little celebrations lately: summer 2017

hey, hey! it’s been a hot minute since i just sat down & just talked to you. no crazy updates, no crazy announcements, no recipes. just you & me talking about what’s been going on lately. a date, of sorts. & something about the last couple of days leading into my favorite holiday weekend of the year seemed like the perfect…

hey, hey! it’s been a hot minute since i just sat down & just talked to you. no crazy updates, no crazy announcements, no recipes. just you & me talking about what’s been going on lately.

a date, of sorts.

& something about the last couple of days leading into my favorite holiday weekend of the year seemed like the perfect time to do it.

so, go ahead. grab a cup of coffee, or mix up your favorite salad, (or, who the hell is kidding, pour yourself a fat glass of rosé – i’m definitely not going to judge)  &  get cozy. let’s chat.

so what’s new?

gosh, that is the question of the year. what isn’t new?? this summer has honestly been such a whirlwind of change.

shortly after returning from our annual trip to hawaii, i left my corporate job at the end of june to pursue this entrepreneurial dream that i have with everything i’ve got.

in mid-july, sweet peas meals, the meal planning service that i’m managing for jessica & maria, launched.

i’ve been having so much fun helping two of my idols build a brand new business. on any given day, i build menus, create challenges for our members, manage sweet peas’ social media, & so on. i love working so closely with jessica & maria, but they’ve also given me some freedom to make my own decisions & that’s really cool. oh, & above & beyond all of that, our sweet peas meals community is nothing short of amazing. we have members from all over the world & they’re all so passionate about food. it’s really, really fun.

i have also had such a fun time developing summer recipes for plays well with butter the past couple of months! i’m discovering that my favorite recipes are those that i have a strong personal connection to. some favorites from this summer: grilled buffalo chicken wings (these are seriously no-fail!), lavender lemonade rosé cocktails (? addictive!), s’mores bars (so fancy but SO easy – promise!), & my take on my mom’s summer salad (everything good about summer all in the same dish!).

aside from sweet peas meals & the things you see on weekly basis here on plays well with butter, i’ve also stayed busy with a few clients i’ve taken on for food photography & social media management. i have partnered with two of my favorite restaurants: bep eatery (a vietnamese restaurant in the skyways downtown – kind of like chipotle, but with vietnamese food! it was one of my favorite lunch spots when i worked downtown!)…

…& red wagon pizza (chris’ & my favorite neighborhood restaurant. we eat at the wagon, at least, on a weekly basis!).

learning how to shoot different types of food in different environments has been such a fun & rewarding challenge. if you want to follow along with that aspect of my work, be sure to give @bepeatery & @redwagonpizza a follow!

um, holy cow. how’s that all going?!?

ok so…can i be really honest for a second?

it’s really hard to say it, but on a personal level, it’s been a much rougher transition than i expected it to be.

working in the corporate world, not only is there always a pretty good degree of structure & developed processes, but there’s also the assurance that if you don’t get to the last couple of things on your to-do list, the multi-billion dollar enterprise to which you contribute will still keep chugging along.


well, things are a leeeetle different as an entrepreneur.

i’ve felt a huge amount of (self-imposed!) pressure to get A TON of work done, & done perfectly at that. aside from the newness of the work & the environment i’m working in now, i’m also naturally just a decently high strung person. i think it’s in my nature as a virgo, but i’ve battled perfectionism, anxiety, overwhelm, & coping with change for as long as i can remember. & these struggles have definitely surfaced in the last couple of months.

which, honestly, makes me feel so guilty to even say, let alone feel. i feel so, so fortunate to be able to have this opportunity to pave my own way. so i hope you’re not rolling your eyes at me, but it’s also been a little bit (or a lot a bit) of a challenge.

i guess, simply put, i’m learning my boundaries. i’m learning how to prioritize in this new environment, & i’m learning when it’s okay to put my phone down or close my laptop for the night. i am really fortunate to have a husband & some great friends who know when to let me work & also know when to challenge me to put things down & take a break. it’s definitely more of a struggle some days vs others, but i have a ton of faith that i’ll get the hang of it all eventually.

what else has been going on?

in the moments that i’m able to forget that i feel like a chicken with my head cut off 99% of the time, this summer has been so, so sweet.


my niece & nephew had a prolonged summer vacation at my parents’ house in june & july, so chris & i got to spend some extra time in auntie & uncle mode. they’re at such a fun age (addie is 7 & paxton is 4), & we squeezed in a ton of fun between visits to splash pad, mall of america, & 4th of july fireworks. i’m really grateful for the extra time we were able to spend with them. 

we’ve also been (slowly) working our way through a summer bucket list.

we did a minneapolis night with my bestie & her husband, which started with checking out the new cocktail list at tattersall & ended with a walk through the sculpture garden & pizza at burch.

we also (unsuccessfully) got pbr swimming in lake harriet. he absolutely hated it. i  think he’s just not much of a water dog, but we’re going to give it a few more tries before the year is up. (no photos of that excursion…it was seriously such a hot mess.)

i’m giving us until the official end of summer later in september to knock off the other things on our list: a trip to tin whiskers (we’re going to do trivia with my girlfriends & their fellas), deck cocktails (will be a doggy play date with my brother- & sister-in-law), a picnic, a lake harriet concert, & getting our kayaks out on to the lake.


most recently, we spent the weekend at my sister- & brother-in-law’s cabin in northern wisconsin with all of chris’ siblings & their spouses. we didn’t have the greatest weather ever, but the times when we’re all able to get together (sans children & dog children) are far & few between. there was a ton of belly laughin’, as always. i feel fortunate to have in-laws i love so much. it may have been the most purely happy couple of days of the entire summer….& i also may or may not have gotten out of my own head for long enough to agree to wakeboard in 55 degree weather…so, there’s that…

we’ve been busy with a couple projects around the house – some fun, some not so fun…you know how that goes.

i’m working my way through a major purge because i realized how much crap we’ve accumulated over the years. it’s easy to happen when you work in retail, i think, because your job is to think about things, & think about how to market things, & how to price things, & how to tell everyone else that they need all of the things. i’ll never be a minimalist (nor do i think i could really do a capsule wardrobe), but i’ve been surprised with the amount of joy i’ve felt in tidying up our home & getting rid of the unnecessary crap that we had laying around everywhere.

we also recently spent a day rearranging & reorganizing my office space a few weekends back. the way it was laid out before was fine, but not entirely functional. my desk was in front of the main light source in the room, & my photo props had kind of turned into a terrible pile. i moved the furniture around, added in some storage units (it’s amazing what some ikea shelves will do!), & plan to paint the walls & maybe get a new rug soon, & i’m really enjoying this updated space. i’ll do a post soon to share it! 

how is chris? how is pbr?

my guys are good! ☺️?


chris just wrapped up the first year of his mba program & he’s been cranking out papers left & right. i’m so proud of him. he’s a natural leader, but his other degrees are very technical (i.e. a bachelor’s & master’s in electrical engineering) & i know this program is really stretching him & challenging him to think about situations & approach business in a slightly different way. he’s really rocking it. #proudwife. ☺️

on top of classes, chris traveled a bit for work here & there this summer, got in at least a weekly round of golf, & ran a ragnar (ahem, a 200-mile relay race…gross!) a few weeks back. for him, that’s an equation for a great summer.


pbr is 10 months old & continues to be a big cuddly 80-lb ball of joy.

he’s also coped with the many changes we threw at him this summer. between a 3-week stay at my parents’ house & going from being crated every day during the day to having free roam while i’m home, i think he’s been a little confused with what the heck is going on. we’re trying to give him as much structure as we can, but it’s a little hard when our schedule varies so much.

regardless, he loves a big belly rub, he’s pretty snuggly, & his favorite toy in the world is his orange ball. he could play with that thing for HOURS. i honestly don’t know what we’d do without it!

loving lately…

um, YES, there are several things i’ve been obsessed with this summer:

  • iced seasonal lattes at rose st. patisserierose street patisserie is a seriously AHHHmazing french-style bakery that’s in our neighborhood. they have the best breads, a drool-worthy pastry case, a changing seasonal latte menu. this summer has been “lavender fields” (lavender, obv delicious) & my favorite – citron (citrus flavored! unsuspectedly amazing.).
  • my new camera!!! i recently upgraded to a canon 6d & a macro lens. i’m LOVING it. i learned food photography with a pretty standard entry-level dslr camera, but it’s been so fun to take my work to the next level with some better equipment.
  • on the fly shorts from lululemoni’m kind of a lulu addict. i know it’s, like, ridiculously expensive, but i find the quality to be unparalleled. their fabrics are durable & soft, & if you’re going to spend money on anything, it might as well be something really nice that you really love…right? these shorts are just everything. the waistband is soft & they’re lightweight & comfortable. plus, they can be dressed up even though they have a stretchy waistband. stretchy pants that count as decent enough to leave the house in = a win in my book. 
  • the chorizo sandwich at the cheese shop at france 44. ciabatta + date paste + spicy chorizo + greens + honey = OMG addictive. spicy, sweet, savory, it’s got everything. seriously, hands-down the best sandwich i’ve ever had.
  • sweet peas mealshonestly. we LOVE sweet peas meals. i know it probably sounds like i’m talking out of my ass because i help create the meal plans, but we honestly do use it & we really do love it. i only ever need a few dinner ideas every week (since i am developing recipes most of the time & we like to eat out a couple of times a week), & sweet peas meals has been a lifesaver for those “what should we do for dinner” moments. every meal is delicious & it simplifies life a ton. love, love, love that.
  • the wirechris & i worked our way through the wire (it’s his third time, my first) & i LOVE it. great plot & character development. great, great show. we’re now looking for a new show to watch. he loves nitty gritty story lines with tons of detail, especially in the form of documentaries. i HATE documentaries & historical fiction. soooo…we usually have a hard time agreeing on anything, haha! we can usually settle on a crime-centric drama series with a strong lead character. like the wire! he is thinking we’ll watch breaking bad (my third time, his first), but i’d love to re-watch the sopranos (my second time, his first!). i’d love your suggestions!
  • our dysonwe were pretty hardcore roomba fans until we had our first experience with german shepherd shedding season this summer. our little roomba just wasn’t up to the task. these days, i’m vacuuming at least two times any given week & our dyson is seriously a miracle worker. if you’re thinking about getting a dog with a thick coat, a good vacuum is a MUST.
  • threadlight layering tank from athletai LOVE the athletic cut of these tops. they’re very soft, & (i think!) very flattering. a great closet staple.
  • threshold wire milk crates from target. i don’t think it’s any secret that i LOVE these crates. they’re on-trend (omg the copper handles are SO cute, too!) & pretty affordable, & i’ve written about them a few other times over the years. (um, like here. & here. & here. & here. oh, & here. lolz here too.) as we’ve been purging & reorganizing this summer, we’ve definitely picked up a couple more to make our storage throughout the house pretty.
  • summer music. yes! working alone all day makes music SO important, & i’ve been loving a ton of different music this summer. i’ve listened to jay z’s 4:44 & kendrick lemar’s DAMN. more times than i can count. i discovered justin bieber’s “despacito” remix unfashionably late, & it’s completely not age appropriate how much i love “bad liar” by selena gomez. i’ve also been loving me some old school drake. 

what’s going on this fall?

ah! my favorite season is just around the corner & i am SOOOOO excited!

most immediately, my birthday is this weekend & our second wedding anniversary is in the next couple of weeks. my parents will be coming to town for a little bit of a birthday celebration (i think we’ll do sushi, & maybe brunch at hola arepa ), & we’ll be going on a date with my bestie & her hubs at some point too. we don’t have concrete plans for our anniversary yet, but we might give 510 mpls a try. i worked with the chef/owner for a summer & adore him/everything he does.

we decided to cancel our trip to italy in october in lieu of a few other trips. my older brother, micah, moved to boston over the summer & i’m dying to get out there to see his new place. chris’ oldest brother, also named micah, is also moving this fall to the uk & we’re hoping to visit them in october too! the londoner has been a longtime favorite blog of mine, & through the years of reading about rosie’s london adventures, i have a laundry list of places i’d love to check out.

i’m also planning a photoshoot with my wildly talented friend, ren, for some lifestyle content for plays well with butter. she’s one of the most talented people i know, & i’m so excited to see her! (she also just got a new german shepherd puppy, named vik, so i reeeeeally hope that she’ll bring him along too!)

& of course, i have a ton of amazing recipes in store for you. fall is probably the time of year i feel most inspired when it comes to food. some of my faves from last fall are shown above! pasta bolognese (?), mini chai scones with maple chai glaze (??), beer spiked white chicken chili (???), & dirty chai affogato  (????)

i just love, love, love fall. what’s not to love about apples, & chai spice, & butternut squash?! if there is anything in particular that you’d love to learn how to make, or an occasion that you’re preparing for, i would of course love to know! i love hearing from you!!!

your turn! what’s new? how’s your summer been going? what have the biggest highlights been? what are you loving lately? let me know in the comments below…i’d LOVE to chat!!! xo

afraid you’ll miss a recipe or entertaining idea?  be sure to follow along with plays well with butter on bloglovin. for daily foodie musings & tips, follow along with @playswellwithbutter on instagram & facebook!  & for tons of pin-worthy ideas to be the hostess with the mostest, follow plays well with butter on pinterest!

Hi there, I'm Jess!

If there’s 1 thing to know about me, it’s this: I am head-over-heels in love with food. I’m on a mission to make weeknight cooking flavorful, fast, & fun for other foodies, & PWWB is where I share foolproof recipes that deliver major flavor with minimal effort. Other true loves: pretty shoes, puppies, Grey’s Anatomy, & my cozy kitchen in Minneapolis, MN.


Sign up for our newsletter

Leave a Rating & Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 9.5.17

    Yay for an amazing summer!! I’m so happy that you are persuading your dreams – you are so talented and I can’t wait to see what you do. I feel you on feeling like a chicken with its head cut off too. Some days I am like what am I even doing. I’m a Virgo too so I know how hard it can be without structure. But it’s all worth it in the end! Can’t wait to see what fall recipes you come up with!

  2. 9.1.17
    Kelly said:

    Ozark on Netflix is a really good one to watch! So many different little plot lines and twists and turns.

  3. 9.1.17

    I love your honesty with the change of job status/schedule/becoming an entrepreneur! I just started some freelance recipe development and am considering taking the plunge into full time freelance/blogging… it’s terrifying!!!!!! Also, sounds like a fabulous summer 🙂

  4. 8.31.17

    SO many fabulous things to celebrate! I am seriously proud of all that you have accomplished this summer – leaving corporate America is (I would assume) crazy scary. But you seem to be handling it really well. And I had no idea you were doing photography for those restaurants! I checked out their IG pages and can totally tell where you took over – both look great! Tell Chris congrats on finishing year 1… he clearly has been working hella hard and I would totally be a proud wife too! I cannot wait to see pwwb and you grow this fall! xoxo

  5. 8.31.17
    Jess said:

    Gahhhh we are so similar it’s amazing! I had a really hard time with mentally coming to terms with starting my consulting business, and adjusting to change definitely took a lot of practice and support!! So happy to watch you grow this year, love the update 🙂