• Childhood Memories,  Random Thoughts,  Travels

    They Put the Umbrella in Umbrella Drinks

    Since being on Maui, I’ve had a few umbrella drinks (to say the least). The other night I wondered out loud where those umbrellas came from. They’ve been around forever, I know. I used to use them with my Barbie dolls! i told Jim I was going to research the history of those colorful parasols, but as it turns out someone already did the work for me: I love when that happens! Are you as curious as I am? Check this out. 

  • Food,  Fun in Chicago,  Travels

    This Is (My) Fifty, Part 2

    I have to say, for being as distressed as I was about turning fifty, I sure had a memorable day. We got up at 4:00am, showered, and headed to the Knoxville airport during the worst part of a line of thunderstorms rolling through the area. It was a white-knuckle drive and wet leaves were blowing everywhere (as well as covering the streets), which added insult to injury because I knew that traction wouldn’t be good if I had to brake suddenly. I even drove over a downed power line (oops) before I realized what was happening. It wasn’t live though; I’m pretty sure if it was, I would not be…

  • Amazing People,  Music

    Sold Out.

    Back in the day, companies had original product jingles for radio and television written by their advertising agencies. It was unheard of to have popular music playing in the background on advertisements for everything from computers to cars to cleaning products. When bands started selling the rights to their music for the purpose of marketing things to the public, it was considered selling out. Of course, money talks (as does exposure!) so over the past couple of decades jingles have become more extinct and pop music, either well-known or not-yet-discovered, is the soundtrack of choice. Musicians are no longer accused of selling out; it’s a point of pride to be…

  • Fun in Knoxville,  I'm Apparently Old.,  Music

    Live From the Cheap Seats

    Last week we went to a blues concert here in town. The concert was good, but not my favorite. No offense to the artist who shall remain unnamed here; part of my problem is that the venue was standing room only and that is one of my least favorite things in the world: I need that chair behind me. Even if I’m going to stand for hours at a concert I love–like Foo Fighters–I am mentally more comfortable knowing that I have the option to sit in a chair for a few minutes if I need to. At the concert last week we took the recommendation of a friend and…

  • Confessions,  Favorite Things,  Pretty Pictures

    100 Things I Love

    Here are 100 things I love, in no particular order: 1. My family 2. My friends 3. The British Royals 4. Writing 5. The smell of lilac 6. Traveling 7. Playing cards with friends 8. Food trucks 9. The beach 10. Road trips 11. Laughing 12. Crème brûlée 13. Baking 14. People magazine 15. Steak 16. The Chicago Cubs 17. Taking pictures 18. David Sedaris 19. Dancing 20. Yacht Rock 21. The smell of coconut 22. My house 23. Hot cocoa with whipped cream on top 24. Reminiscing 25. Foo Fighters 26. Dogs 27. Boxing 28. Making people smile 29. Lou Malnati’s deep dish pizza 30. My cherry red KitchenAid…

  • Reflections on Parenting

    Mama Bear, Baby Bear

    Recently we drove the boys up to Great Smoky Mountain National Park to see the fall colors. Experiencing seasonal color changes in leaves anywhere is a wondrous thing, but going to an area where there are literally hundreds of thousands of trees en masse is magical, especially when you catch it at the right time. Jim and I never seem to hit the short “Peak Color” range of days each year we try, but the good thing about driving up into the mountains is that the change in elevation provides a pretty good shot at seeing something spectacular along the way, even if it isn’t Peak. In fact, on this…

  • Confessions,  Music

    I’ve Lost the Power.

    I picked Dylan up from the airport last week and, upon arriving at my house he said he had a couple of YouTube videos to show me. “Sure,” I said. “Put ’em on!” As he was searching for the videos on his phone he said, “Oh! I found 2 Unlimited on YouTube!” I know 2 Unlimited, but couldn’t remember their music. Dylan said, “Remember? We used to listen to them in the car all the time! Here, I’ll show you.” He went on and on about how he missed listening to that entire CD. He quickly found the video for “No One” and as he started it, I recognized the…

  • Blessings,  Confessions,  Do I Really Want My Readers To Know This?,  I'm Apparently Old.,  UGH.

    This Is (My) Fifty.

    Today is my 50th birthday. I won’t lie: I am having a little trouble with this. This past week I have been filled with a strange type of upset and a little bit of panic that crashed into me out of nowhere. This “mini crisis” isn’t about anything related to my life itself. I have nothing to complain about (to say the least); the source of all of this is literally the number, and I am mostly surprised that I feel this way…but in a way, I’m not. I was one of those kids who did the math to learn that I would be thirty-two years old in the year…

  • Childhood Memories,  Confessions,  I've Got Mad Skillz,  Writing

    The Lost Craft

    Did you know I used to be a crafting wizard? It’s a fairly well-known fact among those who know me that I’m very creative and know my way around a wide variety of supplies from any arts and crafts store, but most of the friends who I’ve met in the past decade have no idea how big my obsession was. (I did craft shows, for goodness’ sake!) I come by it honestly; a love of creating with our hands runs in the family. I vividly remember following my mom into Lee Wards Craft Store when I was very young. At every visit she picked up the supplies she needed for…

  • Motivation,  My Friends Have Mad Skillz,  Something That Could Change Your Life

    Go Out and Vote.

    You’d have to be living under a rock not to know that this Tuesday, November 6–just two short days from today–is Midterm Election Day, and a very important one at that. More effort has been made to get out the vote than I can remember in my lifetime, which is great…yet I know that large numbers of people STILL aren’t going to vote. From the indifferent ones to the folks who feel like their one vote doesn’t matter to the people who don’t want to put in the effort to do a little research so they can figure out who they might vote for, America is still full of excuses.…