• Childhood Memories,  Favorite Things

    Telling Our Stories

    One of the things I have always loved about getting together with my parents is the storytelling. There are certain stories in our family (and probably yours too) that get told and retold. Favorite stories for us include the one about how my dad stuck a fork in his older sister’s butt cheek, how my Grandma casually came out to the living room where my Grandpa and my Dad were talking and said sweetly, “Danny, the kitchen is on fire…”, how my sister nailed me in the head with a wooden Fisher-Price clock on a road trip to Canada…those are just the tip of the iceberg. Dylan, Jason, and Hannah…

  • Childhood Memories

    I’m Big On Nostalgia, Part Two

    Yesterday I wrote about how I truly adore being whisked back to other parts of my life via nostalgic reminders. Music and food are especially strong instigators of time travel for me. My sister gave me a great gift for my birthday: a bag full of my favorite German treats. I’ve written many times about how Germany has a special place in my heart, and when i opened that bag I was so excited. When I was fourteen years old I spent a month in Germany. I lived with a fourteen-year-old German girl named Tina, and her family. They helped me integrate into daily life there, and for thirty days…

  • Childhood Memories

    I’m Big On Nostalgia, Part One

    On a recent Sunday morning I attended a car “show” at our local mall. The parking lot was full of cars: classic cars, show cars, novelty cars, and even some cars that probably should have been crushed and sold for scrap metal by now but for some odd reason their owners are so attached that they thought everyone should see their precious vehicles. That reason was probably Nostalgia, and I get it totally. I am a sucker for items and pictures and songs and foods that can instantly transport me to other times in my life. It’s not that I am unhappy NOW, of course. There’s just something about looking…

  • Childhood Memories,  Confessions,  Fun in Knoxville

    Home is Where the Heart is.

    One of the scariest things about moving away from a long-time home is the idea of starting over again, from scratch. Finding the nearest grocery stores and other preferred shops, setting up new doctors and a dentist, figuring out if the area where you think you want to purchase a home is actually the area in which you think you’ll be happy long-term, and so many other details can be completely overwhelming. Multiply that frustration by three or four times if your long-time home also happens to be the city where you’re from originally and then multiply that by ten times if you’re a control freak who hates change. I…

  • Childhood Memories,  Confessions,  Do I Really Want My Readers To Know This?

    There Are Worse Things To Obsess Over.

    I have an odd obsession: toilet paper. My preoccupation doesn’t have anything to do with a particular type of toilet paper or even having a firm stance on whether it should roll over or under. I’m obsessed with having enough in the house. Weird, I know. I have worried about it for as long as I can remember, and I was never able to figure out why until I came up with a theory a while back. More on that in a minute. I get extremely nervous when the stash in the house goes down to single digits: heart palpitations and all. What if someone has a bathroom crisis and…

  • Childhood Memories,  Family Fun,  Fun in Chicago

    Oakbrook Center is the Place to be…Right Now!

    This post is sponsored by Oakbrook Center. Full disclosure: I have loved Oakbrook Center (on the corner of Route 83 and Cermak Road just off of Interstates 88 and 294) for all the days I’ve lived in the western suburbs (that’s more than twenty-one years). I love it for many reasons: the shops, the restaurants, the environment, the outdoorsy element of it all, and especially because it reminds me of Park Forest Plaza, the shopping center of my childhood. These shopping centers that aren’t enclosed were the mothers of modern malls, and I think they’re totally fun. While you might think that the best time to visit Oakbrook Center is…

  • Childhood Memories,  Favorite Things,  Fun in Chicago,  Pretty Pictures

    There’s No Place Like State Street for the Holidays

    For some unknown reason, it’s been a couple of years since I have gone into the city and visited State Street when it’s all dressed up for the holidays. I’ve visited the city itself in December, but I’m typically at the Christkindlmarket, on Michigan Avenue, or at some other area of town for a blogger event. Over the weekend I was invited to see the group Straight No Chaser (they were amazing, by the way), Because the weather was supposed to be rather hellacious, I kept an eye on my weather app all morning and chose to head in much earlier than I needed to be in order to miss…

  • Childhood Memories,  Favorite Things,  Travels,  UGH.

    Currently Breaking My Heart: Gatlinburg

    You may not have heard until around lunchtime today because for some reason the news outlets weren’t covering it, but Gatlinburg, Tennessee was on fire. Actually, it has been on fire for a couple of weeks–East Tennessee has been experiencing its worst drought in about a decade–but yesterday the winds kicked up and some fires that were simmering in the Chimney Tops area blew out of control and caused terrible devastation. Hundreds of homes, dozens of businesses, gorgeous, beloved areas of Smoky Mountain National Park: torched to the ground. It’s upsetting for anyone who has ever set foot there because truly it’s one of the most beautiful areas of the…

  • Blessings,  Childhood Memories,  Confessions

    Thirty-ish.

    I remember when I was a kid I was fascinated with the year 2000. It didn’t seem real to me that in my lifetime, all of a sudden the years would begin with “2”. I figured out that in the year 2000, I would turn thirty-two. When I was doing that math, thirty-two seemed a million years away. It also seemed SUPER OLD. Tomorrow I’ll be sixteen years past thirty-two, and there’s really no need to do that math because in addition to what they say about fifty being the new thirty and forty being the new twenty (or something like that), mentally I honestly still feel like I’m half…

  • Best Thing Ever,  Childhood Memories,  Fun in Chicago

    World Series 2016: Go Cubs Go!

    My very favorite baseball team is the Chicago Cubs. Actually, my very favorite team in any sport is the Chicago Cubs. When you’re from Chicago, it’s kind of a rule that you have to pick a baseball team, because we have two. You HAVE to choose. The Cubs or The White Sox North Side or South Side Red, White, and Blue or Black, White, and Silver Wrigley Field or Comiskey Park (It’s not technically Comiskey anymore but go with it.) The thing is, I don’t actually remember picking the Cubs; I only know that I’ve loved them for as long as I can remember. One example of how fiercely I…