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Martha & Snoop Are Giving Me Life Right Now

Martha & Snoop

Television offerings right now are amazingly varied. From what you can get on the various streaming services to the massive range of shows on cable/satellite, there’s something for everyone even if you’re one of those people who flips the channel while whining about how there’s NOTHING ON the 150 channels to which you have access.

One show that is keeping me in stitches is “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party” on VH1. On the show, Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg first make a themed cocktail together and then they each prepare a dish (sometimes it’s a variation on the same dish and sometimes their dishes aren’t the same at all) in dual kitchens that reflect their personalities. Example: when Martha opens her refrigerator, music that sounds like something heralding angels plays and when Snoop opens his refrigerator, rap music plays. Her kitchen is set up in the same quaint, New England style that we’ve seen for years as her trademark, and his comes complete with the hood of a car on the front of the island and an “herb” garden. People magazine has a pretty good description of it.

Martha & Snoop have guests on the show too. In the first three episodes guests have included Seth Rogen, Naya Rivera, 2 Chainz, Ice Cube, Chris Bosch, and Wiz Khalifa. The guests add to the commentary while the cooking is going on, and the show ends with everyone around the table eating and playing party games.

What I love about this show is that we are seeing entirely different sides of both Martha and Snoop. Snoop, though his Cool Factor never goes away and he still fits in a marijuana reference whenever possible, seems positively suburban in this kitchen. Martha, who hangs onto her technique and manners for dear life, is downright bawdy. Snoop is great at coaxing Martha’s wild side out, and that’s why this show works: they are an amazing pair. I also love that you don’t have to be a superfan of either one of them in order to have fun watching this show. It’s pure entertainment.

If you’re looking for a great escape, something that doesn’t require concentration and has the potential to keep you smiling and laughing for thirty straight minutes, tune in next week and let me know what you think. (It’s on Mondays at 10pm ET/9pm CT.)


For the Children

awesome responsibility to children

I was at Target the other day, and for some reason my ears honed in on all the kids that were there. I heard so many statements, questions, and stories straight from the mouths of babes that I wondered if I were in some kind of Twilight Zone. It’s unusual for me to pay attention, for sure: after all, my own “kids” are 21 and 24 and the days of taking care of every single need they have are long gone. These days I’m terribly good at ignoring children (not to be mean, mind you: I just tune them out because I focus on other things). On the occasions when my focus on anything BUT the children around me is interrupted by a tantrum (or in the case of a baby too young to know about attempted manipulation but cries uncontrollably because of basic needs), I exercise patience and understanding while I try to catch the parent’s eye to give her or him a non-verbal “Good job! Keep it up!”

This day was different with the children. It was similar to the way you notice alllll of the pregnant women once you become pregnant yourself, or the way that after you finally buy the car you’ve been eyeing for a while, it seems like that same exact model is suddenly all around you in traffic. Some of the sweetest moments infiltrated my typical focus on the shopping list and all the other ideas swimming around in my head and presented themselves to me:

1. In the paper goods aisle, a little girl who couldn’t have been more than two was dressed in a ruffled shirt and the sassiest cropped jeans, one pant leg higher than the other. She was blocking my passage because she was trying to unstick the edge of the shorter pant leg from above her knee and move it back down into place, and she was getting extremely frustrated, tears springing to her eyes. Her mother apologized profusely and went to grab her so I could get by, but I stopped her. “She’s having a pants problem. It’s okay; I can wait. She’ll get it!” And she did, smiling from ear to ear when she was done.

2. In the baking aisle, a little boy was sitting in the cart with his mom’s notepad, crossing off items as she took them from the shelves. “You’re such a good helper!” she told him. He nodded in agreement and asked her when she was going to grab the cookies.

3. In the water aisle, another little boy was telling his dad about a playdate while he yanked on a pack of plastic bottles to get them off the shelf and into the cart. He was unsuccessful with the second part.

4. At the checkout, a mom said to her little girl (who was around five), “Popcorn or cake pop?” It was a tough decision, deciding between those two rewards for good behavior, and the girl’s face showed it. She crinkled her nose and looked towards the in-store Starbucks (home of the cake pops) and then glanced over at the Target snack counter (popcorn). “Both?” she asked slowly, as if the clarity of her caution would magically make her mom give her the okay. It didn’t, but she handled it like a champ when her mom insisted that she pick just one. The winners? Cake pops and the little girl, who skipped as fast as her little legs could carry her towards the Starbucks.

There were more moments I observed, including the usual tantrum or two. As I was loading my groceries into the trunk of my car, I wondered why the children of Target were in front of everything in my head. It occurred to me that, with the stress I’m currently under personally as well as the collective stress much of our nation is under since the election, the innocence of childhood seems like a pretty sweet deal. Of course you couldn’t offer me a sum of money high enough to make me want to go back and live life all over again from childhood if that were an option, but kids sure do have it pretty great (and they don’t even know it). The ability to have all of their needs taken care of by their parents, the ability to be carefree and have all the time in the world just to be children…it’s enough to make an adult in the 21st century wish that she could go back even for a little visit.

Maybe that’s what it is, and maybe it’s deeper than that. Perhaps all of the hate that’s been rearing its ugly head in the world has been weighing heavily on my mind (spoiler alert: IT HAS), and I’m concerned about the children and the mess that is being created for them to clean up. It shouldn’t be like this. We weren’t “there” yet: there was so much work yet to do to eradicate racism and discrimination, but we were making progress. Now the country is taking a few huge leaps backward and the to-do list is growing, too large for us to fix before the children are on their own. It makes me sad.

For now, I’ll just try and do what I can from my little corner of the world while others do what they can in their little corners. Hopefully all of us making little waves will contribute towards a tsunami that will wipe out hate and wash in all the love. The children deserve that.

tickle fight

Here’s a gratuitous picture of my own boys when they were innocent little ones, having a tickle fight with their dad. (Who’s winning? Depends on what your idea of winning is.) Oh also, both kids are laughing, not crying.


Chillaxing Like They Do in La Jolla

Three years ago next month, Jim and I took a quick trip to San Diego. I absolutely adored that long weekend because in addition to enjoying what San Diego and neighboring Coronado Island had to offer, we visited several beaches between San Diego and Laguna Niguel, starting at La Jolla Cove. (Man, I love the beach.)

By the way, La Jolla is Spanish and pronounced “La Hoy-a”. Don’t pronounce it like it looks in English because everyone will point at you and shout “TOURIST!”

Anyway, La Jolla Cove was full of seals and sea otters and sea lions. We spent some time watching those fascinating creatures just hanging out and sunbathing on the rocks, seemingly oblivious to all of us with cameras.

One of my very favorite moments was getting close to this guy. Don’t worry: I zoomed in with my camera. I wasn’t THAT close.

Chillaxing in La Jolla

He was sprawled out in stillness, keeping an eye on me and a couple of other humans who were standing there with our chins on the ground over being gifted with the experience of sharing his space. It was a peaceful moment on that trip I won’t soon forget.

Slightly related: I plan to spend most of today and tomorrow offline…and hopefully in that position. Have a great weekend and I’ll meet you back here on Monday!


Hindsight is 20/20.

Until nine or ten years ago–right around the time I started blogging, in fact–I had 20/20 vision. Right around the time I turned 40 I started noticing just the slightest change in my vision when I was reading. Jim and I made appointments to see the eye doctor–who is also an old family friend, which is why we always go together–and I was presented with the idea that the lowest level of readers would be prudent.

“But make sure you stay with 1.00,” he said. “The longer we can keep you out of glasses, the better.”

Each year after that, Jim and I would go in for our eye exams and I just knew that I’d be leaving with a prescription. Excellent vision gone, glasses needed. Maybe bifocals. Nope.

It’s entirely possible that magical vision skills run in my family. My sister still has perfect vision, and both of my sons have had perfect vision so far (knock on wood). In fact, my older son used to claim that he didn’t need sunglasses because his eyes had a special sun-resistant coating on them already. Yes he was totally serious and no I don’t think he was just being stubborn about wearing sunglasses. Okay, maybe.

Adventures at the eye doctor

Lately I’ve started to notice a difference in my vision while driving: not enough to be a menace, mind you, but things just aren’t as crisp as they should be. I made a solo appointment for an eye exam since Jim wasn’t in town this week, and went in today.

Sidenote: it’s super great to have an eye doctor who’s an old family friend. His older two kids went to school from kindergarten through twelfth grade with our two boys. He and Jim used to be leaders in our Cub Scout Pack together, and I used to share elementary school room mom duties with his wife. Going in for an eye exam is a lot like visiting Doc Baker from “Little House on the Prairie”; there’s always a cozy catch-up session first. I love it.

When I walked in today I greeted him and said, “Oops, I can’t believe it’s been two years since I was here last.”
He replied, “Um, three.”

“SERIOUSLY?” I thought. “Where does the time go??? I’m definitely going to leave with bifocals.”

We played catch-up for about thirty minutes (don’t worry; he didn’t have another patient after me) and then proceeded with the eye exam. It turns out that my eyes are still basically fine. While I have the slightest need for a prescription in my right eye, he doesn’t recommend my filling it yet. “Stick with those readers for your close-up work,” he said. “Let’s try to wait until your distance vision declines enough to truly need assistance before we get you into glasses.”

I left his office empty-handed again, and I’m fine with that. The magic continues.

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Cubs Day

One more about the Cubs and then I’ll shut up about them…until next Spring. Let me tell you about Cubs Day. MY Cubs Day.

After the Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years, most of the city of Chicago was on a crazy baseball high. (Some of us still are.) The team even had a special day (Friday, November 4) designated as World Series Champions Chicago Cubs Day by Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner. That was the day of the parade and rally, the one whose estimated crowds of 5 million people made it the seventh largest gathering in human history.

I had to work on Friday, November 4 and so I missed all of that. It nearly killed me to be home that day (slight exaggeration). I immediately started planning a trip downtown so I could take pictures of all the festive Cubs decorations (including the Art Institute lions, who have worn all of the other Chicago team hats but never the Cubs) before they were taken down and stored for next year when we win again. Hush, eternal optimism is a personality trait in every true Cubs fan.

My partner-in-crime that day was my favorite city partner-in-crime, Margaret (though I call her “Pizza” in honor of our traditional lunches). Margaret runs Chicago Elevated, a walking tour company, and it is always a treat to stroll around the city with her. She was exceedingly patient as I took tons of pictures, and she was also fun and hilarious as usual. By the way, of course we made a lunch stop for deep dish pizza, this time at “our” Gino’s East in Lakeview.

Let me back up. We started at the Art Institute.

Cubs Day Art Institute Lion

Margaret and I waited for a beautiful flag unfurling in the background there. After about twenty shots I still didn’t get it. Not mad about it.

From there we walked to Millennium Park and grabbed some pictures at the Bean (“Cloud Gate” is actually the name of the sculpture, created by Anish Kapoor). We also saw the Chicago Christmas tree being installed, complete with a “W” flag on top.

From there we walked towards City Hall, and on the way I noticed one of the World Series buses.

Cubs Day bus

I had just seen a news report that morning saying, “If you see one of the El trains or buses that was wrapped for the World Series, get a picture because they’ll be gone soon!” And that day, this one drove right by us.

City Hall was gorgeously Cub-sy.

Cubs Day City Hall

I wanted to grab that “W” sign in the middle for my wall at home. Obviously I did not because I’m a decent, honest person. (ooh but I wanted it.)

After City Hall we grabbed my car and headed north. On the way to lunch I remembered that Heritage Bicycles had installed a gorgeous Cubs mural on the exterior wall. We had to drive right by there anyway and I asked Margaret to wait in the car so I could leave it running while I ran across the street, snapped a picture, and nodded at the folks who were out on the patio drinking coffee before returning to my car.

Cubs Day Heritage Mural


After lunch we headed to Wrigleyville for the piece de resistance.

Cubs Day Wrigley Field sign


It was a pretty emotional sight. After admiring that gorgeous sign for a few minutes, we headed around the corner to check out the back walls of Wrigley Field, where fans had been writing tributes in chalk. Some notes were for the team and some were tributes to diehard Cub fan family members who passed away before getting to see a World Series win. I can’t express how glad I was to make the trip and see it in person. The colors were absolutely amazing and beautiful, and I loved watching people write fresh messages right before my very eyes. The chalk was being washed off by the maintenance crew starting at 5:00 that afternoon so it was especially busy as folks tried to squeeze in last-minute notes.

Cubs Day Wrigley Field wall

Cubs Day Wrigley Field wall

No, we did NOT.

Cubs Day Wrigley Field wall

Cubs Day Wrigley Field wall

I tried to capture how overwhelmingly cool this was, and how large a scope it had. This doesn’t even do it justice.

It was a full, fun Cubs Day, boosting my pride for my team and my city to overflowing. I’ll never forget it. (Thanks for sharing it with me, Pizza!)


Nearly Wordless Wednesday: Yay! Gratitude!

Yay! Gratitude!

Mine today: Yay! Gorgeous Fall Weather!

Your turn. Leave a comment with “Yay! Something you’re thankful for right now!”

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On What’s Important in Life


Warning: Ramble ahead.

There has been a lot of loss in the world in 2016. That in itself is a massive understatement so let me try again.

2016 has been a monumental year for loss. In fact, 9 out of 10 of my friends will tell you that they’re thrilled it’s almost over, and if given a choice, would end the year immediately because of the fresh start 2017 promises.

Let me start with some of the celebrity losses that cut us deeply in 2016, not that any one life is better than another but the deaths of some icons hit many of us in the gut, collectively.

David Bowie.
Muhammad Ali.
Gene Wilder.
Elie Wiesel.
Arnold Palmer.
Alan Rickman.
(Just to name a few.)

Individual, personal losses among those I know have also been rampant this year. A friend of mine has lost not one, but two siblings this year. Another friend lost her father just today. There are more.

Of course, I had my own great loss of 2016 when we had to say goodbye to Roxie back in February. To add insult to injury, 2016 has been a TERRIBLE year for my pet owner friends. Without thinking about it for more than fifteen seconds I came up with eight friends who have said goodbye to a dog or a cat this year, and then I thought of more when I actually put my mind to it. For many, pets become full-fledged family members so their loss is very deeply felt.

Jim’s cycling accident last month was, thankfully, not as bad as it could have been. I wrote about how it put a refocus on what’s important: loved ones and spending time wisely living our best lives.

Here’s the thing. We all have a lot to do. 21st century life isn’t for sissies: it’s stressful. The very technology that makes so many things easier and faster is also a detriment to our happiness in many ways. We’re taking care of our homes and our families, we’re working, and (hopefully) we’re doing things that enhance the lives of others. We’re running ourselves ragged and in between all of that, we’re wasting hours hanging out on the computer and doing other things that add nothing to the quality of life. We’re also allowing toxic people to take up space in our lives (well, I’M not. I stopped doing that ages ago). Everything can be snatched away–or nearly so–in just a moment; what are some changes you can make to help you live in the moment with a little more gratitude for life itself?

I’ll start: I’m working on staying away from Facebook and not having my phone on my person at all times on the weekends.

Your turn.


Okay, I Stand Corrected.

Something good that has come out of this election is the seemingly unending stream of thoughtful political conversation I’ve been enjoying with my twenty-four-year-old. It’s really something special to be able to have intelligent discourse about world affairs with your own grown kid and as much as this election and the post-election developments have had me tied up in knots, it’s been a bright spot.

That said, I have a much more entertaining conversation to share here.

The scene: my kitchen.
I’m lighting my Clean Cotton-scented Yankee Candle.

Dylan: “It’s too bad they don’t make a candle that smells like lighting a match.”
Me: “YES. That would be amazing.”
Dylan: “Or gasoline.”

(Sidenote: we’re two of those weird human beings who enjoy the smell of gasoline.)

Me: “Yankee Candle used to make one that smelled like cut grass. Not sure if they still do.”

(Sidenote: They do! It’s called Green Grass.)

*insert a couple more sentences about candles that I forgot, making me a terrible summarizer of conversation*

Me: “…in fact, you should see how many candles Heather (Liz’s middle daughter) has. She LOVES candles. She collects ALL THE CANDLES.”
Dylan: “Huh, um, that’s kind of a weird thing to collect, isn’t it?”
Me: “Not at all. I mean, she doesn’t collect them just to stare at them. She collects them to USE. They have multiple candles going on in that house all the time.”
Dylan: “Ohhhh. Okay so she’s more of a ‘Candle Enthusiast’.”
Me: “Yes. I guess you’re right.”

The Candle Enthusiast and us

Next time I get them in the same place we’ll be sure to talk about candles.


Gone Fishing.

I’ve been having a conflict: I wasn’t feeling the energy for blogging this weekend but was also struggling with my commitment (to myself) to participate in NaBloPoMo. I was texting with my friend Vikki, who is an EXCELLENT accountability partner, and she was telling me that she really feels a need to step away as well. We decided to become non-accountability partners and release each other from our NaBloPoMo commitment for the weekend, so we’re both posting this “Gone Fishing” sign. This way we can both in good conscience do some self care and come back a little better on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Gone Fishing


Friday Fun

Friday Fun

What a week, am I right?
It’s finally Friday, and I’m shutting down the laptop early in order to get started on the weekend. Here are some great things I read/saw online this week that you should definitely check out:

When You’re Feeling Lost, on Houseful of Nicholes
We’re Tired, on Smacksy
18 Totally Real Conversations Obama and Biden Have Had Since the Election, on Buzzfeed
This Chicago Cubs cartoon that will make any true Chicagoan reach for the Kleenex
All about “Chalking the Bricks” at Wrigley Field (my own pics to come soon!)
We Are the Role Models. Us. Not Them, on Two Cannoli
How to Disagree, by Kid President

I’ll be back tomorrow because NaBloPoMo, but I’m still wishing you an awesome weekend right now because why not? Enjoy!