The One Thing You Should Never Ask Newlyweds

The question started within days of returning from our honeymoon, and nearly 8 months later, we’re still getting the question. The dreaded post-wedding question. The question you should never, ever ask a married couple — no matter what their newlywed status may be. The question …

So, how’s married life?

Photo by May Gunsul Photography

Photo by May Gunsul Photography

For starters … what are you supposed to even say? “So far so good?” For a newlywed, “married life” has barely begun — and frankly, most couples are still soaking it in, basking in the glow from their big day, and looking forward to the year ahead. This question is so baffling, I’ve never really known what to say.

Secondly, most modern couples these days live together before marriage. My husband and I did. So when someone asks, “How’s married life?” it implies that there is this big change. But really, the only difference is that we’re no longer planning a wedding. So frankly, married life is a heck of a lot less stressful than engaged life. Otherwise, we still share a home, cook dinner, do laundry, vacuum, grocery shop, and all the other mundane activities of day-to-day life. It’s just that now we’re legally entitled to half of what the other person owns.

But most importantly, here is why you should never, ever, ever ask this question: it’s none of your damn business.

It’s basically like asking someone about the status of their relationship — something that is very personal and very private. If a couple chooses to share how their relationship is going with the world, that is their prerogative. But otherwise, mind your own business! You wouldn’t go around asking other casual acquaintances, “So, how’s your marriage?” Why do you think it’s okay to basically ask the same thing of newlyweds?

Appropriate alternative questions:

  • What was the best part of your wedding?
  • What was your favorite part of the wedding?
  • How was the honeymoon?
  • Any big plans coming up?

Or you know, maybe the old standby … “How ’bout the game?”

For the comments: What are some of the worst personal questions you’ve ever been asked?


Top 5 Favorite Camping Recipes

With our 2014 camping trips now in the books, my husband and I have already started fantasizing about and planning trips for next summer. We’ve also been reflecting on what’s made this year’s trips some of our best yet.

One thing that has really been fun for me during our camping adventures, is finding new things to cook over the campfire. My husband brings his propane-powered griddle/camp stove sometimes — but honestly, I love the challenge of cooking over a campfire.

Here is a look at my favorite camping receipes we’ve tried so-far:

Campfire Spinach Dip

spinach dip

I love that this recipe doesn’t use mayonnaise (I have a mayo phobia) — but even more, I love how freaking delicious it is! I’ve started doubling the recipe anytime there’s more than two of us sharing this treat, because it’s that good. Unlike the recipe, I don’t consider the veggie soup mix optional – it’s a must-have, as far as I’m concerned. I like the dip served best with a French baguette, which I slice ahead of time at home and bring packed in a Ziploc bag.

Campfire Cones

campfire cone

My husband and I saw various versions of these on Pinterest, and decided to give them a try this summer. We LOVE them, even more then traditional s’mores. We start with a waffle cone, then mix up milk chocolate chips, finely chopped fresh strawberries, and mini-marshamallows. We fill the cone with these goodies, wrap in tin foil, then cook on the grates over our campfire until melty inside. Husband has also added mini Reese’s peanut butter cups, and swears by them. Next summer, we want to experiment with caramels and butterscotch chips.

Campfire Nachos

campfire nachos1

I’ve seen other campfire nacho recipes online, but the version I concocted a couple years ago remains my favorite — and my husband’s favorite. It’s easy to cook, with most of the prep work done ahead of time. The nachos get a nice smoky flavor from being cooked over the fire.

Doughy Balls

doughy balls

I received the “Doughy Ball Maker” for my birthday, and we tried out the classic doughy balls recipe on our last trip … and WOW, delish. They are like doughnut holes, but served still warm, after being cooked over the campfire. The cooking process is a little labor-intensive and cumbersome, but the results are definitely tasty. These are a great breakfast treat, especially if paired with sausage and/or eggs.

Campfire Oysters & Garlic Butter

camping oysters

My husband’s uncle came with on our most recent camping trip. He lives near a town called Oysterville along the southwest Washington coast — and on his way to the campsite, he picked up two dozen fresh oysters. Once we got the campfire roaring, he threw those bad boys down on the grates and started melting a combination of butter and seasoned garlic butter. (The garlic butter alone proved a little too strong). Once the oysters popped open, we pulled the oyster out of the shell, drenched it in the melted butter, and savored every delicate, delicious bite. I never want to go camping without oysters ever again. I could eat these for days!

(I also love cooking other shellfish on the campfire. For mussels or clams, I use a big metal pot on the campfire grates. I melt butter, add some white wine and assorted herbs (to taste), then steam the clams or mussels until they pop open.)

For the comments: What are your favorite camping recipes?



Best Camping Tips & Tricks from a (Previously) Non-Camper

Now that summer is (mostly) over & the camping season is coming to an end, I’m both reflecting on the highlights from this year’s camping trips and already starting to fantasize about next year’s trips.

This was the summer that I really started enjoying camping. Growing up, we didn’t camp and I’ve never been a big fan. But my husband did grow up camping, and it’s one of his favorite things in the world. I started camping with him back when we were dating, and after our wedding this January, we used some of our tax return money to upgrade our camping gear. We splurged on a bigger tent and a double-high air mattress — both of which have made a huge difference in how much I enjoy camping. (We also made the not-so-romantic decision that separate air mattresses are also much more comfortable for us while camping!)

This was also the year I found I could be happy camping more than two nights in a row, bumping up our trips to three nights — and next year we might even do four! These may seem like silly milestones to veteran campers, but for me, it marks a big change in perspective. I’m still pretty particular about the campsites where we go (I require indoor plumbing, flush toilets & real showers), but I really do love our camping trips now.

But having started out as a non-camper, I’ve learned what sort of creature comforts I need to be comfortable sleeping in a tent. Here are my top tips and tricks that have made our camping trips so much more enjoyable:

tent1. Bigger is (Usually) Better

This year, my husband and I invested in two major upgrades to our camping gear: a new, bigger tent and a double-high air mattress. Best decision ever.

The bigger tent allows both of us to stand up inside (I’m 5’9″ and hubby is 6’3″), leaves PLENTY of room for our air mattress and all our gear, plus room to move around.

The double-high air mattress is also far more comfortable than the regular kind, and is a lot easier to get in and out of for those of us with lousy knees.

2. Leave the Romance at Home

One thing the bigger tent allowed us to do … is to bring two air mattresses. Yes, my husband and I have started sleeping in separate air mattresses when we camp.

No, our marriage is not in any trouble. We still sleep perfectly soundly together when we’re at home. But in a tent and on an air mattress — where every little movement is magnified — sharing just wasn’t working for us. With the larger tent, we’ve started sleeping on our own air mattresses and BOTH of us have been so much happier as a result.

3. Cozy Comforts

One of my complaints when camping previously had been the struggle to stay warm at night. I could pile lots of blankets around me, but for some reason, the night air made my pillow cases SO cold. I started wrapping them in my camping Snuggie* and that’s what lead to this light bulb moment: fleece pillowcases.

I sewed custom fleece pillowcases, and my husband and I have been thrilled with the results. Not only are they super soft and cozy, but they stay warm all night long during our camping trips — no matter how low the temperature dips.

* Yes, I also have a camping Snuggie. Laugh all you want, but the “blanket with sleeves” is great for cozying up around the campfire when it gets chilly out — and acts as another extra blanket at night when it’s time for bed.

4. Camping Carpet

My husband thought I was crazy when I came home with a small microfiber bath mat and said it was for camping. But I’m having the last laugh, as it is SO much nicer to stand on when getting dressed inside the tent than the bare tent floor — which often gets gritty from tracked in dirt and sand. It’s a small creature comfort that (for me) makes a big impact on my enjoyment of camping.

camping oysters5. Bedside Tables

One small purchase we invested in earlier this year were collapsible camping stools — which I actually use as makeshift bedside tables for our air mattresses. Both my husband and I wear glasses, so for one, it’s nice to have a place off the ground to place our glasses at night when we go to sleep. I also like having my hand lotion, chapstick, and flashlight handy and within reach, off the ground.

—     —     —     —     —

Overall, we’ve slowly been adding to, subtracting from, and adjusting our camping supplies — since originally, my husband had gear for camping solo. Since we now usually camp together, we’ve been adjusting — things he no longer uses, things I’ve requested, or just general changes to what we bring with us. (For example, I LOVE cooking over the campfire and have enjoyed experimenting with new campfire recipes. As a result, I’ve been expanding our camping kitchen supplies to meet my cooking needs.) It’s been a lot of trial and error, to figure out what works best for us as a camping couple — but this year, in particular, we’ve really found our stride and every camping trip has been getting better and better.

We’ve already started looking at new campsites to explore next year, planning a return trip to our favorite campground next summer (Devil’s Lake State Campground in Lincoln City, OR), and thinking about more changes and additions to our camping gear. But for now, it’s time to pack things up for winter storage.

For the comments: What makes YOUR camping trips more comfortable and enjoyable?


Fleece Camping Pillowcases

Over the last few months, my husband and I have been really refining our camping gear and our camping routine — and finding what works best for the two of us. When we started camping together, we were using all of his gear — since he’d been camping all his life, and I (at the time) hated camping and never went at all.

I’ve got another post coming up soon about the new gear and changes we’ve made to our camping routine that have made things so much more comfortable for us — but today, I want to tell you about the Best Idea I Ever Had For Camping – so dubbed by my husband.

Fleece Pillowcases.

tentThe idea came to me during our first camping trip of the year, back in June, when I was trying to stay warm at night — and the cold air made my pillowcases positively freezing. I took to wrapping the pillows in my Snuggie (yes, I have a camping Snuggie – more on that later) to keep them warm.

The only problem with this solution is that the Snuggie kept coming off while I slept. But then I had a “light bulb” moment … why not sew pillowcases out of fleece!

The fleece keeps the pillows warm despite the cold night air, and are the perfect way to help you maintain your body heat during the chilly nights in your tent.

For each pillowcase, you’ll need approximately 1 yard of fleece (1-1/2 yards for bigger pillows).

I used my existing pillowcases as a pattern, and traced around them — adding about a 1/2″ allowance for my seams. Then I stitched up the fleece on three sides, and left the fourth side open for slipping in my pillow. Since fleece doesn’t unravel, I didn’t even bother to hem the open edge (though you certainly can, if you so choose).

You can usually find fleece at the fabric store for pretty cheap, and you can even have fun with novelty prints if you want, since the pillowcases are just for camping. (I used pirate fabric, Avengers print, and Mickey Mouse fabric for our pillowcases!)

* Now, about that Snuggie. Yes, I have a camping Snuggie. Laugh all you want, but the “blanket with sleeves” is great for cozying up around the campfire when it gets chilly out — and acts as another extra blanket at night when it’s time for bed. It’s seriously one of the best accidental camping supplies I ever discovered!