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Category Archives: Newlywed Bliss…

Worthwhile imperfection

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You know how life gets out of whack every once in a while? (Or maybe more often for some of us!)

It feels like you’ve lost your balance and for me it comes out in kind of humorous but practical ways. My house gets dirty, I fail to go grocery shopping and we end up eating something with rice for every meal, I never think about dinner until my husband’s already home (actually, that’s pretty normal…), Matthew starts wearing things I’ve never seen before because the laundry mountain is growing (“Really, I’ve had this for years!”), et cetera.

Then comes the 4th of July. A holiday commemorating our declaration of independence from Great Britain. A time of celebration as we revel in the countless blessings from God that this country affords us. The idea that each man is immensely full of worth, independent and can govern himself. Pretty cool stuff that we don’t think about every day. Then there are the traditions: barbecue, fireworks, games, family, the works.


A couple weeks ago, I had invited my family over for the 4th and had been preparing ever since. Kind of. It had been one of those off-kilter months and I had gotten a little distracted from my normal routine. Needless to say, life was out of balance. Lots of projects undone. Lots of rooms needing a dusting. I had been doing a lot of thinking, but not enough doing…

By the time Friday hit, I knew things would have to change so Matthew and I sat down and made an action plan.

1. Conquer the downstairs bathroom (Matt installed a toilet, mirror, light fixtures, trim, and a hook, and I added the towel and soap). Check.


The downstairs bathroom looks beautiful now thanks to my hubby 🙂

2. Feed people. This involved a Saturday afternoon trip to Meijer on a holiday weekend (worst time EVER to go grocery shopping) and lots of prep for our beautiful kabobs. Aaaand there might have been a slight detour to Target to pick out new cute and summer-y plasticware. Check.

Cute summer dishes!

Cute summer dishes!

3. Clean the house. Because of my procrastination, this took all day the 4th of July up until about 5 p.m. Yeah… I was slow, but the place sparkled! Check.

Then the fam showed up at 6:15 and we had a fantastic time just sitting around the backyard eating, launching screamers, sipping lemonade, and talking. It was great! I love spending time with my family and this was actually the most meaningful part of the day (although it wasn’t quite complete until Matt and I mustered the energy to take our bikes downtown at 10 p.m. for fireworks).

But what was the point of all my housework? It got me thinking about our heavily-Martha-Stewart-influenced-society. I love their ideas, but Martha Stewart and others like her are just so good at what they do that the rest of us can either exhaust ourselves (and our wallets!) trying to make each party the epitome of perfection, or we can pretty much fail our job as a hostess. Ok, so I’m exaggerating, but you get my point. My question is, whatever happened to old-fashioned hospitality? The kind where your napkins don’t have to match your plates, and you don’t have to have a perfectly coordinated menu and drink selection as long as you actually ask someone over??

We put so much emphasis on the little details that sometimes it’s easy to forget the reason why we ask people over. It’s not to show off or perfect your hostess skills (although it is a good excuse to buy cute stuff!). Ultimately, it’s about the people you invite and spending time with them. That’s what is ultimately important.

Don’t get me wrong, I am one of those people who absolutely LOVES putting together those little details that make a party feel well-collected and trendy, but I sometimes wish there wasn’t any pressure to be like this.

Do any of you feel this way? Do you love the details? Do you wish you could simplify your get-togethers?

Challenge yourself to ask someone over, and keep it low-key. You won’t be disappointed, and your friend will be glad you asked!

One final piece of advice: USE PAPER PLATES, because conquering the aftermath of a good party should be simple too! ☺

My mess :(

My mess 😦


A Newlywed Christmas

A Newlywed Christmas

My schedule this weekend is insane. Let’s just say that we haven’t figured out the puzzle that is family gatherings.

Whose to go to?
Can we leave early and arrive late?
What about the dog?
Are we even going to be there for the meal that we’re bringing food for?

It’s a little comical but not stressful – thankfully! It’s a complicated matter that will have to be worked and reworked each year. But this year we decided to do it all.

The man and I will be running from his grandparents’ house, to dessert with my parents and midnight service on Christmas eve, staying the night, waking up for Christmas breakfast and morning with my family, running out to see Matt’s grandparents in the evening and then my other grandparents the day after Christmas. This doesn’t even include the Christmas that we already had with Matt’s parents.


Needless to say, we don’t have much time for the two of us (three if you count Lexie!) to enjoy Christmas together. So we are celebrating tonight! The eve of the eve of Christmas Eve. Haha.

It began with an “Early Morning Cook” adventure, and for those of you that know me, you know that I don’t have much grace in the kitchen. I actually follow recipes and still manage to mess things up. But today I did not have a recipe at all…

I had a porkloin. I’m slightly obsessive about cutting the fat off of meat… pork was probably not my best idea! It was so nasty, in fact, that I don’t want to gross you out by posting the picture I had taken!

Anyways. So then I cut it in half and threw it in my crockpot with a bunch of other things that I had sitting around like peaches, onions, salsa, hotsauce, broth, salt and pepper and some wierd leftover hawaiian marinade. I’m keeping my finger’s crossed that it will turn out, but it smells delicious so there’s hope!

My Food Adventures

A New Invention!

After we eat our lovely porkloin Matthew and I are going ice skating downtown and reading the Christmas story from the Bible. Crank up the Christmas music! Should be a fun evening!

Anyways: Here are just some of my house decorations. I got creative with the ornaments because I didn’t think we were going to have a tree this year… But then we got one and it was the best thing since bees knees because my family hasn’t had a tree in years (It got replaced by a baby grand piano when I was a kid. Bummer, but still plenty of room for presents under there.).

Stairway Christmas Decorations

Stairway/Entry Christmas Decorations

Entryway Chandelier Decoration

Beads on my Entryway Chandelier

Christmas Snowman Decoration

The Fat Snowman Guarding my M&Ms

Christmas Wreath

Christmas Wreath

Christmas ornaments hanging on my windows! (Ignore the puppy playing on the couch)

I hung Christmas ornaments on my windows with varying lengths of ribbon. (Ignore the puppy playing on the couch)

Looking into the dining room. Garlands and icicle lights baby!

Looking into the dining room. Garlands and icicle lights baby!

Decorated dining room chandelier.

Decorated dining room chandelier.

Christmas card collection and the mistletoe I made for my hubby last year.

Christmas card collection and the mistletoe I made for my hubby last year.

How do you celebrate Christmas and how do you decorate for Christmas? Have you tried anything new lately? I love hearing from you!

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Reminder to Celebrate!

Reminder to Celebrate!

Seven months ago yesterday, I walked down the aisle toward my best friend, a wonderful man I like to call Matt. That day, I promised to share my life with him, to love and cherish him always. No matter what!

I know that it’s only month seven, but we try to celebrate in some small way each month, whether it is just dancing to one of our wedding songs, or going out for dinner, or writing a special note to each other.

Don’t get me wrong, these types of things don’t have to be limited to anniversaries—nor should they! But it’s good to take the time to do something special every once in a while to remind your bride or groom that you care about them and that they are important to you! A little bit goes a long way, especially when it is unexpected.

I just want to share just a couple of the memories from the day that I married Matthew Olson (photos courtesy of LVL Photography!). Hope you enjoy!

The Men

The Ladies

Bride and groom in the church

Waiting in the stairwell

Matt and Mara


First Dance

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Top 27 Reasons to Get Married!

Here they are, girls!!

1. Love
2. Body guard
3. Heater blanket
4. Jewelry fund
5. Stability
6. Clothes fund
7. Taste tester
8. Someone to talk to (even if he doesn't always listen)
9. Bug terminator!
10. Foot massager
11. Car mechanic
12. TV remote locator
13. Lawn maintenance
14. Arm candy
15. Jar opener
16. Someone to share your life
17. Baby maker
18. Kid entertainer
19. BIG and cuddly
20. Furniture mover
21. Bill payer
22. Someone to annoy
23. Someone to tickle!
24. Shoulder to cry on
25. Personal slave
27. Handyman

Ladies, any to add? I’m looking forward to hearing your ideas!

Visit my website to learn more about what I do at March 27 Designs!

Chocolate that reads your mind…

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Chocolate that reads your mind…

Ladies, you know what I’m talking about! When you just have to have some. Ooey, smooth, creamy and rich… CHOCOLATE!

Tonight, I needed a little sweetness in my life so I dug up the “stash.” Now the “stash,” (which used to be in my possession) has now been located in Matt’s closet since a couple weeks after we got married. He thinks he’s moderating my chocolate intake… hehehe.

But that’s aside from the point!

Here is what I pulled out:

This particular chocolate bar was a gift from my sister-in-law at a bridal shower just before the wedding. And yes, it is called the Marital Bliss Bar from Bloomsberry & Co. And yes, it is split 50/50… maybe with a little preference toward “her” side of the chocolate bar.

I love it. When I showed Matt, he laughed, took his 50%, I took mine, and no more needed to be said. Just keep the marital bliss going. That’s right.

Here is just a quick shot of what the wrapper looked like (after the devourment of chocolate, of course!)… it shows different varieties of chocolate from the same company:

I love how these chocolate bars aren’t just chocolate. They create a statement that is colorful and funny. Plus they kind of say everything that girls want them to… LOVE them!

Which looks good to you?

As for me, I think I’m going to try some of the Ultimate Balanced Diet…..

Visit my website to learn more about what I do at March 27 Designs!

Just a little bit of me

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So last night my wedding photos arrived. It had been almost exactly four months after the wedding and Matt and I had finally ordered them from our wonderful photographer, Leda. I was excited! One might even say ecstatic… My husband took this opportunity to tease me when I called him at work, begging him to bring home “the tools.”

“Which tools, Mara?” he asked.

“The picture hanging tools!” I responded, getting frustrated at his pretend lack of knowledge about which tools to bring home.

“So I’ll definitely need my sledge hammer then.”

After a few more moments of this conversation, I finally just told him to bring all of the tools and he agreed.

I carried about my business, unwrapping the frames that I had decided to put the photos in, and carefully placing each photo inside. Well… kind of. You see, there was this one photo that just wouldn’t quite go in, so I worked on it, shifting it back and forth, determined to get it in place and completely ignoring that annoying scraping noise… until I turned it over and found out that the center of my beautiful wedding photo was scratched beyond repair.

I remember Matt saying something about just filling it in with a crayon, but I am way too much of a perfectionist for that… so I will just have to reorder. Soon!!

Visit my website to learn more about what I do at March 27 Designs!