ladies and gentleman, I’m back!

IMG_0012 Hello there my lovely friends. Gosh, it’s good to be back here. I’ve missed it a lot.

So, funny thing how my last post promised I would be consistent again visa vi this blog. It’s almost like I put that out into the Universe and then the Universe decided to remind me who’s really boss (no one). Needless to say, nitty gritty details aside (for now, at least), I took a bit of a siesta from blogging, but now I’m back!

Do you love my new logo? Depending on how long you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know that I’ve changed my logo, um, quite a few times to say the least.

I’m not going to BS you–I love design, art and being creative. I change my logo frequently because I have some sort of weird design perfectionism and I’m always trying to get it just right. For now, I’m super happy with it, but only time will tell.

So what have I been up to? Well aside from the day to day, a lot! But that’s why I’m back here. I feel like I have tons to share and am so super excited to try and take this blog to the next level. I even attended the Create + Cultivate Conference about a month ago to get more inspired and get back in gear.

So what are you all up to this week? I know Labor Day is coming up and I am SO insanely excited to go home to my family for a relaxing, extended weekend. What are you all up to? If you’re new to my site, please drop a comment or send me an email by the way, especially if you’re living in Chicago. I want to hear what you’re all doing!

Also, if you didn’t already know, feel free to check me out on most all of the social media things: instagram x facebook x pinterest x twitter x snapchat.

Talk soon!

The Whole 30 (And Where I’m At)

Breaking Down The Whole 30

Alright you guys. The Whole 30. Yes. I spoke about it Monday, remember? Well do you also remember that I mentioned starting work yesterday? Yes? Well, you probably saw the stars aligning not in my favor and, yep…wrong time to start the Whole 30.

My bad, my bad. I know!

The Whole 30 said to prepare and be ready, and I thought I was…food-wise. But, apparently, not life-wise.

Basically, I went to this day-long client meeting. I knew it’d be tough to stay on-track so I packed a Larsbar, but assumed they would have a basic salad option (since most client meetings do). Well, nope. Not this time. They brought in delicious, but totally off-plan, Chipotle burritos and chips and guac. That’s it. Keep in mind, this was in a corporate park, so there were no other options to walk to AND this was my first day on a new job at a client office, so I didn’t want to offend anyone by skipping all together. So, I ate a vegetarian burrito. But it was still rice and tortilla.

I really trust this program and want to give it 100%, which means postponing it for now (possibly till fall), when there are no first days, not so many weddings and not so much traveling. I just want to be honest with you because FOR ONCE I was going to do a healthy food program and complete it. But I know that I can’t restart it now, without prematurely ruining it again at today’s unpredictable day-long client meeting (yep, another one) or my trip to LA at the end of the month.

Okay, now that you know where I’m at, I do still want to introduce the Whole 30 to you because I really believe it works; that it isn’t a gimmick or some “get thin fast” diet (in fact, it says to go on it without your main focus being weight loss). Sure, it’s tough. But not as tough as the nay-sayers would lead you to believe (the fact I passed up fried mac ‘n’ cheese balls, sangria and burgers last Friday is a small testament to that). Plus, if you’re still trying to get beach-ready, eating this clean will definitely give you a major boost in the right direction.

So, what is the Whole 30 program?

Essentially, the Whole 30 is similar to the Paleo diet (which, by the by, I actually don’t totally support as a lifelong diet, just FYI). Essentially, you cut out all dairy, legumes, grains and sugar for 30 days.

Why do people do this?

Some people do it to lose weight (which does happen), however they don’t advocate for this (you’re not even allowed to use a scale). It’s supposed to “restart” your gut by getting rid of all the potential harmful or inflammatory foods that we usually consume on a day to day.

I could never give up cheese and rice!

Believe this Wisconsinite, I didn’t think I could either. But I did! Even gave up hummus (which I lurvee). It’s possible, just make sure you have a clear goal (mine has been making my gut healthier and, yes, getting ready to don a bikini at the end of the month).

Sounds like a lot of work…

It’s a bit of work. Clearly, I suggest planning a period of time where things may be a bit slower in your life and you’re able to easily pack your own lunches and eat dinners at home because, even though you can eat out on the diet, it’s not very easy (plus you never know 100% what the chef added or cooked your food with and many cooking oils aren’t allowed). Luckily, if you plan a little better than I did, the Whole 30 gives you a lot of help with forums to ask questions and support other whole 30-ers, and meal plan/shopping list downloads (which accommodate a variety of diets).

P.S. I’m still going to continue eating clean-ish, but I knew that this program was something I wanted to do for 30 days and didn’t want to short-change myself from that. That said, I do plan on trying it again this fall when I know I have 30 days to fully and successfully dedicate to it.

New Look, Same Midwest Love Fest

new midwest love fest!

Hey again.

Two posts in two days? Craziness, I know. I just wanted to quick drop by and let you know why I ended up tweaking Midwest Love Fest a bit.


I wanted to have a header that was a bit more simple and lifestyle and less “painterly” since that insinuates this might be a strictly creative or painting blog. In reality yes, I love talking about DIYs, painting and other creative pursuits, but this blog is more than an artistic oasis (ha), it’s about living a simple, healthy and wonderful life.

“Tag Line”

While Life + Diet of a The Girl Next Door (my last tag) completely embodies what I am about, I don’t know what it really does for you. I also wanted to expand the feel of the blog because, again, I want it to be about more than healthy food and canvases; to expand it into a real lifestyle blog.


Obviously, the About page had to be tweaked a bit. Essentially it’s the same info as before, just aligning it with the new “simple, beautiful” living; what a real midwest lifestyle is about. 😉

Thanks again for being a reader of Midwest Love Fest and going through these constant fluctuations with me. I love sharing things on this space and hope this will give you better content to read and enjoy! Huzzah!

hello again (or, why I quit my job)

Let’s sit down and catch up, shall we? It’s been awhile.

Really, this year has been a bumpier road than I expected it to be. I probably did a better job of blogging during my wedding and honeymoon than these past few months. But, at some point, I just had to take a step back from this little internet space and deal with real life and everything going on outside the .com.

Okay, so what’s been happening?

Well, the long and short of it is not only did we move to a new apartment (and are still couch-less), but…

*drum roll*

…I quit my job with no other job lined up.

Without getting into too many details at this point, my job was an all-around bad situation and I knew for my health it was better to just leap (and, in my case, freelance) and hope the net would appear. And, after putting in my two weeks, it did. Within the last week of my job, I was hit up for another interview and a freaky fast freelance project. I also upped my blog posts at, and on Friday, my last day of work, I received a job offer…and the following Monday I had a phone interview with another agency and received another job offer…which I accepted and will be starting tomorrow! Woo hoo!

Just goes to show you what happens when you trust your gut, no matter how scary it may seem at the time.

So, I’ve had two weeks off between jobs to get my life and health in order. I’m now on the Whole 30 to try and identify the foods that make my gastroparesis flare up (I’ll do a quickie post on this at the end of the week). I’m obviously back to blogging — with another new look! Ha. I just can’t sit still when it comes to this blog…always changing the look and trying to tighten up what I’m really trying to do in this space (I’ll do a post about all of this tomorrow).

Overall, it feels great to be moving forward. I’ve been waiting so long to make this next move in my career that a lot of other things have been put on hold, and I’m happy to say I’m finally making moves in all the right directions.

That said, you can finally expect semi-regular posts around here. YASSSS queen.  I really want to delve into this Whole 30 thing. More fun summer DIYs. Moving and decorating tips. And more travel recaps. Just a whole lot of posts that make up a beautiful, simple life.

Hope you’ll continue to join me for the adventure! And, if you’ve been here through my consistent posts and absences, I want you to know how much I appreciate you reading. Half of you are probably friends or family members anyway, but I just want you to know I love you and love that you keep skimming my thoughts and ideas. It means the world to me. Thank you!

What is the low fodmap diet?

what is the low fodmap diet? If you’ve been with me for a bit, you know that I struggle with stomach issues. In reality, it’s one of the reasons I started this blog.

I was having major stomach pains–I’m talking vomiting, pain and nausea that would wake me up in the middle of the night, gas, heartburn…the full monty. I experimented with an intense carb diet (which–go figure–also made me gain weight) so that it, if I had celiac’s, it would show up on my GI test. When it turned out I did not have celiac’s disease, but may have a gluten-intolerance, I tried a gluten-free diet, but felt like a fraud. Who was I to be eating a gluten-free diet when I didn’t have a diagnosed condition? Plus, though the gluten-free made me feel a bit better; lighter, I was still experiencing the same stomach nausea, especially when it came to alcohol.

To add to the fun, I randomly developed a fruit allergy over the past year (fun fact: I found out I was allergic to some sort of berry when my lip swelled up during a morning meeting).

The full post on my stomach issues can be found here, and in it I also mention how my nutritionist “prescribed me” a low fodmap diet.

Because this was just before my wedding, I’ll be honest. The solid information informing me that there was indeed an issue and a “cure” for my pain came as a relief, but I didn’t necessarily do much with this new insight. I blame everything that was going on in my day-to-day, wedding prep schedule.

Fast forward to almost a year later, and I think I’m ready to give this new diet a try.


What is the low fodmap diet?

Essentially, it’s a diet for people who suffer from digestive issues (especially IBS). My nutritionist recommended it to me because of my gastroparesis issue.

It’s interesting when looking at what foods are allowed on the diet and which ones to steer clear from because, for the most part, the items that I shouldn’t consume are indeed the ones that usually cause me problems. However, there are a few exceptions for me personally; items that are included as safe, when personally they cause me issues. Which they do say–the low fodmap should be seen as a guide, adapted to your own needs. (If you search “low fodmap guide” and look in images, you’ll see that the charts do vary slightly). For all intents and purposes, I’ll be trying to follow the chart below (again adapted to my own needs), but here, here and here are a few other good ones.

your easy guide to low fodmapping We’ll see how successful I am at this. I’m one of those people who, if I say “I’m doing this,” I usually freak out and feel too much pressure, so just stop doing it. This was also a problem in school where I suffered from text anxiety…but that’s for another day, another post, ha.

I will say, after we have settled into our new place, I’m excited to jump back into a routine. Probably restart BBG (again, since I’ve only successfully ever completed it once and that was back before my wedding) and get back on this healthy eating, while trying to stick with the low fodmap thing.

Experts say to give it 6-8 weeks on the diet to see if it helps, and then slowly introduce the other foods back into your diet–one by one–to see if and what may cause your issues. So I’m considering doing that, since I’ve already found some of my triggers after experiencing problems the past few years (almonds are my downfall, for some reason). However, you will still see me eating apples, which are on the “no no” list, but have never caused me any problems. I can’t give up those little suckers.

What do you think? Have you ever tried the low fodmap thing?

where in the world…

catching up / last week Being away from this space makes me a sad panda, but alas my life is a crazy chaotic mess right now and has forced me away from the things I love (…that’s you and this blog).

I suppose a short recap is in order.

San Francisco was amazing. The wedding we attended was at Campovida and it was insanely beautiful. Seriously, if I could’ve had my wedding outside, that was exactly how I would’ve done it.

Following the wedding, we road tripped it into San Francisco, stopping shortly in Santa Rosa for a delicious brunch at this cute farm-to-table place called The Naked Pig.

The house we airbnb-ed in the city was beautiful. Lots of wood floors, natural light, the coziest bed I have ever slept in (like sleeping on a cloud). Lots of good stuff. We arrived late Sunday afternoon and spend the next two days eating, shopping and drinking. I’m talking pastas and soups and ice cream sundaes and Irish coffee and In-n-Out burgers. Just, a lot of food. Probably too much food.

We got home in Chicago late Tuesday night and, since then, our world has continued to race.

While balancing two busy work schedules, Ryan and I continued slowly packing up our things throughout the week.

Then, on Friday, we attempted an afternoon Ikea trip (I say attempted because nothing fit in our car and we will have to return to Ikea this weekend).

Saturday morning we woke up early to head to my 83 year old aunt’s wedding in Milwaukee, drove back to Chicago after the reception (with my parents a few minutes behind us), loaded more wedding stuff into our new place and then headed to dinner at TWO. After dinner, we got home and watched Birdman (or re-watch, for me) and Ryan headed out to DJ at Blackfinn.

By 11PM, I was in bed. And by 8am the next morning, my dad was banging on the door asking if we could help jumpstart his car. I woke up. A service was called. My dressers were moved and thrown away. More boxes were moved into the car and delivered to the new place. Pizza was had, the family left and packing continued.

Now, I’m sitting here. On the couch. It’s 5pm and Ryan’s working and thus has to watch the playoffs…which means I’m watching the playoffs. Neither of us know what to eat for dinner, but we have to order in since all our kitchen stuff and dry food is packed away.

Essentially, I’m exhausted. And not only that, it’s not over. There’s still so much to do this week–we need to return to Ikea, buy a mattress, buy a couch, finish moving, set up cable/Internet and clean this place. That doesn’t include seeing friends, buying a thank you gift for our landlord/friends, going to my 9-5, or just doing day-to-day stuff like eating well and exercising. And this lack of schedule is really making me and my body feel like poop.

I suppose this is my long-winded way of catching you up and letting you know I’m TOTALLY not abandoning this space. If anything, I really am planning on ramping up content over the next month. Just please, bare with me while I get my life in some semblance of order and try to get back on track.

head in the clouds


Just wanted to stop in and let you know I’m traveling all day today (flying Chicago > Seattle > San Jose, transferring to a car and driving 3 hours to this rural wedding destination).

I’m essentially half asleep as I type this, sipping Starbucks coffee (in a Seattle airport – I had to!) and feeling a little icky after too much airport food. I’m managing thanks to a stack of magazines, a notebook and this and this and this podcast.

I’ll be back Wednesday, but until then, you can follow me on Insta (my social network of choice) while I run around San Francisco with the bub and his parents.

Hope you have a wonderfully beautiful weekend!

meet me monday?

Kind of a silly post title, I know. But what else should I call these new little meet-cute mondays (ohmygosh did I just solve it!? on second thought…no…). I thought I’d occasionally do more of a personal thing around here and you can follow my Twitter / Facebook for more “motivation monday” link-age.

the best things in life are worth the risk Not sure about you, but Monday mornings always end up being these deep reflective times for me. Especially on my commute (shout out to my fellow bus riders!).

Generally speaking, we spend our weekends how we want to. Doing activities we enjoy and meeting up with people who make us happy. Essentially, we do the things that “fill our bucket.” And that always makes me come into work on Monday, reflecting on my week, my life and my goals.

Am I doing the things I want? Am I contributing to society in a positive way? Do I feel like a better person, or am I fully utilizing my talents?

Friday night, Ryan and I went to see Fast and Furious 7. If you’ve never basked in the glory of a Fast and Furious film, let me catch you up to speed (ha, puns): expensive cars, hot girls and big muscles. It’s also pretty cheezy at times. However, rather than a testosterone-filled ending, Fast and Furious 7 featured a tribute to Paul Walker. And guys? I cried. I’ll admit it.

Paul Walker was supposedly a very sweet actor and (from articles I read here and here) a good human being. And his light was extinguished way too quickly. But look at the legacy he left. He’s positively remembered and seemed like he enjoyed the life he lived.

I guess what I’m rhetorically posing to myself and to you guys (and the universe) is are you happy with what you’re doing?

Honestly, I’m not sure if I am. I’m happy with a good portion of my life. Most days, I feel extremely lucky to be surrounded by such amazing people and have the opportunities I do. But somedays, it’s a little harder.

Somedays I question what I’m contributing to. Am I working toward my higher goals? Am I growing as a person? Am I being a good friend, daughter and wife?

I’m hoping to make a few changes…a few risks…over the next few months that may help me get where I want need to be. Per usual, will keep you updated.

a few personal thoughts

sharing some personal thoughts today on Apparently I couldn’t wait till next Monday and wanted to start sharing a few personal thoughts with you this hump day…

I’ve recently become obsessed with this notion of not being a victim of your circumstances. I’ve seen so many people play the victim role in the past few years and you know where it gets them? No where. Once the sympathetic pats on the back have stopped coming, they’re left a sad, discombobulated mess. They find it difficult to dig themselves out of the hole they’ve created and their loved ones become frustrated carrying the weight of their unhappiness.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times when a victim is truly that, a victim. But right now, I’m talking about when things don’t go your way and you let that define you.

It’s something I’m really struggling with, to be honest. Though I’m surrounded by amazing people and blessed with an incredible husband and supportive family, I’m feeling unfulfilled creatively and in my career. And the question I keep coming back to is, how do I change that? How do I step outside myself to alter my reality instead of watching it unfold in front me? How can I be a participant instead of an observer?

Of course, I have yet to answer these rhetorical questions. I’m still searching. Of course, if you have any thoughts, I’d love to hear them! Because right now, I’m just mulling these ideas over and over again in my mind. Trying to be inspired…trying to put one foot in front of the other until I’ve trudged through hell and back and figured out where I need and want to be. Guess I’ll let you know when I get there.

moto monday [ed 40]

motivation for your monday | ed 40 Can’t believe this is edition 40 of moto monday. Truth be told, I’m kind of getting tired of this series. Bet you weren’t expecting me to say that, huh?

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE sharing links with you guys…but maybe I should be doing that on Facebook or Twitter, and share more personal insights on here.

I suppose this “epiphany” moment came last week when I became practically obsessed with Jenna Kutcher’s blog. I started following Jenna on Instagram (I think?) after realizing she was a Wisco-based photographer. But I never knew she had a web presence until I serendipitously decided to visit her website. Her voice is so approachable, it’s like reading a good book you don’t want to put down.

I miss writing like that.

Blogging is so weird because you have bloggers like The Skinny Confidential who are so staccato and short with posts (which totally works for her brand and tone!), but then I see posts like Jenna’s and I’m like, oh yeah. I’m a writer. I really enjoy writing…I forgot!

I suppose I started shortening my posts because of time–time spent writing the post and time you spend reading it.

I know the internet is reprogramming our brains to have shorter attention spans and figured I needed to play into that. But then, I go and read blog posts like Jenna’s and realize the insane power of a compelling story, which trumps all sorts of various attention spans.

With that in mind, I might tweak these moto monday posts starting next week…maybe making it a bit more personal? What do you think? I haven’t really decided yet. TBD.

For now, though, enjoy the 40th edition of moto monday, link-style:

+this girl will rule the world one day.

+can’t wait to see this movie.

+ri ri is a goddess.

+it might be good to know this is happening.

+my april calendar (this doesn’t include the San Fran wedding we have to go to, Ryan’s dad’s birthday, moving to another apartment in Chicago, turning in our leased car, my parent’s visiting, my great aunt’s wedding and my grandma’s birthday brunch celebration).

+current fave (upbeat) song.

+animal love.

+interesting read for all you lifestyle entrepreneurs.

+moving/decorating our new apartment has me on a huge interior design kick, and i’m drooling over these digs.

+a beautiful desktop wallpaper to usher in the new month.