• Food,  Fun in Knoxville,  Travels

    Getting To Know Knoxville With East TN Tours

    I generally have a very easy time making friends. I love meeting new people and can strike up a conversation with just about anybody. That said, I was a little concerned, before we made the move from the Chicago suburbs to Knoxville, about making new friends. I have a couple of old high school friends here and several of my blogging friends hooked me up with a fantastic person who used to blog (but doesn’t anymore). Beyond that, I wondered how I’d do. The boys are grown and out of the house so I don’t have the benefit of meeting people via being a room mom or scouts. I work…

  • Food,  Friends

    Let’s Make a #HousefulOfCookies!

    Today I’m participating in the #HousefulOfCookies blog hop, hosted by my friend Natasha of Houseful of Nicholes. You can follow the hashtag on Twitter or Instagram to find the recipes that have been posted so far, or if you like to make your life a little easier you can just go to Natasha’s post that lists everyone’s cookies and links. Today I am delighted to share one of my favorite holiday cookies (both to make and to eat), Chocolate Mint Sugar Cookie Drops. The recipe is by NestlĂ©. I started making these cookies more than twenty years ago and their biggest fan in our family is my older son, Dylan.…

  • Blessings,  Family Fun,  Food,  Friends,  I've Got Mad Skillz

    10 Things That Made Me Happy This Holiday Weekend

    It’s not even Sunday yet and this long holiday weekend has been packed enough for a whole week. It’s been great, too. In fact, I’m wishing it wasn’t ending tomorrow. Anyway, we arrived home after this evening’s festivities a little late and I need to get to bed soon so I made the executive decision to write up a listicle so I can check “Write today’s blog post” off of my to-do list. Ten things that made me happy this holiday weekend? Let’s count ’em down. 1. Jim and Jason came home for the holiday, so all four of us were under the same roof, yay! 2. Thanksgiving was gloriously…

  • Favorite Things,  Food

    Make This Pie Recipe And Your Family Will Love You Even More.

    I posted a picture of what was happening in my kitchen on Instagram this morning. The caption: There are very few holiday traditions I care about, but on Thanksgiving I make pumpkin pie for everyone else and my mother-in-law’s pineapple cream cheese pie for myself. (Okay, I share a little.) This pie is to die for. My mother-in-law has made it for Thanksgiving far longer than I’ve been married to Jim, and on the rare Thanksgivings when we aren’t all together, I make sure to get my butt into the kitchen to bake one. It’s my favorite homemade pie. I got her permission to share the recipe (yay for YOU!),…

  • Confessions,  Favorite Things,  Food,  My Kid Has Mad Skillz

    Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut and Sometimes You Need to Learn How to Share.

    I received some devastating news on Saturday*: my twenty one-year-old son said that he enjoys an Almond Joy candy bar now and then. DEVASTATING*. I thought I was the only one in the family who consumed Almond Joy bars. I mean, I have enjoyed the heck out of grabbing the fun-sized Almond Joys out of the boys’ trick-or-treat bags after they spent Halloween night ringing doorbells for sweets, because they ranked Almond Joy down there with Circus Peanuts and Whoppers. I’ve loved buying the occasional Almond Joy and leaving it on the counter where it would stay untouched until I was ready to eat it. Making sure that Almond Joys…

  • Food,  My Sister Has Mad Skillz,  Pretty Pictures

    Fruitastic Salad 2.0

    Knowing what you know about me regarding my control freak tendencies, it probably doesn’t surprise you that I am tremendously more comfortable following recipes to the letter than I am experimenting with a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I’m certain that’s why I enjoy baking more than cooking elaborate meals that leave lots of room for improvisation. My sister, while definitely knowing what she wants, when and how she wants it, is more laid-back than I. She is not only an excellent baker but also a tremendous cook when it comes to all dishes. A few years ago she brought what she called “Fruitastic Salad”…

  • Food,  Friends,  My Friends Have Mad Skillz

    New Food Swap Book! (Get it.)

    Local food swaps have become a thing. What are they? Well, they’re all a little different but the basic idea is that a bunch of people from one community come together to trade homegrown or homemade items. After everyone arrives, time is spent walking around, checking out what everyone brought (and sometimes sampling), and then when it’s time to swap there’s a negotiating frenzy. Typically everyone goes home with a bag (or box) full of goodies, extremely happy about trying some new things. My friends Emily Paster and Vanessa Druckman created the Chicago Food Swap a few years ago; the first one was held in December 2011. I was able…

  • Best Thing Ever,  Food,  Friends,  Travels

    That Voodoo That You Do (or, Big Bucket of Donuts)

    I’m currently in Austin, Texas for work (we’re here to do a site visit for #BlogHerFood16, which happens in October and have you registered yet because Earlybird pricing ends 3/31!). It’s a whirlwind trip and sadly, I had to tell several friends and two relatives that I just couldn’t make any plans to meet up this time (argghhhhh). Liz and Brandi (my social media team partner, or PARDNER as they say in Texas…don’t they?) and I arrived at the Austin airport within minutes of each other, which was a pretty cool thing considering we were coming from New Jersey, California, and Illinois. We took a cab to the hotel, checked…

  • Family Fun,  Favorite Things,  Food,  Fun in Chicago,  Travels

    Like Food, Drinks, Fun, and Shopping? Go To Rosemont!

    If you know me at all, you know that I don’t hesitate when offered a chance to travel somewhere and spend a night in a hotel room, even if it’s close to my house. That’s why, when the Village of Rosemont in conjunction with the Loews Chicago O’Hare Hotel, recently invited me to do just that, I responded within seconds of reading the email. Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary accommodations, food, and drink during our overnighter. I’m sharing my own experience here, and all opinions and photos are mine. Rosemont, which is only 2.5 square miles in size, is located about twenty-five minutes away from my house (and thirty…