Aurora Jean Royce, 1 month


Hello! It’s been a while – again. I said I wanted to use this blog more and well, I failed. But in my defense, I’ve been busy. Chief among things keeping me busy was growing and then birthing this baby girl, who we met a month ago, whom we named Aurora.

She was born early in the morning on July 25 after an induction process no dissimilar to her brother’s. We went in thinking we’d have a baby soon, since I was already progressing a lot better than last time, and my body was more in shape for birth. But it still took about 30 hours for labor to get started, and then the epidural didn’t quite work, but thankfully the labor was quick and I only had to push for about 10 minutes 😎

I felt more distant with this pregnancy than with Alex. I think I was worried I wouldn’t love her as much as him, or I would lose my special bond with him. And of course I had so many other things on my mind, like my job, our house renovation, my magazine… So I didn’t know how I’d feel when she was born. When Alex was born I didn’t immediately fall in love with him or even feel super happy. I was tired and scared. It’s too bad that he had to be the first child born to a mother with a lot of anxiety issues. We have such a strong bond now, but those first 4-6 months were just brutal.

With Aurora she was placed on my chest and I felt bliss and relief. She’s been such a happy addition to our family. I mean, I’ve been so exhausted and hardly able to do much except sit on the couch with her sleeping on me, but look at her beautiful little face!


Alex loves his sister but it’s also a complicated dynamic. And he’s been through a lot of changes which we’re doing our best to manage. He’s highly sensitive and feels a lot of feelings. Alan and I are exhausted giving our whole selves to both kids in different ways.

Her middle, Jean, is after both her grandmas who have it as their middle name, but it also shows up in both our families a lot (which I didn’t realize!), including my sister’s middle name. It means “god is gracious” but us not being religious that part is not as important. We were just glad to get a solid family name in there.

Her first name though is significant to me in a lot of ways. I won’t try too hard to explain it, but I have a strong emotional attachment to certain colors and times of day – like say, dusk or dawn. Aurora is a name that stirs up a beautiful warm glow.. Rich pinks and yellows and deep blues. It means ‘Dawn’ and that’s how it feels. I also like that it’s a classical name, like Alexander, and a mythological name. Aurora is the Roman goddess of the dawn, the bringer of a new day. It feels hopeful. For Alan it’s a good science and nature name. It ticks pretty much all the boxes for us. A sweet sunny name for our little summer baby.


Hi there!

DR1A0572_websize.jpgDR1A0632_websize.jpgWell hello! It’s been a very long while.

I stepped back from working on this blog because I didn’t know if I wanted it to be a blog about my life, or an actual real lifestyle blog with a real following, where I talk about products and babies and make shopping guides and do recipe posts etc etc.

Plus, I wanted to focus on my magazine, and trying to lock down some paying work. And I just didn’t feel like I had the energy for writing blog posts, and it felt like nobody was reading anyway.

But, after nearly a year away, I’ve started to miss it. Not as a way to connect with people, per se, but as a digital archive of my and my family’s life. I miss doing clothes posts for Alex’s wardrobe! I miss talking about plans for the house. I miss a lot about blogging that was just for me. So, I’m going to start doing it again. :) But first, a lot of updates, because an INSANE amount of stuff has happened since I last wrote.

First – I have a job! I’m a FT salaried graphic designer at a non-profit and it’s going really well and I dig the work I’m getting to do.

Second – I launched my magazine, Northerly. I could write a lot about this. But I will just say for now it’s at times super exciting and I love it, and it’s also extremely overwhelming and stressful, and I go back and forth on whether I want to continue it for much longer, or let it go on forever and just not care how much of a drain it can be. Because the creative satisfaction I get from it is extremely good. I’m in the process of putting out the fourth issue already, somehow. I do that in the little spaces between working a full time job, and being a mom.


DR1A1079_websize.jpgThird – We sold our house! Still kind of weird how it came to be. We started getting the itch to look at a new house at the beginning of the summer, but never officially said “we’re house hunting” or “we’re going to sell our house.” I saw a house I liked, we got a realtor, and it just went fast and furious from there. We found an amazing house by Lake Harriet in July one afternoon and put on offer down that evening, and had it accepted two days later.

Fourth – There were things about it we felt we could improve, and being that it was actually pretty reasonably priced for its location, we decided to undertake a huuuge renovation project. So, that’s going on right now, and we’re living with my parents until the project wrapped up in July. And speaking of July deadlines….

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Fifth – We’re having a baby! Another one! Not quite ready to reveal the sex but we’re very excited, and also stressing out a lot about everything coming together and our lives not being upended more than they absolutely have to be (with our house completely in shambles and our move-in date being the day before my due date). We’re hoping for a smooth-ish transition. Mostly we’re super stoked and we know we’ll figure out the rest. There’s not as much to figure out with a second baby, though. We already have the stroller, the car seat, the bed, most clothes… But it’ll still be new and great. Alex is very stoked to be a big brother and we can’t wait to be a family of four.

DR1A0682_websize.jpgSo, that’s all the big stuff I guess. We got these photos taken at the new house back in October and I have barely gotten to do anything with them. So I’ll share a few now. The photographer is Kadi Vail and she’s amazing!

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(also, I briefly started wearing my hair down with bangs and I have since gone back to a plain ol’ top knot. It feels right). 

Citrus Season Sweetness


It’s been a [very] long time since a recipe post. While I had big ambitions at the beginning of the year to make these more frequent and better planned (and better photographed!), a new ambitious plan has sort of taken everything over. So this will probably be the last food post for a while (and the blog itself will probably remain quiet as well) while I focus my energy into getting the magazine off the ground. The GOOD news on that front though, is that the magazine itself will feature a dozen or so beautiful full color pages of recipes and food photography!

(You can like, preorder the magazine right here btw)

But, anyway, today we have a couple recipes all about citrus, which is in season usually at the end of winter. And of course, it’s Spring now — that’s my bad. But early Spring in Minnesota is basically still winter, and these are some beautiful, bright and colorful tasties to brighten the dreary days.

Upside Down Blood Orange Cardamom Cake


Count this among the decadent ways to enjoy citrus, but one that is not totally over played (looking at you, lemon bars). The question of how to capitalize on the striking beauty of blood oranges but still bake them into a tasty dessert is answered perfectly with this upside down cake. The batter itself is simple and not overly sweet- the caramel does most of the heavy lifting there. Cardamom, which can go savory or sweet, lends a much needed floral quality here. It compliments the citrus and the caramel nicely without overpowering. It should be noted that the recipe calls for a whole vanilla bean, which has a very high market price at the moment. You can use vanilla extract in its place, or even better if you can find vanilla bean paste and substitute the amount per the packages instructions. We served this with citrus sorbet, because I like doing a sorbet with a cake to lighten it up a bit, but try serving it with ice cream or unsweetened whipped cream as well if you’d choose.


– Nonstick Spray
-3/4 cup light brown sugar
-1 1/2 sticks unsalted room temperature butter
-6 small blood oranges, peeled with pith removed, cut into round slices (make sure to remove any seeds)
-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-3 tablespoons polenta
-1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1 cup granulated sugar
-1 teaspoon cardamom (or more, to preference)
-1 vanilla bean (or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract)
-4 eggs at room temperature
-3/4 cup buttermilk at room temperature


Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. You will need a 9” springform pan for this recipe, as well as a baking sheet lined with foil.

In a small pot on the stove, cook the brown sugar, 1/4 cup of the butter, 2 tbsp of water, and a dash of sea salt. Stir until the brown sugar is dissolved. Once sugar is dissolved and smooth, bring to a boil and stop stirring for about 2 minutes. Spray springform pan with oil and place on the foil lined baking sheet. Pour caramel into pan and let it sit for a few minutes before arranging the orange slices on the caramel, filling in any gaps for an even layer.

Combine the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Whisk together the flour, polenta, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cardamom. Using a large bowl, combine the white granulated sugar, 1/2 cup butter and vanilla with an electric mixer. Beat for about 4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating the mixture between eggs. Mix all together for about 3 minutes.

Using the lowest setting on your mixer, alternate adding the dry ingredients and the buttermilk. Start with a third of the dry ingredients, and then half of the buttermilk. Continue using the same proportions until everything is incorporated, mixing between each addition.

Once the batter is fully combined, pour into the springform pan over the caramel and oranges.

Bake until golden, and your cake tester comes out clean, 50-65 minutes. I recommend the full 65 minutes. Cool on a wire cooling rack for at least 10 minutes, run a knife or offset spatula around edges, and unmold pan. Place a plate on top of the cake and carefully flip over. Slowly remove the bottom of the pan. Let sit and cool completely before serving. Recipe adapted from

Citrus Fennel Salad

All these flavors are such a bright spot in the dead of winter. They can border on being a bit astringent, so that’s why the olive oil and sea salt is so important. There are many fantastic ways to mix and match ingredients to make a satisfying winter citrus salad, but this one is super simple. A nice sharp knife or a mandolin will be essential to get the thinly shaved fennel just right.



-1 large grapefruit, peel and pith removed
-2 clementines, peel and pith removed
-1 medium blood orange, peel and pith removed
-1 small bulb of fennel, thinly shaved
-Mint leaves Olive oil for drizzling
-Maldon sea salt


Turn grapefruit on it’s side and slice off a portion of the peel to create a flat bottom and top. Turn onto the cutting board flat bottom side down, and run a sharp knife down the sides to remove the peel. Make sure to take off all the excess white pith as well. Once peeled, use knife to cut between the sections to create supremes. Repeat until all sections are cut out. Squeeze the leftover grapefruit over a bowl to capture all of the juices. Use the same method for peeling the blood orange and clementines, however cut the fruit in round slices instead, making sure to remove any seeds.

Arrange the citrus on a plate, dress with the grapefruit juice, drizzle generously with olive oil, a few leaves of mint, and a sprinkle of the Maldon salt.

Served immediately.

Introducing Northerly


As I’ve documented recently, I’ve been filling my non-working days with personal projects. Sharpen the ol’ skills, you know? Learn new tricks, etcetera.

I have to say, it’s difficult to be a talented, passionate designer and still be unable to find a good job that can put my skills to use. That’s been getting me down a lot. And then a couple weeks ago I was at REI to get Alan a (last minute, oops!) valentine’s gift (I got him socks and a S’well thermos because we sexy like that) and was browsing a shelf near the checkout that had a few stacks of pretty magazines with lots of photos of outdoor pursuits and travel adventures. As I was skimming through one of them, I had an idea to go home and just play around with some layouts using my own photos. Make a little magazine mockup for fun. So I did, and I had fun making a fake magazine cover, with a fake name, and trying all the different photo set ups, and doing character styles, and, and.

Before I knew it, I had decided that I was going to do this for real. The prospect didn’t even seem daunting. Start a magazine? How hard could it be? I already have a designer, ME, and I’ve worked on publications before, so I totally know exactly how to run one. If I dig into my own pockets, I can get them printed, and then I’ll find people to sell them. On the surface I believe it really is that simple, but since then I’ve realized just how many moving parts there are to something like this. To market it, I need to have a website, a place to sell it from, and an instagram, and facebook! I gotta get the word out if I want it to actually sell. All that stuff is kinda scary.

But I also know people, lots of writers, who I can go to for submissions or story suggestions. And Instagram is a hotbed of talented photographers all trying to get themselves out there (with varying degrees of success).


But I’m getting ahead of myself. I read articles like this and thisOne thing that was reassuring is that it didn’t seem as crazy as it sounded. I decided that the success of this venture would be determined by what I really wanted out of it, and really all I want is to create something beautiful and if a few people get enjoyment and satisfaction from it, then I’m happy. And I told Alan recently “I’m going to put my heart and soul into this. It’s going to be a print magazine. And if I only manage to put out a couple issues before I burn out or it becomes unsustainable, then that’s OK.” I thought of an angle, a journal for life in the North, and a name, Northerly. Not only could I capitalize on an ever-growing movement in Minnesota to rebrand as “The North”, but it’s also a topic I know about. I know about living up here, because I’ve done it my whole life.

I realized I was really sick of being disappointed in where my career was at, and I had to bring the work to myself. And I also realized that I may actually be well suited for this kind of undertaking. Sure, I’m not an editor, but I was raised by two journalists, and worked at a newspaper, on an “alt-weekly” (that’s not what we called it but that’s kind of what it was) so I have a feel for the editorial process. And editorial design is my passion, which sounds so dorky, but it’s super true.


I created a website through Squarespace and got an email set up. I took my outdoor photography instagram account, these__trees, which was dormant anyway, and deleted everything and made it the official IG account for Northerly. I went to work on a grid that looked professional and design-y (and stood out from other photos on peoples’ feeds), and threw in some hashtags and slowly people started following. I put the word out to my Socality pals, many of whom travel all over the place.

It’s slow building, but so far I’m stoked as hell that people are responding well to it. People are actually submitting pitches, which is *wild*. It’s all I ever could have hoped for. It’s got me thinking down the road a bit. I will probably need a marketing person at some point, maybe a co-editor, maybe even a social media designer. But, this is way down the road.

If you are reading this and want to write about what “northern living” means for you, well heck, get on it! The deadline for the fall (and first) issue is June 1st.

A Fun Branding Exercise!


I haven’t known what to blog about lately. I’ve been in kind of an occupational rut, an the theme of winter has been cold, and sick baby home from daycare. So I haven’t had a lot of time to center myself and get stuff done. This last week in particular I had baaaaaad depression so, yeah, I’ve been in a rut.

So on Monday morning, after a weekend of feeling miserable and useless I decided to do something different – to get the creative juices flowing, to teach myself some new things, to make something for my portfolio. I’ve long felt that design is design – the principles can be applied across all media, and you know what, my portfolio should just show potential employers/clients that, right??? Theoretically, yes? In practice – not really. I shouldn’t expect people to look at my website and think “yes, she’s good at this kind of design work, so she must be good at all other design work.” Now that I think of it, I mean, I literally was expecting people to have those thoughts.


So, I decided to go nuts and take on a packaging project – which turned into a full-on exercise in branding a product from start to finish. A line of skin care products appealed to me, and I brainstormed some names til I came up with “Boreal Botanicals” which allowed me to find inspiration in the cold, stark, beautiful landscape and geography of Iceland. Icelandic skin care seemed really natural from there. Volcanic ash, lush geothermal valleys – the blue lagoon? Totally made sense.


Obviously a project is 1000% more fun when you’re your own client, and you have zero constraints. It takes the pressure off for sure. And obviously this is not reflective of real-world design work. Still though.

I got a fantastic mockup bundle from CreativeMarket, my go-to for all my assets. Was pretty cool to come up with the names of products too (like “Glacial Facial”, and “Andlit” and “Líkami” which mean “face” and “body”, respectively, in Icelandic).

After I had started doing the packaging, and I was feeling energized and inspired, I thought to round this project out I ought to make a website design to go with it. I have only one experience with website design, and it was… Fine. But I’ve really wanted to do a COOL website design for a long time, but didn’t feel I had any opportunities. Welp!


Turns out front-end web design is actually super easy if you know how to use a 16-column grid.Products1From start to finish this project took about a day. I’m so fond of it, and I’m so bummed that it’s already finished! I may do 5 or 6 explorations of this sort. Or I dunno, 9 or 10 or 20? This is the kind of stuff that made me want to become a designer.

Fonts: Gotham Bold + Light, Chloe


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