Chad Johannesen

​I Had My First Drink at 36 After I Left the Mormon Church — Personal History

I had my first baby at age 21 and my first drink of alcohol at 36 — and no, that's not a typo. I was born and raised a Mormon and, as part of adherence to my faith, I abstained from alcohol. Entirely. I never touched so much as a drop until several months after I left Mormonism at 36 with my husband and our two sons.

Mormonism is a high-intensity religion (like, even more than SoulCycle), demanding equal parts obedience and belief. Obedience was never the hard part for us, but belief? Over time, that part became impossible.

Leaving the church came with a lot of changes for us and a period of reevaluating rules by which we lived, including rules about drinking.


10 One-Pot Chicken Dinners for Weeknights — Recipes from The Kitchn

The best weeknight dinners are the ones that require the least amount of cleanup. At the end of a busy day, no one really wants to be standing over the sink for longer than they have to, right? These 10 chicken-centric recipes are weeknight gold, as they only call for one single pot to pull it all together. Pull out the paper plates to eat (we won't tell) if you really want minimal cleanup.


5 Wedding Bloggers Share the Best Gifts They Received When They Got Married — The Happy Ever After Wedding Registry

Whether you're getting married or you're heading to a wedding, the present aspect can be tough! What should you register for? Or what's a good gift that you can give a couple and be sure they'll use?

We asked five wedding bloggers to share the one gift they loved the most — and continue to use well after their weddings. You can't go wrong with any of these ideas!


Next Week’s Meal Plan: 5 Kid-Approved Dinners for the Week Ahead — Next Week’s Meal Plan

Just for fun, I let my 5-year-old daughter make this week's meal plan. As you might guess, her dinner choices are basic kid fare — with requests for macaroni, cheeseburgers with fries, and even pancakes for dinner — but I'm definitely inspired by her plan's simplicity, ease, and flair for fun.

The challenge is making sure that all her carb-rich picks are balanced with plenty of vegetables without making too much extra work for the grown-ups. Here are the five kid-favorite meals that we are cooking together this week.


Gluten-Free Girl’s 5 Essential Travel Tips — Travel Intelligence

You want to get away. You want to eat some of the best food of your life, on the road, in a car with the windows rolled down. You want to feel free.

Unfortunately, when you have to eat gluten-free, travel is rarely that spontaneous. You never know if you're going to find much you can eat in a gas station off the highway (Fritos are gluten-free). Walk into a diner in the middle of the country and you might be met with confused stares when you ask to see a gluten-free menu. You're hungry. This trip isn't what you expected.

Here are my five essential tips to ensure a great and filling vacation.


There’s Always Room in My Freezer for Cool Whip — Throwback Thrills

(Image credit: Courtesy of Cool Whip)

About once a year, if you open my freezer for something normal, like ice, you'll find a big tub of Cool Whip — and that's never going to change. I indulge when I'm making my grandmother's family famous coconut cake because there's no substitution for the sweet and creamy goodness that is Cool Whip. It brings back great memories for me. It means a special occasion, a surprise dessert, and family fun.

I love fresh, hand-whisked whipped cream. There's no denying how perfect it is over strawberries and homemade sweet biscuits, even if you use Bisquick to make them. Bisquick, which, by the way, is another product you can pry out of my cold, dead hands because, goshdarnit, it makes things easier. But that's another story for another day.


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