Wedding How-To: Plan a bike-around-town cake tasting

This is the first in a summer series on quirky wedding how-tos. The first part in the series is a guest post by Amanda Stolnacke, a good friend of Everybody’s Invited!, who just so happens to be getting married in about a month, and can frequently be seen around town on her bicycle, sometimes with cupcakes in tow. 

Let’s all just go ahead and agree that weddings are incredible because there is cake. Yes, cake (or some other equally delicious dessert) will be delicately arranged on a dainty platter or served to you on a fancy plate. What could be better? Well, getting to choose which cake appears at your wedding might {wait for it}… take the cake. You may be asking yourself how you can have a cake tasting adventure of your own. Follow these steps and you will be on your way!



Step 1) Research bakeries where you want to sample cake. Yelp is a great resource to read reviews. You can always ask your friends what their favorite bakery is! Don’t forget about grocery stores like Whole Foods or New Seasons.

Step 2) Make appointments at the bakeries you choose to visit. Some places don’t offer appointments so you can visit those bakeries if you have time and buy a few cupcakes to try. You may need to pay in advance for some tastings.

Step 3) Use Google maps engine to create a custom map of the bakeries you plan to visit by searching for each bakery and clicking “add to map.” You can also add biking directions to the map as a separate layer.


  • Bikes and helmets
  • Picnic blanket
  • Plates
  • Napkins
  • Knife
  • Beverage (sparkling water, wine, or more coffee)
  • Camera
  • Notebook or phone for recording tasting notes

Step 4) Begin the adventure! Gather your trusted friends and their bikes and let’s get to it! May I suggest we begin with morning cocktails? You may find your coffee has been spiked with Bailey’s and heavy whipping cream {not guilty}. It’s probably a good idea to eat a high protein breakfast to compensate for all the sugar you are about to consume. I love something like eggs and bacon or Greek yogurt with fruit. Time to boogie!

Step 5) Collect your cake samples from each bakery on your map.

Baked goods + bikes. Thumbs up!

Baked goods + bikes. Thumbs up!

Step 6) Make a picnic! Choose a park close to your last bakery location and unfurl your picnic blanket. Set up the cupcakes, plates and napkins. Take a picture of each group of cupcakes before diving in.

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Step 7) Taste the cakes and take notes on the flavor and texture of the samples. Which cakes are your favorite? Do you like the frosting? Compare your notes with your friends to get a good idea of something that your guests will love.

Almost all gone!

Almost all gone!

Thanks, Amanda, for these awesome tips for a cake tasting on bicycle! We heart this delicious, earth-friendly idea.  - Hannah, Tara, and Chris

Patriotic Pie Roundup

The Fourth of July is just two weeks away. And what’s as American as apple pie? Uh, apple pie! We’ve rounded up a collection of patriotic pies worthy of a picnic or backyard BBQ. Show your American pride through pie!

Apple pie

Patriotic Pie Roundup - Everybody's Invited! Events

Berry pie

Patriotic Pie Roundup - Everybody's Invited! Events

No-bake pie

Patriotic Pie Roundup - Everybody's Invited! Events

Mini pies

Patriotic Pie Roundup - Everybody's Invited! Events
Hand pies

Patriotic Pie Roundup - Everybody's Invited! Events
Pie in jars

Patriotic Pie Roundup - Everybody's Invited! Events
Pie pops

Patriotic Pie Roundup - Everybody's Invited! Events
Pie crust dippers

Patriotic Pie Roundup - Everybody's Invited! Events
Moon pies

Patriotic Pie Roundup - Everybody's Invited! Events
Whoopie pies

Patriotic Pie Roundup - Everybody's Invited! Events

All these treats are making us thirsty! Get a little pie-eyed with a pie-inspired cocktail.

Patriotic Pie Roundup - Everybody's Invited! Events

With liberty and justice and pie for all. Amen.

See more delicious inspiration on our Patriotic Pie Pinterest board.

We hope your Fourth of July is nice as pie!



An Everybody’s Invited Wedding: Play, Surprise, and Adventure

Back in April, Tara shared some details about my wedding on this blog, and now I’m finally ready to follow up with some more photos and to share a bit about the thinking that went into it.

Like most couples, my husband and I knew we wanted the wedding to reflect some of our core values and our shared interests. And like me, my husband is really into play, surprise, and adventure, so we were able to group a lot of our ideas into those buckets.


This was easy. We had a game room and used the opportunity to grow our game collection a bit. We knew we needed games with a low barrier to entry—no one was going to sit around and parse the rules to Settlers of Catan, but anyone can jump into a game of Jenga.


My husband and I spent about 30 hours making the word PLAY out of LEGO letters. It was a multi-step process—sourcing the LEGOs (we spent hours picking through bins of random bricks), washing them, determining the color pattern (we tried at least three different patterns), and finally designing our font and figuring out how to construct the letters in such a way that they wouldn’t be so top-heavy that they’d fall over (the P was particularly problematic).

We love puzzles, so we made sure there were puzzles at every table, like this sudoku cube:


And we gave tangram puzzles as our favors. My mother-in-law and her partner made them, and they are awesome.

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We wanted an unusual unity ceremony, and we also knew we wanted it to be science-y. There’s an obvious connection between the “chemistry” a couple has and actual chemistry. So we purchased 50 glowsticks, cut them open, and separated out the two liquids inside. There’s a colored liquid contained within a vial in each glowstick, and a clear liquid surrounding the vial. When mixed together, they glow. Science/Love! We hope the effect was a fun surprise for our guests.

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From the beginning, we wanted a BIG surprise at some point during the evening, and we spent hours hashing out crazy ideas, but nothing stuck for a long time. About two weeks before the wedding, we finally hit upon an idea that we thought might work. The catch was it would involve the talents and goodwill of three of our friends.

Luckily, Eric, Chad and Trish were totally game. After dinner, Eric stood up and pretended to interrupt the toasts. He set up a rather far-fetched premise involving evil overlords from the future, time travel, and the fact that this wedding was somehow critical to the future of humanity. Eric hammed it up and had the rest of the guests laughing and cheering.

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We played along:

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After we’d managed to “save” the future (I won’t go into details about how, but it involved invisible ink pens), our friend Chad surprised everyone again by standing up and claiming the crisis wasn’t actually averted.

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Again, my husband and I played our part:

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This time, we all had to take photos with plastic mustaches in order to save the world.

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Finally, Trish stood up to set up one last surprise…

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We’d planned from the beginning to surprise our guests with a sudden costume change and a well-rehearsed tango, choreographed by the incredible Sydney Weir, formerly of Fred Astaire Dance Studio in Portland. Once we thought of the time travel skit idea, we had a way to raise the stakes on the dance. Now, we weren’t just dancing to celebrate our wedding, we were dancing…to save the world.


We did it!

I’d been really nervous about the time travel skit idea. I thought it had the potential to flop. But I should have known that Eric, Chad, and Trish had the chops to pull it off. Looking back, this was absolutely, hands down the highlight of the wedding for me. I love that we had this chance to improv with our friends, surprise our guests, and take a risk (play, surprise, and adventure – all in one!), and I LOVE our friends for being so amazing, creative, funny, and totally up for anything.


We haven’t planned a honeymoon yet, so we thought it would be fun to crowdsource our plans. We put up a map of the world and let people pin places they think we ought to travel.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 9.14.20 PM

New Zealand and Hawaii were popular choices, and I was pleased to see Antarctica got a vote (the ultimate adventure!)

The day after the wedding, we planned a few adventures for people who were sticking around. We went on a chocolate factory tour (adventure + learning!) and we went kite-flying at Gasworks park. I don’t have any pictures from that day, but I do have this picture from the same kite-flying spot, taken the day before.

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 6.56.19 AM

A lot of the adventure came in the form of experimenting with props in the photo booth:

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And, of course, there were adventures to be had on the dance floor:

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It was, obviously, an incredible day for me. I am so grateful to my friends and family, and of course my wonderful husband, for helping to make it happen and for sharing it with me.

Let us know if we can help inject some play, surprise, and adventure into your special day.


All photos by the uber-talented Vera and Vedada of Urban Light Studios


Possible Happiness Hack: Quit Facebook

For the past few weeks, I’ve been chewing on the idea of deleting my personal Facebook account (or doing the closest thing to that, since apparently it’s pretty difficult to actually delete it).

Here are the ways in which I think I might benefit from deleting my account:

  • More time! Facebook is a total procrastination tool.
  • A clearer head. Five minutes of scanning the newsfeed sends my brain in 12 different directions.
  • Lower blood pressure. The political content on Facebook often makes my blood boil. I don’t need that!
  • I think I might actually get smarter. Honestly, there’s not a lot of news on Facebook, though there’s a lot of opinion. There are editorials, blogs, memes, Reddit threads, niche articles/conspiracy theories disguised as mainstream news, stories that assert truths without any citations, and long threaded comment sections.  I’m realizing that this steady diet of unsupported claims does a lot of things—it feeds my own biases, and sets off my injustice alarms—but it doesn’t actually help me learn anything. It might actually be making me less informed. I think a side effect of quitting Facebook might be having time to read more actual news.
  • The pleasure of opting out. It would feel good to know that I’m not a product being sold to advertisers. (Realistically, for that, I’d have to opt out of many more sites as well.)

I can feel myself getting ready to opt out, but I’m not there yet. I’m making baby steps. I pruned the list of people I follow. I started limiting my experience to one day a week, and even then for only 20 minutes. I’m being very particular about what I choose to click on. I think eventually I may be ready to cut the cord.


In the meantime, I need to replace the best things about Facebook, which for me, boil down to three things:

  1. seeing photos and news about family and friends who don’t live in the same place as me
  2. having a place to express some of the ideas that are important to me, and forcing myself to work those ideas out
  3. comment threads amongst my funniest friends (the puns!)

So for replacing those things, I’ve got a few alternatives in mind:

  1. A group of friends recently started a virtual writing circle. We’ll meet regularly to catch up on life news and support each other’s various writing projects. I’d like to schedule similar catch-up time with other groups of faraway friends and family.
  2. I’m going to start journaling again! I used to do that, and I miss it. I think it builds happiness.
  3. I’m starting a weekly email chain for my Friends Who Like Wordplay. The puns will go on.

Have you opted out of Facebook, either because you never started or because you tried it and quit? Or have you ever considered leaving it? Share your stories in the comments!

Why I’m out of the happiness-predicting game

Humans, on the whole, are incredibly bad at predicting our own happiness. We mistakenly think gorging ourselves on chocolate is a good idea, only to regret it later. We are positive that buying a new gadget will bring lasting happiness, only to find ourselves complaining about it a little ways down the road. We mis-remember our emotional states, focusing on how we felt during a “peak” moment (or perhaps just how we felt at the end of the experience), rather than accurately recalling our average emotional state.

Daniel Gilbert wrote an entire book on this subject. Check out Stumbling On Happiness if you’re interested in the psychology behind why we are absolutely terrible at predicting our own future emotions.

It doesn’t matter that we know we’re bad at it; it’s just the way we’re wired. Despite having read books on the subject, I still pretend I can somehow predict the future every time I’m faced with a decision. “I think this job will make me happier than that one, so I’m going to take it.” “I just know I’d love living in a warmer climate.” “I should buy this electric piano. I’ll practice all the time!”

It’s a good thing we can fool ourselves into thinking we can predict the future. Otherwise, we might never make decisions or plans.

Here’s the thing that I’m realizing, though. Whether or not I am happy as a result of the decision doesn’t actually say anything about the accuracy of my prediction. If I think the chocolate will make me happy, and it turns out it does make me happy, it means I was right, but not necessarily for the right reasons. I may have been accidentally right.

The truth is, my happiness at any given moment is based on entirely too many things to be accurately predicted. How much sleep did I get the night before? Did I just hear a good song on the radio? How many decisions have I had to make today?

Happiness in a certain moment is also largely a choice. I can recover from many “bad” decisions simply by choosing to put a positive spin on it. (I may not always feel capable of this, but sometimes I do.)

As someone who often agonizes over decisions, I find this thought to be pretty comforting. It means I don’t have to get all stressy about whether my prediction is going to be right or wrong. I can just make a decision based on the best information I have, and recognize that my ability to be happy is largely independent of the outcome.

Do you agonize over decisions? Do you think this reframing will help you reduce the perceived risk?

Theme Party Inspiration: Mt. St. Helens (Volcanoes)

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events

Rare, recently-discovered photo of Mt. St. Helens erupting on May 18, 1980. Photo by Richard Bowen (via

Hannah and I are birthday buddies. We were both born on May 18. It sounds weird, but I feel like this bonds us together; even though we didn’t know each other when we were kids, we were both partying it up and eating cake and ice cream on the exact same day each year!

Not only is May 18 our birthday, it’s also the day that Mt. St. Helens erupted in Washington state. In honor of this explosive day, we headed up to Mt. St. Helens with friends last year on our birthday weekend. I hadn’t been since I was a wee little lass with bangs and glasses in a hypercolor sweatshirt, so I didn’t remember much. Our recent trip was my kind of day: good company, bad jokes, tasty cobbler, and some learnin’. We had a blast (heh).

Some might reserve a volcano-themed birthday party for kids, but we’ve got a connection to that beautifully-eerie, flat-top peak. Our Volcano Party Pinterest board has inspiration for the grown-up volcano party that I hope to throw on May 18 one year.

Describe the Vibe:

Is it possible to throw a classy, grown-up volcano-themed birthday party that isn’t tropical or dinosaur-y? We shall see.


This may sound weird and slightly 70s sleazy (and for some, sexy), but I’m imagining dim lights, a smoke machine, and lots and lots of red and orange lava lamps placed throughout the house.

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events


The flavors of this menu may seem random, but everything is thematic!

Volcano Bean Dip

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events

Volcano Nachos

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events

Tomato Soup in a Bread Bowl

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events

Volcano Sushi Roll

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events


Lots and lots of chocolate options when it comes to volcano-themed desserts. We are totally ok with this.

Smokin’ Volcano Chocolate Cake (with gluten-free option for Hannah!)

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events

Grand Marnier Chocolate Volcano Cake

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events

Mini Molten Lava Volcano Cakes

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events

Volcano Cookies

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events


Smoking Volcano Cocktail (Unfortunately, we can’t find the source or recipe to go with this picture.)

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events

Volcano Punch

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events

Hot Chocolate Volcano

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events


Watch this “St. Helens” movie.

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events

Make DIY Volcano Lava Lamps.

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events

Play this Verb Volcano game (probably for kids, but it looks fun!).

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events

Listen to volcano-themed songs.


Ladies, say “yes” to this volcano dress.

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events


Pocket Volcanoes!

Volcano Theme Party - Everybody's Invited! Events

How do you celebrate your birthday? What’s your birthday party dream theme?

Signature Cocktail: Prickly Pear Mezcal Mule

The double whammy of the recent Cinco de Mayo festivities and some really amazing slow-cooker pork tacos has put me in the mood for Mexican-inspired drinks. I’m not an expert on Mezcal by any means, but I wanted to give it a shot, and this Prickly Pear Mezcal Mule recipe from Freutcake provided the perfect starting point.

The guy at the liquor store said this Del Maguey Vida mezcal would be "extra smoky"

The guy at the liquor store said this Del Maguey Vida Mezcal would be “extra smoky” (and within our price range)

It began with a trip to the liquor store where a super nice employee helped me navigate the Mezcal options. He suggested Del Maguey’s Vida as a good option for a newbie like me. The Freutcake recipe calls for prickly pear syrup, and includes a recipe for a homemade version, but I’m a bit embarrassed to say I opted for the high fructose corn syrup-laden storebought version. It was partly about time and partly about access to prickly pears. I think the drink suffered for it, so, if you have the time and the access, I’d definitely recommend making your own. (Plus, then you wouldn’t end up with a giant bottle of prickly pear syrup that you will likely have taking up space in your fridge for a very long time.)

No jalapeño this time, but I'd be all for it in the future.

No jalapeño this time, but I’d be all for it in the future.

Despite the extra fructose, and despite the fact that I didn’t include a jalapeño, and despite the misleadingly pink color, this was a pretty savory drink. Super smoky, as promised! It went really well with tacos. (I eat tacos all the time.)

Prickly Pear Mezcal Mule

(adapted from Freutcake)

  • juice of 3 limes
  • 3 oz Mezcal
  • 8 oz ginger beer
  • 1 oz prickly pear syrup
  • Lime, for rimming the glass
  • Salt, for rimming the glass
  • Lime wedges, for garnish
  1. Use lime and salt to rim two glasses.
  2. Add lime juice, Mezcal, prickly pear syrup, and ice to a shaker and shake vigorously until cold.
  3. Distribute between the two glasses, and add ginger beer. Stir.
  4. Garnish with lime wedges.
  5. Serve with tacos.


Games People Play: Array

Games People Play is our game review series.

My now-husband and I wanted to have a game room at our wedding, so we went shopping for some new easy-to-learn and quick-to-play games that we could offer up in addition to classics like Jenga, Connect 4, and Pick-up Sticks. Array seemed to fit the bill, though we didn’t actually have a chance to play it ourselves until after the wedding.

We liked the pretty colors.

We liked the pretty colors.

Read on to find out if Array will become a way of life for us.


Vital stats:

  • Players: 2-5
  • Age: 8 and up
  • Time: ~10 minutes per round, for as long as you want
  • Replay value: Medium

Game play: Players are dealt 7 cards each. Each card has 2, 3, or 4 colors—Lime green! Magenta! Turquoise! Hot pink! A starter card is dealt to the middle of the board (we played on a large table, but the floor might have been better, since the “arrays” can get pretty big). The player who is able to play all of their cards first wins the round. During a turn, a player can “splice” one of their cards to the existing array by matching colors, or “slice and splice” if they have two cards in their hand with the same color as two already-played and connected cards. You can also build off of a card you splice, if you have the colors to match. There are some Action cards mixed into the deck that, when played, allow you to give an opponent extra points (which are bad, because the first player to reach 100 points loses) or cards (which are bad, because any unplayed cards at the end of a round equate to points).

This game is fun for: Designers probably. People who like the mechanics of dominoes, but prefer matching colors to counting dots. People who like games that take up lots of space (I’d put myself in that group. I just want the arrays to be bigger!). Perhaps it was just luck, but there was a serious imbalance in scoring within the first few rounds. I was kicking so much ass. I think that might be more a problem with the game structure itself than any sort of innate skill on my part. This game doesn’t allow for a lot of strategizing, and doesn’t offer a ton of interesting choices (though there is a small amount of skill involved).

Risk of making someone feel bad: It’s not too hard to pick up the rules, but I’d probably sit this one out if I were color blind. I was having some trouble distinguishing between the various reds, pinks, and oranges myself.

Benefits of playing: Made me want to paint afterwards.

Verdict: While I appreciate the idea of a word-free, color-based game, and I generally like very simple games, I found this to be a little too simple. It didn’t hold my interest for very long, mostly because there were too few choices to make. I’m saying No Way to Array.

How to respond to someone else’s good news

So, we’ve all had the experience of supporting a friend or partner through a rough time in their life. And maybe some of us even pride ourselves on being exceptionally good at that—perhaps we’ve honed our listening skills, offered up just the right combination of comforting words, or volunteered to do some favors to ease the load. We might be pretty darn proud of ourselves. (Note: I am not talking about me! Ever since I was passed over for my middle school’s “Natural Helpers” Peer Support program, I’ve feared that I’m a terrible advice-giver.)

Did you know that how you respond to positive events in a friend or partner’s life is an equally important indicator of a good relationship?


Think about it. Have you ever shared good news with a friend only to have them respond unenthusiastically? Or with jealousy? Or immediately turn the conversation back to themselves? When this happened, you probably felt like a deflated balloon. That’s because these are the worst possible ways to respond to someone else’s good news.

What’s the right way? According to a smart researcher lady, Shelly Gable, of the University of California at Santa Barbara, it’s with an active constructive response.

Active means you engage with the news, with some energy. Smile and make eye-contact. Give a hug. Ask follow-up questions. Constructive means you are positive about it. Express your delight. Avoid sharing your concerns or worries. Let the person share their happiness with you.

here's a handy chart from the internet (specifically, from!

here’s a handy chart from the internet (specifically, from!

As an example, if your friend tells you she just got a promotion, an active and constructive response would be a big smile and a high-five, along with, “That’s awesome! What kinds of new responsibilities will you have? What are you most excited about?”

It’s possible to be active and destructive, as in “Ugh, your new job sounds like it’s going to be sooooo hard.” Or, passive and constructive, as in, not looking up from your phone while murmuring, “Oh. That’s nice.” But of course the optimal response is solidly in the active/constructive camp, so aim for that.

Think about how you tend to respond to other people’s good news. If you’re not already practicing active constructive responses (sometimes called ACR to sound extra official and nerdy), it’s something you may want to intentionally work on. It just might save your relationships!


the photograph used in the image above is from lanuiop’s flickr account

Mother’s Day Gift Giving Guide

Mother’s Day is coming up quickly! It’s the one day out of the year we set aside for honoring the hard work of moms everywhere. Take a moment to think about the mothers in your life and give them all a mental high five for their patience, kindness, toughness, and kick-ass ability to love unconditionally.

Longtime readers of this blog know that we believe gifts ought to be Interactive, Fun, and potentially Thematic. Mostly, they ought to be from the heart. We believe in making things by hand, creating memorable experiences, offering up items that are as useful as they are beautiful, and using gifts to tell a personal story. We distinctly do not believe in filling people’s homes with things they will neither use nor appreciate aesthetically.

If that seems like a tall order, never fear! We’ve put together a Mother’s Day Gift Guide to help you give props to your favorite mamas.

Art! Moms are people, and people love art. We don’t know what kind of art your mom likes, but perhaps she’d be into one of these.

For cake-loving moms.

For cake-loving moms.

For vintage-loving moms

For vintage-loving moms

For artsy moms

For artsy moms

For penguin-loving moms

For penguin-loving moms

Or consider this personalized art idea—a visual representation of your heartfelt spoken message. It’s cute, meaningful, and one-of-a-kind.

Your voice, visualized.

Your voice, visualized.

Track down a hard-to-find copy of a book she read to you as a child. Get ready for the waterworks as she unwraps this bit of nostalgia.

Did anyone else read this one as a child?

Did anyone else read this one as a child?

Culinary-minded moms will appreciate a great cookbook. Not sure which one to purchase? Amazon has helpfully created a map of the best cookbooks for different regional cuisines in the U.S.

This one from the Pacific Northwest section seems appropriate.

This one from the Pacific Northwest section seems appropriate.

For play-loving moms, consider adding to the family game closet. A new tabletop game is an investment in future fun. See our game review series for ideas.

A new family favorite

A new family favorite

Help a mom learn something new. What fits best with her particular interests and available time? A three-hour cooking class? A “How to Program” book? A wine tasting? An art appreciation tour at her favorite museum? Perhaps software to learn a foreign language? Help her explore her passions and develop new skills!

Tell her you love her in any language

Tell her you love her in any language

To help a great mom get a bit of perspective, how about a hot air balloon ride? It’ll create a lasting memory and is guaranteed to amp up her sense of adventure.

This photo was taken by one of my favorite moms, my friend Maddie

This awesome photo was taken by one of my favorite moms, my friend Maddie

No fail gift idea: homemade cookies. It’s easy, fun, delicious, and we swear, you can taste the love.

How about these oatmeal, chocolate chip, pecan cookies from Smitten Kitchen?

How about these oatmeal, chocolate chip, pecan cookies from Smitten Kitchen?