Category Archives: 33 before 33

Snail Mail

I made a list of 33 things I want to do before I turn 33 in June 2014.  See the full list here.

10. Send one snail mail card each month. Between my grandmas and all my friends scattered about, I’ve got quite a few options.


I actually did this! Cards and packages went to Chicago, Seattle, Tacoma, Omaha, Kansas, South Dakota, Raleigh, and the last package I sent went to my friend Regina who lives in Zimbabwe. Mac & Cheese, taco seasoning, Twizzlers, all the great U.S. goodies…I went out with a bang.

I like receiving mail, and I like sending mail. I think I’ll keep it up.


All the new restaurants

I made a list of 33 things I want to do before I turn 33 in June 2014.  See the full list here.

8. Try one new Omaha bar or restaurant each month.  We love our city, but tend to go to our old favorite places all the time.  Time to branch out.


I haven’t been very good about blogging about these restaurant excursions, but actually, in addition to Kitchen Table, Block 16, and all our new friends in Benson, we’ve done a good job of branching out in the way of restaurants this year.


New-to-us places we’ve tried this past year include:

  • Wilson & Washburn – Good happy hour and fries.  I’d like to try their beet burger.
  • Avoli Osteria – Um, AMAZING.  I’ve heard that it’s the best food in Omaha right now, and I wouldn’t have much of a case for disagreeing.  Get your boss to pay if at all possible, cause she ain’t cheap.
  • Taco Truck on Saddle Creek – Darn good tacos on the cheap. (pictured above)
  • Rivera’s Mexican – our company that night was far better than the food which was just okay, and the atmosphere was terrible.  The tile floor and crowded tables made it almost impossible to have conversation.
  • The new Bread Oven – I have such fond memories of the old Bread Oven, but the new one’s food seems at least up to par with the old.
  • Railcar – Okay, not amazing.
  • Salt 88 – Better than I was expecting, actually.  Too far away to make our regular rotation.
  • Heartland BBQ – Come to mama.  That brisket is to die for.

See new restaurants #1 & #2#3, #5 & #6) here. What was #4? You tell me. I don’t remember.

Family room, a little better

I made a list of 33 things I want to do before I turn 33 in June 2014.  See the full list here.

23. Finish decorating the basement family room  Hang curtains, hang some art.  I’ve got a Pinterest board and everything.


Several years ago, we pulled up the carpet in the family room due to years-old water damage.  The water came from run off from our neighbor’s driveway, and since he didn’t fix the driveway, we didn’t replace the carpet.  The room is barely used, so it’s not a big deal to have a cement floor.  For a while.

I got tired of the stacks of rubbermaid tubs sprawling out from the corners and the cobwebs on the walls, and finally decided to do something about it.

I bought an area rug on sale at Garden Ridge (admittedly not the best color for the room, but really cheap), hung the curtains that my friend Amee gave me, bought some throw pillows and hung some art.  I corralled some of storage tubs into the corners that you can’t see, got rid of some stuff (THE BEST), and moved some stuff out to the garage.

Family Room

We’ll replace the carpet down there eventually, and maybe get some side tables and lamps someday, but for now, it’s better.


I made a list of 33 things I want to do before I turn 33 in June 2014.  See the full list here.

14. Take meals to 5 new mommies.  Are you having a baby?  I want to bring you food.


No, I’m not pregnant.  Calm down.

My friends have cute babies, you guys.




Soft and warm




And so, so sweet.

Not pictured – the mom who was stuck in the hospital on bed rest who got a homemade meal, the baby shower I planned, the baby I held while mama took an actual shower (“We have groceries,” she said.  “I need a shower.” Deal.), and Little Miss Anna (pronounced Ah-nah) whom we hopefully get to meet this weekend.  Who may or may not actually be named after me.  Probably not, but a girl can dream.

Books books and more books

I made a list of 33 things I want to do before I turn 33 in June 2014.  See the full list here.

22. Purge/organize our books.  Deep breath.


I gave a little tour of our book shelves and piles several months ago, in which y’all saw that we have a lot of books.  To say that we own several hundred books would not be an unreasonable estimate.  Not unreasonable, but a bit ridiculous, I’ll admit.  And, there were some unruly piles growing around the house that needed to be returned to their homes.

photo 1[2]

Today was the day, I decided.  10 minutes later, this box was full.  It was easier than I expected, honestly.

photo 2[2]

I had hoped to get rid of “a lot” of our books, but for now, 45 will have to do. I’m working on experiencing grace this year, right?

I’m also moving Chad’s old economic textbooks to the basement, as soon as I get another box.

The pursuit of God in the company of friends

I made a list of 33 things I want to do before I turn 33 in June 2014.  See the full list here.

24. Attempt to join a Journey Group.  Our schedule may make this difficult, but we’re big fans of intentional community.


company-of-friendsSince last July, I think there have been maybe 4 or 5 weeks total that we’ve actually been in Omaha for the whole week. Every week we’re in a different barn, in a car, in a meeting or three, or in an airplane (and definitely still in love).

What we’re not in?  A Journey Group.  Small Group, Community Group, Bible Study, Life Group, whatever.  We’re not in one.

I could pretty easily call this 33 Before 33 goal a failure.  We didn’t try to join a group this year. Not even a little bit.  Mission not accomplished.

But what we did do?  Stay invested in the lives of many people whom we love.  Have drinks and dinner and celebrations and make time for long conversations and Big Life Moments and laughter with people who love us and fight for us and pray for us and hold us up and ask hard questions about faith.  In the words of evangelicals these days, we did life together.  We’re not registered in any church’s database, but we do community.  We do grace.

Chad and I travel many (many, MANY) miles in a car together. But we do not journey alone.


In 2014, I’m reclaiming (and writing about) the word GRACE with OneWord 365.  Read more here.

Twitterature / June 2014

I made a list of 33 things I want to do before I turn 33 in June 2014.  See the full list here.

16. Read A Year of Biblical Womanhood.  It’s easier than undertaking the adventure myself, it seems.


A Twitter-inspired look at books I’ve been reading recently.  (And here’s what I read last month.)  What’s on your bookshelf these days?


A Year of Biblical Womanhood / Rachel Held Evans
Checking this one off my 33 Before 33 list.  As a regular reader of Rachel’s blog, this felt familiar and enjoyable.  I appreciate her honesty, wit and love for scripture.


Someday, Someday Maybe / Lauren Graham
Franny navigates the pursuit of her heart and dreams in New York City.  Charming, quirky, and as delightful as I had hoped Graham’s novel would be.  An easy, breezy read.


The Slap / Christos Tsiolkas
I should have read a few more review of this one first.  I was hoping for an interesting look at humanity and society with sympathetic, likable characters. Nope.  Despite renewing the book to allow myself more time, I couldn’t bring myself to finish it.


Admission / Jean Hanff Korelitz
A book that inspired a Tina Fey + Paul Rudd movie?  YES.  But, NO.  You guys, I couldn’t even get through 3 chapters.  Life is too short to finish boring books.


Burial Rites / Hannah Kent
Dark and stormy and beautifully literary telling of a true story, set on the stark landscape of Iceland.  Haunting and eery, this book contained zero humor but was so, SO strangely enjoyable to read.


I’m linking up with Anne Bogel for her Twitterature series. Hop on over to Modern Mrs. Darcy for more.


Pizza 1; Tears 0

I made a list of 33 things I want to do before I turn 33 in June 2014.  See the full list here.

22. Grill a pizza without tears.  I realize this does not seem difficult.  But attempts #1 and #2 last summer were disastrous.  I’m blaming the humidity.


YOU GUYS, I DID IT.  Attempt #3, nearly a year later, resulted in tasty homemade grilled pizza and NO TEARS.  Success.


First up – the toppings.  Goat cheese, mushrooms, roasted peppers, Parmesan, spinach, and their good friend (not pictured) crumbled Italian sausage.

Oh, actually, the real First Up – spend 20 minutes Googling “how to grill a pizza.”  I got this.


And, the crust.  I used Trader Joe’s original pizza dough, purchased earlier in the day, and kept in the refrigerator right up until I was ready to use it.  I read some reviews that said to take it out of the fridge 20 minutes before using, but last time my dough was super sticky, so I decided to risk the chilled dough.  It worked just fine.


I split the dough into 3 lumps on a floured countertop with floured hands, and patted them out.  I read that they should be about as big as a human head, but that didn’t seem to happen for me.  Next time I might use a rolling pin ’cause I think a thinner crust would taste better.IMG_4115

I transferred each dough to an oiled piece of parchment paper, then spread a little olive oil and sprinkled salt on to the actual dough.  One blog noted that TJ’s dough isn’t very salty, so this seemed like a good idea.  I thought our final pizza was the right saltiness, so I’ll keep this step next time.

Transporting the dough was an issue last time, but the oiled parchment worked well.  If I do get dough as large as a human head, I would probably use a cookie sheet instead of just my hand.


Then we did the awkward “what angle should we do this at?” dough flip, and eventually successfully got all 3 crusts onto a very hot, oiled grill.

3 minutes on one side, then 1 minute on the other side.


Next up:  Toppings.  We put them on the side that was more well-done.  On two of them.  The other, I forgot, and spread the goat cheese on the less-well done side.  That one seemed to be a little soggy, so I’d definitely recommend putting the toppings on the side that is more cooked at this point, especially if you’re using a thinner sauce like marinara.


Topped it all off with cheese then returned to the grill until it was melty and browned and a little charred on the bottom and super delicious.



REALLY, REALLY delicious.  Grilled Pizza, I think we might be friends now.

Edited to add: a friend followed this post and the 3 minutes on her really hot grill burned her crust. So…maybe less time, depending on your grill. Keep an eye on your crust. Sorry, K!

Dear Cheese

I made a list of 33 things I want to do before I turn 33 in June 2014.  See the full list here.

6. Take a cooking class with Chad.  Super fun date night, am I right?


Dear cheese, I love you.

During a recent lunch stop at the Whole Foods salad bar, I saw a sign advertising a cheese class.  Nay, a FREE cheese class.  I haven’t found a cooking class yet that has worked with our schedules, so I decided that a free class about cheese (plus wine pairings, they said!) was pretty perfect.  We invited our friends from the I Thee Wine blog to join us for our little date night.


Our class was about sheep’s milk cheese, and since not many people showed up for the class, we got to sample two pieces of each – maybe 8 or 10 different kinds.  It was a lot of cheese.  And not enough wine.  Whole Foods, take note.  Definitely not enough wine. Our teacher did a great job and knew a lot about each of the cheeses. I may have a new dream job, you guys.


My friend Andrea introduced me to Manchego several years ago, and it’s one of my faves to this day, but I had no idea that it was a sheep cheese! So good, Manchego.

There are a few different cooking classes offered in Omaha that still look interesting, including one on smoking meats that Chad would love, but on behalf of my love for cheese, I’m calling this goal accomplished. Say cheese!

Pie Day

I made a list of 33 things I want to do before I turn 33 in June 2014.  See the full list here.

26. Make a pie. I really need to conquer my fear of baking.


“When [Almanzo] began to eat pie, he wished he had eaten nothing else. He ate a piece of pumpkin pie and a piece of custard pie, and he ate almost a piece of vinegar pie. He tried a piece of mince pie, but could not finish it. He just couldn’t do it. There were berry pies and cream pies and vinegar pies and raisin pies, but he could not eat any more.” — Farmer Boy, Laura Ingalls Wilder

My dear mother came to town to help with bread baking, but when it came time to tackle making a pie, I turned to my mother-in-law.  I grew up enjoying Mom’s bread, cinnamon rolls, cookies, crisps and cobblers, but she wasn’t a pie mom.IMG_3513

Corinne, however, was a State Champion pie baker (Entrant No. 10, actually).  So on Mother’s Day, she pulled out her old recipe card and we baked a pie.  Two pies, actually.  Over achievers.


Isn’t that cookie jar just the cutest?  I’m totally putting a sticky note with my name on it in hopes of inheriting it someday.  And you guys.  LARD.  Corinne said she found it with the cottage cheese, not with the butter, like we both had sort of expected.


Anyway.  We cut in the butter and lard until we had little peas, being careful not to overwork the dough.

Corinne floured up the pastry cloth on its little frame and slipped the sleeve on the rolling pin.  I remembered my sticky dough near-mess from baking bread and sighed in relief.  I rolled out the dough for a 9-inch pie pan.

Then I tried (not so successfully) to get the pie crust into the pie pan without tearing it or poking holes through the tender dough.  Corinne showed me how to patch the holes  – no one will see the inside, she reminded me.  IMG_3530

Then time for the cherries.  I am not sure if I’ve ever had tart cherries from a can before  – these were in water not syrup – but they are SO good.  I had to restrain myself from eating too many before they made it in the pie.  We mixed the sugar and juice and cornstarch and heated until thickened, the stirred in the glossy butter and plump cherries.  Mmmm.  So good.IMG_3531

I used a nifty tool to cut the pretty lattice strips.
IMG_3533But don’t look too closely – I was not good at the weaving part, and the lattice strips kept breaking so I gave up and faked it a bunch.IMG_3534

Then we made an apple pie, because two pies is better than one pie, clearly.  I actually did a pretty good job moving the top crust on this one.   IMG_3544

We put them in the oven, and when there was about 30 minutes left, the tornado siren went off.  Not even joking.  A tornado warning vs. my beautiful pies!  What were we going to do?

We all went down to the basement and watched the news as the storm moved closer.  And closer.  Straight line winds and rain-wrapped tornados in the area prompted us to move into an interior bedroom, so I dashed upstairs, and with 10 minutes left on the oven timer, I turned off the oven (but left the pies in), ran back downstairs, drank more wine, and hoped for the best.  20 minutes later, the storm had passed and I went up to check on my pies.

Overall, I think they would have been better baked at the proper temperature for the full time, but considering their low-temp long hangout, they sure were good.  And pretty.  IMG_3535

I’m thankful for the time that Corinne spent with me, and I feel good enough about making pie crust that I’ll try it again.  Above:  Totally the best part about pie making, amiright?  Below:  The woman who gave life to the man I love.  She has a pretty special place in my heart.  Screen Shot 2014-05-16 at 7.32.52 PM