dolly parton

Insert triumphant trumpet sounds here…I’m back! Not only has Welcome to Ladyville returned after a brief hiatus, much like a sitcom with low-but-not-terrible ratings, but it’s also the three year anniversary of my first post. Well, that’s not exactly true…the post was on May 31st, 2011, but close enough.

It’s really, really hard for me to believe it’s been three years since I started Welcome to Ladyville. I was a completely different person then. Not literally–this isn’t like a Quantum Leap situation where I’m just hoping my next leap will be the leap home (please…I’m not nearly as attractive as a young Scott Bakula and I don’t have a hologram friend played by Dean Stockwell). But in 2011, I was living in Bellville in a super weird wood paneled apartment. I was working at a job that, while by no means terrible, was definitely not for me. I had no writing jobs, paying or otherwise. I was incredibly miserable and lost on a daily basis, and while I knew I wanted to be a writer, I had absolutely no idea how I was going to make this happen.

Enter Welcome to Ladyville. I crafted myself a very complex (ha) four step plan. The first step? Start a blog. Easy. The second step, also weirdly easy, was to get a local writing gig. The third step (slightly harder) was to get a national gig. And the fourth step? Well, it proved to be a little harder and I’m still working on it, but things are looking good.

This blog was the start of a lot of things for me, and it’s a reminder of how far I’ve come. Three years ago I was very alone, much poorer, really lazy, and unhappy. Now I live in a city I love more than just about anything, I’m surrounded by most of my best friends, I’m married to the love of my life, I get paid to write every day, and I have several other writing gigs.

It’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when you aren’t happy. Believe me, I get it. But I just want to let you know, if you’re feeling down or depressed or like your goals are so far away…you can reach them. You really, really can. Hard work and determination trump just about everything. And even though phrases like “follow your dreams” and “believe in yourself” are such trite cliches that we hardly even stop to think about what they mean anymore, they’re true. Your dreams are absolutely worth pursuing, even if other people in your life don’t understand them, even if they seem unattainable. You will run into so many people who want to discourage you or who just don’t understand what you’re doing (like, whenever I run into someone who finds out I’m a writer and they say, “Oh, like J.K. Rowling!” I just smile, back away slowly, and then start running and don’t stop until I’ve crossed state lines). But it doesn’t matter if they don’t understand you or if they don’t believe in you. YOU have to believe in you.

There are a lot of writing goals I haven’t met yet, and sometimes, I’ll admit, they seem impossible. I have a lot of days where I wonder if what I’m doing is stupid or pointless or if everyone I know gathers weekly to discuss how pathetic I am. But whenever I feel like that, I try to remember how I felt three years ago, when all this seemed so crazy and unbelievable. I never would have though I’d be married, living in a wonderful city, walking to my writing day job and then spending my evenings and weekends doing more writing. I just have to trust that, three years from now, I’ll be looking back and realizing how far I’ve come.

If there’s one thing I want to accomplish with Welcome to Ladyville, it’s to let other girls and women know that their dreams are worth it. You’re worth it.

I’d be a total idiot if I didn’t take some time to thank those of you who read Welcome to Ladyville. Whether you’ve been here since the beginning or you just started reading this year, I’m so, so grateful for all of you. I feel like I really know the people who read WTLV; in fact, sometimes I start conversations with H. by saying, “One of my blog friends told me…”

I’ll be back to a semi-regular posting schedule now…I may be a little more relaxed than I was previously (so maybe not every single Monday through Thursday), but Welcome to Ladyville will be around. Always. Haunting you whether you want it to or not.

A Little Break

coach taylor tami taylor

Just as Tami Taylor sometimes needs to take a break and get a relaxing back massage from Coach Taylor, I occasionally need a break, too. It’ll be pretty quiet around Welcome to Ladyville for a couple of weeks, but I promise I’ll be back to posting regularly ASAP. If you want to chat in the meantime, feel free to email me at! And, as you might be able to guess from the image above, I recently finished Friday Night Lights and I’m still overcome with emotion. Please leave any and all FNL thoughts in the comments, including your favorite characters (mine are Coach, Landry, and Tami Taylor).

Wednesday Link (Dinner) Party

Sorry the blog’s been a bit sparse lately. I really do like to update four days a week, but life’s been busy. H. and I re-started our home-buying process, and while I like to be all “the journey is the destination” and all that hippie bs, the truth is that this journey is hella annoying, frustrating, and stressful. So if I’m not updating WLTV on my regular schedule, just assume I’m standing in an empty living room somewhere trying to figure out where my furniture would go.

So I’ve been busy, but I haven’t been too busy to have a small dinner party. Having people over for dinner is so much more attractive to me than having a party, because eating and having long conversations are two of my favorite things. Last Friday, I invited my BFF Cat and her husband over to eat dinner with us. Cat is the absolute perfect guest–she always shows up early (but not too early), she always brings something, and she always helps in a very unobtrusive way (usually just by keeping me company while I finish things). I’m sorry if she’s not your friend and she can’t be your dinner guest. It’s seriously your loss.

Want to know what I served? Here you go!

For the main course, I made this braised pork ragu that I’ve been dying to try for months. I do not like to make fussy or show off-y things ever, but especially not when I’m having people over. It just stresses me out too much. The pork ragu was the perfect low-stress meal. I prepared it ahead of time and just heated it up when they were on their way over. Bonus: it takes a cup of wine, which means you’ll have some wine leftover to drink.

I stuck with my go-to basic green salad. If you candy the walnuts and mix up the dressing ahead of time, it’s no work at all to throw together. The walnuts make it seem a little more interesting.

I also made garlic bread sort of like this. But you probably already know how to make garlic bread.

Most importantly, I made Joy the Baker’s Man Bait Apple Crisp for dessert. It’s the best, and super easy.

Related to dinner party links: 5 Ways to Deal With Dinner Party Guests Who Won’t Put Down Their Phones. I’ll admit that I’m old and crochety and I find it unspeakably rude when someone texts through their entire hangout with you, barely making eye contact. That being said, if someone ever told me to put my phone in some weird phone basket, I would be like, “Um….no? Are you trying to steal my phone?” By the way, this isn’t a statement on Cat, who is a perfect guest and only brings out her phone for emergencies or to show me emails I sent her in 2004 when I was a stupid baby. But I think we all know people like this, right?

And that article from The Kitchn led me to my new favorite advice column, Ask a (Sensible) Midwesterner. As a sensible Midwesterner myself, I agree with all of her advice.

Image from Dinner: A Love Story