• Best Thing Ever,  Confessions,  Favorite Things

    I’m One of Those.

    I finally switched out the clothes in my bedroom closet today, trading tank tops and Capri pants for sweatshirts and jeans. I am SO HAPPY. Don’t get me wrong; I really like summer, especially now that we have access to a pool just up the street. As much as I enjoy driving with the sunroof open though, I get a little giddy when autumn kicks in. Just a few things I love about fall: Changing trees and fallling leaves Running our fireplace Hot cocoa with whipped cream The aforementioned sweatshirts and jeans Curling up on the couch with a blanket The seat warmers in my car Chicken matzah ball soup…

  • How To,  I've Got Mad Skillz,  My Friends Have Mad Skillz

    6 Tips for the Gift-Giving Challenged

    One of my very favorite things to do in the whole wide world is give gifts to others. I’m no Martha Stewart or *insert the name of any other famous and professional creative person here* but I do take lots of pride in coming up with gift ideas that seem like perfection. We’re coming up on the holiday season and I am already seeing requests for ideas on Facebook that look something like this… “What to buy for a 13-14 year old? Anyone?” …so I think my advice might be useful to some of you out there, during the December holidays and year-round. Of course, the easy answer for that…

  • Blessings,  My Sister Has Mad Skillz,  Reflections on Parenting

    Shutterfly Kills Me on a Weekly Basis.

    Shutterfly’s masters of marketing send regular emails with subject lines that say “Your Memories from This Week *insert number here* Years Ago.” I love looking at the old pictures they send, but boy oh boy, do they ever remind me of how time flies. Take these pictures, for example. My sister snapped them thirteen years ago this week. It feels like a whole lifetime ago. I miss those little boys sometimes, but also I can hardly remember what life was like—other than BUSY—when they were that age. Additionally, I miss that dog so very much but also I can hardly remember what life was like when we had a dog…

  • Random Thoughts

    How I Roll

    We landed back in Knoxville late yesterday afternoon after 18 hours of travel and very little sleep. There was the flight from Maui to Los Angeles followed by an extra-long layover (12:15am-6:00am PT) and a flight from Los Angeles to Dallas/Fort Worth followed by an extra-short layover (we made it to the gate for our flight to Knoxville with less than ten minutes to spare), and then finally the flight home. We picked up dinner on the way home–it was 4:00pm Knoxville time but 11:00am Hawaii time, so technically it was lunch, or was it? We didn’t care: we just wanted to be able to get home and not have…

  • How To,  Travels

    First Time Going to Maui? Here Are 12 Travel Tips from a (Former) First Timer.

    Are you headed to Maui? Exciting! I’m sitting in the airport like a sad sack, on the way home from our first-but-definitely-not-our-last trip, and I thought I’d write up some suggestions for other first-timers. Hopefully you’ll find this list helpful and, even if Maui isn’t in your future right now, you can use many of these tips when heading to other destinations as well. With that, here we go, in random order: 1. Book your flights early. When we first started checking out our options many months ago, we found some that were only two flights: Knoxville to Dallas or LA, and then right to Maui. Because we waited too…

  • 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…