Happy Weekend: May it include tomatoes

tomato tart

Years ago, I made this Tomato Tart (via Martha Stewart) and fell completely in love. We had it this past Tuesday when a dear family member came for dinner and Gus was more than happy to lend a hand. Oh, and I never make my own dough because I loathe a rolling pin. Highly recommend Trader Joe’s frozen pie crust. 🙂

Gus’ class pet is a bearded dragon named Rita.

I just finished reading Daisy Jones & The Six. I LOVED the first half of the book. The second-half was just so-so. What did you think?

Tomorrow we’re meeting up with some neighbors and my kids are begging me to make this for dessert.

Happy Weekend, friends.

Happy Weekend: May it be blooming

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Speaking of blooms, I have plans to attend this sparkling event at the Chicago Botanic Gardens.

Do you have plans for the weekend? It’s my 20th high school reunion but I am not attending…husband is traveling, babysitting options are scarce, and also…those kind of events are not really my jam. That said, I feel pretty lucky to still have high school pals in my life and connected through social media. Did you attend your high school reunion? Did you like it?

I cannot get this new Taylor Swift song outta my head.

I’m also excited to get to a Cubs game with the kids on Sunday.

Happy Weekend!

25 Things About Me: Pink Hair, High-Tops, and a Random Painting Hobby

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  1. I’ve written for magazines, blogs, websites, newspapers, radio, and Apps.
  2. My favorite movie is Quiz Show.
  3. My least favorite season is Summer.
  4. I am obsessed with miniature things, high top sneakers, and marshmallow desserts.
  5. I got married on a vineyard.
  6. My two favorite places to visit are my local library and Trader Joe’s.
  7. I was a dancer at Disneyworld, EuroDisney, and even performed at Wembley Hall in London on New Year’s Day.
  8. My alarm goes off every morning at 5:15am.
  9. I’m not much of a morning person but I’ve sort of trained myself to be.
  10. I don’t know how to whistle. Yes, I have tried and no, it’s not as easy as putting your lips together and blowing.
  11. I will buy any book written by Curtis Sittenfeld, Roxane Gay, or David Sedaris.
  12. My memory is razor-sharp with music. I can hear a song one time and have the words memorized.
  13. There are at least 15 books on my nightstand and at least 7 lip balms in my car.
  14. I’m one of those weird people that is oddly lucky when it comes to raffle drawings, door prizes, or contests.
  15. One of my favorite freelance gigs ever was attending the opening of a new candy store.
  16. I head up the LGBTQ+ Initiative at my church because I believe that all humans deserve to be loved and celebrated for being exactly who they are.
  17. I survived an emergency airplane landing; I safely evacuated by jumping down a giant, inflatable slide.
  18. Halloween is my favorite holiday but I am terrified of haunted houses.
  19. I still have a pair of ballet slippers shoved into a drawer. I can’t get rid of them; they make me feel like a dancer.
  20. When I’m super stressed, I paint.
  21. I love a NY Times crossword puzzle.
  22. I cannot curl my tongue (recessive gene for the win!)
  23. I can do backflips off a diving board. It’s my favorite party trick.
  24. I’m terribly uncoordinated on skis- both water and snow.
  25. I love chopping off my hair or dying it crazy colors (it was pink for Valentine’s Day).

Sandy Feet

A few years ago, I retired…from flip-flops.

Yes, that’s right. I decided I was DONE with cheap plastic tearing up my toes. I bought two pairs of rubber Birkenstocks during my pregnancy with Gus and never looked back (bonus points: you can adjust these! Which came in handy when my then-pregnant feet were swollen).

Since that time (and long after I gave birth to the 4-year-old pictured above), I’ve been walking the Earth promoting these shoes in a loud voice because everything about them is good: durable material, washable in the kitchen sink after a trip to the beach or pool, and they come in lots of punchy colors reminiscent of ice cream and beach balls.

Pretty soon, there will be no sandy feet.

Pretty soon, my baby-blue toenails will be tucked into hi-top sneakers or boots.

Pretty soon, the beaches will be deserted and the classrooms will be bustling.

Leaves will crunch under my feet and it will be far too chilly to stroll around in my favorite summer staple. So today I will be okay with sandy feet. Sandy shoes. Sandy everything.

City Girl Confessions: A Moment to Savor

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Photo by Paul Theodor Oja on Pexels.com

City Girl Confessions is my recurring column featured in The Glencoe Anchor.

This morning, I walked out of my house excited to meet up with a friend. Just one problem- a large carpenter’s van was blocking my car in the driveway (I had forgotten that one of our kitchen cabinets needed repairing). Hmm…what to do? Then another thought…I have a bicycle. Why not take a ride to meet up with my friend?

So I threw on my helmet and started pedaling. It was a lovely summer morning: about 72 degrees, cornflower blue sky, a nice breeze. When I hit the brakes at a STOP sign, a monarch butterfly fluttered past and I had to stop myself from chuckling. The picturesque moment felt straight out of a movie. 

But I didn’t chuckle. Instead, I savored. I drew in my breath and felt the wind on my face. I thought of outdoor reading, the smell of sunscreen, and the colors of the sky at dusk. I thought about weekend getaways, drippy ice cream cones, and bare feet racing over the grass. I pondered fireworks, Glencoe Art festivals, French Markets, sidewalk sales, Pride Month, parades, and many al fresco dinners. There’s been an awful lot of fun that has filled up these past Summer months.

For all those reasons, August is my reserved time to savor. I know that the first day of school is just around the corner. I realize that more structured schedules are on the horizon. I accept all of this. It’s for those reasons that I say, go ahead, have ice cream before dinner. Take an extra long bike ride that might stretch past your kids’ bedtime. Invite someone over for a drink or impromptu popsicle party. Turn on a sprinkler. Turn off the iPads. Look for shooting stars. Open your windows. Say yes more than no. Get outside everyday, even for just a short walk. Pet a dog. Look for birds. Talk to your neighbors. 

Riding my bike that morning reminded me of something: the absolute bliss of simplicity. Do you remember riding a bike for the first time? The feelings of independence or the excitement of choosing your destination? It’s euphoric (also decent exercise). Hopping on two wheels brought me back to my childhood, where any neighborhood adventure was possible. Why don’t I do this more often? Why don’t I get back to basics not because my car is unavailable but because it just feels good?

I’ll confess, back in my city-living-days, I rode a bike to escape the endless concrete. I sought the clarity of being out in nature, savoring all of its elements. If density was driving me mad, I could always get on a trail or a path and find my way.

Those memories, and this month, are reminding me to savor what is right now- the calm before the storm. The last of the very best season. That when the world feels stressful and upsetting, we can hit the reset button. And savor the moment. 

City Girl Confessions: Focusing on What Was & What Will Be

IMG_9918City Girl Confessions is my recurring column via The Glencoe Anchor.

A couple months back I recall the idea of a dog park floating around town. There’s just something about that notion that connotes joy: it’s a gathering place to meet new friends and, overall, it’s a cherry on top of the stellar parks already existing in our town.

At the time, I also accepted that the dog park would not be a great fit for my 10-year-old Boston Terrier, Theo. His energy level was subdued and we always knew that he preferred humans to other dogs. However, I still welcomed the dog park idea because pets connect us in wonderful ways- and how great to have a meeting place for those connections to occur?

My dog has endured many milestones since we adopted him in 2010. Theo started out as a city pup where he often enjoyed long walks in the South Loop down Michigan Avenue and being near the Lake. He easily welcomed the addition of two kids to the mix, following them happily wherever they went.

When we moved to Glencoe, I was astonished at how active the pet owners were. In Chicago, dog walking is mandatory given the lack of yards. In the suburbs, where yards are plentiful, people still leashed up their pets and took to the sidewalks. It was oddly comforting- it made me feel like I didn’t have to give up every part of my urban lifestyle just because my geography had changed.

So I happily joined the unofficial active dog-walking club. Perhaps you saw us over the years. For a good chunk of time I rolled deep with a red stroller, a kid on a scooter, and a leashed black-and-white dog. When my babies became big kids, our walks became just me and Theo. A morning walk, a bus stop pick-up, a family stroll after dinner…these walks were our treasured time for nature and introspection. 

I’m sharing these special memories because this week presented something unexpected: the sudden passing of my beloved Theo. As you might imagine, my family and I are absolutely devastated. My children have lost their best friend. My husband and I have lost our treasured companion. The joyful light in our home has dimmed dark.

Yesterday, I took a walk. By myself. The same, long neighborhood route my Theo had loved for so many years. Everywhere I looked there were dogs. Dogs riding in cars, dogs lazing around yards, and dogs passing by in the street with their owners. Big dogs, mini ones, furry ones.

Maybe there will be a dog park here some day. Maybe, if I’m lucky, I will love another dog the way I loved Theo. In the mean time, I will continue my routine walks alone and remember a special time. If I see you with your pet and give you a tiny smile, just know you are helping me heal. You are helping me celebrate what once was.

 

A Note About Dads

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve called my dad in a panic: either the basement flooded, my car was smoking, the pregnancy test said POSITIVE (this was years ago; not pregnant now), I forgot the name of our favorite mechanic, or I was just needing to feel a sense of calm in the world. My dad has always had an answer to my most impossible moments.

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Watching Fitz become a Dad has been extraordinary. He has sewn up a beloved stuffed animal, read books in silly voices, changed thousands of middle-of-the-night diapers, walked fussy infants around restaurants, and despite having a sensitive stomach for anything medical, he watched both of our babies come into the world. He coached soccer. He took Gus to her first gymnastics class. Throughout all of this, he was patient, genuine, and interested.

And my two dads…Tom and Jerry. Who would’ve thought that in marrying Fitz, our fathers would become best pals?! They work together, have breakfast together, go to The Masters together…they even have the exact same birthday: Nov. 8th, 1947. In watching these dads become grandparents, I saw them show up to the bus stop, drop in on baseball games, host putting/chipping contests, babysit in a pinch (even overnight), dole out lollipops, and talk in earnest to these little beings, pointing out all the ways in which this world is magnificent. Throughout all of this, they were patient, genuine, and interested.

I cry readily thinking about these great men. I call on them at the very best and very worst times. I love them fiercely, even more so knowing that I’m not an easy person to love. 🙂 And they still show up. They still answer every phone call. They still ask, “What can I do to help?”

By just being who they are, they have allowed me to grow and get through the toughest, darkest parts of life. To Fitz, and to Tom and Jerry, you are everything good. You are patient, genuine, and interested. I love you for it all.