Let's FriendsGiving!


There's pie, wine and all your dearest friends. It's like Thanksgiving, but without that awkward family moment. It's FRIENDSGIVING!

Planning to gather your pals to gobble up some turkey and give thanks? I've put together a handy resource guide to make your Friendsgiving one to remember.

Are you planning a Friendsgiving this year?

Share your tips in the comments!


A Very Punny Wine Flight: XO-LP "teaches" a Wine Class

The best ideas come together while drinking wine with friends, right?

If this is true (which it most certainly is) then this was yet another genius plan I've pitched to my personal sommelier, Abbe Davidson. Not only is Abbe affectionately known as "the wine lady" here in Des Moines, she's also one of the most fun, quick witted and brilliant gals I'm lucky enough to call friend. The conversation that lead to us "co-teaching" a wine class for Des Moines' premiere event, Winefest, went something like this:

"Wouldn't it be hilarious if we wrote about wine where I translated all the fancy somm stuff you say?"
"We should, like, teach a class together for Winefest. Don't they do those tastings?"

[Wine sloshes as Laura gestures grandly with her hands.]
"Sure, great idea."
[Abbe tells Laura to "finish it" so that she can refill glasses with a new, fresh Australian wine.]

So it wasn't a garage full of tech nonsense that became Apple or a plan on the back of a napkin that ends up in the Smithsonian, but it was a seed that was planted-- and the class that followed was the first (and potentially last) of it's kind for Winefest. 

Together, Abbe and I built the following book. In total it was 18 pages of wine wisdom that included tasting notes, a Sommelier Dictionary that identified terms used in the class that might need more explanation and all kinds of commentary from me, the non-expert in wine. 

After the intro came the tasting notes, painstakingly written over wine and cheese with Abbe talking vino to me while I asked too many questions.

7 wines, 7 pages of notes describing the wine's special characteristics, the flavors that make it up and a few bits about the region it came from. Each page allowed room for the class attendee to make their own notes about the wines. 

Peppered into the class were "Somm Bombs:" a bit of sommelier specific knowledge that makes you sounds smart at parties. Additionally there was a page dedicated to the two most complicated concepts in wine (according to me, not Abbe the expert):

Chardonnay and Tannins.

There's a lot of words Abbe used in our initial talks that needed somm explaining (see what I did there?!) 

Below you'll find the Somm Dictionary that includes some useful and Bieber terms. Learning is fun. And learning while drinking delicious Australian wines? Now that's the most fun. I personally fell deeper in love with Jansz and their perfect bubbles, and hello Nautilus Pinot Noir-- you are a babe. 

We had 40 very happy students at the end of the night- full of Centro pizza and tasty wines, and knowledge. And it's true what my bio says, I haven't had any Yellow Tail in over six years. There's so much more to Aussie wine than that animal covered bottle. 

[Special thank you to Natasha Sayles for indulging my crazy wine class idea, to Abbe for being brilliant, to the sweet Chris Maharry for the photos and all my friends who showed up to imbibe with me!]

Favorite Books of 2017 (So Far)

This year I set out to read more and binge watch less. 

I read all the articles about how much time we spend watching TV, how many books I could actually read in a year... and realized I didn't need to rewatch the entire Gossip Girl series for the fourth time. Don't worry, I've still made time to rewatch seasons of Top Chef, catch up on all the episodes of Younger and finally see Moana, but I've also been devouring some really good (and really average) books thanks to the Des Moines Public Library. 

Since setting myself this little goal, I've read 18 books (most via the Overdrive App on my Ipad.)

Below are a few of my favorites, with a couple notes about what made them stand out as super. 

I actually listened to Lindy West read this one. It was so sad at times I wanted to hug Lindy and tell her she's doing ok. But then she exhibits such bold, bad ass strength I want her to hug me and tell me I'm doing ok. All the feels.

I remind myself of many quotes from this book, daily. Jen Sincero is direct with her advice, saying what you already know, but in a way you won't soon forget. 

I just want to be friends with you, Jessi Klein. This book was funny, relatable and honest: three qualities I look for in a book and a bestie. 

This complicated character touched me. A quick read with lots of sliced up, smart writing. 

What to say when you don't know what to say

Sure, love letters are fun to send when your sister is pregnant, your aunt got a promotion and your college roommate just finished grad school. But what about the friend who lost her brother, your mother-in-law who just spent way too much time in the hospital or that neighbor struggling through a hot mess of a job loss?

Here's the truth: It's hard to know what to say when things are hard. 

I find myself sitting over a blank notecard, trying to write the "right" message. The fact is there really isn't a right thing to say, but I have a few tips.

  1. Be Honest
    Emily Post and I agree on this point. Just "say what you truly feel." 
  2. Keep it Brief
    We do not want to dwell on the bummer, so let's keep our message to our saddened friend honest (as we just discussed) and concise. Shoot for 3-4 sentences of kind-hearted words.
  3. Don't Try to "Understand"
    We've all experienced pain. We've all been through a break up, a break down or an arm break, but everyone experiences despair in their own way. I know it's tempting to say "I totally know what you're going through" (and believe me I've done it more times that I would like to admit). As humans, and ones who feel enough empathy to send notes in the mail, we are inclined to relate to each other, but in this case, let's just be supportive and leave the "understanding" to a IRL conversation. 
  4. But Offer Specific Support
    Close your note with a specific, personal offer. "I know it won't mend your broken heart, but I'd love to bring over some wine and a hug soon." 
  5. Grief Has No Expiration Date
    Yes, it's important to send a timely note. Any of us who have lost someone we loved, suffered through an illness or dealt with any kid of heaviness, well, we know that there's no absolute end date for the pain of it. You had a hard time putting into words what to say to a friend who is suffering? Send a note now. People say "it's the thought that counts" for a reason. Because it's true. If you send a message from your heart, it'll be heartfelt.

I've pulled together some of my favorite cards for those hard-to-say situations below.
Click on an image to take you to the home of these super talented, thoughtful greeting card makers. 

Free Stuff: It's National Beer Day!

So I might love red wine, but there's nothing like a cold beer on a hot day.  

Some of the greatest #nomadlyweds road trip memories include sipping local beers with my husband in places I never thought I'd be. You know, places like Port St Joe, FL with the tastiest beer from Tennessee or the elusive No Name Pub. Beers on the beach in Puerto Rico, at a Giants game, at an actual roadhouse in South Dakota and a brewery in Missoula with beers named after fishing flies. We've had some of my favorite conversations with each other and with strangers over a cold one. 

To celebrate a warm day, and a day that just so happens to be NATIONAL BEER DAY, raise your favorite brew and toast the return of the sun. 

FREE printable tags to tie one on. I mean to add to your favorite six pack.