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I love that “Friendsgivings” are a thing. All year I am grateful to have friends who I love like family and taking a day to prepare a meal together is becoming one of my favorite traditions.

Something else I love? Going all out with cooking. Everyone in this group loves to cook so something like a Friendsgiving means added effort which takes their food from a The Food Network level to, I don’t know, a Thomas Keller/French Laundry level. These people are not messing around and my taste buds are so happy for that.

Ryan was on mashed potato and bourbon punch duty while I took on dessert. In case any of you have desserts on deck for this week, I did some prep-work for you and highly recommend doing an Apple Slab Pie and Pumpkin Bread Pudding with caramel sauce. This apple pie feeds a full group and is a lot denser than round pie. I added almond extract to the glaze because I love the sweet nutty flavor with the apples. Oh and totally make the pie crust. I did it for the first time last year and again this year, it makes such a difference and is so easy.

It’s my theory that people don’t actually love pumpkin pie but are tied to the idea of pumpkin being fall tradition so skipping the pie and doing Pumpkin Bread Pudding was my move…and it was a hit. I am not crazy about raisins so I did cranberries and holy cow, I can’t believe how easy it is to make caramel.

Our Friendsgiving meal was incredible but I think my favorite part was after leftover containers had been made, the table cleared and everyone curled up in the living room. Bottles of wine passed around, jazz playing, storytelling, a few people dozing off, blankets being shared. Like that quote from Walt Whitman, “We were together. I forget the rest.” Togetherness is Thanksgiving and I am so grateful for that.

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I am also grateful, and slightly surprised, that these sweet potatoes arrived on the table without the use of a fire extinguisher.  Last year, there were flames coming from the oven when the marshmallows caught fire thus earning this dish the name of “torched sweet potatoes” on the menu this year. While it was funny to watch everyone scramble to extinguish said fire, no one exactly complained that things were a bit calmer around the oven this time.

sweet potatoes


Wedding Week

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An “enjoy your wedding week” bouquet from A New Leaf c/o my boss was the loveliest surprise to come home to yesterday. I am pretty sure they are the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen. Hydrangeas and peonies and roses and calla lilies, oh my!

I have been overwhelmed this week by the kindness of others. Every card and call and text…it’s kept me so grounded in what this week is and it’s not to-do lists. It’s celebration and people and love.

And now, flowers.

So Full I Could Burst

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This post could alternatively be called “The Time I Cried Upon Being Seated at HUSK”.

I have been wanting to go to Charleston for a few years, specifically to go to HUSK and The Macintosh, and for one reason or another, haven’t made the trip. Well, this weekend I went away with some girlfriends and in the spirit of “bacherlorette’ness”, they planned everything…and a trip to BOTH restaurants were on the agenda.

Which is why I cried after the HUSK waiter handed me a menu that said “Congratulations!” on it this morning. I was so happy to be at that table with women I love and who were so lovely in their wanting to celebrate me and my upcoming wedding this weekend. The entire weekend was so sweet and thoughtful; a friend who couldn’t make it sent her celebrating in the form of my favorite bottle of champagne and there was a welcome basket with my favorite magazines, nail polish, candles and beach essentials waiting for me in my room upon arrival.

I have never felt so celebrated in my entire life.

Back to the food. Manhattans on tap, ricotta dumplings, sheepshead fish on a bed of the best vegetables ever cooked and banana pudding in a mason jar at The Macintosh. Biscuits with lemon ricotta cheese and lingonberry compote and shrimp and grits at HUSK. My best friend halfheartedly offered me a bite of her heirloom tomato omelette and later said she was happy I said no because it was the best omelette of her life.

Charleston is next level with their amazing food. Good lord. Next. Level.

I am heading back to Chicago with the fullest heart and belly I have ever had. I am so, so grateful for this absolutely delicious season.


Sweet Season

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It was freezing (again) today. It was a hands in my pockets, head down sort of walk. I looked up and found myself on the block of the church where we are getting married. The door to the chapel was wide open so I ducked inside. It was warm and entirely empty.

We passed the 5 month countdown mark this week and despite my huge knit hat jammed over my ears and my winter coat that resembles a sleeping bag on, it hit me that I am getting married here. As I walked down the aisle to light a candle and say a prayer, I realized that my Dad and then Ryan will be by my side the next time. My favorite people in the world, the people who have supported us and been there with us in our relationship these last 5 years will be in those pews. Whoa.

I lit a candle and sat a few rows back for I don’t know how long. I thought about a lot of things but most of all, I thought about how sweet this season is and how I am going to soak up every last drop with gratitude.

And when I went back outside, it wasn’t so cold anymore.

Fire House Festivity

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4 firemen were standing back evaluating their work when I walked by. I asked if I could take a photo and one quickly exclaimed “Chief! Stand in the middle!”. They said they weren’t done yet but I thought it looked pretty great. I thanked them for taking the time to make their house so festive and for their service to our city and carried on with my walk.

I love this town.


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“I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point “If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Attitude of Gratitude Week 19

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Mothering. With Mother’s Day being this past Sunday, I am definitely grateful for mothering this week. There are so many beautiful ways to mother and I am especially grateful for my own mom, step-mom and grandma for the incredible influence they have had on my life. These are extremely special women and my life would not be the same without them.

Giving Thanks Week 15

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A few days late this week but this is the year of gratitude so let’s do it!


98. Community. People helping people- it doesn’t get more powerful or beautiful than that.


99. Opening Day Maybe this year is the year… go Cubs!


100. Girl time. Yoga pants, wine and Apples to Apples are the perfect recipe for belly laughing.


101. Landmarks. Abe is my stretching stop on runs. His foot is rather handy for balancing.


102. Shrimp and Grits. ohmygoodness. The butter is still coming out of my pores but when in Rome Atlanta…so, so delicious.

103. Learning. Someone told me this week “If it’s not hard, we’re not growing” and that’s really stuck with me. There’s always something to learn, something to push us, a place to grow…

104. Home. There’s no place like it.

How the year of gratitude began.