on her wedding day burst into tears over the ribbon that was tied around her bouquets.

It was striped ribbon. She didn’t want striped ribbon.

I don’t mean to put this bride down. She was crying over more than striped ribbon. Weddings are stressful and there are lots of lofty expectations and crazy family and friend dynamics. And sometimes it all ends up in you crying over a craft supply. I get that.

But I really did not want to cry on my wedding day, and I definitely did not want to cry about striped ribbon on my wedding day.

So I decided that I would pick one thing. One thing that I was nervous about, and I would decide in advance not to care about it. If it turned out wrong the day of, so what? It would not get me down.

So for my one thing, it was my flowers. I was very nervous about my flowers because, as I’ve said before, I don’t think in flowers. I don’t get them. I don’t know what they’re supposed to look like or why I like the ones that I do. Plus, I’m asking the florist to do something that she knows will look good, and yet I had some very specific requests that I honestly wasn’t sure about. So I was nervous that I’d see them and hate them… either because I had bad ideas or because my tastes just don’t line up with what wedding flowers are supposed to look like.

But I decided that if the flowers looked bad, oh well. Who cares? I would just make sure that we took a lot of photos without them.

On the flip side, I also decided to pick one thing that I would care about that day. That I would let myself micromanage, in the name of using my energy toward something rather than just being stressed about EVERYTHING.

And no, your one thing cannot be “the entire wedding.” I’d also recommend that it be something that happens within the first half of your day so you can stop obsessing at some point.

My one thing was getting the bridal party changing area clean BEFORE the ceremony. I was so concerned that my bridesmaids or mother or friends would be stuck cleaning up that they would get to the venue late and miss some of fun or that we’d have to delay pictures and that would throw off the rest of the timeline. So about 20 minutes before the ceremony was set to begin I just started ordering people around and making them take things to their cars or my car or something. It was my one Bridezilla moment, I’m pretty sure, but I think I was pretty Zen (well, as Zen as a type A person can be) for the rest of the day.

So pick one thing to care about and one thing to dismiss the day of your wedding. Do all the other worrying ahead of time, and just enjoy your amazing day!

Wedding Gifts we still use and like: All-Encompassing Recipe Book

wedding gifts
During wedding season, I thought I’d share with you the wedding gifts we still use and love, in case you need some inspiration for what to bring to those upcoming nuptials.

Here’s my thought for today’s post: an all-encompassing cookbook.

What I mean is one of those cookbooks that strives to include everything and/or ideas for all types of meals.

For me, cooking and meal planning is a big part of caring for my marriage. I am not great at it, but it is important since we don’t want to eat out all the time and since you have to eat to live. Unless the bride or groom is a chef or cook, cookbooks are a great way to help them through the dreaded “what are we having for dinner?” conversation. Yes, I do a lot of recipe finding online now, but I love having a cookbook that keeps all the basics (what to keep in your pantry, how to roast a chicken, how to poach an egg, what knives to use for what, etc.) and not so basic (fancy desserts! Hollandaise sauce!) in one place.

My 2 favorites that I have are the ENORMOUS America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook (try the poached peaches with raspberry sauce), The Food Network’s How to Boil Water (try the outside of the box pasta pie), and honorable mention goes to How to Cook Everything. Any of these will make sure the happy couple doesn’t starve, or survive on takeout alone!

Do you have a favorite all-encompassing cookbook? Would you give it as a wedding gift?

Advice for Brides: stress now, enjoy later

advice for brides
With wedding season upon us I thought I’d give some advice for brides and future wives periodically here on the blog.

Today’s advice? It’s ok to stress out about your wedding.

Here’s the thing. It’s a stressful day that represents a huge change in your life. You are, in many ways, giving up your life for someone else’s. You are not (and should not be) giving up all the things you love or only caring about their wellbeing at expense to your own. But you are now in a lifelong partnership where you should be thinking about someone else before yourself. That’s marriage. 

And then there’s this whole wedding that happens before that, that is not the most important, but it is a beautiful moment for you and your future spouse and your families (they are in many ways losing you, it’s their day too). Point? There are tons of expectations and issues that need to be addressed for that day to be memorable and meaningful. And it is stressful.

Brides often get a bad wrap about being obsessive or caring about the details too much, when really they’re just trying to make a memorable celebration that they’ll be happy with, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not ok to be demanding and unreasonable and lashing out because a minute detail is out of place. BUT. BUT it is completely NORMAL to stress about things like what colors you choose, making sure that all the vendors get paid and tipped if applicable, figuring out the timeline of the day down to the minute, figuring out how people will be transported from venue to venue, and even the font of your invitation. There are lots of choices, lots of details that need to be in place, and lots of places where things could “go wrong.” 

Don’t beat yourself up about being stressed about all of that. And don’t assume you’re being a bridezilla because you explain to the florist that their mockup is not right because no you don’t want (never would want) cardinal red roses in your bouquet.


And if you’re not a bride or groom and you’re reading this, let them stress over these things happen.  Telling the bride (or groom) that they should stop stressing and that their stress is useless… that’s a jerky thing to say. And it will not alleviate their feelings.

But let the stress be productive. Let it tell you the things that need to be addressed and changed. Let it get you moving so you can get all those details nailed down (in spreadsheet form if necessary) and established so that you can eventually STOP STRESSING ABOUT IT! Stress is telling you that things need to get done or be changed, so listen to the stress. Don’t just get stressed and take a nap or eat a pint of ice cream (well, do that, AND…), get stressed and do something about it.

And then you have to do something for me. You have to decide that on the wedding day, you will stop stressing. 

You’ve stressed ahead of time and worked very hard to make it wonderful, so that you can enjoy the day. That stress helped you get prepared, you did everything, and now stressing during the day is not helpful or useful. And hopefully you can even stop stressing by the rehearsal dinner or the week of the wedding.

Stress can be useful. So use it. Take advantage of all the stress you already leaned into earlier, and then step back and enjoy the day.

Wedding Planning? Are you stressing?  Married? Did you stress leading up to your wedding day and on? Or did you let it go?