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The Amazing Race is Amazing.

A couple of weeks ago I was searching for something to watch on Hulu (we do Netflix for movies and originals and Hulu for beloved TV show replays over here) and was overjoyed to discover that alllll of the episodes in seasons one through twenty-seven of The Amazing Race are available to stream.

Amazing Race

We LOVE The Amazing Race in this house. Before the boys went to college it was how we four spent Sunday nights together. At the beginning of every season we pause the show after the teams are introduced and we each pick two that we think might win. Of course, after an episode or two some of us end up wanting to switch teams–and by some of us I mean “I”–but that’s not allowed in the family rules.

After I made that huge discovery we started watching Season 25, since we missed that one originally. Dylan wanted to re-watch the season that featured the Hippies, Tyler and BJ, so we’re watching Season 9 too.

Amazing Race BJ and Tyler

BJ and Tyler

There are so many teams and memories I want to revisit; it’s going to be fun to pick which season to watch next. I loved Charla and Mirna in Season 5, David and Mary in Season 10, Kynt and Vyxsin in Season 12, Margie in Luke in Season 14 (and 18), Bopper and Mark in Season 20, and so many more.

Amazing Race Kynt and Vyxsin

Kynt and Vyxsin

Amazing Race Margie and Luke

Margie and Luke

Favorite scenes of ours are the Swiss cheese roll in Season 14, anything with Harlem Globetrotters Flight Time and Big Easy, when Joyce got her head shaved so she and Uchenna could win the Fast Forward in Season 7, and when Claire got hit in the face with a watermelon in Season 17. (Saying that’s a favorite moment makes me feel dirty, but we were all stunned when it happened. Probably not as stunned as Claire was. She’s okay, by the way.)

Amazing Race Flight Time and Big Easy

Flight Time and Big Easy

With twenty-seven seasons to watch and re-watch, and probably adding Season 28 once Hulu gets it, we’ll be able to stay occupied until Season 29 finally makes it to CBS.

So tell me, are you a fan of The Amazing Race? Give me your favorites.


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 relaxed and the food was all completely amazing.

3. My turkey was perfectly cooked and gorgeous. I know I already mentioned the amazing food in number 2 but the turkey deserved its own list item.

4. There was a bunch of laughing in this house. I miss that when it’s quiet, so believe me: I enjoyed it full force over the last couple of days.

5. Jim and I visited the Christkindlmarket in Naperville, where I picked up two mugs and some German candy. It’s always a good time.

christkindlmarket 2016

6. I slept better than I have in ages over the last two nights, which is making me feel more tired. I can’t figure that out except to guess that my body is now so excited to think about catching up on sleep that it’s in that mode. Or something like that; I’m no sleep scientist.

7. I ventured out at 7:00am on Black Friday to get more than half of our holiday shopping done with very little planning but extreme accuracy, and it only took 90 minutes! The mall wasn’t much busier than it usually is, and Target was nearly dead. I might continue that tradition from now on because getting that much shopping done with so much savings in so little time is definitely a win!

8. Today we stayed in bed until 8:30am, which is unheard of. I would love to laze around in bed every day as I did today, but I guess if I were able to do that I might not enjoy it as much because it wouldn’t be a treat.

9. I was able to take the family pictures I need to order holiday cards and will be doing that by Monday. I am totally on top of the holiday card thing this year, which is completely odd since I have been able to stay on top of virtually nothing else this year. Go figure.

10. Jim and I went to Fox Lake tonight, where we enjoyed the Fox Lake Illuminated Parade & Tree Lighting and dinner with friends. It was a lovely evening!

Jim leaves bright and early tomorrow morning and I’ll be spending the day figuring out my week and doing a little more relaxing, including staying offline as much as possible. So with that, enjoy your Sunday and I’ll see you back here on Monday!

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I Know Neen. Do You Know Neen?

Gratitude Neen

Once in a blue moon I lure you here only to send you to read my writing elsewhere. This is one of those occasions. My friend and 2016 LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER CHICAGO alumna Nina Vallone asked me if I wanted to participate in the second annual 30-day Gratitude Series on her blog You Know Neen and of course I said, “Heck yeah! Thanks for asking!”

Then I proceeded to get busy with life and Jim’s accident and I totally missed her deadline by a mile but I apologized and asked her if I could write something anyway, and if she couldn’t use it I’d just post it here. She was still able to make room for me (bless her!), and today’s the day. I wrote about being grateful for self care and you can check it out HERE.

Thanks again, Neen! I’m filled with gratitude for you. *wink* (There I go again!)


Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

I am doing my best to live in the moment today while Jim and I are enjoying a quiet Thanksgiving at home with the boys. Turkey’s in the oven and we’re hanging out in the family room watching TV together in comfy clothes. It’s heavenly. I hope wherever you are and whomever you’re with, you’re enjoying today too! Happy Thanksgiving!


I posted a picture of what was happening in my kitchen on Instagram this morning.

Pineapple Cream Cheese Pie

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!), so here it is. It may be too late for you to make it for Thanksgiving tomorrow, but I hear it tastes just as good on any other day. (Actually I know that’s true.)

Pineapple Cream Cheese Pie

Pineapple Cream Cheese Pie
A Thanksgiving favorite in our family!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
55 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
55 min
  1. 1 large can of crushed pineapple
  2. 1/2 c sugar
  3. 2 Tbsp cornstarch
  4. 12 oz. cream cheese (that's 1 1/2 bricks)
  5. 1/2 c milk
  6. 1/2 tsp vanilla
  7. 1 tsp salt
  8. 3/4 c sugar
  9. 2 eggs
  10. chopped pecans/pecan chips
  1. Cook the first three ingredients in a saucepan until thick and clear. Let it cool.
  2. Mix the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl.
  3. Spread the pineapple mix into the bottom of a deep dish pie crust and top with the cream cheese mix. Sprinkle pecans over the top.
  4. Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes and then at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
  1. 1. I always have more cream cheese mixture than will fit in the pie crust so I put the leftover in a small baking dish and bake it along with the pie. When it's done, I hide from my family and eat it.
  2. 2. If your family doesn't like pecans, you can leave them out or use less. If they love pecans, use a bunch!
Suburban Scrawl http://suburbanscrawl.com/

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!)