Marriage advice from a newlywed

So I’ve been thinking. How long do you get to consider yourself a newlywed? Since Brian and I have been married for exactly 365 days (tomorrow is our anniversary), I’m wondering if I can still consider myself a newlywed?

Well, regardless, I thought it was important to impart some very necessary wisdom about marriage that I’ve discovered in the last 12 months of wedded bliss.

Marriage is not work. I don’t care what anyone says. Maybe I’m lucky. Maybe I found the one person in this world who doesn’t drive me quite as crazy as everyone else. Maybe I’m still in the honeymoon phase. Maybe we don’t have children or money problems, which tend to be the heaviest weights on marriages according to a bunch of studies I don’t feel like looking up. But I definitely work harder to keep my laundry clean than I do to stay happy in my relationship with Brian. Thankfully, Brian’s been especially helpful with the laundry.

black and white wedding photo Eskimo kiss

Play is not just for children. It’s so important to have fun in a marriage. Whether we’re going on one of the crazy dates from our date jar, cooking together in the kitchen, putting together furniture, testing out a new game from our massive board game collection, or playing around at the park, our relationship is playful, and laughter is a cornerstone.

bride and groom sitting on a playground dinosaur eating the bridal bouquet

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. If you were following me on social media this summer, you know that I was jetsetting all over the country. From Vegas to Orlando and Boston to Birmingham, I trekked far and wide for work and play. Brian only joined me on the road trips (our kitschy cheese tour of Wisconsin and our annual pilgrimage to stalk Wil Wheaton at Gen Con). But everytime I came home, Brian was at the airport to retrieve me, regardless of what ungodly hour my flights arrived.

Supporting and encouraging each other is one of the greatest gifts you can give. I know I’m lucky to have such a strong group of friends and an amazing family that loves and supports me in everything I do. But Brian pushes me to do the scary things. To take the big leaps. He helps me remember what’s important. And what’s not. And every day, he encourages me to follow my dreams.

bride and groom cutting the top of the cheese wheel wedding cake

Communication requires patience, listening, and the occasional knock knock joke.  Not that Brian or I have ever had a problem communicating with each other. If I told you we don’t fight, you’d laugh and call, “Bullshit.” Or, worse, you’d think there was something immeasurably wrong with our relationship. They must sweep shit under the rug. Bet there’s a ton of unresolved resentment hiding underneath their smiles. And yet, I’m living proof that talking things through when you’re both calmly listening to each other…that’s how compromise happens. And that’s how you can both be satisfied with the results. And really, a good joke is almost always appropriate.

bride laughing during wedding ceremony

Making a cheese platter can relieve stress. I’m not sure this is marriage advice per-say, but it’s sage wisdom nonetheless. Whenever I had a crappy day, Brian would send me flowers…and then I’d come home and make a cheese board. And everything would suddenly seem brighter. Not sure whether it was the flowers or the cheese. But you know. Joy.

Cheese wheel wedding cake

There’s no such thing as the perfect man. But if there was, his name would be Brian…and he would be married to me.

groom with his back to the bride during first look

Happy anniversary to the kindest, smartest, and best partner a girl could ask for. This life that we’ve built together is my favorite place to be.

bride and groom kissing behind huge bridal bouquet

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Our Cheesy Wedding

So, I’m thinking on Wednesdays, I’m going to try posting little snippets and tidbits from our wedding, mostly because THERE’S SO MUCH TO SHARE, and I really don’t want to overwhelm y’all.

I figured the best place to start is with our wedding theme…which came together at the very last minute.

It all started with a cheese cake. A cake made of cheese wheels. Both Brian and I aren’t big fans of cake, and the thought of tasting tons of cake and paying for tons of cake when that’s not what we wanted was less that desirable. I originally thought cheesecakes, but Brian doesn’t like those, either.

Cue big giant wheels of my favorite thing on the planet (Brian not withstanding), and we had ourselves a cake that dreams are made of.

If you love cheese as much as I do, I highly recommend the cheese-themed wedding.

Originally, I had planned to vet the wheels, find the cheapest prices, order them, and set them up, all by myself. Basically, pre-wedding me was insane. (You’re going to see as this series unfolds that people like me aren’t DIY experts, so if you’re looking for those kind of wedding planning tips, you’re in the wrong place, my friends. If, on the contrary, you’re looking for realistic, I-paid-someone-to-do-it and I-have-the-best-friends-on-the-planet advice, I’m your gal.)

About two months before the wedding, I realized I was crazy and definitely didn’t want to add more to my to-do list, so I called Whole Foods Orland Park. I knew they had a kickin’ cheese selection and there was one near the wedding venue. I worked with two unbelievably wonderful people in the cheese department, and they were just as excited about our cheese cake as I was.

No cheese themed wedding is complete without wheels of cheese...

Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography. The piece de resistance of our wedding was definitely the cheese wheel cake. Some people thought it was a cake made to look like cheese, but no. It was a cake made of cheese. Obvi. Laura decorated the cheese table and added the extra flourishes, accoutrements, and MORE CHEESE.

I’m so glad I called them because it turned out to be one of the best wedding experiences I had with vendors. After some back and forth with the cheese selections, in which they sent pictures and prices, and I asked for changes a few times, we finally had a pretty good idea of what we were going to choose, and I thanked them for their patience.

They invited me down to Orland Park for a cheese tasting, and I was already in love. Brian had zero interest in most things wedding, so I brought my pal Laura, who is a godsend and amazing. She managed a significant number of day-of wedding details for me, did my flowers, candy buffet, and handled the cheese cake.

Our wedding cake was three tiered cheese wheels. This was the demo from Whole Foods.

Whole Foods set up a clothed table with a sign that said, “reserved for the future Mr. and Mrs. Woj” and flowers and little place settings. They set up a cake with the wheels we had chosen so we could see and touch.

At Whole Foods, we tasted all three cheeses: Marieke Gouda, a young Manchego, and a Petite Basque, and they even paired the cheese with three glasses of wine. After I placed my order (in which I got 10% OFF for buying whole wheels), they handed me a lovely goodie bag with Whole Foods treats and beauty samples as a thank you to their bride. OMG I died. It was about a month before the wedding and I had yet to feel super duper special with any of the wedding vendors I was working with. None of the bridal events I attended were even close to this magical.

You can ask your cheese vendor to make shaped displays with goat cheese.

Laura made Whole Foods turn cranberry goat cheese into beautiful heart-shaped displays. There was one on the head table just for us, too. It was fucking perfect. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

As the wedding day drew near, I stumbled across mini cheese grater favors. We had planned to donate to a charity in lieu of favors, but once I saw those, I knew what I needed to do.

If you're going to have a cheese themed wedding, you need to have cheese grater favors.

Mama Bear tied ribbons around each grater the week before the wedding, and Ally, my night before slumber party bridesmaid, handled the sticking of the names on the grater boxes at midnight the night before the wedding. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

A week before the wedding, I also decided to make Snapchat geofilters, which is SO EASY.

We created Snapchat Filters for our cheesy wedding

Two of my Something Blues (More on that next week) using the Snapchat filters I made.

I had also thrown around the idea of naming tables instead of numbering them…but I was lazy and just kept putting it off. Until the day before the wedding. Brian was printing table names and labels for the favors with guest names and their tables. I was just trying not to freak out because it was 1 o’clock in the morning.

We named our tables after cheeses

The hardest part was coming up with the 28ish different cheese names for the tables…Laura managed all the centerpiece decorations and shit. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

But it all came together so nicely. And cutting the cake WAS THE MOST FUN THING EVER.

As I was cutting the cheese cake with my new husband., we kept laughing

Take note: It’s surprisingly hard to cut into a giant wheel of cheese. I recommend a practice cut. We were supposed to cut into the bottom layer, but that was not happening, so the top layer got the knife instead. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

Taking a bite out of a big hunk of cheese makes for an awesome cake cutting ceremony at a wedding.

I could not. Stop. Laughing. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

Our cake cutting was hilarious. Because the cake was made of cheese.

You guys. We cut the cheese at our wedding. We CUT. THE. CHEESE. Photo by Andrew DiMonda of Xcite Photography.

And THAT’S how you have a cheesy wedding.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Four Cheese Rice Cooker Mac and Cheese

Me: Is it weird that I don’t really like mac and cheese at restaurants?

Brian: No way. You make awesome mac and cheese at home.

Me: You’re so right.

Brian: Can you say that again?

I love mac and cheese when it’s properly crafted. It should be smooth, creamy, cheesy, and packed with flavor.

But it can be a PITA to make. All that time making the roux and cheese sauce, boiling water, cooking pasta. So much work. And I’m so lazy. So I order mac and cheese at restaurants. And my disappointment is inevitable.

So when Hamilton Beach sent me a rice cooker/steamer, and told me to look at the billions of other things I can make in this puppy, I was like WHAAAAAAT? Mac and cheese in 15ish minutes!? I’m in.

I looked at the recipe, as I tend to do…and then I said, “Okay, now how can I Chrissify this?”

And then I made my own recipe.

I even measured it for you.

Ingredients for rice cooker mac and cheese

This is everything you need for a creamy delicious rice cooker mac and cheese.

  • 16 oz pasta shells
  • 1 container of chicken broth (for future reference, I recommend full sodium; this needed a lot of salt to get the taste I wanted)
  • 4.5 oz Cheddar & Gruyere(shredded) If you don’t have Trader Joe’s, do half cheddar and half gruyere
  • 4.5 oz Havarti (cubed)
  • 1 tbs salted butter
  • 1/4 cup half & half
  • 2/3 cup Pub Cheese
  • Salt to taste (this is the most important part. Also, if you have truffle salt, USE THAT)

Okay, so don’t worry about shredding or xubing the cheese yet. First, pop the broth and noodles into the rice cooker. Cook on the heat simmer setting for 13 minutes.

Cooking pasta in a roce cooker

While the noodles are cooking, shred/cube/measure the cheese/butter/half&half. We’re on a time crunch here. I tried to shred the Havarti, but it wasn’t really working for me because it’s too soft.

Using Havarti in mac and cheese

So I hacked it up with a knife.

While that’s happening, make your husband/boyfriend/kids set the table and pour you a glass of wine. You deserve it.

Super creamy homemade mac and cheese

When the pasta is soft, add the rest of the ingredients to the rice cooker (no need to drain anything!). Add salt (I forgot this part and it was a little bland). Stir. Voila. Serve.

Serving creamy homemade mac and cheese

If you’re like me, you’ll serve it with a Sam’s Club rotisserie chicken, because we’re all abour convenience and class, here.

creamy homemade mac and cheese with rotisserie chicken

And BBQ sauce. Because mac and cheese and BBQ sauce is a flavor match made in I’m-a-12-year-old heaven. And this BBQ sauce is from Canada (my Reddit Secret Santa sent it to me)!

creamy homemade mac and cheese with rotisserie chicken and sliced tomatoes

And tomatoes. Because Brian is obsessed with tomatoes in the way I am obsessed with cheese.

Overall, it wasn’t my best work because of the forgotten salt fiasco, which isn’t quite as bad as the one time I tried to make blueberry pancakes for Brian and Cletus for breakfast and used salt instead of sugar…but the convenience made it totes worth it.

So when you’re  a few weeks out from your wedding or any other stress-inducing event, try this easy dinner on for size. And this rice cooker may just be my new favorite appliance.

Want your very own  4-20 Cup Rice and Hot Cereal Maker to make delicious mac and cheese, among other things? Take a look at some of the recipes from Hamilton Beach and leave a comment telling me what you’d make in this beast. 

This contest is now over. And my random number generator picked…Melissa!

Congrats to Melissa for winning! I’m sending an email your way.

While I was given a Hamilton Beach rice cooker and steamer in order to facilitate this post, all opinions are my own. Hamilton Beach is sponsoring the product giveaway.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Escape From Reality…Or How I Could Live in my Couch

This post was sponsored by Starbucks as part of an Influencer Activation. I received compensation and complimentary products to facilitate my review. All opinions are my own. No one paid me to say nice things.

I’ve never loved a piece of furniture as much as I love this couch. It’s a three-piece set that I sat on in the furniture store and couldn’t leave without. Before entering the Art Van, Brian gave me full decision-making power in this purchase, as his choice, when we moved into our apartment four years ago, was not my favorite place to sit. That power, though, didn’t stop him from making me walk through the entire store looking for a smaller, less expensive piece of furniture. The only couch I loved more than this couch, was a designer sofa that came with pink and teal pillows and pretty much matched my entire life.

Cozy Pink and Teal Couch

I don’t think Brian’s quite as on board with our pink and teal life…

The price tag ($6700) made me cry, and it made Brian think much more fondly of the cozy, snuggle-blanket soft couch full of neutral tones and pillows for days that came with a much more reasonable expense.

An hour or two later, we left with a delivery date and the happiest Chrissy that’s ever been. Three months later, I’m still in heaven. The couch was a little too big for one room, so we were able to split it up and create two cozy seating spaces that make me swoon.

I love my couch so much

This is my Netflix corner.

With all the rain we’ve been having here in Chicago, my couch has been home to some serious snuggly nights and afternoons spent watching Netflix, reading books, snacking, and cracking jokes with Brian. But even when we’re tucked away in the most amazing couch ever, we like to embrace the world around us and explore new experiences. I thought I’d hook you up with a couple Chrissy-style pointers to make the most out of those rainy afternoons “stuck” inside and use your imagination to travel to faraway places.

 

Read books

If you’re looking for a change of pace from your regular Netflix binge session, pick up your Kindle/Nook/Hardcopy and devour nourishment for your soul. Travel to new places, meet interesting people, and solve crimes on your cozy couch. I just finished reading Famished, a terrifying rollercoaster of a suspense by Meghan O’Flynn.

Plan a trip

With the wedding coming up quickly, Brian and I are starting to plan our honeymoon. I’m pushing for an international trip, and we keep tossing around a variety of ideas. But the magic in planning and imagining our possibilities and options is what really excites me. I get almost as much enjoyment in the planning as I do in taking the actual trip.

Explore exotic flavors

Sure, it may be summer, but the A/C is cranking, and there’s nothing like a mug full of warm, delicious comfort. Since receiving a box of the NEW TAZO® Chai Latte K-Cup® pods, I’ve been indulging in the creamy delicious black tea and milk chock full of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and vanilla for a sweet and spicy mix that I can only describe as magical. I’ve loved chai lattes since discovering it during my days as a catering manager, and I’m thrilled to be able to make it at home in my Keurig®, now.  I’ve been pairing it with one of my new favorite cheeses, a goat gouda called L’Amuse Brabander, and it’s utterly delightful.

Curl up on the couch with tea

For 5,000 years, chai tea has been an essential aspect of Indian heritage, and because of that, TAZO is working with New York Times Bestselling author and host Padma Lakshmi (who I adore) to celebrate the release of the new K-Cup® pods.

You can learn more about Padma and the new tea at TAZO.com/chai.

Of course, if you’re looking for a few recipes from Padma that pair perfectly with a cup of chai, visit TAZO.com/chai/pairings.

Want to try this magical bevvie for yourself? Look for TAZO® Chai Latte K-Cup® pods at TAZO.com/wheretobuy.

 TAZO Chai Latte

Follow TAZO® on social media
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TAZO® Twitter 

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TAZO® Instagram

 How do you escape when you’re stuck inside during the rainiest days?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Frolicking in the Park

Sometimes, it amazes me, the beauty that surrounds us. A few weeks ago, Brian and I took a stroll down the Fox River in Geneva, Illinois with a lovely photographer and her assistant. We had a little picnic, played some games, and frolicked (yes, frolicked) around the playground surrounded by tiny humans. Our photographer captured some of the suburban Chicago beauty of spring, and I’d like to share that with you.

We weren’t planning on having an engagement session, but when I stumbled across a contest (and YOU helped me win 3rd place), we received a complimentary photo shoot with the lovely and talented Joy.

All photos are from Being Joy Photography. If you can’t get enough, you can check out her Chrissy and Brian blog post (and more of our engagement photos).

We began the session with a walk along the river, where we sat on a park bench and told bad jokes while Joy took lovely shots of us in the background.

Engagement photo shoot at a park with cherry blossom trees

Then we got up close and personal with this cherry blossom tree. Because look at it!

beautiful plus size engagement photos

When Joy asked how I felt about laying on the ground, I informed her I’d do whatever she wanted; she was the professional. I was secretly hoping she’d take advantage of this and make me do some crazy incredible feat so that I’d fall down and have some truly epic photos…but she was kind.

beautiful plus size engagement photos in a park

We brought props. All the props. Edible props. Playable props. Toys. Games. You name it. We brought it. Obviously, cheese was the star of the show. But this game, Mice and Mystics, is our game. While it can play up to four players, it’s the game Brian and I play on our at-home date nights. The game plays through an entire campaign, so we’ve been working our way through it slowly. Savoring it, if you will. My favorite part? The currency in the game is CHEESE.

Engagement photo session with cheese and board games

In fact, we had a whole picnic with some of our cough my cough favorite things. Board games. Cheese. Champagne. It was glorious. And fun. I totally ate a ton of cheese that day too.

engagement photo shoot picnic with cheese, champagne, and games in a park

Of course, I won The Game of Life (for the first time ever), and Brian was less than pleased. So he flipped that shit upside down. I tried to explain to him, “BRIAN, I never win this game. Can’t I win just this once?”

engagement photo shoot with the game of life throwing the game in the air

He wasn’t having any of that nonsense. So we walked away. We had a wardrobe change and took some silhouette photos under this super cool archway. My grandpa, the brick layer, would have been proud.

black and white silhouette engagement photo under archway

There’s this really cool looking foot bridge over the Fox River that I really loved photos on, and Joy was happy to oblige. This is one of my favorite photos from the whole shoot.

engagement photo session on a bridge, sitting indian style kissing

Across from the bridge, which is underneath the train bridge, Joy decided she wanted a shot of us in the support dealie (any one have any idea what this is called?). It turned out pretty cool!engagement photo session under a train bridge around the corner from each other

And then we made our way to the playground, where there were dozens of tiny humans running around on the unseasonably warm April day. We had to get creative. Joy seemed to really appreciate our facial expressions. Brian called this my zombie face. He’s not wrong.engagement photo session at a playground on the slide

Maybe one day, I’ll show you all the picture of Brian falling off the swings…but for now, you can see us being all lovey and adorable.

engagement photo session at a playground on the swings

We concluded our photo shoot with a picture of us taking a selfie. Because I’m kind of a selfie queen. It’s a thing.

engagement photo session on a park bench taking a selfie

Did you have an engagement photo session when you got married? If you’re not married yet, do you want an engagement sesh? Can you believe we’re getting married in three and a half months?

No one paid me to write nice things about Joy, but I did win a contest in which the prize was the photo shoot. We paid for all prints and products.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Adventures in Babybel Eating

Just like my hero, Chris, in Adventures in Babysitting,  I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and occasionally, I have little hometown adventures. Whenever Brian and I get lost, or take the long way around, we call it an adventure.

I have yet to meet Thor or get stabbed on the El, but not for a lack of trying. I have, on the other hand, been beaten up by a no-parking sign, tripped by an invisible wire, and almost killed by falling ice daggers.

My life here in Chicago is full of adventure. And you know I’m like a gremlin and have all these rules of care…like how I need to be fed at regular intervals.

My daily adventure starts with a commuter train ride.

image

A snack pack can be a lifesaver this early in the morning.

I venture from suburbia into the city every day for the job. When you’re hundgry, it’s a long 45-mimite ride. But little snack packs like my favorite on-the-go cheese, Babybel, make the trip tolerable.

Sometimes, if I have time, I’ll even slice it and melt it on some bread in the toaster oven before I head out of the house.

On occasion, after work, Brian and I (or just I) will journey on an adventure after work. We might go out for dinner, do some touristy nonsense, or we may head to a movie.

As we roam through the city, we’ll take a cab or the El (cabs are faster and easier most of the time). I’m a big fan of cab selfies, and they’re even better when I have a snack.

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Once we get to our theater destination,  I’m ready to put out my buffet of treats to enjoy delicious snacking. This is why large bags are important. So you can bring enough snack packs to share with your people before you kick your feet up.

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The best movie theater snack packs include a beverage,  something sweet,  savory, and crunchy.

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When I went to see Captain America, I brought bottled water, a candy bar from Dylan’s, a selection of Babybel, and pretzel thins to give me a little crunch. And I was happy.

As I made my way home, I napped on the train, dreaming of more cheese.

What are your favorite movie theater snacks? Do you bring your own snack packs into the theater?

Babybel sent me free samples and some things to make my adventures more fun, but as always, these opinions and thoughts are mine, and mine alone. I eat a lot of Babybel, because I’m always running around town.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Rando Photo Ops

After last night’s engagement photo shoot, I realized to my great dismay that I am not a photographer. I know this may surprise you, what with my killer Snapchat history, but it’s true. Our photographer, Joy, was perfectly lovely, and spoke of cameras and lenses the way Brian speaks of computery programmery things…or the way I speak of cheese. Using a language specific to the passion.

Despite my lack of skills, I thought I’d share some of my finer moments of photography.

What’s on my phone?

We’ll start with my ability to capture moving subjects. Drunk girls can’t sit still, apparently.

Erma Bombeck and awesome writers including Gina Barecca

Sometimes, I take fuzzy selfies with my writer friends posing with Gina Barecca – who’s awesome.

I really enjoy capturing random subjects. Like dinosaur meeples from board games.

dinosaur meeple

Like when I take photos of dinosaurs to send my friend, Smash…and then I never send them.

Other times, I pretend I’m an archictural photographer and snap shots of buildings in the city.

image

And then, when I’m in Florida, I think I’m a nature photographer. Look out, National Geographic.  I’m coming for you.

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But, when it comes to the things I love…I think I’ve got this photo thing down.

I’m a foodtographer.

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And a cheesetographer.

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And a Briantographer.

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And a yogatographer.

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And a selfietographer. Of course.

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I guess we’re all photographers in our own right…but I’ll leave the big stuff to the professionals.

What are some of your favorite photos in your phone?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Let’s Talk About Cheese, Baby.

Everyone loves a fully-loaded cheese platter, amiright?

6 easy tips to make the perfect cheese display

I know this because no matter the theme of the party I’m hosting, there’s always a platter of cheese on the buffet. When a girlfriend comes over to catch up, I whip up a quick cheese plate. When Brian and I can’t decide what to eat, we’ll smorgasbord like a couple of mad kitchen geniuses, and make a cheese display that will make your mouth water. But you know what? It’s not such a hard task. That’s probably why I do it so often. I’m gasp a little lazy. And cheese is easy. You don’t have to cook it (I mean, melty cheese is great and all, but when your cheese drawer is loaded with the good stuff, you don’t cook that cheesy goodness; you eat that cheese on its own). You barely even have to cut it.

How to create the ultimate cheese plate

As someone who once worked for cheese, I’ve learned a thing or two about cheesemongering. And it’s high time I shared that knowledge with you. Below, I’ve listed the most important six things you should know about making a cheese plate at home.

  • Always taste the cheese first. This step is crucial. If you have the opportunity to taste the cheese before you buy it, awesome. But if you order your groceries online, like I did last week, you probably won’t get to sample it before you buy. That’s okay. Just make sure you have yourself a little nibble of each offering before you serve your guests. Not only will this make you more knowledgeable when you’re talking about the flavors of the cheese, but also, you’re eating cheese. And what’s better than that?
  • Choose a stylish platter. I have a vast selection of cheese plates and platters to choose from. Wood boards, slate platters, ceramic dishes, glass cheese plates…all of these can give your display serious street cred.

how to make a cheese platter at home

  • Mix and match your cheese. Make sure you choose a variety of different cheeses, varying in color, shape, size, texture, and flavor for a full profile of cheesy goodness. For this plate, I chose Merlot BellaVitano (which is a cross between an aged cheddar and parmesan, and brined in merlot), Amablu Blue Cheese, Saint Andre Brie Triple Cream, and Organic Valley Grassmilk Raw Sharp Cheddar Cheese. I meant to add a manchego, which is a really gritty and delicious hard Spanish cheese that Brian loves, but I kept that one unopened in the cheese drawer with the Boar’s Head Monterey Jack with Jalapeno. My bridesmaids are coming over today for dress shopping, and I want to have some cheese to feed them as well. (But seriously you guys. All of these cheeses were available online. Delivered. To my door.)
  • Avoid cutting the cheese. I mean, if you’re hosting a big party and no one’s going to want to slice into your beautiful hunks of cheese, by all means, cut it RIGHT BEFORE you put it out. Do not buy pre-cut cheese. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200. Fresh cut cheese is a hundred times better than cheese that’s already been cut.
  • Place the cheese out early. Did you know that cheese tastes its absolute best at room temperature? For the tastiest selection of cheeses, let them sit out for about a half hour to 45 minutes before serving. Just keep in mind that food safety rules say it’s okay to leave food out for four hours…so once you hit that four-hour mark, it’s time to bring out fresh cheese. But honestly, cheese wouldn’t sit out for four hours without getting gobbled up, right?
  • Make the platter look full with accouterments. The best way to make a cheese plate look extra appetizing is to add dimension, color, and design by filling it to the brim with some of your favorite accompaniments. I love adding fresh fruit for the bright colors and tasty combination bites of sweet fruit and savory cheese. These strawberries were so stunning, I couldn’t even stop myself from eating a couple before I placed the rest on my platter. The weird square thing? That’s membrillo (quince paste), which is a sweet, fruit-flavored jelly-like substance made from the quince fruit. It looks bizarre but tastes amazing with sharp cheesy flavors. I like to sprinkle fresh nuts throughout a cheese platter as well to really fill it up (plus, I love nuts. Don’t you?).
Look at that beautiful strawberry!

That strawberry is the real deal, y’all. I can’t even with this fruit. And it was picked out for me by the fine team at Peapod.

These are the basic tricks I use to create decadent displays that I share with my friends and family when they visit our home. Sometimes, we even take these snacks on the road with us to bring to a party. Basically, cheese = friends. You’re welcome.

I want to have specialty cheeses delivered to my front door. Click To Tweet

What tips do you have for making a killer cheese plate? Do you have any favorite cheeses or accouterments? Have you ever experienced the unadulterated joy of online grocery shopping?

This post was sponsored by the wonderful people at Peapod, a grocery delivery service that pretty much changed my life. All food pictured above was delivered to my house without a second of me having to go into a grocery store, stand in line, or impulse buy stuff I don’t need. It may have been one of the most magical experiences of my life. There’s nothing quite like cheese getting delivered to your front door. Links used in this post may be affiliate links, which will earn me a commission should you use them to shop for groceries online. While I was compensated to write this post, all opinions expressed are from my own completely unbiased and cheese-obsessed brain.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Things I’m Learning About Twitter

Twitter is this magic beast; it’s quite the antithesis of Facebook, really. A lot of people shouting and pretending to listen, but no one’s really fighting (most of the time) because they’re caught up in their own jam.

Unless you’re following hashtags and that’s a whole ‘nother world. But if you’re not following hashtags, and you’re just following people, there’s a rabbit hole of awesome that you, too, can experience in the flesh.

When you're playing the Twitter game, these tips will help you make the most of this social space.

I’ve had a Twitter account for years, but I feel like a total noob, which obviously isn’t stopping me from telling you how to win at Twitter. This is what I’m learning.
1. Twitter likes you best when you’re hot, lazy, and love food. The number of people who followed me over the course of the year was completely correlated to the attractiveness of my profile picture (you know what a selfie whore I am) and the number of times I mentioned cheese. My best tweets all involve me not wanting to remove myself from bed, but desperately craving food or eating an embarrassing number of doughnuts. Whatever. Twitter, I get you. This is why we’re friends.

2. It’s all about go big or go home. The way to grow your Twitter followership? Actively immerse yourself in the Twitter. I mean, if you’re lazy and love food, you’ll love wasting your time on Twitter. I do. There are a lot of hilarious as fuck people out there. I think to myself, “can I keep you?” And then I follow them on Twitter. And I can keep them in my pocket. It’s like magic.

3. You can make friends all over the place when you’re weird. That go big thing about Twitter being a time suck? It’s because you’re supposed to socialize in the blue bird sandbox. Get crackin’ and find the people who get your humor/sentiments/anger/love/weirdness. They’ll welcome you with open retweets and faves. Unless you’re a dick. And even then, someone probably likes you. Again with the magic.

4. The pound sign is out. Remember when that was what we called the #? Hashtags are fun to make up but totally not required to make friends. Don’t worry you can still hash your heart out on Instagram. Or you can run with the Twitter pack that plays the hashtag game.

5. It’s all in the hips. Not really. I just wanted to say that. Honestly, I think it’s all about who you are. If you’re weird, like food a little too much and hate getting out of bed, you’ll probably enjoy being my Twitter friend, but if you’re the complete opposite,  I’m absolutely positive there are people who’ll get you too.

What do you like best about Twitter? Which is your favorite social network? Why?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Apparently, This Summer Wasn’t My First Back Pain Rodeo…Or Why I’m a Velociraptor

Guys, you’re not going to believe this (well…yes you will…), but I hurt my back again. And this time, it was much less exciting than showing off doing fancy yoga.

Yesterday morning, I was reaching down to pull on my underwear. An activity I participate in daily. When BAM! I felt the tightness pull, and I knew my back was done for. I’m trying to champ through it, but fuck, it hurts.

image

This is my whiny face because it feels more comfortable to stand on the train than sit.


I was looking back at old blog posts on one of my other blogs, and I found a little gem that reminded me of a recent-ish back issue from a couple years back.

OK, so one morning a couple of years ago, I woke up with this excruciating back pain. It got progressively worse as the day went on. By that night, I was walking like a velociraptor.  I ended up lying on couches the whole day. I don’t think it helped the situation.

Apparently it feels more comfortable to sit in a V-like position with this horrible back pain…so when I get up I walked a bit like a velociraptor.

When we got home late one night, back when we lived in the apartment, I went straight to bed. But I could hear Brian crunching. And crunching. The TV was low, so I couldn’t hear that. but I heard crunching. And I knew that he was eating the queso. Obviously, I couldn’t let him eat all of the chips and queso…and my tummy kept growling at me, saying, “Hey dummy, he’s going to eat all of that queso…and you’re going to be lying here all in pain thinking I wish I had some queso…and it will be gone.” So I crawled out of bed, threw on a robe, and stalked out to the living room to join my boyfriend in a late night chips and queso snack. (Tostitos Lime and Medium Salsa con Queso make me happy. I wish I had some now. I would be way happier.)

The next morning, I had hoped the pain would be better…but alas, I was stuck in bed with no more queso.

While lying in bed that morning, I started thinking about all of my previous back injuries…

The time I thought that pillow sliding down the stairs head first on my back was a great idea.

The time I fell down the stairs at Second Thanksgiving and gave myself a hematoma on my ass…oh wait, that wasn’t a back injury…It was just really funny.

The time I toppled down the stairs and my head landed a half an inch from the wall, at midnight, and my mom thought I was drunk, but really, my socks just slipped on the carpet…and I could have broken my neck if I had fallen a half an inch farther. And then I got these giant kinks in my lower back that never really went away…

The time that I was cheering in high school and I was back spotting…and the girl in the air fell on me, and I fell back first on the gym floor…and my back hurt for months afterward.

Fuck. I fall down a lot. Maybe that’s why I hurt myself bending over to pull on underwear, now.

Have you ever hurt your back? What’s the craziest injury you’ve ever experienced? What would you give for a chips and queso snack right now?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!