The Articles Club Guide + Modeling Friendship

23 January 2024

If you’ve been around for a few years, you know that most years, in the fall, I share a post marking another year of Articles Club. Last year, I missed that post – but it was for a good reason! Behind the scenes, a few of us were working on a very special guide, and I waited to post until it was ready. And now it is!

Meet: The Articles Club Guide! Over the last eight years, we’ve fielded many questions about our beloved AC:

What is an articles club?
How can I start one?
How can I find people to join?
How have you kept this going for so long??

We are genuinely happy to answer these questions – all of us want to spread the good news of articles club! – but also, if you’re really interested in starting your own group, I don’t just want to answer a few questions: I want to dump everything I’ve learned, and all of my considerable enthusiasm for what this group has meant to my life, into your lap, in the hopes that you will, indeed, go on to start your own.

That’s not always practical on a large scale. So — we made a guide! After brainstorming as a group, four of us got together and wrote out everything we know about starting and sustaining an articles club. Here’s a glimpse at the table of contents:

Fun, right? We put everything together into a beautiful package and you can purchase it right here for $20. All proceeds will go toward funding our annual weekend together, so rest assured you’re contributing to adult friendship bracelets, brownies-still-gooey-from-the-oven, and a polar plunge off the lakeside cabin’s dock. (Eep! We’re going with a Parent Trap theme this year, so it only seemed appropriate. Bathing suits will be worn. Fingers crossed no towels get stolen from the shoreline.)

So far, we’ve spun off three other articles club groups across state lines, and few things bring me more joy than knowing we’ve played a small part in spreading the joy we’ve experienced to others. In a world shadowed by loneliness, this feels like a small way to beat back the darkness.

Speaking of darkness: I was putting June to bed the other night, and she was telling me how she doesn’t like it when she’s trying to fall asleep and it’s quiet downstairs, but “my favorite nights are when you have Articles Club because I can hear everyone laughing.”

My heart!

My children may grow up in a world where true friendship – friendship that sits with you when you’re broken, and makes you laugh til you cry, and follows up on your prayer request, and doesn’t gatekeep anything – is rare. But hopefully, because they’ve seen it modeled by my beautiful friends, they’ll know what they’re looking for – and maybe even be inspired to create their own candlelit nights around a messy table, with good food and lots of laughter, for others. May it be so.

You can find the guide here, if you’d like! xo

read more

The first annual Articles Club weekend retreat

9 February 2023

If you’re not familiar with the history of Articles Club, you might be surprised to know how it started: with a gathering of a dozen or so strangers in my living room, united only by their love for reading interesting writing and discussing interesting ideas (and the fact that they read either my or Stephanie’s blog, ha). Over the last seven years, most of those strangers have moved on, replaced over time by a sturdier and sturdier group of acquaintances, then friends, then members of a group text (don’t laugh – the advent of the group text was a big moment in the friendship evolution!). We’ve welcomed babies, we’ve weathered a pandemic, and now – we’ve stayed in house together for the weekend.

It was, as you might imagine, a delight. I’d love to share a few details, if you’d like to see!

Thank you to many of the AC gals for sharing these photos! And if you’re wondering why Club is sometimes spelled Clurb, it is not a typo – just a bit of an inside joke :)

Planning a weekend retreat:

Articles Club currently has 12 members – that’s a lot of ladies (and husbands and kids and pets back home) to organize! So we started early. After casually discussing the idea of a weekend retreat for a few months, we polled the group in August to gauge availability of January and February weekends. (And I mean literally polled – we used Doodle.) We felt a winter getaway would be cheaper, easier to coordinate, and would give us something to look forward to after the holidays.

Once we had a weekend that worked with everyone’s schedule, we split up into committees. The committees were thus: Logistics, Activities, Food, Beverage, and Surprises & Swag.

Logistics researched rentals, booked the house and communicated with the owner, collected and distributed money, assigned rooms, spearheaded coordinating travel to the beach, and made sure we had the necessary household supplies, among other things.

Activities (this was my committee!) decided on the flow of the weekend and filled in the details. We also created a printed itinerary that we mailed to everyone’s home in the week leading up to the retreat – a very extra detail that got everyone excited.

Food decided how we would handle meals and created a SignUp Genius form to delegate responsibilities. (We teamed up in twos and threes, and each team was responsible for buying the groceries for and making one meal.) They also asked us each to bring a favorite snack for impromptu munching throughout the weekend.

Beverage prepared a cocktail and mocktail option for each dinner, and made sure we had other beverage options aplenty (coffee, tea, juice, etc.).

Surprises & Swag was our committee of Enneagram 7’s (and one 5 to keep them grounded, ha!) and boy did they go to town. They met in person MULTIPLE times in the months leading up to the retreat and dreamed up all sorts of goodies – and a surprise activity or two, as well.

Where we stayed:

We stayed in a beautiful rental home in Oak Island directly on the beach. It was about a 2.5 hour drive from the Triangle where we all live, and very affordable in the offseason – we each paid about $135 for our two nights. We arrived on Friday and departed on Sunday.

Our house had two kings, three queens, a bunk room, a double room, and a sofa bed. The Logistics Committee asked us each to send them any sleeping requests in advance (i.e. I don’t mind sharing a room, I’d rather have my own bed, I sleep with white noise, I wake up really early), and then assigned us to a room accordingly. I thought this was very thoughtful, and it worked out perfectly!

What we did at our girls’ weekend retreat:

Let’s get into it!


Our house was available at 4pm, but some gals arrived as early as noon to have lunch in Oak Island, walk the beach, and read on the deck as everyone trickled in over the next few hours. We had a very informal Trader Joe’s + Aldi’s cheese tasting as we arrived, unpacked, got settled, and admired the sunset.

We also listened to the playlist we’d compiled in advance – we all had contributed to a VERY eclectic mix that included everything from Third Eye Blind to Shania, Tracy Chapman, ABBA, Paul Simon, Lizzo, the Avett Brothers, and much, much more. It was a musical journey.

Once we were all gathered, the Surprises & Swag Committee presented their goods and wow did they go above and beyond. Following a classic camp theme, we each received a bandana embroidered with our name, a baseball hat with a custom patch, a customized sweatshirt, a custom sticker, and probably a few other items I’m forgetting. What a treat!!

Dinner was lasagna (prepared in advance and thrown in the oven upon arrival), garlic bread, and a yummy salad. As we wrapped up our meal, Stephanie and I handed out trivia sheets. We had asked everyone to send us three fun facts for a trivia game, and they did not disappoint. Facts included everything from “I totaled a driver’s ed car” to “I have a tooth in my neck” and “I’ve cashed a two-million-dollar check at the bank.” We contain multitudes, apparently :)

Finally, we ended the night with warm brownie sundaes and 7×7 PowerPoint presentations. Apparently popular on TikTok, the idea is that you use 7 minutes and 7 slides to present on a niche topic. Presentations included hosting tips, Articles Club superlatives, and movies that are better than the book.


Wakeup times varied, as did morning activities – some gals went for a walk on the beach, some ran, some read. We all had a delicious meal of breakfast casserole, cinnamon rolls, and fruit.

The rest of the day was a restful, delightful mix of crafting (valentines, friendship bracelets, and bedazzled sunglasses), chatting, walking on the beach, playing Dutch Blitz, reading, and napping. When lunch got slightly derailed due to a canceled late arrival (we love you, Pressley!!), we snacked on cornbread, hot pretzels, fruit, salad, and charcuterie. Our lighter lunch was just fine, because dinner was a taco fiesta, complete with margaritas.

After dinner, we were released to create togas out of the bedsheets we had been instructed to bring. With the help of a hilarious YouTube video, we did just that, and in no time were dressed and ready for – you guessed it – a murder mystery, masterminded by the S&S Committee. The fun didn’t stop there: we ended the night with warm chocolate chip cookies and a few rounds of Fish Bowl/Celebrity.


Breakfast on Sunday was a delicious eggs benedict casserole, leftover cinnamon rolls, and fruit. After lovely weather for most of the weekend, we cleaned up and packed out in the rain. Though it makes loading the car a bit more difficult, rain always seems like a fitting end to a beach trip, don’t you think?

Couldn’t have done it (and wouldn’t have wanted to do it) without my co-founder :)

How we handled expenses:

We polled the group anonymously early in the process to gauge whether people felt comfortable spending $25, $35, or $50 in addition to the cost of the house, which helped to create a budget for the committees that needed it. The Logistics Committee used the app Splitwise to handle payments – it allowed anyone who needed to to request payments from each member (payments could easily be completed in the app or by Venmo). Many individuals happily chipped in extra for some of their committee’s details, and everyone was responsible for groceries for a meal.

I know friend weekends are old hat for some of you, but this was the first one I’ve been a part of as a grown-up! From beginning to end, planning to departure, it was a delight. I hope this recap might help you plan a future weekend of your own, and if you have any questions, I’d be happy to help!

read more

Seven years of Articles Club

28 October 2022

Friends, I feel like I left you hanging! Though I knew it would take me a bit to get part two ready for you (here’s part one – don’t miss the comments, they’re so wonderful!), I didn’t expect it to take quite this long – but alas, the flu struck our house last week and took me down with it. I tested positive on Monday and was completely down for the count as I haven’t been for YEARS for two days, and have been struggling back since then. Please take it from this gal who gets a flu shot every year but just hadn’t found time to make an appointment yet – get yours this weekend!! It’s nasty out there, friends. (June’s class had ELEVEN kids home sick one day this week! Out of 17!!)

So though I haven’t had the upright hours and presence of mind to finish the next part of our conversation on working part-time, I do have a round-up of the past year of Articles Club to share with you today! If you’re newer here, Articles Club is a great love of my life. A dear friend and I started it seven years ago (think: a book club, but with three themed articles, discussed over a potluck dinner each month) and it has been meeting and snowballing in delight ever since. Here is a bit more about how the group has grown closer over time, and here is a bit more about why it’s so special.

I know you are all kindred spirits who also enjoy reading interesting thoughts and having thoughtful discussions, so each year I post several of our monthly article groupings so you can enjoy them yourselves or take them back to your people! I’ve done that below.

The Cost of Beauty
The Art of Botox (NYT)
The Best Skincare Trick is Being Rich

The Memories We Keep
Your Memories Make You Who You Are
The First Baby Blogs, Over 100 Years Ago

How Instagram Saved Poetry
Does Poetry Matter?
Understanding Trauma: the Healing Process of Poetry
Kate Baer is Speaking Truth. From her Minivan. (NYT)

Going Green
What is the Difference Between Going Green and Sustainability?
How I Deal with the Unbearable Hypocrisy of Being an Environmentalist
Is Recycling Really Worth It?
You’ll Never Truly Get Organized Until You Buy Less Stuff

Hormones and Things
The Female Problem: How Male Bias in Medical Trials Ruined Women’s Health
Get to Know Your Infradian Rhythm to Optimize Your Body’s Cycles
Changing the Concept of “Woman” Will Cause Unintended Harms
Favorite Products and Tips for Hormone Health

Duty and Happiness in Light of the Queen’s Jubilee
Meghan and Harry Overplayed Their Hand
There are Two Kinds of Happy People

What Travel Can, and Cannot, Teach Us
Air Travel is a Disaster Right Now. Here’s Why.
Every Day is a Saturday for the Bucket List Family

Martha Stewart
Martha Stewart is the Original Influencer
The Promises Martha Stewart Made, and Why We Wanted to Believe Them (by Joan Didion!)
Martha Stewart, Blissed Out on CBD, is Doing Just Fine (NYT)
Also highly recommend this You’re Wrong About episode!

Quiet Quitting
Quiet Quitting Isn’t Really About Quitting. Here Are the Signs.
The Backlash Against Quiet Quitting is Getting Loud
Arianna Huffington’s Joyfully Joining response

In honor of our anniversary and in lieu of articles, this month we each prepared “pro tips” to share around the table a la this Cup of Jo post with a truly epic comment section. What’s a pro tip, you ask? It’s a fuzzy combination of life hack, life motto, insider knowledge, and received wisdom. The ones shared by our group ranged from the mundane and practical to the emotional and hard-won, and I thought it might be fun to share a few of mine to finish out this post:

— Organize your grocery list by the layout of the store. This might save you years over a lifetime of shopping.
— Lower your expectations, all the time, in all things (okay, most things). It leaves more room to be delighted.
— Reflect, celebrate, and look ahead at the end of each year with someone you love.
— If you’re going to take one sip of water, take five.
— Use the Oxford comma. Weirdly controversial, but it shouldn’t be.
— Everything seems worse at night. Do not try to solve problems at 11pm, just go to bed. Also, walks solve most problems.
— A common trade-off is time for money. If you want to be a parent, as far as possible, save the money and spend the time before you have your children so you have the money to use after they arrive and time is more precious.
— Chick-fil-a cookies are always handed over warm and are absolute magic. Chocolatey, oaty, chewy, crispy, soft, how do they do it?! Related: if someone you love is having a bad day and needs a cookie, you can send them money in the app to facilitate a purchase.

Of course I would love to hear: what are a few of your pro tips? Silly, serious, prosaic, or inspired, please share below!

Articles Club through the years:
Year One
Year Two
Year Three
Year Four
Year Five

Year Six

read more

Six years of Articles Club

28 October 2021

Six years ago this month, Stephanie and I posted an invitation on our respective blogs: would anyone be interested in reading articles together and discussing them once a month? It would be like a book club, but with articles! That first night, we sat around my living room with snacks and drinks in hand, 10 or so strangers who just happened to have a little blog in common. I didn’t know anyone in the circle except for Stephanie… which is a pretty crazy situation for an introvert to find herself in.

These photos are from our six-year anniversary dinner on Stephanie’s back deck… it’s good to have a wedding planner in the group!!

Six years later, the faces around the circle are beloved friends. I wrote extensively about this realization last year, how these strangers had become true, dear friends, so I won’t go into it again. But the thing I’ve been trying to figure out recently, is why this group is so special. I mean, yes, we’re friends – lots of people have those. But everyone in Articles Club is completely besotted with Articles Club (seriously, just listen to Steph wax poetic), and I do have a few theories as to why that is.

1. It’s rare to meet dear friends later in life. Often, the new friends you do meet are the parents of your children’s friends and not necessarily those you’d pick for yourself, and so it feels positively spoiling to have gained a dozen kindred spirits in my late 20s and early 30s. Bonds grow quick and deep when you sit around a table for hours of conversation each month, discussing everything from childhood to work to parenting to relationships to politics to religion to finances.

2. We are all starved for community. The pandemic has exacerbated this, yes, but loneliness was an issue in the culture at large long before COVID. As many as 61% of young adults feel “serious loneliness” right now, and about half of Americans say they have three or fewer close friends (which represents a precipitous decline in friendship over the last few decades). I think I can speak for us all when I say I am SO GRATEFUL to have a guaranteed evening of friends, conversation, and laughter every single month in this bleak landscape.

3. We’re starved for meaningful, compassionate, nuanced discussion. It’s not all laughter :) To the table we bring different backgrounds and opinions and passions and convictions, and yet we’re able to have nuanced, generous conversation. We live out the idea that what we have in common matters so much more than what divides us. I can’t tell you what a haven this feels like in a sometimes-cruel world that loves to point fingers and keep score.

4. We appreciate what we each bring to the table. Stacy will make you split your pants with laughter (Libby, too). Bethany teaches us up-dos. Adelyn keeps us young. Kelly is our resident luddite. Ginna is our resident mom. Julia keeps us from trending too precious. Pressley and Chelsey are our forward scouts for almost every rabbit hole we could ever want to go down. And Stephanie makes us feel loved and special by seating us at the most beautiful tables. We’re all just normal people, but the things (and people) we love grow lovelier by loving them, and that’s definitely true of this group.

Yes, that is the chicken pot pie I made with a “six” carved into the top.

All this to say – I think you should start an Articles Club. I think our world would be a happier, kinder, wiser, more generous place if you did. I KNOW it might seem scary, or you might not know where to start. But YOU CAN DO IT, and I hope you do. Lots of tips here if you’d like to try :)

Now onto some of the articles we read in the past year together, if you’d like to read along!

Working From Home:
15 Ways Homes Will Change Post-COVID-19
The End of Open-Plan Everything
10 Work-From-Home Habits That Have Saved My Days

Surviving Winter:
How to Make the Most of Covid Winter
How Will You Stay Cheerful This Winter?
The Secret to Enjoying a Long Winter
The Norwegian Town Where the Sun Doesn’t Rise

Higher Education and Purpose:
Reimagining High Education in the United States
You Don’t Find Your Purpose – You Build It

The Power of Hope Is Real
How Hope Can Help You Heal
When Toxic Positivity Seeps Into Schools

The Aftermath of January 6th:
Our Shared Unsharing
Only the Church Can Truly Defeat a Christian Insurrection
The Roman Road From Insurrection

Opinions, Disagreements, and Changing People’s Minds:
How to Argue on the Internet Without Losing Your Mind
The Science of Reasoning With Unreasonable People
The Highest Form of Disagreement
Bonus: Adam Grant on the Armchair Expert podcast

The Current State of Friendship:
The Pandemic Has Erased Entire Categories of Friendship
Why Having Seasonal Best Friends Is Actually Really Healthy
Staying Close to Your Friends Without Kids
What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life?
We Want Our Friends Back! But Which Ones?

Strange Habits and Personal Hygiene:
The Hygiene Culture Wars That Started on Social Media
Coffee + Crumbs Episode 6.3: Why Am I Like This?

Current Events in Schools:
What Happens When a Slogan Becomes the Curriculum (and a follow-up by the same writer: ‘The Narrative Is, “You Can’t Get Ahead”’)
Private Schools Have Become Truly Obscene
You Have to Read This Letter

When Grown-Ups Have Imaginary Friends
Momfluencer Content Enrages Me. Why Can’t I Look Away?
Quitting Social Media Made Me a Better Parent
Bonus: Under the Influence podcast
Bonus: This Instagram Stories highlight from Cotton Stem

The Bloggernacle: Or, the Intersection of LDS Culture and Blogging:
The Most American Religion
Why So Many of Your Favorite Beauty Personalities are Mormon
Why I Can’t Stop Reading Mormon Housewife Blogs

The Surprising Role of Nostalgia During the Coronavirus Pandemic
What Is Nostalgia Good For? Quite a Bit, Research Shows
11 Reader Comments on Childhood Memories

I’d love to hear: what’s an article or essay you’ve read recently that made you want to discuss it with someone? Or, what do you think would be an interesting theme to discuss with a group like this? Leave a link – we’re always looking for new ideas! :)

Articles Club through the years:
Year One
Year Two
Year Three
Year Four
Year Five

read more